You’ll remember from last time, that Joseph, about to tell his brothers who he really was, *began weeping so loudly* that his neighbours in the surrounding houses could hear him too. In one of these surrounding houses – the one most spacious and ornate – lived the Pharaoh. Like his lower-order neighbours, the Pharaoh wondered what was going on with Joseph. The following morning the Pharaoh sent for him.
“What was that awful noise I heard from your house last night, Mr de-facto Prime Minister? It sounded like you were dying.”
“I do apologise, Your Majesty. I was about to reveal to my brothers visiting from Canaan, that I was their long-lost brother whom they thought dead. To reveal something like this isn’t what one does every day, so the occasion got to me.”
“Yes, I do remember you once telling me you have many brothers, and an aged father too, who live in Canaan. I think it’s wonderful they’re paying you a visit. I’ve always worried about you not having your brothers and father close by. A man, if he’s to be emotionally balanced, needs lots of brothers, as well as a father, with whom he can talk on most days. There’s nothing like brothers and fathers.”
“I’m glad you think this way, Your Majesty, for I’d like my brothers and my old father to escape the famine in Canaan, and come and settle permanently near me in Egypt – I was thinking of Goshen. It would mean so much to me emotionally, and I would be a better de-facto prime minister for this.”
“That would be wonderful. I give you my permission wholeheartedly. I’ll give you the best land in Egypt to settle them in – which indeed would be Goshen – where you can all live off the fat of the land.”
“This really is frightfully good of you, Your Majesty, for I know the feelings among Egyptians about having too many foreigners living among them, especially Hebrews from Canaan, whom they consider even to eat with as an abomination. I should also tell you, Your Majesty, that my brothers and father all have………how can I put this diplomatically……….baggage, lots and lots of it – wives, in-laws, mistresses, children, grandchildren, servants, cattle, sheep, donkeys, chattels, you name it.”
“Absolutely no problem, old chap” said the Pharaoh. “To make things easier for your brothers as they journey back to Canaan to fetch your father and all his retinue, I’m going authorise you to give them all the provisions they ask for. Nothing will be too much.”
When the brothers were all loaded up, ready for their return-journey to Canaan, Joseph, who had come to see them off, said, “Don’t quarrel on the way.”
“Why do you say that, my lord, or should I say, brother?”, said Reuben.
“Well” said Joseph, “I can’t forget what you all once did to me. *Throwing your brother down a well*, leaving him to die, then telling your aged father that his favourite son had been killed by a wild animal, just wasn’t cricket. It was the most evil thing anyone could do. So, although I’ve forgiven you, I’ve no illusions about the fratricidal violence you might perpetrate were you to get into quarrels and fight. You might, out of resentment and jealousy, even kill Benjamin, who I’ll admit I favoured during your stay with me. If I hear about any quarrelling, let alone of any harm to Benjamin while on your journey, I, and solders under my command, will pursue you to wherever you are, and will summarily dispatch you from this earthly realm. Do I make myself clear?”
The brothers said nothing, and rode away.
On arriving back in Canaan, the brothers told their father, Jacob, that Joseph was still alive, was the second most powerful man in Egypt, who wanted them all to come and settle in Egypt and live happily ever after.
Having absorbed all this, and recovering from being stunned, Jacob said, “I’m not going to ask you to explain exactly how Joseph got to Egypt, in view of the fact that you brought back his bloody and torn coat, and told me he was dead from being killed by a wild animal. If I ask you what you actually did to Joseph, you’ll just lie. I know it. Except for Benjy, you all make me sick. I only want now to see Joseph before I die.”
Source: Genesis 45, 16-28