Joseph's Chastening of His Brothers
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 42. We have been studying the book of Genesis with emphasis on the men about whom it is written, and we have been spending some time talking about Joseph. We have seen Joseph despised by his brethren, sold into Egypt, put into prison, released from prison, and put into a palace. We will see now what happens with Joseph in his official capacity when his brethren, with whom you are already familiar, make their appearance. Let us read chapter 42, and then we will go back and talk about it together:

Genesis 42:

1Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
2And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
3And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
4But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
5And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
7And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
9And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
10And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
11We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
12And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
13And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
14And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
15Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.
16Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
17And he put them all together into ward three days.
18And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
19If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
20But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
21And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
22And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
23And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
24And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
25Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.
26And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
27And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth.
28And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?
29And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
30The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.
31And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
32We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
33And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:
34And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
35And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
36And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
37And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
38And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.


In our study of the life of Joseph we have followed a twofold procedure. We have studied it from a typical standpoint and we have studied it from a practical standpoint. We have reminded you that Joseph is a perfect type of the Lord Jesus Christ. More than any other character in the Word of God, Joseph typifies the Lord Jesus. Every phase of the relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ with both Jew and Gentile is presented in the life of Joseph.

In the portion of the Word which we have read, Joseph is on the throne, and he is dealing in a very special way with his brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ is on the throne, and He is dealing in a very special way with His brethren, the Jews. There is a sense in which we are all brothers in the Lord, but there is a special sense in which the Lord Jesus Christ looks upon the Jewish nation as His brethren. Everything that is taught in the Word of God concerning the relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Jews in this present dispensation is contained, typically speaking, in the life of Joseph in chapter 42 of the book of Genesis.

I would like to skim over the chapter, pointing out certain things which typify this relationship.


Jacob called his sons together and said to them, “Why do you look one upon another? Why are you trying to solve your problems? You have no choice. There is corn in Egypt. Go down to Egypt and get the corn.”

It is emphasized again that the reason the sons of Jacob, who made up the twelve tribes of Israel, had to leave the promised land and go into Egypt was that there was a famine in the land. It boils down to one simple little statement: The sons of Jacob were driven out of the promised land into the world.


When we first began our study of the book of Genesis we told you that the land of Egypt is a type of the world. Of what typical significance is that? Let me refresh your memory for a moment. When the Jewish nation turned their backs on their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the judgment of God fell. The Word of God says, “He came unto his own [that is, the Jewish nation], and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the authority to become the sons of God” (John 1:11-12).

The Lord Jesus Christ emphasized the need of their recognition of Him by a number of different parables in the Gospels. He told a story about a man who had a vineyard. The man let that vineyard out to other men, and sent certain of his representatives from time to time to collect the revenue from the vineyard. But every time they saw any of these representatives, they killed them and refused to make any report on the production of the vineyard. So the man who owned the vineyard said one day, “I will send my son. They will reverence my son.” But they saw the son coming at a distance and they said, “Here is the son! Let us kill him and then we will have the vineyard for ourselves.” They did, and the Lord Jesus Christ, in making application of this story to the practical lives of those about Him, said, “What do you think the man who owns this vineyard will do to these wicked men who did such a terrible thing?” The people around Him immediately said, “The man who owns the vineyard will do something in judgment upon these men.” Jesus said, “That is right. I have come to you as the Son of God. You are going to crucify Me, and when you do, God will take His vineyard away from you and give it to another.” He added yet another warning in terms of a city, and said, “God will destroy this city, and those who live in the city will be scattered abroad.”

If you are familiar with history as well as with the Word of God, you know that in 70 A.D., something like forty years after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the armies of Titus, and the Jews were scattered to the four corners of the world, where they are to this day.

So, just as the original Jews, the twelve sons of Jacob were driven out of the promised land by the judgment of God in the form of a famine into Egypt, a type of the world, so the Jews of today are scattered to the four corners of the world.

Notice verses 7 and 8:

Genesis 42:

7And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.


