After Jacob’s death, the brothers worry that Joseph will at long last be moved to avenge himself upon them. They therefore claim their father asked before he died that Joseph be merciful and forgive his brothers for what they did to him. They offer to serve him as slaves.
Joseph responds that although their initial intentions were to harm him, God always meant for events to turn out for the best. Joseph assures his brothers he has no intention of punishing them for their actions. Rather, he plans to sustain them and their families in Egypt.
Joseph lives to 110 years of age, seeing his grandsons have children. On his deathbed, he tells his brothers that God will surely remember them and bring their children out of Egypt and back to the Holy Land. At that time, he asks, those descendants should bring his bones with them out of Egypt to Israel.
The Israel Bible points out that the unique phrase Joseph uses, God shall “surely visit” you, is meant not only as a promise, but a sign. When Moses arrives on the scene a century or so later using the exact same phrase, the people know their redemption is imminent. While this sojourn in Egypt would only be one of many trials the Children of Israel would suffer, the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, repeated here by Joseph, means the Jewish people will ultimately be a great nation residing in the Land of Israel, where they belong.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think, 17 years after being reunited, the brothers still worry that Joseph will turn on them?