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Joseph Forgives His Brothers

Hi Kids! Do you remember what happened to Joseph in the last lesson? The Pharaoh of Egypt made Joseph the governor of Egypt after interpreting his dream about the upcoming famine. Our story for today will be about how Joseph meets his brothers again and forgives them.

During the seven years that Egypt had plenty of harvests, Joseph gathered up as much grain as they can and stored them. After the seven years of plenty, the seven years of famine began, as Joseph had said to Pharaoh.

Book of Genesis Chapter 41-17 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)
Image from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons

There was a famine in all lands. But there was food in Egypt. The people cried to Pharaoh for food and the Pharaoh said to them that they should go to Joseph. Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grains to the Egyptians.

Because the famine was so severe, the peoples of other lands also came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grains. Even Jacob, Joseph's father, who was in the land of Canaan heard the news that there was grain for sale in Egypt. He told his sons to go down to Egypt and buy some food there so that they may live and not die.

Joseph's ten brothers went to Egypt to buy grains. But Jacob did not let Benjamin go with them for fear that Benjamin would be harmed just like Joseph. Benjamin is Joseph's real brother; they have the same mother and father.

Now when Joseph's brothers came to Egypt to buy grains, they bowed before the governor with their faces to the earth. Joseph immediately knew they were his brothers when he saw them, but the brothers did not recognize Joseph.

Image from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons

Joseph Tests His Brothers

Joseph did not tell his brothers that he was Joseph because he wanted to test them. He acted like a stranger toward them and spoke harshly to them. He asked, "Where do you come from?" They said, "From the land of Canaan to buy food." But Joseph said ""You are spies! You have come to see how defenseless the land is." But the brothers answered, "No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. We are sons of one man; we are honest men and are not spies."

But Joseph said to them again, "No, you are spies." They answered, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one father in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father, and one is dead."

Image from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons

Joseph said to them, "I shall test you to prove that you are not spies. I will let one of you go home to bring back your youngest brother here. Until then, the other brothers will stay in prison." But Joseph did not do this. Instead after three days, Joseph said that only one brother will stay in prison. The others will go home carrying grain for their families. If they come back to Egypt with the youngest brother, only then will the brother in prison be set free.

After Joseph said this, his brothers said to one another, "It is because of our guilt with the way we treated our brother that we are having this trouble now." The brothers did not know that Joseph understood what they were talking about. Joseph turned away and wept.

Image from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons

Joseph's command was followed. In addition, he told his stewards to fill the brothers' sacks with grain and put back their money in the sack.

When the brothers came home to Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened. They also said that they need to go back and bring their youngest brother to Egypt to prove that they are not spies and to get back Simeon.
When they emptied their sacks and found the money in each sack, they became more afraid and asked, "What is this that God has done to us?" Jacob did not allow them to go back to Egypt and take Benjamin with them. He said he will die with sorrow if harm should also come to Benjamin.

But the famine was so severe. When Jacob's household had eaten up all the grain, they had to go back to Egypt. They finally convinced Jacob to let Benjamin go with them. Jacob also told them to bring some fruits of the land as a present to the governor and twice as much money to give back the money they found in their sacks.

Joseph was so happy when he saw Benjamin. He told the steward of his house to prepare a meal for all of them. Simeon, the brother in prison, was also brought out to them. Joseph had portions served to the brothers but Benjamin got five times more food as his brothers. All of them enjoyed that night.

Josephs Tests His Brothers a Second Time

Afterward, Joseph gave the command to fill the sacks of his brothers with grain and to put his silver cup and the money in the sack of the youngest. In the morning, Joseph's brothers left the city but Joseph's steward pursued them after some time and looked for the silver cup in their sacks.

The steward found the cup in Benjamin's sack and so all of them went back to Egypt. The brothers threw themselves before Joseph on the ground. They said that all of them will be his slaves. But Joseph said that only Benjamin shall be his slave and the others can go in peace.

Joseph Forgives His Brothers

But Judah begged the governor that instead of taking Benjamin as a slave, he would like to take his place and be the slave. That is because he promised to bring back Benjamin to his father. If Benjamin does not return, his father will die.

Then Joseph told all the people to leave the place except the brothers. He could not keep himself from crying. Then he told his brothers that he is Joseph.

Image from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons

His brothers could not believe that he was Joseph and they felt too ashamed. But Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Do not be afraid nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here, because God sent me here to save your lives. There will be five more years of famine. God made me like a father to Pharaoh and ruler over all the land of Egypt so that all the lands can have food to eat.

Joseph wept, kissed and hugged his brothers. Then Joseph asked them to bring their father to Egypt and all their families will live in the land of Goshen. They will have food there until the famine is over. And so Jacob was reconciled with his son Joseph after being gone for a long, long time.

Image from Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing / CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons

Read this story in Genesis 42 - 45.

Now let's discuss what we learned from the story.
1. What did Joseph do as governor of Egypt to prepare for the famine?
2. Did the dream of Pharaoh happen just as Joseph said?
3. Who came to buy food in Egypt?
4. Did Joseph recognize his brothers? What did he do? Why?
5. How did Joseph test his brothers to see if they have changed?
6. How did Joseph know his brothers have changed?
7. What did Joseph say to his brothers that show he has forgiven them?
8. Why do you think Joseph was able to forgive his brothers despite how bad they were?
9. What lesson can you learn from the story of Joseph?

MEMORY VERSE: Genesis 45:5

Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to save lives. 


1. Coloring pages
You can use the coloring page on this page. The coloring pages on this page can also be used as visual for a different memory verse from the one mentioned above, but it works for little kids.

2. Forgiveness crafts
The first craft is from St. George's websiteYou can do this by cutting out a heart shape from red-colored paper and stick masking tape or glue strips of white paper across the heart as shown below and write forgiveness. Do visit their website for other forgiveness craft ideas.

This second forgiveness craft is from setapartchild.com. The needed materials are listed on that page as well as some instructions.

You can also find another Forgiveness craft idea on this page which provides a downloadable PDF.

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