God helped Joseph forgive his brothers and provide food for them during
seven years of famine.
Famine comes to Canaan:
Pharoah's dreams of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine came
true just as Joseph had explained them. At that time there was a
great famine in all the land of Egypt which spread to the land of
Canaan, the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob.
Can you imagine coming home from school and your mother telling you that
there was no more food and you will just have to go hungry for the rest of
the week! What would you do and say? (Let the children
Well, Joseph's father, Jacob, and his eleven brothers were running short of
food because of the famine, and so Jacob sent ten of his sons all the way
to Egypt to see if they could buy some food. They had heard that
although there also was famine in Egypt, the people had plenty of food for
themselves and for others. They did not know of course, that Joseph
was the one who had safe guarded the food supplies of Egypt.
Because Joseph's father was sure that Joseph he was dead, he would not allow
his last son, Benjamin to go to Egypt with the other brothers. He was
afraid that something would also happen to him, even as something had
happened to Joseph all those years before.
Buying Grain from Joseph:
When Jacob's sons arrived in Egypt and asked if they could buy grain and food,
they were taken before their brother Joseph. Of course they hadn't seen
Joseph in many years and did not recognise him because they probably thought
he was dead. But, they had to see Joseph because he was the Ruler of
Egypt, and was in charge of all the food supplies.
No one could buy food and take it out of Egypt unless Joseph was willing that
they should do so. When they explained that they had come from Canaan
and that their father was very old and needed food, Joseph knew they were his
own brothers. He must have remembered his wonderful dreams that God had
given him when he was a young man. Those dreams had shown that his brothers
would one day bow down before him. And sure enough, here they were
bowing down before their brother Joseph and pleading for something to eat.
Joseph's Longs for Benjamin:
Of course they didn't know they were talking to their own brother whom they had
sold to be a slave. They probably thought it very strange that Joseph
should ask them so many questions about their father and youngest brother,
Benjamin, who had been kept at home for safety. But, of course Joseph
asked these questions because he loved his father and his brother.
He was anxious to find out all that had happened to them since they had sold
him to be a slave.
Do you think Joseph was planning something bad for all those brothers who had
sold him as a slave? (Let the children respond). No, Joseph was
longing to see Benjamin, his younger brother, so he worked out a plan to
make his brothers bring Benjamin with them the next time they came for food.
He gave them a full sack of grain for each brother when they paid their money
to Joseph for this grain. But, after filling their sacks with grain,
Joseph told his servant to put their money back in their sacks with the grain,
as he didn't want to take money from his brothers for the food.
Joseph threatens His Bothers:
But Joseph made his brothers believe that he was sure they weren't telling him
the truth. He told them he thought they were spies and naturally they
felt very badly about this, and insisted it was not true. But Joseph
replied that there was something they would have to do if they wanted him to
If they did not return with Benjamin, this would prove to Joseph that they were
not telling the truth and didn't really have a brother called Benjamin.
The brothers thought that this was a hard thing, but there was nothing they
could do. So they went back to Canaan and told their father all the
strange things which had happened to them.
But Jacob wouldn't allow Benjamin to be taken to Egypt. He feared that
harm would come to him and that he would never see Benjamin alive again.
He said that he had lost Joseph and he couldn't lose Benjamin as well!
The Second Trip:
But the famine continued, and again Jacob and his family were in need of food.
When people get hungry they will do things they wouldn't normally do,
and so Jacob finally decided to let his sons take Benjamin and go back to
Egypt for more food.
When they arrived in Egypt the second time they were again taken to Joseph.
Joseph knew right away who they were, and when he saw his young brother
Benjamin with them he felt so happy, that he just had to weep! Joseph
didn't want his brothers to see how he felt, so he went off to a room by
himself and had a really good cry. After he had wiped the tears from
his eyes and washed his face, he went back to his brothers.
Dinner with Joseph:
He told his servants to get dinner ready so they could all eat together.
But the brothers thought Joseph was an Egyptian, and as it was against the
law for an Egyptian to eat at the same table with people of other nations,
especially with Hebrews. And so Joseph arranged to have a table all by
himself as he was still not ready to let his brothers know that he was their
own brother whom they had sold as a slave.
Finally dinner was over and they all retired for the night. The next
morning another supply of grain was prepared for the brothers to take back to
Canaan. Again each one was given a sack full, but this time Joseph told
a servant to take his own silver cup and put it in the top of Benjamin's sack.
So they started on their way back to Canaan, but before they travelled
very far, Joseph's servants came hurrying after them.
The Stolen Cup:
They stopped the brothers and explained that Joseph's silver cup had been
stolen. Of course the brothers were sure that they had not taken the
cup. So they unloaded the bags of grain off the donkeys and opened them
up to prove to Joseph's servants that they had not stolen the cup. But
when they came to Benjamin's sack, there was Joseph's silver cup!
How badly they felt! They had faithfully promised their father that they
would bring Benjamin back safely, and now they thought he would be kept in
jail in Egypt. What could they do? Well, they went straight back
to Joseph and tried to explain to him that they were not to blame for what had
happened. Joseph replied that the brother in whose sack the silver cup
was found in would have to remain with him as a prisoner in Egypt. All
the others could leave to go back home!
But this was what they didn't want, because they had promised their father that
they would surely bring Benjamin back to him. They really were in
trouble! But then Judah explained to Joseph how terribly hard it would
be for their poor old father if Benjamin should be kept in Egypt. He
told Joseph that if Benjamin was not with them when they arrived home, their
father would die of a broken heart. He then offered to remain in Egypt
to take Benjamin's place. This showed a great deal of love for his
Joseph Reveals Himself:
This pleased Joseph very much, so he sent all the Egyptians out of the room,
and he was left alone with his brothers. Then he broke down and wept
before them and said, "I am Joseph, your brother!" What a surprise
that must have been to them and they were afraid, too, because this man was
the ruler of all Egypt! Would you have been scared? (Let the children
Well, Joseph told them not to be afraid as he had forgiven them. He said
they should not blame themselves for having sold him into Egypt, because God
had wanted him to come to Egypt to take charge of the food supply so that all
his brothers and their families might have food to eat during the seven years
"You were jealous of me," he said, "But I don't want to punish you for what you
did." So he told them to go back to Canaan and bring their father,
their families and all their flocks and herds down to Egypt. He promised
that he would give them a large section of land where they could live in the
part of the Egypt called Goshen.
In this way Joseph's dreams finally came true. He was now ruler over his
father and over his brothers, and not only ruler, but he was their saviour.
Because he loved God and because God helped him, he had been able to
provide food for the whole family.
In some ways Joseph was like Jesus. Joseph was put in prison after he went
into Egypt, and Jesus was put into a grave when He died. But just as
Joseph was freed from prison and made a ruler, so Jesus was freed from the
prison-house of the grave. When He arose to life again, He became our
best Friend and Saviour.
He is the great King of kings who will rule over all the earth and just as Joseph
provided food to keep his people alive, so Jesus will give us the Bread of
Life. And the people who eat it will live forever!
We are glad that God was so good to Joseph, but even more glad that God loves
every boy and girl so much, that He sent Jesus to die for us and forgive our
sins and bless us and give us eternal life. And this is what God meant
when He told Abraham that He planned to give blessings to all the families of