1When Jacob found out grain was available in Egypt, he asked his sons, “Why do you keep on looking at each other to do something? 2I've heard there's grain in Egypt. Go there and buy some for us so we can stay alive—if not, we're going to die!”
3So ten of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. 4But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his other brothers, for he said, “I'm afraid something bad might happen to him.” 5So Israel's sons went to buy grain along with everyone else, because there was famine in Canaan too.
6Joseph was the governor of the country and he sold grain to all the people there. So Joseph's brothers went to him, and bowed low before him with their faces to the ground. 7Joseph recognized them as soon as he saw them, but he acted like a stranger towards them and spoke to them in a severe way, saying, “Where are you from?”
“From the country of Canaan,” they replied. “We've come to buy food.”
8Even though Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn't recognize him. 9Joseph thought back to the dreams he'd had about them, and told them, “No! You're spies! You've come to discover our country's weaknesses!”
10“That's not true, my lord!” they responded. “We, your servants, have just come to buy food. 11We're all the sons of one man and we're honest. We're not spies!”
12“No! You've come to find our country's weaknesses!” he insisted.
13“Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man living in the country of Canaan,” they explained. “The youngest is right now with our father, and one has passed away.”
14“As I said before, you're spies!” Joseph declared. 15“This is how your story will be checked. I swear on Pharaoh's life that you'll never leave this country unless your younger brother comes here. 16One of you go back and bring your other brother here. The others of you will be kept here in prison until it's clear that you're telling the truth. If not, then I swear on Pharaoh's life it proves you're spies!”
17So Joseph put all of them in prison for three days. 18On the third day he told them, “Since I'm someone who respects God, do as I tell you and you'll live. 19If you're truly honest, choose one of your brothers to stay here in prison. The rest of you can go back home with grain for your hungry families. 20But you must bring your youngest brother here to me to prove what you're saying is true. If not, you will all die.” They agreed to do this.
21“Clearly we're being punished for what we did to our brother,” they said to each other. “We watched him in agony pleading with us for mercy, but we refused to listen to him. That's why we're in all this trouble.”
22Reuben said to them, “Didn't I tell you, ‘Don't harm the boy!’ But you didn't listen to me. Now we're paying the price for what we did to him.”#42:22. Literally, “Now his blood is required.” The concept is that the blood of the victim cries out for vengeance. 23They didn't realize that Joseph understood what they were saying because they were talking to him through an interpreter. 24Joseph stepped away from them because he started crying. He came back when he was able to speak to them again. He chose Simeon and had him tied up as they watched.
25Joseph gave the order to fill up their sacks with grain, and also to return the money they had paid by placing it in the sacks as well. He also ordered that they should be provided with food for their journey home. All this was done. 26The brothers loaded the grain onto their donkeys and then set off.
27On their way they stopped for the night, and one of them opened up his sack to give his donkey something to eat and saw his money there at the top of the sack. 28He told his brothers, “My money's been returned to me. It's right here at the top of my sack!” They were horrified! Trembling with fear they asked each other, “What is this that God's done to us?”
29When they arrived home in Canaan, they told their father Jacob everything that had happened. 30“The man who is the country's governor spoke to us in a severe way, and accused us of spying on the land,” they explained. 31“We told him, ‘We are honest men. We're not spies! 32We are twelve brothers, the sons of one father. One has passed away and the youngest is right now with our father in the country of Canaan.’ 33Then the man who is the country's governor said to us, ‘This is how I'll find out if you're telling the truth: you are to leave one of your brothers here with me while the rest take grain home for your hungry families. 34Then bring your youngest brother to me. That way I'll know you're not spies but you're telling the truth. I'll release your brother to you, and you can stay in the country and trade.’”
35As they emptied their sacks, each one's money bag was there in his sack! When they and their father saw the money bags, they were horrified. 36Jacob their father accused them, “You have taken Joseph from me—he's gone! Simeon is gone too! Now you want to take Benjamin away! I'm the one who's suffering from all of this!”#42:36. The sentence is literally, “on me are all these things.” The Hebrew construction focuses “on me” making it clear that Jacob is holding them responsible for his suffering.
37“You can kill my two sons if I don't bring him back to you,” Reuben assured him. “Trust me with him, and I will bring him home to you myself.”
38“My son won't go there with you!” Jacob declared. “His brother is dead, and he's the only one I have left. If anything bad happens to him on the journey you're planning, you'll send this old man to his grave in grief.”
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