1 Then Jacob, hearing that food was being sold in Egypt, said to his sons: "Why are you negligent?
2 I have heard that wheat is being sold in Egypt. Go down and buy necessities for us, so that we may be able to live, and not be consumed by destitution."
3 And so, when ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain in Egypt,
4 Benjamin was kept at home by Jacob, who said to his brothers, "Lest perhaps he may suffer harm on the journey."
5 And they entered into the land of Egypt with the others who traveled to buy. For the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 And Joseph was governor in the land of Egypt, and grain was sold under his direction to the people. And when his brothers had reverenced him
7 and he had recognized them, he spoke harshly, as if to foreigners, questioning them: "Where did you come from?" And they responded, "From the land of Canaan, to buy necessary provisions."
8 And although he knew his brothers, he was not known by them.
9 And remembering the dreams, which he had seen in another time, he said to them: "You are scouts. You have come in order to see which parts of the land are weaker."
10 And they said: "It is not so, my lord. But your servants have arrived in order to buy food.
11 We are all sons of one man. We have come in peace, nor do any of your subjects devise evil."
12 And he answered them: "It is otherwise. You have come to examine the unguarded parts of this land."
13 But they said: "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father; the other is not living."
14 He said: "This is just as I have said. You are scouts.
15 I will now continue to put you to the test. By the health of Pharaoh, you will not depart from here, until your youngest brother arrives.
16 Send one of you and bring him. But you will be in chains, until what you have said is proven to be either true or false. Otherwise, by the health of Pharaoh, you are scouts."
17 Therefore, he delivered them into custody for three days.
18 Then, on the third day, he brought them out of prison, and he said: "Do as I have said, and you will live. For I fear God.
19 If you are peaceful, let one of your brothers be bound in prison. Then you may go away and carry the grain that you have bought to your houses.
20 And bring your youngest brother to me, so that I may be able to test your words, and you may not die." They did as he had said,
21 and they spoke to one another: "We deserve to suffer these things, because we have sinned against our brother, seeing the anguish of his soul, when he begged us and we would not listen. For that reason, this tribulation has come upon us."
22 And Reuben, one of them, said: "Did not I say to you, 'Do not sin against the boy,' and you would not listen to me? See, his blood is exacted."
23 But they did not know that Joseph understood, because he was speaking to them through an interpreter.
24 And he turned himself away briefly and wept. And returning, he spoke to them.
25 And taking Simeon, and binding him in their presence, he ordered his ministers to fill their sacks with wheat, and to replace each one's money in their sacks, and to give them, in addition, provisions for the way. And they did so.
26 Then, having loaded their donkeys with the grain, they set out.
27 And one of them, opening a sack to give his beast of burden fodder at the inn, looked upon the money at the sack's mouth,
28 and he said to his brothers: "My money has returned to me. See, it is held in the sack." And they were astonished and troubled, and they said to one another, "What is this that God has done to us?"
29 And they went to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, and they explained to him all the things that had befallen them, saying:
30 "The lord of the land spoke harshly to us, and he considered us to be scouts of the province.
31 And we answered him: 'We are peaceful, and we do not intend any treachery.
32 We are twelve brothers conceived of one father. One is not living; the youngest is with our father in the land of Canaan.'
33 And he said to us: 'Thus will I prove that you are peaceful. Release one of your brothers to me, and take necessary provisions for your houses, and go away,
34 and bring your youngest brother to me, so that I may know that you are not scouts. And this one, who is held in chains, you may be able to receive again. And thereafter, you shall have permission to buy what you want.' "
35 Having said this, when they poured out their grain, each found his money tied to the mouth of his sack. And all were terrified together.
36 Their father Jacob said, "You have caused me to be without children. Joseph is not living, Simeon is held in chains, and Benjamin you would carry away. All these evils have fallen back upon me."
37 And Reuben answered him, "Put my two sons to death, if I do not lead him back to you. Deliver him into my hand, and I will restore him to you."
