After Jacob's death, Joseph and his brothers carried out their father's instructions that he be buried with his forefathers in Canaan. On the return trip to Egypt, the brothers were overcome by the fear that now that their father had departed, Joseph would seek just revenge for their having conspired against him and thrown him into the pit. They implored him in the name of their father to spare them:
Midrash Tanhuma intensifies the tension in the story by introducing an additional scene:
In this account, the brothers see Joseph returning to the scene of their crime, and fear that retribution will not be long in coming. But the Rabbis portray a Joseph who has matured. He no longer sees himself at the center of the universe; instead, he gives thanks to the source of his salvation.
Joseph listens to his brothers' apprehensions, and cries. He is saddened that they still think him motivated by base considerations of vengeance, when he has long ago come to a God-centered view of all that has transpired:
In this cycle of stories, Joseph appears as both dreamer and interpreter of dreams. Ultimately, his dreams serve as the interpretation of reality for his family and the destiny of the people of Israel.