1And Jacob seeth that there is corn in Egypt, and Jacob saith to his sons, ‘Why do you look at each other?’
2he saith also, ‘Lo, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt, go down thither, and buy for us from thence, and we live and do not die;’
3and the ten brethren of Joseph go down to buy corn in Egypt,
4and Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob hath not sent with his brethren, for he said, ‘Lest mischief meet him.’
5And the sons of Israel come to buy in the midst of those coming, for the famine hath been in the land of Canaan,
6and Joseph is the ruler over the land, he who is selling to all the people of the land, and Joseph's brethren come and bow themselves to him — face to the earth.
7And Joseph seeth his brethren, and discerneth them, and maketh himself strange unto them, and speaketh with them sharp things, and saith unto them, ‘From whence have ye come?’ and they say, ‘From the land of Canaan — to buy food.’
8And Joseph discerneth his brethren, but they have not discerned him,
9and Joseph remembereth the dreams which he dreamed of them, and saith unto them, ‘Ye [are] spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye have come.’
10And they say unto him, ‘No, my lord, but thy servants have come to buy food;
11we [are] all of us sons of one man, we [are] right men; thy servants have not been spies;’
12and he saith unto them, ‘No, but the nakedness of the land ye have come to see;’
13and they say, ‘Thy servants [are] twelve brethren; we [are] sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and lo, the young one [is] with our father to-day, and the one is not.’
14And Joseph saith unto them, ‘This [is] that which I have spoken unto you, saying, Ye [are] spies,
15by this ye are proved: Pharaoh liveth! if ye go out from this — except by your young brother coming hither;
16send one of you, and let him bring your brother, and ye, remain ye bound, and let your words be proved, whether truth be with you: and if not — Pharaoh liveth! surely ye [are] spies;’
17and he removeth them unto charge three days.
18And Joseph saith unto them on the third day, ‘This do and live; God I fear!
19if ye [are] right men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your ward, and ye, go, carry in corn [for] the famine of your houses,
20and your young brother ye bring unto me, and your words are established, and ye die not;’ and they do so.
21And they say one unto another, ‘Verily we [are] guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul, in his making supplication unto us, and we did not hearken: therefore hath this distress come upon us.’
22And Reuben answereth them, saying, ‘Spake I not unto you, saying, Sin not against the lad? and ye hearkened not; and his blood also, lo, it is required.’
23And they have not known that Joseph understandeth, for the interpreter [is] between them;
24and he turneth round from them, and weepeth, and turneth back unto them, and speaketh unto them, and taketh from them Simeon, and bindeth him before their eyes.
25And Joseph commandeth, and they fill their vessels [with] corn, also to put back the money of each unto his sack, and to give to them provision for the way; and one doth to them so.
26And they lift up their corn upon their asses, and go from thence,
27and the one openeth his sack to give provender to his ass at a lodging-place, and he seeth his money, and lo, it [is] in the mouth of his bag,
28and he saith unto his brethren, ‘My money hath been put back, and also, lo, in my bag:’ and their heart goeth out, and they tremble, one to another saying, ‘What [is] this God hath done to us!’
29And they come in unto Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and they declare to him all the things meeting them, saying,
30‘The man, the lord of the land, hath spoken with us sharp things, and maketh us as spies of the land;
31and we say unto him, We [are] right men, we have not been spies,
32we [are] twelve brethren, sons of our father, the one is not, and the young one [is] to-day with our father in the land of Canaan.
33‘And the man, the lord of the land, saith unto us, By this I know that ye [are] right men — one of your brethren leave with me, and [for] the famine of your houses take ye and go,
34and bring your young brother unto me, and I know that ye [are] not spies, but ye [are] right men; your brother I give to you, and ye trade with the land.’
35And it cometh to pass, they are emptying their sacks, and lo, the bundle of each man's silver [is] in his sack, and they see their bundles of silver, they and their father, and are afraid;
36and Jacob their father saith unto them, ‘Me ye have bereaved; Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and Benjamin ye take — against me have been all these.’
