The Brothers’ First Journey to Egypt.#The first journey of the brothers to Egypt. Its cause is famine, which was also the reason Abraham and Sarah undertook their dangerous journey to Egypt. The brothers bow to Joseph in v. 6, which fulfills Joseph’s dream in 37:5–11. Endowed with wisdom, Joseph begins a process of instruction or “discipline” for his brothers that eventually forces them to recognize the enormity of their sin against him and the family. He controls their experience of the first journey with the result that the second journey in chaps. 43–44 leads to full acknowledgment and reconciliation. 1When Jacob learned that grain rations were for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons: “Why do you keep looking at one another?” 2He went on, “I hear that grain is for sale in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, that we may stay alive and not die.”#Acts 7:12. 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 some disaster might befall him. 5And so the sons of Israel were among those who came to buy grain, since there was famine in the land of Canaan.#Jdt 5:10; Acts 7:11.
6Joseph, as governor of the country, was the one who sold grain to all the people of the land. When Joseph’s brothers came, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.#Ps 105:21. 7He recognized them as soon as he saw them. But he concealed his own identity from them and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked them. They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”
8When Joseph recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him, 9he was reminded of the dreams he had about them. He said to them: “You are spies.#Gn 37:5. You have come to see the weak points#42:9, 12] Weak points: lit., “the nakedness of the land”; the military weakness of the land, like human nakedness, should not be seen by strangers. of the land.” 10“No, my lord,” they replied. “On the contrary, your servants have come to buy food. 11All of us are sons of the same man. We are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” 12But he answered them: “Not so! It is the weak points of the land that you have come to see.” 13“We your servants,” they said, “are twelve brothers, sons of a certain man in Canaan; but the youngest one is at present with our father, and the other one is no more.”#Gn 44:20. 14“It is just as I said,” Joseph persisted; “you are spies. 15This is how you shall be tested: I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you shall not leave here unless your youngest brother comes here. 16So send one of your number to get your brother, while the rest of you stay here under arrest. Thus will your words be tested for their truth; if they are untrue, as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17With that, he locked them up in the guardhouse for three days.
18On the third day Joseph said to them: “Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man. 19If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in this prison, while the rest of you go and take home grain for your starving families. 20But you must bring me your youngest brother. Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.#Gn 43:5. 21To one another, however, they said: “Truly we are being punished because of our brother. We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen. That is why this anguish has now come upon us.”#Gn 37:18–27. 22Then Reuben responded, “Did I not tell you, ‘Do no wrong to the boy’? But you would not listen! Now comes the reckoning for his blood.”#Gn 37:22. 23They did not know, of course, that Joseph understood what they said, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. 24But turning away from them, he wept. When he was able to speak to them again, he took Simeon from among them and bound him before their eyes. 25Then Joseph gave orders to have their containers filled with grain, their money replaced in each one’s sack, and provisions given them for their journey. After this had been done for them, 26they loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed.
27At the night encampment, when one of them opened his bag to give his donkey some fodder, he saw his money there in the mouth of his bag. 28He cried out to his brothers, “My money has been returned! Here it is in my bag!” At that their hearts sank. Trembling, they asked one another, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29When they got back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. 30“The man who is lord of the land,” they said, “spoke to us harshly and put us in custody on the grounds that we were spying on the land. 31But we said to him: ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32We are twelve brothers, sons of the same father; but one is no more, and the youngest one is now with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33Then the man who is lord of the land said to us: ‘This is how I will know if you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, then take grain for your starving families and go. 34When you bring me your youngest brother, and I know that you are not spies but honest men, I will restore your brother to you, and you may move about freely in the land.’”
35When they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was his moneybag! At the sight of their moneybags, they and their father were afraid. 36Their father Jacob said to them: “Must you make me childless? Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin away! All these things have happened to me!” 37Then Reuben told his father: “You may kill my own two sons if I do not return him to you! Put him in my care, and I will bring him back to you.” 38But Jacob replied: “My son shall not go down with you. Now that his brother is dead, he is the only one left. If some disaster should befall him on the journey you must make, you would send my white head down to Sheol in grief.”#Gn 37:35.