Turn, please, to the book of Romans. Chapters 9, 10, and 11 give the history of the nation of Israel. Romans, chapter 9, deals with Israel's history of the past. Romans, chapter 10, deals with Israel's history at the moment, and Romans, chapter 11, deals with God's plans for the nation of Israel in the future.

We turn to chapter 10 if we want to know the condition of Israel in the present hour:

Romans 10:

1Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Put in simple language, we are reading that the Jews, the nation of Israel, are ignoring the salvation that is provided through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. They are spending all their time and their efforts to establish their own righteousness, which is as impossible for them as it is for any one of us.


Herein lies a principle, whether we be Jew or Gentile. No man can save himself. No man can establish his own righteousness. If you have not placed your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are lost. You may have a righteousness of your own but it cannot be accepted by God.

Why, then, do the Jews go about establishing their own righteousness? Why do they go about ignoring the righteousness of God? Well, chapter 11 of Romans deals with the future, but in order to talk about the future, the Apostle talks about the present:

Romans 11:

25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

These verses indicate, then, what is typically stated in Genesis, chapter 42. Just as Joseph was not recognized and known by his brethren, so the Lord Jesus Christ is not recognized or known by the Jewish nation.

We must not jump to conclusions, however, as we may do if we are not careful, and say, “If this is true, then God has no more interest in the Jews and no more plans for them.” But notice in Genesis, chapter 42, that though his brethren did not know Joseph, Joseph knew them:

Genesis 42:

8And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.

By the same principle, the Lord Jesus Christ knows His brethren. They are constantly in His mind and in His plans. One of the most interesting verses of Scripture concerning the interest of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Jewish brethren is found in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 16:

Jeremiah 16:

14Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
15But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.


What is He saying? One time all that people could talk about was how God delivered the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. But there is a day coming when that will fade into insignificance, because God will have delivered the children of Israel, not from one country, Egypt, but from the entire world. He describes it pictorially in verse 16:

Jeremiah 16:

16Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Notice verse 18:

Jeremiah 16:

18And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.

The Lord Jesus Christ is saying, “My eyes are on the Jews. I have not forgotten them. I have plans for them. But before these plans can be fulfilled, I must deal with them in judgment.”


We have in the life of Joseph a wonderful illustration of this very thing. There are a great many people who do not take the trouble to understand the Word of God. They are greatly concerned about the glory of God. They are greatly concerned about the way the Bible is written. It concerns them tremendously, for example, that in verse 7 we read:

Genesis 42:

7And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them…

They say, “How unchristian! How could Joseph speak so roughly to his brethren?” Of course he spoke roughly to them. He told them they were liars, and he told them they were spies, and he told them they were insincere, and he threw them into jail, and he bound one of them in stocks and he exacted all kinds of promises of them, and they did not think he was speaking very nicely, and when they got home they told their daddy that he had not spoken very nicely.

Genesis 42:

30The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us…

“We just were not treated nicely at all,” they said. People are concerned because in the Old Testament God was a little rougher on folks than He was in the New Testament. But really, He was just as rough on them in the New Testament. The folk who do not think so just do not read the whole New Testament. They read just the Sermon on the Mount and think that is the whole story.


Why was Joseph rough with his brethren? Why did he treat them in this manner? We will see when we look at this chapter from a practical standpoint that Joseph dealt with his brethren as he did to bring them to a place of repentance. That is the only way he could do it. That is exactly why the Lord Jesus Christ is permitting the persecution of the Jews today, and also why this persecution will increase in intensity. They must be brought to a place where they will say, as Joseph's brethren said (mind you, they did not say it where Joseph could hear them):

Genesis 42:

21…We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
22And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.

Those words sound familiar. You remember reading in the crucifixion story how the Jews betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ, their Messiah. When Pilate did everything he could to enable them to look upon the thing logically they cried out, “Crucify Him! His blood be on us, and on our children.” Well, they do not feel particularly concerned about that now. But they will! For the day will come when they have been treated roughly, more roughly still, and they will acknowledge their sin. When they do, their deliverance will be provided.


