Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt to Buy Corn
1When Jacob learnt that there was corn in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why don't you do something? 2#Acts 7.12I hear that there is corn in Egypt; go there and buy some to keep us from starving to death.” 3So Joseph's ten half-brothers went to buy corn in Egypt, 4but Jacob did not send Joseph's full-brother Benjamin with them, because he was afraid that something might happen to him.
5The sons of Jacob came with others to buy corn, because there was famine in the land of Canaan. 6Joseph, as governor of the land of Egypt, was selling corn to people from all over the world. So Joseph's brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he acted as if he did not know them. He asked them harshly, “Where do you come from?”
“We have come from Canaan to buy food,” they answered.
8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9#Gen 37.5–10He remembered the dreams he had dreamt about them and said, “You are spies; you have come to find out where our country is weak.”
10“No, sir,” they answered. “We have come as your slaves, to buy food. 11We are all brothers. We are not spies, sir, we are honest men.”
12Joseph said to them, “No! You have come to find out where our country is weak.”
13They said, “We were twelve brothers in all, sir, sons of the same man in the land of Canaan. One brother is dead, and the youngest is now with our father.”
14“It is just as I said,” Joseph answered. “You are spies. 15This is how you will be tested: I swear by the name of the king that you will never leave unless your youngest brother comes here. 16One of you must go and get him. The rest of you will be kept under guard until the truth of what you say can be tested. Otherwise, as sure as the king lives, you are spies.” 17Then he put them in prison for three days.
18On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man, and I will spare your lives on one condition. 19To prove that you are honest, one of you will stay in the prison where you have been kept; the rest of you may go and take back to your starving families the corn that you have bought. 20Then you must bring your youngest brother to me. This will prove that you have been telling the truth, and I will not put you to death.”
They agreed to this 21and said to one another, “Yes, now we are suffering the consequences of what we did to our brother; we saw the great trouble he was in when he begged for help, but we would not listen. That is why we are in this trouble now.”
22 # Gen 37.21–22 Reuben said, “I told you not to harm the boy, but you wouldn't listen. And now we are being paid back for his death.” 23Joseph understood what they said, but they did not know it, because they had been speaking to him through an interpreter. 24Joseph left them and began to cry. When he was able to speak again, he came back, picked out Simeon, and had him tied up in front of them.
Joseph's Brothers Return to Canaan
25Joseph gave orders to fill his brothers' packs with corn, to put each man's money back in his sack, and to give them food for the journey. This was done. 26The brothers loaded their donkeys with the corn they had bought, and then they left. 27At the place where they spent the night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey and found his money at the top of the sack. 28“My money has been returned to me,” he called to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack!” Their hearts sank, and in fear they asked one another, “What has God done to us?”
29When they came to their father Jacob in Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them: 30“The governor of Egypt spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying against his country. 31‘We are not spies,’ we answered, ‘we are honest men. 32We were twelve brothers in all, sons of the same father. One brother is dead, and the youngest is still in Canaan with our father.’ 33The man answered, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men: one of you will stay with me; the rest will take corn for your starving families and leave. 34Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but honest men; I will give your brother back to you, and you can stay here and trade.’ ”
35Then when they emptied out their sacks, every one of them found his bag of money; and when they saw the money, they and their father Jacob were afraid. 36Their father said to them, “Do you want to make me lose all my children? Joseph is gone; Simeon is gone; and now you want to take away Benjamin. I am the one who suffers!”
37Reuben said to his father, “If I do not bring Benjamin back to you, you can kill my two sons. Put him in my care, and I will bring him back.”
38But Jacob said, “My son cannot go with you; his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. Something might happen to him on the way. I am an old man, and the sorrow you would cause me would kill me.”
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Good News Bible with Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha. Scripture taken from the Good News Bible (r) (Today's English Version Second Edition, UK/British Edition). Copyright © 1992 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
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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