38 But he said: "My son will not go down with you. His brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any adversity will befall him in the land to which you travel, you would lead my grey hairs down with sorrow to the grave."
1-2When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you sit around here and look at one another? I’ve heard that there is food in Egypt. Go down there and buy some so that we can survive and not starve to death.”
3-5Ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to Egypt to get food. Jacob didn’t send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something bad might happen to him. So Israel’s sons joined everyone else that was going to Egypt to buy food, for Canaan, too, was hit hard by the famine.
6-7Joseph was running the country; he was the one who gave out rations to all the people. When Joseph’s brothers arrived, they treated him with honor, bowing to him. Joseph recognized them immediately, but treated them as strangers and spoke roughly to them.
He said, “Where do you come from?”
“From Canaan,” they said. “We’ve come to buy food.”
8Joseph knew who they were, but they didn’t know who he was.
9Joseph, remembering the dreams he had dreamed of them, said, “You’re spies. You’ve come to look for our weak spots.”
10-11“No, master,” they said. “We’ve only come to buy food. We’re all the sons of the same man; we’re honest men; we’d never think of spying.”
12He said, “No. You’re spies. You’ve come to look for our weak spots.”
13They said, “There were twelve of us brothers—sons of the same father in the country of Canaan. The youngest is with our father, and one is no more.”
14-16But Joseph said, “It’s just as I said, you’re spies. This is how I’ll test you. As Pharaoh lives, you’re not going to leave this place until your younger brother comes here. Send one of you to get your brother while the rest of you stay here in jail. We’ll see if you’re telling the truth or not. As Pharaoh lives, I say you’re spies.”
17Then he threw them into jail for three days.
18-20On the third day, Joseph spoke to them. “Do this and you’ll live. I’m a God-fearing man. If you’re as honest as you say you are, one of your brothers will stay here in jail while the rest of you take the food back to your hungry families. But you have to bring your youngest brother back to me, confirming the truth of your speech—and not one of you will die.” They agreed.
21Then they started talking among themselves. “Now we’re paying for what we did to our brother—we saw how terrified he was when he was begging us for mercy. We wouldn’t listen to him and now we’re the ones in trouble.”
22Reuben broke in. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t hurt the boy’? But no, you wouldn’t listen. And now we’re paying for his murder.”
23-24Joseph had been using an interpreter, so they didn’t know that Joseph was understanding every word. Joseph turned away from them and cried. When he was able to speak again, he took Simeon and had him tied up, making a prisoner of him while they all watched.
25Then Joseph ordered that their sacks be filled with grain, that their money be put back in each sack, and that they be given rations for the road. That was all done for them.
26They loaded their food supplies on their donkeys and set off.
27-28When they stopped for the night, one of them opened his sack to get food for his donkey; there at the mouth of his bag was his money. He called out to his brothers, “My money has been returned; it’s right here in my bag!” They were puzzled—and frightened. “What’s God doing to us?”
29-32When they got back to their father Jacob, back in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened, saying, “The man who runs the country spoke to us roughly and accused us of being spies. We told him, ‘We are honest men and in no way spies. There were twelve of us brothers, sons of one father; one is gone and the youngest is with our father in Canaan.’
33-34“But the master of the country said, ‘Leave one of your brothers with me, take food for your starving families, and go. Bring your youngest brother back to me, proving that you’re honest men and not spies. And then I’ll give your brother back to you and you’ll be free to come and go in this country.’”
35As they were emptying their food sacks, each man came on his purse of money. On seeing their money, they and their father were upset.
36Their father said to them, “You’re taking everything I’ve got! Joseph’s gone, Simeon’s gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. If you have your way, I’ll be left with nothing.”
37Reuben spoke up: “I’ll put my two sons in your hands as hostages. If I don’t bring Benjamin back, you can kill them. Trust me with Benjamin; I’ll bring him back.”
38But Jacob refused. “My son will not go down with you. His brother is dead and he is all I have left. If something bad happens to him on the road, you’ll put my gray, sorrowing head in the grave.”
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THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of NavPress. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.