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.
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
1When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around looking at one another? 2I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.”
3So Joseph’s ten older brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain. 4But Jacob wouldn’t let Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, for fear some harm might come to him. 5So Jacob’s#42:5 Hebrew Israel’s. See note on 35:21. sons arrived in Egypt along with others to buy food, for the famine was in Canaan as well.
6Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. 7Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”
8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. 9And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before. He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
10“No, my lord!” they exclaimed. “Your servants have simply come to buy food. 11We are all brothers—members of the same family. We are honest men, sir! We are not spies!”
12“Yes, you are!” Joseph insisted. “You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
13“Sir,” they said, “there are actually twelve of us. We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”
14But Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies! 15This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! 16One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”
17So Joseph put them all in prison for three days. 18On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. 19If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. 20But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.
21Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”
22“Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!”
23Of course, they didn’t know that Joseph understood them, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter. 24Now he turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.
25Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack. He also gave them supplies for their journey home. 26So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.
27But when they stopped for the night and one of them opened his sack to get grain for his donkey, he found his money in the top of his sack. 28“Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”
29When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. 30“The man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us,” they told him. “He accused us of being spies scouting the land. 31But we said, ‘We are honest men, not spies. 32We are twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’
33“Then the man who is governor of the land told us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home. 34But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give you back your brother, and you may trade freely in the land.’”
35As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. 36Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”
37Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”
38But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.#42:38 Hebrew to Sheol.”
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