ESV - 15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.
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After Jacob (the father of Joseph and his brothers) had died, Joseph's brothers were afraid that Joseph would then finally take vengeance on them for having originally sold him into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37), since Jacob would no longer be present to deter Joseph from doing so. Joseph's brothers therefore told him that, before Jacob died, he had instructed them to tell Joseph to forgive them for what they had done, and, as proof of their contrition, they fell down before Joseph and told him that they were his servants. Joseph magnanimously reassured and comforted his brothers that he did not intend to take vengeance on them because that was something for God alone to determine and bring about. As noted in the statement mentioned in the question, Joseph was saying that, if he himself were to take such vengeance, he would be acting in the place of God, which would not be appropriate or permissible for him to do. He also pointed out that, despite his brothers' evil intent, God had brought good out of it by enabling Joseph to subsequently save many people (including Joseph's brothers and their families) as a result. In acting as he did, Joseph obeyed the commandment that God later gave through Moses in Deuteronomy 32:35 (and as also cited by Paul in Romans 12:19) that the prerogative to take vengeance against another person over a wrong that had been done belonged to God alone.
ALBERTO DUNBAR's question is based on Genesis 50:19. Joseph was really saying, “Brothers, I am not God, and it is not my place to take vengeance. I forgive you.” God’s people trust Him, not themselves, to repay transgressors (Prov 20:22; Romans 12:19 -- [Rom. 12:17-19] 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. 12:19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.).
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