The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 21: Joseph and His Brothers
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >
Inspiration faithfully records the faults of good men, those
who were distinguished by the favor of God; indeed, their faults
are more fully presented than their virtues. This has been a subject
of wonder to many, and has given the infidel occasion to scoff
at the Bible. But it is one of the strongest evidences of the truth
of Scripture, that facts are not glossed over, nor the sins of its
chief characters suppressed. The minds of men are so subject to
prejudice that it is not possible for human histories to be absolutely
impartial. Had the Bible been written by uninspired persons, it
would no doubt have presented the character of its honored men
in a more flattering light. But as it is, we have a correct record
of their experiences.
Men whom God favored, and to whom He entrusted great
responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and
committed sin, even as we at the present day strive, waver, and
frequently fall into error. Their lives, with all their faults and
follies, are open before us, both for our encouragement and warning.
If they had been represented as without fault, we, with our sinful
nature, might despair at our own mistakes and failures. But
seeing where others struggled through discouragements like our
own, where they fell under temptations as we have done, and yet
took heart again and conquered through the grace of God, we
are encouraged in our striving after righteousness. As they,
though sometimes beaten back, recovered their ground, and were
blessed of God, so we too may be overcomers in the strength of
Jesus. On the other hand, the record of their lives may serve as
a warning to us. It shows that God will by no means clear the
guilty. He sees sin in His most favored ones, and He deals with
it in them even more strictly than in those who have less light
and responsibility. [p. 239]
After the burial of Jacob fear again filled the hearts of Joseph's
brothers. Notwithstanding his kindness toward them, conscious
guilt made them distrustful and suspicious. It might be that
he had but delayed his revenge, out of regard to their father, and
that he would now visit upon them the long-deferred punishment
for their crime. They dared not appear before him in
person, but sent a message: "Thy father did command before he
died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now,
the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee
evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants
of the God of thy father." This message affected Joseph to tears,
and, encouraged by this, his brothers came and fell down before
him, with the words, "Behold, we be thy servants." Joseph's love
for his brothers was deep and unselfish, and he was pained at the
thought that they could regard him as cherishing a spirit of
revenge toward them. "Fear not," he said; "for am I in the place of
God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant
it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people
alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your
The life of Joseph illustrates the life of Christ. It was envy
that moved the brothers of Joseph to sell him as a slave; they
hoped to prevent him from becoming greater than themselves.
And when he was carried to Egypt, they flattered themselves that
they were to be no more troubled with his dreams, that they had
removed all possibility of their fulfillment. But their own course
was overruled by God to bring about the very event that they
designed to hinder. So the Jewish priests and elders were jealous of
Christ, fearing that He would attract the attention of the people
from them. They put Him to death, to prevent Him from
becoming king, but they were thus bringing about this very result.
Joseph, through his bondage in Egypt, became a savior to his
father's family; yet this fact did not lessen the guilt of his brothers.
So the crucifixion of Christ by His enemies made Him the
Redeemer of mankind, the Saviour of the fallen race, and Ruler
over the whole world; but the crime of His murderers was just as
heinous as though God's providential hand had not controlled
events for His own glory and the good of man.
As Joseph was sold to the heathen by his own brothers, so [p. 240] Christ was sold to His bitterest enemies by one of His disciples.
Joseph was falsely accused and thrust into prison because of his
virtue; so Christ was despised and rejected because His righteous,
self-denying life was a rebuke to sin; and though guilty of no
wrong, He was condemned upon the testimony of false witnesses.
And Joseph's patience and meekness under injustice and
oppression, his ready forgiveness and noble benevolence toward his
unnatural brothers, represent the Saviour's uncomplaining endurance
of the malice and abuse of wicked men, and His forgiveness,
not only of His murderers, but of all who have come to Him
confessing their sins and seeking pardon.
Joseph outlived his father fifty-four years. He lived to see
"Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of
Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's
knees." He witnessed the increase and prosperity of his people,
and through all the years his faith in God's restoration of Israel
to the Land of Promise was unshaken.
When he saw that his end was near, he summoned his kinsmen
about him. Honored as he had been in the land of the Pharaohs,
Egypt was to him but the place of his exile; his last act was to
signify that his lot was cast with Israel. His last words were,
"God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto
the land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."
And he took a solemn oath of the children of Israel that they
would carry up his bones with them to the land of Canaan. "So
Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they
embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." And through
the centuries of toil which followed, the coffin, a reminder of
the dying words of Joseph, testified to Israel that they were only
sojourners in Egypt, and bade them keep their hopes fixed upon
the Land of Promise, for the time of deliverance would surely
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >