27 And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. 29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” 30 Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there” (Genesis 43:27–30 (ESV)
Unbeknownst to the eleven brothers, their brother Joseph who they knew only as the governor of Egypt, was their host for lunch. Joseph asked them, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” Little did they realize the significance emotional weight their response would be to this Egyptian leader when they said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.”
Then Joseph saw his younger brother Benjamin, the second son of his mother Rachel. Joseph said, “God be gracious to you, my son!” The word “God” indicates that Joseph invoked the name of Elohim; the One, True, and Living God. He was not using the name of any Egyptian god.
Finally, Joseph came close to being overcome with emotion. This scene was more than he could bear. The text says, “For his compassion grew warm for his brother.” Joseph’s heart was filled with strong feelings of love and affection for his brother Benjamin, who he had not seen in over twenty years. Imagine the level of self-control Joseph displayed in leaving his brothers for his private room in order to deeply sob and mourn.
Joseph was reunited with most of the family who he had known for the first seventeen years of his life. He was rejoined to his full brother Benjamin, the other son of his mother. He discovered his father, Jacob, was still alive. He was also with his elder brothers, who had once sought to kill him, but now bow in homage before him.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Simeon was returned to them (v. 23), and a noon meal was prepared for Joseph’s 11 guests. When they presented their gifts to Joseph … they bowed down before him in fulfillment of Joseph’s dream (37:7). Joseph, seeing his brother Benjamin, could not hold back his tears of joy. Benjamin, of course, was his full brother; the others were half-brothers. As before when he talked with the 10 (42:24), he went aside and wept.”
The stage was set for Joseph to see if his elder brothers had really changed in the present from what they were in the past. More to come.
Soli deo Gloria!