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1And Jacob hearing that food was sold in Egypt, said to his sons: Why are ye careless?
2I have heard that wheat is sold in Egypt. Go ye down, and buy us necessaries, that we may live, and not be consumed with want.
3So the ten brethren of Joseph went down, to buy corn in Egypt:
4Whilst Benjamin was kept at home by Jacob, who said to his brethren: Lest perhaps he take any harm in the journey.
5And they entered into the land of Egypt with others that went to buy. For the famine was in the land of Chanaan.
6And Joseph was governor in the land of Egypt, and corn was sold by his direction to the people. And when his brethren had bowed down to him,
7And he knew them, he spoke as it were to strangers somewhat roughly, asking them: Whence came you? They answered: From the land of Chanaan, to buy necessaries of life.
8And though he knew his brethren, he was not known by them.
9And remembering the dreams, which formerly he had dreamed, he said to them: You are spies. You are come to view the weaker parts of the land.
10But they said: It is not so, my lord; but thy servants are come to buy food.
11We are all the sons of one man: we are come as peaceable men; neither do thy servants go about any evil.
12And he answered them: It is otherwise: you are come to consider the unfenced parts of this land.
13But they said: We thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Chanaan. The youngest is with our father, the other is not living.
14He saith: This is it that I said: You are spies.
15I shall now presently try what you are. By the health of Pharao, you shall not depart hence, until your youngest brother come.
16Send one of you to fetch him: and you shall be in prison, till what you have said be proved, whether it be true or false: or else by the health of Pharao you are spies.
17So he put them in prison three days.
18And the third day he brought them out of prison, and said: Do as I have said, and you shall live; for I fear God.
19If you be peaceable men, let one of your brethren be bound in prison: and go ye your ways and carry the corn that you have bought, unto your houses.
20And bring your youngest brother to me, that I may find your words to be true, and you may not die. And they did as he had said.
21And they talked one to another: We deserve to suffer these things, because we have sinned against our brother, seeing the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear. Therefore is this affliction come upon us.
22And Ruben, one of them, said: Did not I say to you: Do not sin against the boy; and you would not hear me? Behold, his blood is required.
23And they knew not that Joseph understood; because he spoke to them by an interpreter.
24And he turned himself away a little while, and wept: and returning he spoke to them.
25And taking Simeon, and binding him in their presence, he commanded his servants to fill their sacks with wheat, and to put every man's money again in their sacks, and to give them besides provisions for the way. And they did so.
26But they having loaded their asses with the corn, went their way.
27And one of them opening his sack, to give his beast provender in the inn, saw the money in the sack's mouth;
28And said to his brethren: My money is given me again; behold it is in the sack. And they were astonished, and troubled, and said to one another: What is this that God hath done unto us?
29And they came to Jacob their father in the land of Chanaan; and they told him all things that had befallen them, saying:
30The lord of the land spoke roughly to us, and took us to be spies of the country.
31And we answered him: We are peaceable men, and we mean no plot.
32We are twelve brethren born of one father. One is not living; the youngest is with our father in the land of Chanaan.
33And he said to us: Hereby shall I know that you are peaceable men; Leave one of your brethren with me, and take ye necessary provision for your houses, and go your ways.
34And bring your youngest brother to me, that I may know you are not spies: and you may receive this man again, that is kept in prison: and afterwards may have leave to buy what you will.
35When they had told this, they poured out their corn, and every man found his money tied in the mouth of his sack. And all being astonished together,
36Their father Jacob said: You have made me to be without children: Joseph is not living, Simeon is kept in bonds, and Benjamin you will take away. All these evils are fallen upon me.
37And Ruben answered him: Kill my two sons, if I bring him not again to thee. Deliver him unto my hand, and I will restore him to thee.
38But he said: My son shall not go down with you. His brother is dead, and he is left alone: if any mischief befall him in the land to which you go, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to hell.
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