Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!”
It had been years since Joseph had seen his brothers. The last time he had seen them was as he was being led away into slavery after they had attacked and nearly killed him. Now, at this reunion, Joseph recognized them easily. However—possibly due to the passing the years, the exalted position he held, the Egyptian clothing he was wearing, and the fact that he was speaking Egyptian—his brothers had no idea who he was.
Before moving forward, it is important to think about the emotions that may have been going through Joseph’s mind as he saw his brothers. Likely, the emotions of anger, sadness and affection were all combined in his mind.
Instead of revealing himself on the spot, Joseph acted like a stranger and spoke very harshly to them. When he heard where they were from, he even accused them of being foreign spies. The startled brothers told Joseph they were there with good intentions, adding, “We are honest men” (verse 11). This was coming from 10 men who had violently attacked their own brother and then lied to their aged father about his fate.
Joseph resolved to put Simeon in prison until the brothers brought their younger brother (Benjamin) to him. Remember that Benjamin was Joseph’s full brother—both being the sons of Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 35:24). Joseph became emotional when he heard his brothers talking among themselves and pondering whether they were being punished now for their treatment of Joseph years earlier (Genesis 42:21-22).
For more information on resolving complex relationship issues, read our material on relationships.
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “Whatever Happens, Happens.”