All of this was too much for Joseph, and “he turned himself about from them, and wept” (Gen. 42:24). His heart was still tender toward them in spite of what they had done to him. Controlling himself, he “returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes” (v. 24).
It is possible that Simeon had been the leader in what the brothers had done to Joseph earlier, but now all the brothers were beginning to show true repentance. Verse 21 shows three aspects of this repentance: conscience—”we are verily guilty”; memory—”we saw the anguish of his soul”; and reason—”therefore is this distress come upon us.” The brothers were being brought to an end of themselves.
Joseph responded in two ways, although his brothers noticed only one of his responses. First, he wept with a broken heart because of his love for his brothers—especially Benjamin—and for his father. Second, he bound Simeon in their presence. The brothers saw only the hardness that Joseph expressed; they did not know how tender his heart was underneath it all.
As Joseph’s tenderness of heart indicated when he stood before his brothers, he had forgiven them long ago—even though they did not realize it. Have you forgiven those who have wronged you?
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph. 4:32).