The Dreams Come True
1During the famine in Canaan, Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt. So he said to his sons, “Why are you sitting here doing nothing? 2I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go there and buy grain for us so that we will live and not die!”
3So ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. 4Jacob did not send Benjamin. (Benjamin was Joseph’s only full brother.#42:4 full brother Literally, “brother.” Joseph and Benjamin had the same mother.) Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to Benjamin.
5The famine was very bad in Canaan, so there were many people from Canaan who went to Egypt to buy grain. Among them were the sons of Israel.
6Joseph was the governor of Egypt at the time. He was the one who checked the sale of grain to people who came to Egypt to buy it. Joseph’s brothers came to him and bowed before him. 7Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted like he didn’t know them. He was rude when he spoke to them. He said, “Where do you come from?”
The brothers answered, “We have come from the land of Canaan to buy food.”
8Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not know who he was. 9Then Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about his brothers.
Joseph said to his brothers, “You have not come to buy food! You are spies. You came to learn where we are weak.”
10But the brothers said to him, “No, sir, we come as your servants. We have come only to buy food. 11We are all brothers—we all have the same father. We are honest men. We have come only to buy food.”
12Then Joseph said to them, “No, you have come to spy on us!”
13And the brothers said, “No, sir, we come as servants from Canaan. We are all brothers, sons of the same father. There were twelve brothers in our family. Our youngest brother is still at home with our father, and the other brother died a long time ago.”
14But Joseph said to them, “No! I can see that I am right. You are spies. 15But I will let you prove that you are telling the truth. In the name of Pharaoh, I swear that I will not let you go until your youngest brother comes here. 16One of you must go back to get your youngest brother while the rest of you stay here in prison. Then we can prove whether you are telling the truth or not. If you are not telling the truth, then by Pharaoh, I swear that you are spies!” 17Then Joseph put them all in prison for three days.
The Troubles Begin
18After three days Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. Do this, and I will let you live. 19If you are honest men, one of your brothers can stay here in prison, and the others can go and carry grain back to your people. 20But then you must bring your youngest brother back here to me. Then I will know that you are telling the truth, and you will not have to die.”
The brothers agreed to this. 21They said to each other, “We are being punished for the bad thing we did to our younger brother Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in. He begged us to save him, but we refused to listen. So now we are in trouble.”
22Then Reuben said to them, “I told you not to do anything bad to that boy, but you refused to listen to me. Now we are being punished for his death.”
23-24Joseph was using an interpreter to talk to his brothers, so the brothers did not know that he understood their language. He heard and understood everything they said, and that made him want to cry. So he turned away and left the room. When he came back, he took one of the brothers, Simeon, and tied him up while the others watched. 25Joseph told the servants to fill the bags with grain. The brothers had given Joseph the money for the grain, but he didn’t keep the money. He put the money in their bags of grain. Then he gave them what they would need for their trip back home.
26So the brothers put the grain on their donkeys and left. 27That night the brothers stopped at a place to spend the night. One of the brothers opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey. And there in the sack, he saw his money! 28He said to the other brothers, “Look! Here is the money I paid for the grain. Someone put the money back in my sack.” The brothers were very afraid. They said to one another, “What is God doing to us?”
The Brothers Report to Jacob
29The brothers went back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him about everything that had happened. 30They said, “The governor of that country spoke rudely to us. He thought that we were spies! 31We told him, ‘We are honest men, not spies. 32There are twelve of us brothers, all from the same father. But one of our brothers is no longer living, and the youngest is still at home with our father in Canaan.’
33“Then the governor of that country said to us, ‘Here is a way to prove that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me. Take your grain back to your families. 34Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know if you are honest men or if you were sent from an army to destroy us. If you are telling the truth, I will give your brother back to you. I will give him to you, and you will be free to buy grain in our country.’”
35Then the brothers started taking the grain out of their sacks, and every brother found his bag of money in his sack of grain. When the brothers and their father saw the money, they were afraid.
