1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. 2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. 3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
I wonder how Joseph originally intended to reveal himself to his brothers. Perhaps if they had been willing to abandon Benjamin he never would have, except to his younger brother after they had left? Or maybe if they had tried to walk away, he would have revealed himself then and shut all the older brothers in prison?
In either case, whatever plans he did or did not have, it would seem everything was upended when he couldn’t hold his composure together any longer, and he calls for everyone to leave the room except his brothers.
There, alone with the rest of Jacob’s sons he takes off the mask. All this time they have known him only as the Egyptian prince Zaphnath-paaneah, but now he reclaims his true identity. “I am Joseph!” Then, though his brothers have already told him that Jacob still lives, he asks for confirmation of it one more time. This time he does not ask “does your father still live” but “does my father.”
The brothers, for their part, remain in stunned silence. When one holds a secret, it is a relatively small thing to them to uncover the truth of it. But to the one that has the secret revealed, it can be a major paradigm shift, a sense of one’s entire reality spinning to a new alignment. Thus, before any further conversation can continue, Joseph will first need to coax his brothers into accepting that their long-lost brother has returned to them again.