37And Reuben speaketh unto his father, saying, ‘My two sons thou dost put to death, if I bring him not in unto thee; give him into my hand, and I — I bring him back unto thee;’
38and he saith, ‘My son doth not go down with you, for his brother [is] dead, and he by himself is left; when mischief hath met him in the way in which ye go, then ye have brought down my grey hairs in sorrow to sheol.’
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Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
1When Jacob learned there was food in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around here staring at each other? 2I hear there is grain in Egypt; go there and buy some for us so we don’t all starve to death.” 3So Joseph’s ten half brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt, 4but Jacob did not send Joseph’s full brother Benjamin with them, because he feared something might happen to him. 5So Israel’s sons were among those who went to Egypt to buy grain, for the famine in the land of Canaan was severe. # 42:5 Joseph’s ten brothers left for Egypt on a journey of eight to ten days to buy food for their very large families (see Gen. 46:26).
6Now Joseph was the governor of the land of Egypt, which meant he supervised the sale of grain to all the people. One day, Joseph’s ten brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces on the ground. # 42:6 Joseph was seventeen when he had his dreams. At the age of thirty, he was exalted over Egypt. About nine years later his brothers come to buy grain from him. After he had waited twenty-two years for the fulfillment of his prophetic dreams, here were his brothers bowing down before him. What a feeling that must have been! When his ten brothers came before him, he knew who they were, even though they didn’t recognize him. His dream was being fulfilled right before his eyes—almost. As they were bowing down before him, he counted them; there were only ten, not eleven. Where was the eleventh? Joseph needed a plan. 7As soon as Joseph saw them, he realized that they were his brothers! But he pretended he didn’t know them and spoke to them harshly: “Where do you come from?”
“From the land of Canaan,” they answered, “and we’re here to buy food.”
8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they had no clue that it was Joseph speaking to them. 9Then at once, Joseph remembered the dreams he had about them bowing down before him! # 42:9 At that moment, Joseph had the choice of revealing his identity to his brothers or remaining in disguise. He chose the latter, for the wisdom of God was in him. He wanted to test them to see if they were repentant of their betrayal. From a human standpoint, Joseph would have been happy for an instant reconciliation with them, but Joseph was a man broken by God and was now prepared to deliver others. Joseph spoke and acted in such a way that their hearts would be revealed and exposed. Did Joseph wonder if they had done to Benjamin what they had done to him? It was not a spirit of revenge driving Joseph, but a true love for his brothers and for the ways of God. The tests Joseph took them through were designed by God to see what they had done and if they had come to repentance. See 2 Peter 3:9. Pausing, he said to them, “You are spies! You’ve come to see where our land is weak!” # 42:9 Or “to see the nakedness of the land.”
10His brothers replied, “No, master; we’ve come to buy food. 11We, your servants, are honest men; we’d never think of spying! We’re blood brothers, sons of one father.”
12Joseph interrupted, “No! You are spies who have come here to find our weakness!”
13“We are your servants,” they insisted. “We were twelve brothers, our youngest brother remained behind with our father, and one brother—well, he is no more.”
14Joseph said to them, “It’s just as I said; you are spies! 15And here is how I’ll test you: unless your younger brother comes and presents himself here before me, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you shall not depart from here! 16One of you must go and bring me your brother, while the rest of you will remain here in confinement. This way I will test your words to see if the story you have told me is true. If not, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17He placed them all in prison together for three days. # 42:17 Joseph put his brothers in confinement for three days, perhaps to let them know how he had suffered in prison for those many years—not to punish, but to prepare them. They could only conclude that God had confined them because of what they had done to Joseph.
Joseph Tests His Brothers
18On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live. I am a man who respects God. 19If you are as honest as you say you are, then I will keep just one of your brothers here in confinement while the rest of you carry grain home for your starving families. 20You must return with your youngest brother so that I may verify your story, and that you may not die.” So they agreed to do so.
