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22. Joseph’s Meeting with His Brothers and the Moving of Jacob into Egypt.


During the seven years of plenty, Joseph gathered in Egypt so much grain that it was sufficient not only for the years of hunger but also for sale to other lands. People began to come to Egypt from everywhere for grain because the famine was over the entire earth.

The sons of Jacob, from the land of Canaan, also came to Egypt for grain. They came to Joseph, bowed down to him to the earth, but did not recognize him. But Joseph recognized his brothers and involuntarily recollected his dreams from childhood. In order to learn whether or not his brothers had improved, he treated them severely and said to them, "Ye are spies. To see the nakedness of the land ye are come "

"Nay," his brothers answered, "but to buy food are thy servants come. We are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. We used to be twelve, but the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not."

"If ye speak the truth," said Joseph, "Then let one of you remain here, and the others take bread and bring the younger brother."

The brothers spoke among themselves, thinking that Joseph did not understand them, as they spoke through interpreters. "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw his anguish of soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear. Therefore is this distress come upon us."

When Joseph heard what they were saying, he went out of the room and wept. Afterwards, he kept Simeon and let the rest of the brothers go.

After a year the brothers again came to Egypt for grain and brought with them their youngest brother Benjamin. Joseph, when he saw Benjamin with them, commanded to bring them to his house and to prepare a dinner for them. When he looked at Benjamin he was moved to tears of joy. So that his brothers would not notice his tears, he went into the next room and washed his face. After dinner, Joseph ordered the grain put into their sacks, but he ordered the silver cup from which he drank himself to be put into the sack of Benjamin. The next day he let them all go home.

The brothers had barely departed, when Joseph ordered his steward to overtake them and search them to see if they had not stolen his cup. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers all returned to Joseph, fell down before him to the ground and said, "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants. Behold, we are thy servants."

"No," answered Joseph, "let the one who stole the cup remain as a slave, but you can return to your father."

Then Judah came forward and said to Joseph, "My lord! Our father is old and loveth this son more than all. I gave a pledge to bring him back safely. It is better that I should remain a slave with thee in place of him, but do thou let him go with his brethren to their father, for if he doth not return, our father shall die of grief."

Now Joseph saw that his brothers had learned their lesson, and no longer hid himself from them. He sent all his servants out of the room, began to weep and said to them, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." The brothers were so astounded that they could not speak.

But Joseph continued, "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve your lives. For these two years hath the famine been in the land, and yet there are five years more...Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him..., come down unto me, and tarry not." After this he embraced and kissed Benjamin and all his brothers, and he wept as he embraced them.

When Jacob learned with tremendous joy that his son Joseph was alive, he moved with all his family to Egypt.

For seventeen years the aged Jacob-Israel lived in Egypt. When he began to approach death, he first blessed Joseph and his children, Manasses and Ephraim. Joseph brought his children to his father, so that the elder Manasses stood at Jacob’s right hand and the younger Ephraim stood at his left. But Jacob crossed his hands so that his right hand was on the head of Ephraim and the left on the hand of Manasses. And he blessed them, Ephraim as the elder and Manasses as the younger.

This crossing of Jacob’s hands for blessing was a foreshadowing of the Cross of Christ, and that people would receive the Lord’s blessing not by seniority but according to their good works and worthiness.

Afterwards, when he had gathered all his sons about his bed, he gave each of them his blessing and prophesied of Judah that of his offspring there would come forth kings over the Hebrew people until the time when the Peacemaker, that is, Christ the Saviour, should come.

After this, he commanded his sons to bury him in the land of Canaan where his fathers were buried. Jacob-Israel died at the age of one hundred and forty years and was taken by his sons into the land of Canaan and buried there.

Fifty years after Jacob’s death, Joseph also died. Before his death he said that God would lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt and return them to the land of Canaan. He commanded that his bones be taken to his native land. In Egypt the family of Jacob-Israel began to multiply rapidly and became the people which came to be known as the Israelites or the Hebrews. It was divided into twelve tribes according to the number of the twelve sons of Jacob.

The story of Joseph, who suffered from his brothers but who was later glorified and saved their lives, was a foreshadowing of Christ the Saviour. The Saviour also suffered at the hands of His own people, died on the Cross, then arose and was glorified and saved men from sin and eternal death.

Note: See Genesis, chaps. 41:47-57; 42-50.

Discussion: The Story of Joseph Written in the Language of Trees.

Rationalists, men who recognize as the source of knowledge only reason, denying every experience and Divine Revelation, who do not believe in the historicity of the Biblical accounts, regard the story of Joseph as a legend. However, this account is not a legend but an actual happening which took place in the history of ancient Egypt. The author of these lines boldly confirms the historicity of this happening, as it turns out to have been recorded by nature itself and is written down in a most unexpected way. In the 1920’s, in connection with work on this subject by many researchers in Russia, America, and Sweden, the author was occupied with research into the relation of the growth of trees and various natural influences, from rainfall, deposits, climate, fire, and pests. At that time the remains of trees that had been preserved in various paleontological and archeological collections were under investigation. Special attention was given to a collection of objects preserved from the times of ancient Egypt. Such items, in the Egyptian section of the Petersburg Hermitage, were in large quantity. They were all in excellent condition, which permitted the precise determination of what kind of wood was used for different items.

