Enough was enough! Joseph could no longer contain his emotions. He sent everyone out of his presence except his brothers. As he wept aloud, he said, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?”
Joseph’s brothers were speechless and dismayed. Imagine the thoughts that were racing through their minds. Many memories of past sibling conflicts along with their recent encounters surely flashed before them.
As the brothers stood before Joseph, he explained that it was not they who had sent him into Egypt. God had sent him to preserve their lives. It was through God’s providence that they would be nourished in Egypt. Through their lineage would be the earthly birth of the Son of God.
Pharaoh was grateful to Joseph for revealing the coming of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. This allowed him time to plan ahead to prepare for the lean years. Because of this, he allowed Joseph’s entire extended family (Inferior Canaanites) to move into “the best of the land of Egypt.”
Upon hearing that his son, Joseph was still alive, Jacob’s “heart stood still, because he did not believe them.” After being convinced, Jacob said, “’It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’
“So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.”
Beersheba was a place of significance to Jacob/Israel. It was there that his father, Isaac and grandfather, Abraham had communed with God. God spoke to him that night and assured him that, “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again…” The second part of this promise was fulfilled many years later under the leadership of Moses.
This was a major event in the life of a man who had made many moves in his one hundred thirty years of life. Jacob, his wives, his eleven sons, their wives, his grandchildren, their wives (none mentioned here) were a very large family to relocate at one time. He and his direct descendants, including Joseph and his sons, totaled seventy Israelites in Egypt.
Shepherds were of a lower social class in Egypt and were somewhat segregated from the rest of the population. Joseph advised his father to be up front with Pharaoh and let him know that they were shepherds. Some sheep were pastured in the rich region of Goshen. It is likely that was one reason that Jacob’s family was given land in that area.
Joseph had served the king so well that Pharaoh instructed him to select competent men from his family to be chief herdsmen over his own livestock.
“Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families.”