21With Joseph standing there, they began to speak among themselves, saying, “Look what’s happened to us! We’re being punished for what we did to Joseph long ago. We heard his cries of anguish and saw the agony of his soul when he begged us for mercy, but we turned a deaf ear. That’s why all this trouble has come upon us!”
22Then Reuben spoke up, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! So now we’re paying the price for his murder!” # 42:22 Or “Now comes the reckoning for his blood!” 23They had no clue that Joseph understood every word, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter.
24Deeply affected by what he heard, Joseph began to weep and hurriedly left their presence. After he had composed himself, he returned to them, and pointing to Simeon, said, “This one will remain here.” # 42:24 Joseph wanted to be sure they would return to Egypt. Simeon’s name means “he who hears.” By keeping Simeon, Joseph was showing them that they had “lost their hearing.” Also, Joseph was testing them to see if they would abandon Simeon as they had him. While in prison, Simeon would have lots of time on his hands to listen—and discern. Simeon was known for his cruelty (see Gen. 34:25; 49:5–7), and he might have been the one that led the way in their persecution of Joseph. Then he had him tied and bound while they all watched. 25Joseph then gave orders to have their bags filled with grain, to hide each man’s money back inside his sack, # 42:25 As the nine brothers left for Canaan, Joseph gave them sacks of grain for their journey. At his orders, his brothers’ money was replaced in their sacks of grain. Joseph paid for the grain himself, for he loved his brothers. His secret love paid their debt (see Isa. 55:1). They deserved no grain, they deserved no money, but mercy prevailed. The money in the sacks was also a part of Joseph’s wise plan to test his brothers. and to give them provisions for their journey home. After this was done for them, 26they loaded their donkeys with the bags of grain and departed.
Joseph’s Brothers Return to Canaan
27Later, they camped for the night, and as one of them # 42:27 The Midrash identifies him as Levi. See Targum Jonathan. opened his sack of grain to feed his donkey, he discovered that his money was there right on top of the grain! 28He shouted to his brothers, “My money! Look, someone put my money back in my sack!” Troubled and trembling, they said to each other, “What in the world has God done to us?”
29When they came to their father Jacob in Canaan, they told him the story of all that happened to them, saying, 30“The governor of Egypt spoke harshly to us and accused us of being spies. 31We told him, ‘We are not spies but honest men. 32We’re twelve brothers, sons of our father. Our youngest remained with our father in the land of Canaan, and one is no more.’ 33Then the man, the governor of Egypt, demanded, ‘By this test, I will discern if you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers with me, take the grain you need for your families, and be on your way. 34Return to me with your youngest brother, then I’ll know you are not spies, but men of integrity. Then I’ll release your brother back to you, and you’ll be free to trade in the land.’ ”
35As they each emptied their sacks of grain, each man found his money inside his sack! When they and their father saw their money returned to them, they were frightened. 36Their father Jacob said to his sons, “You have taken away my children! First, Joseph is gone, and now, Simeon! And now, you want to take Benjamin from me! Everything is against me!” # 42:36 And how many times have we said that everything is against us when, in fact, everything and every event is being woven together for our good because we love God (see Rom. 8:28)? See also Ps. 34:19; Isa. 41:10, 13.
37Then Reuben said, “Father, you may put my two sons # 42:37 Reuben had four sons, so the Hebrew implies “two of my sons.” to death if I fail to bring Benjamin back to you! Trust me—I will bring him back!”
38But Jacob replied, “I can’t let my son Benjamin go with you. For his brother is dead, and of Rachel’s sons, he alone is left. # 42:38 Jacob could not see how insensitive his remarks were. Reuben was a son, Judah was a son, Levi was a son, and so were all the others. Jacob spoke as if the other sons did not matter; Jacob continued to show favoritism. If he were to meet with disaster on your journey, I would die of grief! You will send my white hair and broken heart sorrowing down to the grave!” # 42:38 Or, in Hebrew, “Sheol.”
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