1. THE FEAR OF RETRIBUTION
a. As Joseph prepared a banquet for his brothers, what was foremost in their minds? Genesis 43:16–22.
“Upon being conducted to the governor’s palace, the brothers were greatly alarmed, fearing that they were to be called to account for the money found in their sacks. They thought that it might have been intentionally placed there, to furnish occasion for making them slaves. In their distress they consulted with the steward of the house, relating to him the circumstances of their visit to Egypt; and in proof of their innocence informed him that they had brought back the money found in their sacks, also other money to buy food; and they added, ‘We cannot tell who put our money in our sacks’ (Genesis 43:22).”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 228.
b. How does the servant’s reaction tell that Joseph was indeed a missionary in Egypt? Verse 23; Romans 10:13–15.
“Through Joseph the attention of the king and great men of Egypt was directed to the true God; and though they adhered to their idolatry, they learned to respect the principles revealed in the life and character of the worshiper of Jehovah.”—Ibid., p. 222.
2. A DREAM FULFILLED
a. How did Joseph feel when he saw his younger brother for the first time in twenty years? Genesis 43:24–30.
“When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he could scarcely restrain his brotherly feelings of love. He gave direction to make preparation for his brethren to dine with him. . . .
“When Joseph came home, his brethren gave him the present in the name of their father, and they bowed themselves to him to the earth.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 145, 146.
“Again [Joseph’s] dreams came to his mind, and after saluting his guests he hastened to ask, ‘Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?’ ‘Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive,’ was the answer, as they again made obeisance. Then his eye rested upon Benjamin, and he said, ‘Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me?’ ‘God be gracious unto thee, my son;’ but, overpowered by feelings of tenderness, he could say no more. ‘He entered into his chamber, and wept there’ (Genesis 43:27–30).”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 228.
b. What were the brothers of Joseph marvelling among themselves, as they dined with Joseph? Verses 31–33.
“Joseph placed his brethren at the table, as was customary when their ages were known, commencing with the eldest, according to his birthright, arranging them in order down to the youngest, as though he perfectly knew their ages. His brethren were astonished at this act of Joseph, who they thought could have no knowledge of their ages.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 146, 147.
c. Why did Joseph seek to pamper Benjamin in front of his brothers? Verse 34.
“As [Joseph] sent a portion of food to each of his brethren, he sent Benjamin five times as much as the others. He did this not only to show his particular regard for his brother Benjamin, but to prove them, and see if they regarded Benjamin with the same envious feelings they had him. They thought that Joseph did not understand their language and were free to converse with one another in his presence; therefore Joseph had a good opportunity to learn the true state of their feelings without their knowledge.”—Ibid., p. 147.
3. THE TEST OF LOVE
a. Why did Joseph make a point by placing the cup in Benjamin’s sack? Genesis 44:1–6.
“Still [Joseph] desired to test [his brothers] further, and before their departure he ordered that his own drinking cup of silver should be concealed in the sack of the youngest.
“Joyfully they set out on their return. Simeon and Benjamin were with them, their animals were laden with grain, and all felt that they had safely escaped the perils that had seemed to surround them. But they had only reached the outskirts of the city when they were overtaken by the governor’s steward, who uttered the scathing inquiry, ‘Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?’ (Genesis 44:4).”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 229.
b. How did the brothers react when they saw the cup inside Benjamin’s sack? Genesis 44:11–13. Why did the servant begin with the eldest brother?
“Kings and rulers had a cup from which they drank, which was considered a sure detective if any poisonous substance was placed in their drink. . . . ‘Then [Jacob’s sons] speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. And [Joseph’s steward] searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack’ (Genesis 44:11, 12).
“At this discovery all were greatly surprised; and, to express their great distress, they rent their garments, which was the custom when in great affliction. Benjamin was more amazed and confounded than his brethren. They returned into the city sorrowful and afraid. They thought that the hand of God was against them for their past wickedness.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 147, 148.
c. Why is it important to select our words carefully, even when we feel confident? Genesis 44:7–10; Matthew 12:36, 37.
“By their own promise, Benjamin was appointed to a life of slavery. And the fears of their father they thought would be fully realized. Mischief had befallen his much-loved Benjamin.”—Ibid., p. 148.
4. THE BROTHERS’ LOVE REVEALED
a. What act of Judah shows that the brothers had fully repented of their treacherous sin committed twenty years before? Genesis 44:14–34; John 15:12, 13.
“Judah told his brethren that God had found out their iniquity for selling their brother in Egypt, and was now returning upon them their transgressions, by permitting them to become slaves also.
“Joseph refused to accept them all, according to the word of Judah, as bondmen. . . . Judah spoke with Joseph aside from the rest, and related to him the reluctance of his father to let Benjamin come with them to Egypt, and that he pledged himself to become surety for Benjamin, that if he brought him not to his father, he would bear the blame forever. He eloquently pleaded in behalf of his father, relating his great grief at the loss of Joseph, and that Benjamin was all that was left of the mother which his father loved, and that if Benjamin should be separated from his father, he would die; for his life was bound up in the lad’s life. Judah then nobly offered to become a slave instead of his brother; for he could not meet his father without Benjamin.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 148, 149.
b. After Judah’s plea to spare Benjamin and to save his father from grief, what was Joseph compelled to do? Genesis 45:1, 2.
“Joseph was satisfied. He had proved his brethren and had seen in them the fruits of true repentance for their sins; and he was so deeply affected that he could no longer conceal his feelings and requested to be left alone with his brethren. He then gave vent to his long-suppressed feelings and wept aloud.”—Ibid., p. 149.
c. Why were his brothers troubled at Joseph’s revelation? Genesis 45:3, 4.
“[Joseph’s] brothers stood motionless, dumb with fear and amazement. The ruler of Egypt their brother Joseph, whom they had envied and would have murdered, and finally sold as a slave! All their ill treatment of him passed before them. They remembered how they had despised his dreams and had labored to prevent their fulfillment. Yet they had acted their part in fulfilling these dreams; and now that they were completely in his power he would, no doubt, avenge the wrong that he had suffered.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 230.
5. FORGIVENESS: A HEALER
a. How did Joseph show his care for his brothers’ feelings and his forgiveness towards them? Genesis 45:5.
“As Joseph saw the confusion of his brethren, he said to them, ‘Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt’ (Genesis 45:4). He nobly sought to make this occasion as easy for his brethren as possible. He had no desire to increase their embarrassment by censuring them. He felt that they had suffered enough for their cruelty to him, and he endeavored to comfort them.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 150.
b. What is the only way any relationship can be healed and restored? Matthew 18:21, 22; Colossians 3:12, 13. What is the biggest stumbling block to restoration? Proverbs 13:10.
“It is always humiliating to have one’s errors pointed out. None should make the experience more bitter by needless censure. No one was ever reclaimed by reproach; but many have thus been repelled and have been led to steel their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 166.
“If pride and selfishness were laid aside, five minutes would remove most difficulties. Angels have been grieved and God displeased by the hours which have been spent in justifying self.”—Early Writings, p. 119.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What will happen to those around us if we let our light shine as Joseph did?
2. Explain why Joseph was still wary of trusting his brothers.
3. Why did Joseph order the cup to be placed in Benjamin’s sack?
4. How did Joseph know his brothers had changed?
5. What or who is the greatest stumbling block to reconciliation?