Why did Joseph not make an attempt to look for his family?

Hi everyone,
While reading the book of genesis (trying to read the Bible in 1yr), precisely Jacobs story. I kept wondering why Joseph did not make an attempt (from my reading so far) to look for his family even if it was for Jacobs sake alone. Cos I believe he knew very well how much his dad loved him. I have tried finding out good reasons but I have not found one. My wife suggested that he had to fulfill God’s plan (family bowing down to him, dream). But I told her that, as far as God is concerned, the dream would still have manifested regardless!
Might not really be a serious question, but it will help my inquisitiveness please.
Thanks for your anticipated contributions.

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Hi! I don’t have time to open it right now, but just a few quick ideas. Joseph was nearly murdered by his brothers and then thrown into a pit and retrieved by a probably very cruel bad of men who sold him into slavery. He was not free to run back and I don’t think I would want to if I were him. And he knew somehow God had a plan for his life. When he was bought, his strong character caused him to work as though working for the Lord. But, again, he was a servant, not a free man, and then he wound up back in prison. He was in a foreign land with no means. But I believe he was operating in the knowledge that God is sovereign. I’m sure he recognized His presence. God helped him explain dreams and had given him dreams of his own. My favorite part of the whole story, that part that makes my heart sing praises when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in chapter 45. He says he was sent there by God to save lives, that they meant it for evil, but God used it for good.

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@tamaranelson. I very much agree with what u have written. However, I am wondering if he had not forgiven his brothers(11), his dad who loved him d most and his younger brother did him no wrong as recorded in d scriptures. Secondly, when he was lifted to the position of a prime minster, couldn’t he have sent word or find out for himself about his family.
As a matter of fact, he remains one of the ideal men I try to measure up to 8n d bible. And I strongly take great lessons from his story.
Something just doesn’t add for me, that’s why I put the question forward for discussion.
Thanks for your contribution

Genisis 45 4 to 8
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.

It wasn’t that Joseph had forgotten his family or was angry with them as we see in Exodus he wept for them and asked how his father was. In the verse above we see he saw the mission God had planned for Him was far more important but he still loved his family. God sent Joseph to Egypt.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” Luke 9:23 I know this was well after Joseph but I think Joseph was denying himself and being obedient to Gods calling.


Hi Aba @Aluwong1980 I think Trevor @Rethink and Tamara @tamaranelson have given excellent insights into why Joseph didn’t look for his family. Adding to their thoughts, I think Joseph certainly knew where his family was and didn’t need to look for them. However, he knew the famine was coming, so why not go get them? Or why not send food to them? We know he sent ample provision to them when he sent his brothers home. Why not keep them where they were and provide for them there? Perhaps, part of the answer lies in the fact that, like Job, Joseph was an incredibly patient man. He waited 2 years to be presented to Pharoah after he had been with the cup bearer and baker. He had had that dream about ruling over his brothers and father. Thirteen years had passed since then. Now he is a full grown man and the second in command in Egypt. Maybe he could see that dream coming together and was biding his time.
Scripture also says several times that God was with Joseph and blessed whatever he did. Certainly, he could see that.

However, there was more going on here. If you look at the story of Abraham, in Genesis 15:12-16, you see why Joseph didn’t take action to reunite with his family. God had explicitly told Abraham that his descendants would go into a country not their own and become slaves afterward in that country for four hundred years. Then, they would return to their homeland in the fourth generation. So,either Joseph had insight into God’s plan, or God’s plan was simply being played out. We have the advantage of seeing this after the fact.

David Jeremiah did a wonderful study of Joseph in his series entitled “God Meant it for Good” https://www.davidjeremiah.org/store/product/god-meant-it-for-good-package-4940 In this series, Dr. Jeremiah goes into a wonderful character study of Joseph and his interaction with his family. I highly recommend it.
I hope some of this helps to answer your question.


One thing that comes to mind, @Aluwong1980, is that Joseph never told his master or Pharoah what had truly taken place. In Genesis 40:15, Joseph talks about being stolen from the land of the Hebrews. I wonder if he feared for his father’s reputation and for his father’s heart. He probably knew his brothers would lie to his father and say he got killed by a beast, and maybe Joseph felt it was better for Jacob to think he was dead than to suffer through the awful reality that his ten boys tried to murder their brother and then sold him as a slave. Another thing is the distance from Egypt to Canaan. It would be at least an 11 days journey if he was able to make it. He would need supplies and protection from the elements of the desert as well as from animals. I suppose in the years of plenty he could’ve taken a few of his men and gone, but he was busy doing what he must have known to be God’s will for his life to save the world. He also had his wife and kids to think about then. From the name of his kids, you can see that his heart was still healing. It was a terrible wound, yet by God’s grace he remained upright and steadfast in his obedience. Joseph is such a beautiful picture of our Lord.