Bible Society of South Africa
Ds Hein Barnard

Forgiveness – Day 1

By Hein Barnard

Bible text(s)

Joseph Reassures his Brothers

15After the death of their father, Joseph's brothers said, “What if Joseph still hates us and plans to pay us back for all the harm we did to him?” 16So they sent a message to Joseph: “Before our father died, 17he told us to ask you, ‘Please forgive the crime your brothers committed when they wronged you.’ Now please forgive us the wrong that we, the servants of your father's God, have done.” Joseph cried when he received this message.

18Then his brothers themselves came and bowed down before him. “Here we are before you as your slaves,” they said.

19But Joseph said to them, “Don't be afraid; I can't put myself in the place of God. 20You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened. 21You have nothing to fear. I will take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them with kind words that touched their hearts.

Genesis 50:15-21GNBOpen in Bible reader

The first occurrence of forgiveness in the Bible

The patriarch Jacob had passed away and Joseph’s brothers realised that they might be punished for the way they treated him.

We read from Genesis 37 about how the dreams of Joseph caused a broken relationship between him, his parents and brothers.  His brothers wanted to kill him, but he was sold and became a slave in Egypt. 

The dreams became a reality when his brothers went to Egypt to buy food because of the drought.  We read in Genesis 45 how Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, explaining that everything was part of God’s plan (45:8).

One thing lacked – nowhere did his brothers ask for forgiveness, nor did Joseph grant them forgiveness.  Somebody needed to take the initiative – and it happened after the death of Jacob, their father.

The brothers sought forgiveness because they feared that something bad would happen.  They were afraid that Joseph would take revenge.

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