Joseph’s Family Reunion | Bible Story

Joseph's Family Reunion

After being forgotten in prison for two long years, Joseph finally got his unexpected chance when Pharaoh himself had a perplexing dream that no one could interpret. The former cup-bearer suddenly remembered Joseph’s gift and told Pharaoh about the young Hebrew who could reveal dream meanings.

Pharaoh immediately summoned Joseph from the harsh prison and described his two dreams:

“In the first dream, I saw seven plump, healthy cows grazing, and then seven more ugly, scrawny cows came and devoured them. Yet the skinny cows remained just as thin and ugly after eating the fat ones. 

“Then in the second dream, seven good, plump heads of grain grew on one plant. Right behind it sprouted seven other thin, scorched heads that swallowed up the healthy heads. Please tell me, what do these perplexing dreams mean?”

Joseph's Family Reunion

Joseph responded by acknowledging it was God, not him, who enables dream interpretations. He then provided the meaning Pharaoh desperately needed: “The two dreams represent the same significant event. The seven good cows and healthy heads of grain symbolize seven years of great abundance and plenty across the entire land of Egypt.

“However, the seven ugly cows and scorched grain heads symbolize seven years of severe famine to follow, worse than anything ever seen before in Egypt. The dreams were doubled to emphasize the point – this will definitely happen just as described, and soon!”

After interpreting the puzzling dreams, Joseph boldly offered wise advice to Pharaoh:

“You should immediately select a wise, capable man to directly oversee all the food production during the seven good years. Let him gather and store a fifth of all the surplus crops for Egypt to have reserves built up before the famine strikes. Otherwise, all the abundance will be completely consumed and the people will starve to death in that terrible famine.”

Pharaoh quickly realized that God’s wisdom was upon Joseph for providing such incredible insight and strategy. So he placed the young Hebrew over all the land of Egypt as second in authority only to Pharaoh himself! At just 30 years old, Joseph inherited a new Egyptian name ‘Zaphenath-Paneah’, fine robes, a gold chain, and dominion over everyone – with even Pharaoh’s own court obeying Joseph’s commands.

Just as Joseph interpreted, seven years of remarkable abundance and surplus harvests flowed across Egypt’s lands. Joseph directed food to be stored into huge stockpiles in every town and city to prepare for the famine. During that time, he also married an Egyptian wife named Asenath and had two sons named Manasseh and Ephraim.

When the seven plentiful years ended, the awful famine descended just as foretold in Pharaoh’s dreams. Food shortages gripped people across the entire surrounding region. From far and wide, caravans made pilgrimages into Egypt to buy portions of grain from Joseph’s massive stockpiles using gold and livestock for barter.

After local food rations ran out in Canaan where Joseph’s family lived, his father Jacob heard there were still reserves in Egypt thanks to that “Grand Vizier” Joseph who had wisely prepared. So Jacob sent ten of his sons to purchase a supply of grain before they starved.

When Joseph’s brothers arrived seeking food rations, they actually had to bow down before him to request aid, unknowingly fulfilling one of Joseph’s prophetic dreams from his youth. Though his brothers did not recognize Joseph after so many years apart, he could not ignore the divine providence of this reunion.

Rather than revealing himself right away, Joseph instead accused them of being spies, putting them through various tests and obstacles to see their integrity and character over the following days. He even demanded they bring back their youngest brother Benjamin as proof they were honest men.

When the brothers returned for more food with Benjamin, Joseph could not contain his emotions any longer. After sending away all his attendants, he finally revealed his true identity:

“I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into Egypt as a slave all those years ago! Do not fear or be angry with yourselves for what you did. God Himself allowed me to be sent ahead to preserve our family’s lives during this famine, which will last five more years.”

The brothers stood speechless at Joseph’s declaration, realizing how their past sin had come full circle. But Joseph assured them of forgiveness, continuing:

“Do not blame yourselves. It was God’s plan for me to be brought to Egypt ahead of all of you, so that He could make me an advisor to Pharaoh and preserve our family line as survivors through this severe famine.

“Now, do not delay – go quickly and bring my father Jacob and all your families here to the region of Goshen in Egypt where I can provide and care for you during the remaining famine years!”

Happily, the brothers rushed home to Canaan with the incredible news of Joseph still being alive! When Jacob heard everything, his spirit was revived after despairing for so many years. 

“My son Joseph lives!” he shouted with joy. “I must go and see him before I die!”

So the entire family of Jacob, along with all their households and livestock, set out on the long journey to Egypt. When they finally arrived, the emotional reunion between Joseph and his father Jacob touched the hearts of all of Pharaoh’s palace. In a tender embrace, Jacob wept on his long-lost son’s shoulder. All the injustice, heartache, and years of separation painfully endured up to that point melted into tears of elation.

Joseph presented five of his brothers to Pharaoh, explaining they would be traveling back and forth from Goshen to tend their family’s flocks and herds. Pharaoh graciously received them into the finest region of Egypt, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham about his descendants inheriting and dwelling in a prosperous land before claiming Canaan.

Over the next 17 years, God greatly multiplied Jacob’s family from 70 members into a rapidly growing nation while safely sheltered in Egypt under the care and protection of Joseph. 

Before Jacob died at the incredible age of 147, he made Joseph promise to take his remains back to Canaan for burial in the family tomb. And he passed the covenant blessings God started with Abraham onto Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim, making them equal inheritors alongside Jacob’s other offspring.

In one of history’s most powerful examples of the sovereignty of God turning tragedy into triumph, Joseph’s harsh experiences and prison sufferings positioned him to ultimately become the deliverer of his entire family. Despite the misfortunes and evil intentions against Joseph, God used it all for good to preserve the covenant family line. Little did Joseph know his rise to power in Egypt was just the first step preparing the way for his descendants to later inherit the promised land of Canaan.