The death of a parent is never easy. It must have been even more difficult for Joseph who was separated from his father, Jacob, for over 20 years. Scripture clearly records his grief in this last chapter of Genesis.
When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him.Genesis 49:33-50:1 NASB
When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father. Now when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.”Genesis 50:10-11 NASB
This must have been a tumultuous time for the children of Israel. Their father had died, they were in a foreign land, the famine was over, but it’s impacts were still felt, and for Joseph’s ten older brothers they began to question if the protection of the father would no longer protect them from Joseph’s vengeance. Their thoughts probably returned to their reunion with Joseph and the trials they were subjected to. Joseph had them in his power. Not only had he received the double portion from their father, he was politically very powerful. At a word he could take their freedom or their lives. It’s no wonder that they feared.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him! ”So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the Elohim of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”Genesis 50:15-18 NASB
But Joseph remains true to his character. He has not, and does not bear a grudge against his brothers. When he saw their repentance, he believed it, and was truly glad to be reunited with those who had treated him so harshly. His answer to them reveals his spiritual understanding and his maturity.
“But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in Elohim’s place?“ As for you, you meant evil against me, but Elohim meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.“ So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”Genesis 50:19-21 NASB
Perhaps Joseph’s response gives us a greater understanding of Yeshua’s directive in Matthew.
“But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”Matthew 5:39 NASB
For us, like Joseph, turning the other cheek is not about becoming a doormat; forever allowing the enemy to beat us without a sound. His response was one of strength, but with an understanding that as a servant of the Most High, vengeance belonged to Him (Deut. 23:35). More importantly, Joseph saw the good that Elohim worked through the evil of his brothers. Not only did they come to repentance, but their family, the whole of Egypt, and many who came to find relief in Josephs vast storehouses were saved.
Take a moment to think about the person in your own life who betrayed you. The one you thought you could trust and love who hurt you beyond the human ability to forgive. How do you respond to them now? Do you seethe at the harm and hurt they caused, or do you thank Elohim for the good in your life worked through those circumstances?
Anyone who says this is an easy response has never truly walked through this situation. It takes the fullness of the Fruit of the Spirit to accomplish this. But in working toward this ideal we find freedom from the bitterness and anger that binds us. And like Joseph’s brothers, our enemy, weather they know it or not, can find relief from their treachery. For the believer in the Messiah, we have the joy of knowing that, despite circumstances, our King is on the throne, and all things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.Matthew 6:9-13 NASB