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Joseph makes himself known

Genesis 45:4

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!

Full bible text

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!

About this painting

In prison Joseph accurately interprets the dreams of pharaoh's cupbearer and baker. As Joseph foretold, after three days the cupbearer is restored to his position at the pharaoh’s court. Two years later, the pharaoh has two dreams. The cupbearer remembers Joseph’s gift of interpretation and Joseph is called to interpret the dreams of the pharaoh. When God gives Joseph the accurate interpretation of the pharaoh’s dreams, accompanied by a wise counsel, the pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of the whole land of Egypt, as second in command.
The dreams of the pharaoh come true; seven years of abundance are followed by seven years of famine. During these years Joseph’s brothers go to buy grain in Egypt, because there was also famine in the land of Canaan. When they arrive, Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him. Several meetings follow and Joseph puts them to the test in various ways, to see if their hearts and conduct have changed since the day they sold him to Egypt. Apparently, the brothers have changed.
Then Joseph can no longer control himself and weeps. He makes himself known as Joseph, the brother they thought was dead.
His brothers are not able to answer him, because they are terrified at his presence. But Joseph has no desire for revenge at all. In Genesis 50, he summarizes: ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’.
On the right of the painting an ancient Egyptian mural is represented, which depicts the bringing in of the grain harvest. The object on Joseph’s seat is a stylized flail, a symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt.


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