Why Does Joseph Finally Reveal Himself? (Genesis 45:2)

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I’m a big fan of alternate history. As such, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if certain events in the Biblical narrative were just a little bit different. 

(Not doctrine, mind you. Just the events themselves, like what if Judas had repented? What if Rehoboam had listened to the right advice? That kind of thing)

Now that the story of Joseph and his brothers is starting to come to the end, I find myself doing the same. What if the brothers hadn’t changed at all? What if they agreed to abandon Simeon and/or Benjamin and return back to Canaan to live out their lives in peace?

We’ll never know obviously, but what we do know is that Joseph saw exactly what he wanted to see from his brothers. Their change was obvious, and now that he fully trusted in them again, he felt confident revealing himself to them (Genesis 45:1).

But in my opinion, Judah’s speech in Genesis 44:18-34 is what pushed Joseph over the edge.

We know from other passages that Joseph is a highly emotional human (which isn’t a bad thing). He’s a passionate person — so passionate, in fact, that the first time he sees Benjamin, he has to leave the room to collect himself (Genesis 43:26-34).

It’s no surprise then that when Judah starts in on his speech in Genesis 44, and especially when he talks about how leaving Benjamin in prison would kill their father, Joseph gets emotional again. Genesis 45:1 says that he couldn’t control himself, and the next verse says that he wept so loudly that the Egyptians and Pharaoh’s household could hear it. 

What this reveals to us is that the love between Joseph and his father went both ways. Joseph may have been his father’s favorite, but Joseph also had quite a lot of love for his father, as well. The thought of making Jacob any sadder than he already was proved too much for him.

It’s also why the test ends where it does. The brothers steadfastly refuse to let Joseph only imprison Benjamin; because of that, Joseph doesn’t have any other moves. He can either argue with them more, imprison all of them indefinitely, or tell his brothers who he really is.

Thankfully, he chose the third option.