“Yosef said, ‘I am Yosef; is my father still alive?’ The brothers became frightened of him and were unable to answer.” (45:3)
Why were the brothers unable to answer Yosef’s simple question?
Yosef said to his brothers, “Ani Yosef” (“I am Yosef,”) “I am your brother Yosef whom you sold 22 years ago” “ha’od avi chai’’ (“Is my father still alive?”). Yosef wasn’t really asking if Yaakov was alive. He knew that his father was alive. He was really asking about the pain of his father. He wanted to know how his father felt about him being away.
Therefore, he told his brothers to go get Yaakov and show him that Yosef is alive. The brothers now felt so bad about what they did to Yosef.
Yaakov was so happy when his sons told him about Yosef. He and his family settled in Goshen and lived there for seventeen years.