Finally, at the age of 30, Joseph makes it out of prison! It is very possible that it was at least 12 years from the time he was sold into slavery to the time he was finally set free! We go through trials in life, and we think we can't make it more than a couple of months; Joseph made it for 12 years! Unbelievable! God has humorous timing because just when Joseph says he has forgotten the atrocities he faced as a teenager (41:51-52), his brothers show up.
The sad thing about Joseph's brothers is the length of time they carried their secret. For 12 long years they held their horrible deed in confidence amongst only themselves, and all indications are that they felt this guilt nearly every day. Genesis tells us that Joseph begged his brothers for mercy; yet their cold hearts would not turn. Certainly what they did to Joseph was horrible, and no one knows how Jacob would have reacted to find out that his children had sold his favored son into slavery. It's one thing to do something horribly wrong, and it's even worse when a person fails to admit his wrongdoing. Joseph's brothers could have experienced the freedom of God's forgiveness, but their shame caused them to internalize their guilt. This is a lesson to all of us that we must cast our cares upon Jesus because He cares for us: We don't have to live with guilt because Jesus paid for all of our guilt with his death on the cross. Such a message of hope would have profoundly impacted Joseph's brothers.