So how come Joseph’s brother’s couldn’t recognize him?
I wasn’t even going to blog about this because personally I don’t see what the big deal is with this question or why anybody would be surprised that Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him.
Nevertheless, everybody keeps asking this question, so here goes with my answer.
First, it’s been about twenty years since Joseph last saw his brothers.
And the last time he saw them, he was a gawky immature teenager.
When his brothers met him in Egypt, he was a fully matured adult and as a result probably taller and with a much deeper voice.
Take a look at some past and present photos of yourself or some celebrities and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
His appearance was now that of an Egyptian.
Unlike Hebrew men who traditionally wore beards, Joseph would have been clean shaven and had certain cosmetics applied to his face.
His demeanor and mannerisms would also have been very refined and regal befitting of his status, not to mention the royal garb he would have been decked out in.
Third, and I think this is the biggest reason why Joseph was unrecognizable to his brothers.
They weren’t expecting to see him, plain and simple.
They had sold him into slavery and thought he was dead by now.
If you think someone’s dead and then later cross paths with that person, it would never even occur to you that this could possibly be the very same person you knew in the past, because in your mind that person is dead, gone.
I believe these three reasons put together are more than enough to explain why Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him.
Heck, if I don’t see somebody for 2 weeks and then bump into him or her, I have trouble recognizing that person
However, more than wondering why Joseph’s brothers couldn’t recognize him, I think the more interesting question is how come we never hear a word about the brother’s questioning the fact that Joseph doesn’t look like a typical Egyptian?
Egyptians are not Semites (Sons of Shem).
Egyptians come from the line of Ham.
Their physical features are totally different.
Egyptians are much more darker than Semites.
Here we have another allusion to the fact that Egypt had been taken over by Semites (the Hyksos rulership I mentioned earlier).
The simple reason why the brothers didn’t question why Joseph didn’t look Egyptian is because the whole Middle East was aware of the political situation in Egypt.
It was common knowledge that Semites had conquered and were now ruling Egypt.
Before closing, I just had to mention that I think the ultimate question along these lines is “Why didn’t Yeshua’s Jewish brothers recognize Him?“
Now that’s the ultimate question!
And it’s up to us to provide good solid answers, so that all Israel may be saved.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other,
Yeshua himself came up and walked along with them;
but they were kept from recognizing him.“