Joseph’s Brothers in Egypt
1When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt,#Ac 7:12 he said to his sons, “Why do you keep looking at each other? 2Listen,” he went on, “I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us so that we will live and not die.”#Gn 43:8 3So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he thought, “Something might happen to him.”
5The sons of Israel were among those who came to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6Joseph was in charge of the country; he sold grain to all its people. His brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground.#Gn 37:7–10; 41:43; Is 60:14 7When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them.
“Where do you come from?” he asked.
“From the land of Canaan to buy food,” they replied.
8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9Joseph remembered his dreams about them#Gn 37:5–11 and said to them, “You are spies. You have come to see the weakness#42:9 Lit nakedness, also in v. 12 of the land.”
10“No, my lord. Your servants have come to buy food,” they said. 11“We are all sons of one man. We are honest; your servants are not spies.”
12“No,” he said to them. “You have come to see the weakness of the land.”
13But they replied, “We, your servants, were twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now#42:13 Or today, also in v. 32 with our father, and one is no longer living.”
14Then Joseph said to them, “I have spoken:#42:14 Lit “That which I spoke to you saying: ‘You are spies!’ 15This is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16Send one from among you to get your brother. The rest of you will be imprisoned so that your words can be tested to see if they are true. If they are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17So Joseph imprisoned them together for three days.
18On the third day Joseph said to them, “I fear God#Gn 39:9; Lv 25:43; Neh 5:15 — do this and you will live. 19If you are honest, let one of you#42:19 Lit your brothers be confined to the guardhouse, while the rest of you go and take grain to relieve the hunger of your households. 20Bring your youngest brother to me so that your words can be confirmed; then you won’t die.” And they consented to this.
21Then they said to each other, “Obviously, we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come to us.”#Gn 37:26–28
22But Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to harm the boy?#Gn 37:22 But you wouldn’t listen. Now we must account for his blood!” #42:22 Lit Even his blood is being sought!”
23They did not realize that Joseph understood them, since there was an interpreter between them. 24He turned away from them and wept. When he turned back and spoke to them, he took Simeon from them and had him bound before their eyes. 25Joseph then gave orders to fill their containers with grain, return each man’s silver to his sack, and give them provisions for their journey. This order was carried out. 26They loaded the grain on their donkeys and left there.
The Brothers Return Home
27At the place where they lodged for the night, one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver there at the top of his bag. 28He said to his brothers, “My silver has been returned! It’s here in my bag.” Their hearts sank. Trembling, they turned to one another and said, “What has God done to us?”
29When they reached their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them: 30“The man who is the lord of the country spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying on the country. 31But we told him, ‘We are honest and not spies. 32We were twelve brothers, sons of the same#42:32 Lit of our father. One is no longer living, and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33The man who is the lord of the country said to us, ‘This is how I will know if you are honest: Leave one brother with me, take food to relieve the hunger of your households, and go. 34Bring back your youngest brother to me, and I will know that you are not spies but honest men. I will then give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the country.’”
35As they began emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his bag of silver! When they and their father saw their bags of silver, they were afraid.
36Their father Jacob said to them, “It’s me that you make childless. Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone. Now you want to take Benjamin. Everything happens to me!”
37Then Reuben said to his father, “You can kill my two sons if I don’t bring him back to you. Put him in my care,#42:37 Lit hand and I will return him to you.”
38But Jacob answered, “My son will not go down with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left.#Gn 37:33–34; 42:13; 44:27–28 If anything happens to him on your journey, you will bring my gray hairs down to Sheol in sorrow.”#Gn 44:29
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Joseph's brothers go to Egypt #42:1 Jacob is living in Canaan with his sons, except for Joseph. There is no food in Canaan, but Jacob knows that there is food in Egypt.
1Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt. So he said to his sons, ‘There is no food here, so why are you just sitting there? 2I have heard that there is food in Egypt. Go there and buy some for us. Then we may continue to live and not die.’
3So ten of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt to buy food. 4But Jacob did not send his youngest son, Benjamin, with them. Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to Benjamin. 5Jacob's sons went to Egypt, as well as other people who went there to buy food. They all went to Egypt because there was a bad famine in Canaan.
6Joseph had authority to rule Egypt at that time. He was the man who sold food to all the Egyptians. When Joseph's brothers arrived there, they bent down in front of him, with their faces to the ground. #42:6 Joseph's first dream showed his brothers bending down to respect him.
7As soon as Joseph saw the men, he knew that they were his brothers. But he spoke to them as if they were strangers. He did not speak to them in a kind way. He asked them, ‘Where do you come from?’ They replied, ‘We come from the land of Canaan. We have come here to buy food.’ 8Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. #42:8 Joseph was only 17 years old when they sold him as a slave. He now looked like an Egyptian. That is why they did not recognize him. Probably he spoke to his brothers in the language of Egypt. Then a man who could speak Hebrew told the brothers what Joseph had said.