In this way it was determined that some of the items were made from trees which are still growing in Abyssinia and in the area of the upper lakes from which the Blue and White Nile find their source. These species were, of course, transported into Egypt. But there was a considerable number of items in the collection which had been made from different kinds of trees which still grow in the Nile valley. Of all these, the carpenters of ancient Egypt most frequently used two kinds: niletic acacia and sycamore. By studying the structure of the wood in these items, we were able to determine that there is a direct relationship between the width of the rings of the trees and the floods of the Nile.

Now, it is well known that the entire economy of Egypt depends on the size of these floods. When there is a generous flood, the entire population prospers, as the vegetation of the Nile valley in such years grows lushly and the fields give an abundant harvest. It turned out that in such years the trees, which grow along the banks of the Nile, have wide rings. An the years of small floods there are small harvests and hunger in the land, and the rings of the trees are narrow, as all growth suffers from the lack of moisture. When the relation between the harvests and the wide tree rings was determined, I came to the following conclusion: if the Biblical account relates an occurrence that actually took place in Egypt, then the seven years of exceptional plenty and the seven years of poor harvests should have been recorded in the rings of the trees which grew at that time along the banks of the Nile.

I then asked the assistant of the curator of the Egyptian Section of the Hermitage (in those years, the curator was academician V. V. Struve), Mme. N. D. Flitner to show me which wooden items of the collection could belong to the times of the XIII-XVIII dynasties. Researchers of Biblical archeology place the history of the dwelling of the Hebrews in Egypt during this epoch. Mme. Flitner pointed out to me a group of such items. Among them there were a box for the preservation of perfumes, made of Niletic acacia; a sarcophagus of the queens, made of sycamore; and a number of other items. I made a diligent study of these items, beginning with the box for perfumes. It is a little box, about twelve cm. by seven cm. by eight cm. (I had precise measurements and photographs but they were lost when I fled from the USSR), and was made of one and the same piece of niletic acacia. The piece was cut up by the craftsmen into thin boards, from which, with tar, the box was glued together. The form of the layers of wood was visible on all the walls of the box, and this form was unique. On all the little boards there was clearly a difference between wide and very narrow bands. This series went: first a group of six exceptionally wide bands, and then immediately there followed a group of seven very narrow bands. The order of the bands of time can be determined without any difficulty by anyone who is familiar with the make-up of the so-called spring and fall wood patterns. As noted above, the width of the rings of trees on the banks of the Nile corresponds to its floods and, connected with this, to the harvest or lack of harvest. In this way, nature itself wrote down that at the time which corresponds to the epoch of the life of Joseph in Egypt, in that land there were several years in a row which had abundant harvests. In those years the trees formed extraordinarily thick rings. There turned out to be six such annual rings on the box that we examined. Before this the rings were not thin, so there was no noted difference with the Biblical account of the seven years of plenty. Regarding the following seven years of famine, the structure of the wood that we investigated testifies with undeniable precision.

Apart from this box, I also investigated the sarcophagus. Its state of preservation was somewhat worse than that of the box for perfumes, but still in the wood of the sycamore from whose trunk the sarcophagus was made, there could be seen the same kind of grouping of bands. This confirms with irrefutable clarity that at the basis of the Biblical account there lies an indubitable fact that is written in the pages of the great book of nature.

Concerning the discovery, I gave an account in a public lecture at a meeting in memory of D. N. Kaigorodov in February, 1928, and tried to publish it with the appendix of all the materials that had been attained by research. It was not possible to do this, as the censors in the USSR did not permit the printing of anything that could assist the strengthening of the authority of the books of Holy Scripture.

I wish to add another bit of information which refers to the history of ancient Egypt. In agreement with Biblical chronology, the sale of Joseph by his brothers into Egypt, and the consequent migration there of patriarch Jacob, took place eighteen centuries before the Birth of Christ. Certain historians set this date of the moving of Jacob precisely, namely 1825 B. C. It is worthy of note that under the pharaohs of the XII dynasty, particularly during Amenemhet III, who ruled in those years, the network of irrigation was considerably widened and perfected. The level of the water in the Nile under the pharaohs of the XII dynasty was marked on the cliffs near Semne at the second cataract. In the inscription found here, and which dates to the fourteenth year of the rule of Amenemhet (i.e., 1835 B. C). there is marked the maximum level, which was seven meters above the level of the water now.

Clearly, special officers kept record of the height of the rising of the water in the Nile, since the government was fully aware of what a great significance the irrigation system had for the cultivation of the land, and this system depended on the amount of water in the Nile.

There was an especially great amount of work in the Fayum oasis during that period. Here were located the huge reservoirs which the Greeks called the Lake of Merides. The lake was joined by a canal with the irrigation ditches and this system made it possible to regulate the moisture of a very large area of the Fayuum oasis.

The following should also be added. If it were possible to investigate the rich Egyptian collection of the British and Cairo museums, we, undoubtedly, would find a whole series of items witnessing to the veracity of the events which are narrated in the final chapters of the Book of Genesis. Archpriest N. Smirnov (from the newspaper Nasha Strana, Buenos Aires, 1960),

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