36Jacob said to them, “Do you want me to lose all of my children? Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone, and now you want to take Benjamin away too!”
37But Reuben said to his father, “Father, you may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. Trust me. I will bring him back to you.”
38But Jacob said, “I will not let Benjamin go with you. His brother is dead, and he is the only son left from my wife Rachel. It would kill me if anything happened to him during the trip to Egypt. You would send me to the grave#42:38 grave Or “Sheol,” the place of death. a very sad, old man.”
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© 1987, 2004 Bible League International
1And Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down thither and buy grain for us from thence, in order that we may live, and not die. 3And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy grain out of Egypt. 4But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest mischief may befall him. 5So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those that came; for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6And Joseph, he was the governor over the land — he it was that sold the corn to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brethren came and bowed down to him, the face to the earth.
7And Joseph saw his brethren, and knew them; but he made himself strange to them, and spoke roughly to them, and said to them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan, to buy food. 8And Joseph knew his brethren, but they did not know him. 9And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamt of them; and he said to them, Ye are spies: to see the exposed places of the land ye are come. 10And they said to him, No, my lord; but to buy food are thy servants come. 11We are all one man's sons; we are honest: thy servants are not spies. 12And he said to them, No; but to see the exposed places of the land are ye come. 13And they said, Thy servants were twelve brethren, sons of one man, in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not. 14And Joseph said to them, That is it that I have spoken to you, saying, Ye are spies. 15By this ye shall be put to the proof: as Pharaoh lives, ye shall not go forth hence, unless your youngest brother come hither! 16Send one of you, that he may fetch your brother, but ye shall be imprisoned, and your words shall be put to the proof, whether the truth is in you; and if not, as Pharaoh lives, ye are spies. 17And he put them in custody three days. 18And Joseph said to them the third day, This do, that ye may live: I fear God#GodHebrew: Elohim 19If ye are honest, let one of your brethren remain bound in the house of your prison, but go ye, carry grain for the hunger of your households; 20and bring your youngest brother to me, in order that your words be verified, and that ye may not die. And they did so.
21Then they said one to another, We are indeed guilty concerning our brother, whose anguish of soul we saw when he besought us, and we did not hearken; therefore this distress is come upon us. 22And Reuben answered them, saying, Did I not speak to you, saying, Do not sin against the lad? But ye did not hearken; and now behold, his blood also is required. 23And they did not know that Joseph understood, for the interpreter was between them. 24And he turned away from them, and wept. And he returned to them, and spoke to them, and took Simeon from among them, and bound him before their eyes. 25And Joseph gave orders to fill their vessels with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way. And thus did they to them. 26And they loaded their asses with their grain, and departed thence. 27And one of them opened his sack to give his ass food in the inn, and saw his money, and behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28And he said to his brethren, My money is returned to me, and behold, it is even in my sack. And their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God#GodHebrew: Elohim has done to us?
29And they came into the land of Canaan, to Jacob their father, and told him all that had befallen them, saying, 30The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us, and treated us as spies of the land. 31And we said to him, We are honest; we are not spies: 32we are twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan. 33And the man, the lord of the land, said to us, Hereby shall I know that ye are honest: leave one of your brethren with me, and take for the hunger of your households, and go, 34and bring your youngest brother to me, and I shall know that ye are not spies, but are honest. Your brother will I give up to you; and ye may trade in the land. 35And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that behold, every man had his bundle of money in his sack; and they saw their bundles of money, they and their father, and were afraid. 36And Jacob their father said to them, Ye have bereaved me of children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin! All these things are against me. 37And Reuben spoke to his father, saying, Slay my two sons if I bring him not back to thee: give him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. 38But he said, My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left; and if mischief should befall him by the way in which ye go, then would ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol.
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First published in 1890. This edition is maintained by the British and Foreign Bible Society.