9Then Joseph remembered the dream that he had dreamed about his brothers. He said to them, ‘You have come here secretly to see how your people can attack our land.’ 10They replied ‘No, my lord, that is not true! We are your servants and we have come to buy food. 11We are all the sons of one man. We are honest men. We are not your enemies.’
12But Joseph said, ‘No! You have come here to see if our country is weak so that you can attack us.’ 13Joseph's brothers replied, ‘We belong to a family of 12 brothers. We are the sons of one man who lives in Canaan. Our youngest brother stayed at home with our father. One other brother is not with us any more.’ 14Joseph said to them, ‘It is as I told you. You are our enemies! 15I will see if what you say is true. This is what I will do. I promise by the life of Pharaoh himself, I will not let you leave this place. #42:15 Joseph made a promise ‘by the life of Pharaoh’. He wanted to show his brothers that he meant what he said. You must first bring your youngest brother here. I will only let you go after that. 16One of you must go to bring your brother here. I will keep you others in prison. In that way I will know if what you said is true. If your youngest brother does not come, then I will certainly know that you are enemies!’
17Then Joseph put his brothers in prison for three days.
18On the third day Joseph said to them, ‘Do what I say. Then you will stay alive, because I respect God. #42:18 Joseph showed his brothers that he was under God's authority, so he would not cheat them. 19If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison. The other brothers can go back to Canaan. You may take food back with you, because your families are hungry. 20But you must return to Egypt and you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that what you have said is true. Then you will not die.’ Joseph's brothers agreed to do what he told them.
21The brothers said to each other, ‘This punishment is happening to us because of what we did to Joseph. We saw how upset he was when he asked us not to kill him. But we refused to be kind to him. That is why we have all this trouble.’ 22Reuben said, ‘I told you not to do anything bad to the boy. But you would not agree! We killed him and now we must receive the punishment.’ 23While they said all this, they did not know that Joseph could understand them. Joseph had been speaking in the Egyptian language and someone else told the brothers his message in Hebrew. #42:23 The brothers still did not know that the important officer was Joseph. They thought that he was an Egyptian. They did not know that he spoke Hebrew too.
24Joseph went away from his brothers and he began to weep. But then he returned to speak to them again. While they watched, Joseph told his men to tie Simeon's hands and take him away. 25Then Joseph told his servants to fill the brothers' bags with food. He also told them to put each man's money back into his bag. #42:25 The brothers had brought the money to pay for the food. He told them to give the brothers enough food for their journey. The servants did what Joseph told them. 26Then the brothers put the bags of food on to their donkeys. Then they left.
27They travelled until they reached a place to sleep that night. One of the brothers opened his bag to get food for his donkey. Then he saw his money inside his bag, at the top. 28He said to his brothers, ‘They have given back my money! Here it is in my bag!’ All the brothers were upset and frightened. They asked each other, ‘What has God done to us?’
29After some time they arrived back in Canaan. They went to their father, Jacob. They told him everything that had happened to them. 30They said, ‘We met the man who is lord over Egypt. He spoke strong words to us. He thought that we were enemies who had come to find a way to attack Egypt. 31But we said to him, “We are honest men. We are not your enemies. 32We belong to a family of 12 brothers, all the sons of one father. One brother is not with us any more, and the youngest brother is at home with our father in Canaan.” 33Then the man who is lord over Egypt said, “I want to know if you are honest men. This is what I will do. You must leave one of your brothers here, with me. Then take food for your hungry families and leave Egypt. 34But then you must bring your youngest brother here to me. If you do that, I will know that you are really honest men. I will know that you are not our enemies. Then I will give your brother back to you. You will be able to stay in Egypt and you can buy and sell things here.” ’
35The brothers started to take the food out of their bags. And in their bags, they found each man's money! When the brothers and their father saw the money, they were frightened. 36Their father Jacob said to them, ‘You are taking my children away from me! Joseph is not here any more. Simeon also is not here. Now you want to take Benjamin away from me. Everything that happens is hurting me!’
37Then Reuben said to his father, Jacob, ‘I will bring Benjamin back to you. If I do not, then you can kill both of my sons. Trust me to take care of him. I will bring him back.’ 38But Jacob said, ‘My son will not go with you. His brother is already dead. Benjamin is the only one left. Something bad may happen to him on your journey. I am already an old man. If I lose Benjamin, I would be so sad that I would die.’ #42:38 Benjamin is Jacob's youngest son. Benjamin's mother was Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved his other wives. Jacob thinks that Joseph, Rachel's other son is dead. Jacob shows that he loves Benjamin more than he loves his other sons. Even when Simeon is in prison, Jacob does not want Benjamin to go to Egypt.
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