Notice what Joseph did with his brethren. He put them into prison for three days. Typically, that describes what will happen to the nation of Israel before they are brought to a place of repentance. Not that they will be put into a little prison, but they will be put into the prisonhouse of suffering until they acknowledge their offense and seek His face.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Hosea, chapter 5. You will need to accept on faith until you are able to prove it otherwise…which you will be able to do if you rightly divide the Word of truth…that this chapter is talking about the Jewish nation and their rejection of their Messiah, and the effect that that rejection had upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is speaking.

Hosea 5:

15I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

To whom does the pronoun they refer? If you will glance at the previous verse and through the chapter, you will find the words Israel and Judah both referring to the nation of Israel.


He is saying, “I will go and return to My place.” Where is the rightful place of the Lord Jesus Christ? Listen to Him as He prays in chapter 17 of the Gospel of John and says to God the Father, “Restore to me the glory that I had with Thee before the world was.” Listen to God as He replies in Psalm 110. God says to His Son on the earth, “Come, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”


Where is the place to which the Lord Jesus Christ returned? At the right hand of the throne of God, where He is now. He is in Heaven. That is where He is. How long will He stay there? Until the Jews acknowledge their offense…offense, not offenses. What is their offense? The rejection of their Messiah. When they acknowledge their offense and seek His face, then He will come back. It has been 2000 years and they have not acknowledged their offense as a nation. Oh yes, here and there and yonder individuals come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, but nationally they have not acknowledged their offense. Will they? They will when they are put in the prisonhouse of suffering.

Look at chapter 6 of the book of Hosea. In the original manuscripts there are no chapter divisions, and if we had continued reading we would have gone right from verse 15 of chapter 5 to verse 1 of chapter 6, and the continuity would be more evident:

Hosea 6:

1Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

Notice now:

Hosea 6:

2After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.
3Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

Hosea is speaking of that time when after three days of intense suffering, symbolically speaking, they will acknowledge their affliction and will turn to the Lord.

You say, “How will they acknowledge their affliction?” In the same way that the brethren of Joseph did. When he treated them roughly, they said, “We are guilty. We ought not to have done what we did. His blood is upon us.” The Jews will do exactly the same thing.


Will you turn, please, to the book of Isaiah, chapter 53. This chapter has often been read because of its poetic beauty and because of its spiritual truths. How seldom has it been read with the understanding that it represents the confession, the prayer that the Jews pray, when they have suffered enough and are ready to acknowledge their affliction. The Jews will pray:

Isaiah 53:

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

This is a prophetic confession that the Jews will pray when they have suffered enough.

What will happen the very moment the acknowledgement of their sin becomes evident? Let us anticipate ourselves a bit in the book of Genesis and say that when the brethren of Joseph acknowledged their guilt they were taken into the palace and were set down at meat. They had a time of blessed fellowship with their brother who was once rejected. You will find that in chapter 44.


What will happen to the Jews when they acknowledge their sin and turn to the Lord? Turn with me, please, to the book of Zechariah. Notice in chapter 12 the paragraph which begins with verse 9:

Zechariah 12:

9And it shall come to pass in that day, [God is speaking] that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon [unto, not upon]me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

That is what we have been reading about in Isaiah, chapter 53. Skip over to chapter 14, which is right in line with these verses at which we have been looking:


Zechariah 14:

1Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

Go forth from where? Where is He all this time? At the right hand of the throne of God. He will go forth from Heaven to fight in behalf of the people who have acknowledged Him.

Zechariah 14:

4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

The rest of the chapter presents the details of which I have given you the general outline, telling how the Lord Jesus Christ, returning to the earth, will deliver the people who have acknowledged their offense.

Joseph becomes a perfect type of the Lord Jesus Christ in dealing with his brethren just as the Lord Jesus Christ deals with the Jewish nation.

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