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Genesis 42

42
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.

Genesis 42

42
1When Jacob found out grain was available in Egypt, he asked his sons, “Why do you keep on looking at each other to do something? 2I've heard there's grain in Egypt. Go there and buy some for us so we can stay alive—if not, we're going to die!”
3So ten of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. 4But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his other brothers, for he said, “I'm afraid something bad might happen to him.” 5So Israel's sons went to buy grain along with everyone else, because there was famine in Canaan too.
6Joseph was the governor of the country and he sold grain to all the people there. So Joseph's brothers went to him, and bowed low before him with their faces to the ground. 7Joseph recognized them as soon as he saw them, but he acted like a stranger towards them and spoke to them in a severe way, saying, “Where are you from?”
“From the country of Canaan,” they replied. “We've come to buy food.”
8Even though Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn't recognize him. 9Joseph thought back to the dreams he'd had about them, and told them, “No! You're spies! You've come to discover our country's weaknesses!”
10“That's not true, my lord!” they responded. “We, your servants, have just come to buy food. 11We're all the sons of one man and we're honest. We're not spies!”
12“No! You've come to find our country's weaknesses!” he insisted.
13“Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man living in the country of Canaan,” they explained. “The youngest is right now with our father, and one has passed away.”
14“As I said before, you're spies!” Joseph declared. 15“This is how your story will be checked. I swear on Pharaoh's life that you'll never leave this country unless your younger brother comes here. 16One of you go back and bring your other brother here. The others of you will be kept here in prison until it's clear that you're telling the truth. If not, then I swear on Pharaoh's life it proves you're spies!”
17So Joseph put all of them in prison for three days. 18On the third day he told them, “Since I'm someone who respects God, do as I tell you and you'll live. 19If you're truly honest, choose one of your brothers to stay here in prison. The rest of you can go back home with grain for your hungry families. 20But you must bring your youngest brother here to me to prove what you're saying is true. If not, you will all die.” They agreed to do this.
21“Clearly we're being punished for what we did to our brother,” they said to each other. “We watched him in agony pleading with us for mercy, but we refused to listen to him. That's why we're in all this trouble.”
22Reuben said to them, “Didn't I tell you, ‘Don't harm the boy!’ But you didn't listen to me. Now we're paying the price for what we did to him.”#42:22. Literally, “Now his blood is required.” The concept is that the blood of the victim cries out for vengeance. 23They didn't realize that Joseph understood what they were saying because they were talking to him through an interpreter. 24Joseph stepped away from them because he started crying. He came back when he was able to speak to them again. He chose Simeon and had him tied up as they watched.
25Joseph gave the order to fill up their sacks with grain, and also to return the money they had paid by placing it in the sacks as well. He also ordered that they should be provided with food for their journey home. All this was done. 26The brothers loaded the grain onto their donkeys and then set off.
27On their way they stopped for the night, and one of them opened up his sack to give his donkey something to eat and saw his money there at the top of the sack. 28He told his brothers, “My money's been returned to me. It's right here at the top of my sack!” They were horrified! Trembling with fear they asked each other, “What is this that God's done to us?”
29When they arrived home in Canaan, they told their father Jacob everything that had happened. 30“The man who is the country's governor spoke to us in a severe way, and accused us of spying on the land,” they explained. 31“We told him, ‘We are honest men. We're not spies! 32We are twelve brothers, the sons of one father. One has passed away and the youngest is right now with our father in the country of Canaan.’ 33Then the man who is the country's governor said to us, ‘This is how I'll find out if you're telling the truth: you are to leave one of your brothers here with me while the rest take grain home for your hungry families. 34Then bring your youngest brother to me. That way I'll know you're not spies but you're telling the truth. I'll release your brother to you, and you can stay in the country and trade.’”
35As they emptied their sacks, each one's money bag was there in his sack! When they and their father saw the money bags, they were horrified. 36Jacob their father accused them, “You have taken Joseph from me—he's gone! Simeon is gone too! Now you want to take Benjamin away! I'm the one who's suffering from all of this!”#42:36. The sentence is literally, “on me are all these things.” The Hebrew construction focuses “on me” making it clear that Jacob is holding them responsible for his suffering.
37“You can kill my two sons if I don't bring him back to you,” Reuben assured him. “Trust me with him, and I will bring him home to you myself.”
38“My son won't go there with you!” Jacob declared. “His brother is dead, and he's the only one I have left. If anything bad happens to him on the journey you're planning, you'll send this old man to his grave in grief.”