Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
gen 45:1Judah and his brethren were waiting for an answer, and could not but be amazed to discover, instead of the gravity of a judge, the natural affection of a father or brother.
[1.] Cause every man to go out - The private conversations of friends are the most free. When Joseph would put on love, he puts off state, which it was not fit his servants should be witnesses of. Thus Christ graciously manifests himself and his loving kindness to his people, out of the sight and hearing of the world.
[2.] V. 2. Tears were the introduction to his discourse. He had dammed up this stream a great while, and with much ado, but now it swelled so high that he could no longer contain, but he wept aloud, so that those whom he had forbid to see him could not but hear him. These were tears of tenderness and strong affection, and with these he threw off that austerity, with which he had hitherto carried himself towards his brethren; for he could bear it no longer. This represents the Divine compassion towards returning penitents, as much as that of the father of the prodigal, Luk 15:20; Hos 11:8-9.
[3.] V. 3. He abruptly tells them; I am Joseph - They knew him only by his Egyptian name, Zaphnath - paaneah, his Hebrew name being lost and forgot in Egypt; but now he teaches them to call him by that, I am Joseph: nay, that they might not suspect it was another of the same name, he explains himself. I am Joseph your brother. This would both humble them yet more for their sin in selling him, and encourage them to hope for kind treatment. This word, at first, startled Joseph's brethren, they started back through fear, or at least stood still astonished: but Joseph called kindly and familiarly to them. Come near, I pray you. Thus, when Christ manifests himself to his people he encourages them to draw near to him with a true heart. Perhaps being about to speak of their selling of him, he would not speak aloud, lest the Egyptians should overhear, and it should make the Hebrews to be yet more an abomination to them; therefore he would have them come near, that he might whisper with them, which, now the tide of his passion was a little over, he was able to do, whereas, at first, he could not but cry out.
[4.] He endeavours to sweep their grief for the injuries they had done him, by shewing them, that, whatever they designed, God meant it for good, and had brought much good out of it.
gen 45:5Be not grieved or angry with yourselves - Sinners must grieve, and be angry with themselves for their sins; yea, though God, by his power, bring good out of them, for that is no thanks to the sinner: but true penitents should be greatly affected with it, when they see God bringing good out of evil. Though we must not with this consideration extenuate our own sins, and so take off the edge of our repentance; yet it may do well thus to extenuate the sins of others, and so take off the edge of our angry resentments. Thus Joseph doth here. His brethren needed not to fear that he would revenge upon them an injury which God's providence had made to turn so much to his advantage, and that of his family. Now he tells them how long the famine was likely to last, five years yet, Gen 45:6, and what a capacity he was in of being kind to his relations, which is the greatest satisfaction that wealth and power can give to a good man.
gen 45:8See what a favourable colour he puts upon the injury they had done him, God sent me before you - God's Israel is the particular care of God's providence. Joseph reckoned that his advancement was not so much designed to save a whole kingdom of Egyptians, as to preserve a small family of Israelites; for the Lord's portion is his people: whatever goes with others, they shall be secured. How admirable are the projects of Providence! How remote its tendencies! What wheels are there within wheels; and yet all directed by the eyes in the wheels, and the Spirit of the living Creature!
[5.] He promises to take care of his father and all his family, during the rest of the years of famine.
[1.] He desires that his father might speedily be made glad with the tidings of his life and honour. His brethren must hasten to Canaan, and acquaint Jacob that his son Joseph was lord of all Egypt - He knew it would be a refreshing oil to his hoary head, and a sovereign cordial to his spirits. He desires them to give themselves, and take with them to their father, all possible satisfaction of the truth of these surprising tidings.
gen 45:12Your eyes see that it is my mouth - If they could recollect themselves, they might remember something of his features and speech, and be satisfied.
(2.) He is very earnest that his father and all his family should come to him to Egypt. Come down unto me, tarry not - He allots his dwelling in Goshen, that part of Egypt which lay towards Canaan, that they might be mindful of the country from which they were to come out. He promiseth to provide for him, I will nourish - Our Lord Jesus being, like Joseph, exalted to the highest honours and powers of the upper world, it is his will that all that are his should be with him where he is. This is his commandment, that we be with him now in faith and hope, and a heavenly conversation; and this is his promise, that we shall be for ever with him.
gen 45:24See that ye fall not out by the way - He knew they were but too apt to be quarrelsome; and what had lately passed, which revived the remembrance of what they had done formerly against their brother, might give them occasion to quarrel. Now Joseph having forgiven them all, lays this obligation upon them, not to upbraid one another. This charge our Lord Jesus has given to us, that we love one another, that we live in peace, that whatever occurs, or whatever former occurrences are remembered, we fall not out. For, We are brethren, we have all one father. We are his brethren; and we shame, our relation to him, who is our peace, if we fall out. We are all guilty, verily guilty, and instead of quarrelling with one another, have a great deal of reason to fall out with ourselves. We are forgiven of God, whom we have all offended, and therefore should be ready to forgive one another. We are by the way, a way that lies through the land of Egypt, where we have many eyes upon us, that seek occasion and advantage against us; a way that leads to Canaan, where we hope to be for ever in perfect peace.
gen 45:26We have here the good news brought to Jacob. When, without any preamble, his sons came in crying Joseph is yet alive. The very mention of Joseph's name revived his sorrow, so that his heart fainted. It was a good while before he came to himself. He was in such care and fear about the rest of them, that at this time it would have been joy enough to him to hear that Simeon is released, and Benjamin is come safe home; for he had been ready to despair concerning both these; but to bear that Joseph is alive, is too good news to be true; he faints, for he believes it not.
gen 45:27When he saw the waggons his spirit revived - Now Jacob is called Israel, for he begins to recover his wonted vigour. It pleases him to think that Joseph is alive. He saith nothing of Joseph's glory, which they had told him of; it was enough to him that Joseph was alive: it pleases him to think of going to see him. Though he was old, and the journey long, yet he would go to see Joseph, because Joseph's business would not permit him to come to him. Observe, He will go see him, not I will go live with him; Jacob was old, and did not expect to live long: but I will go see him before I die, and then let me depart in peace; let my eyes be refreshed with this sight before they are closed, and then it is enough, I need no more to make me happy in this world.