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Genesis 42

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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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Genesis 42
1¶ Now when Jacob saw that there was food in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why are ye looking upon one another?
2And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is food in Egypt; go down there and buy for us from there that we may live, and not die.
3And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy wheat in Egypt.
4But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure disaster befall him.
5And the sons of Israel came to buy among those that came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6And Joseph was the lord over the land, and he it was that sold the wheat to all the people of the land; and Joseph’s brethren came and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
7¶ And when Joseph saw his brethren, he knew them, but made himself strange unto them and spoke roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Where have you come from? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8And Joseph knew his brethren but they did not know him.
9Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
10And they said unto him, No, my lord, but to buy food are thy slaves come.
11We are all one man’s sons; we are men of the truth, thy slaves have never been spies.
12And he said unto them, No, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
13And they said, Thy slaves are twelve brethren, the 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 unto them, That is it that which I spoke unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
15Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth from here unless your youngest brother comes here.
16Send one of you and let him bring your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison that your words may be proved, whether there is any truth in you; or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
17And he put them all together into prison for three days.
18And Joseph said unto them the third day, Do this and live, for I fear God.
19If ye are men of the truth, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison; go ye, carry food for the famine of your houses
20but bring your youngest brother unto me, so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
21¶ And they said one to another, We are truly guilty concerning our brother in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
22Then Reuben answered them, saying, Did I not speak unto you, saying, Do not sin against the young man, and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, his blood is also required.
23And they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke unto them by an interpreter.
24And he turned himself about from them and wept and returned to them again and spoke with them and took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
25Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with wheat and to restore each man’s money into his sack and to give them provisions for the way; and thus it was done unto them.
26And they laded their asses with the wheat and departed from there.
27And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass fodder in the inn, he saw his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.
28And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; 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 has done unto us?
29¶ And they came unto Jacob, their father, unto the land of Canaan and told him all that had befallen them, saying,
30The man, who is the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us for spies of the country.
31And we said unto him, We are men of the truth; we have never been 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 country, said unto us, Hereby I shall know that ye are men of the truth; leave one of your brethren here with me and take food for the famine of your households and go
34and bring your youngest brother unto me; then I shall know that ye are not spies, but that ye are men of the truth; thus I will deliver you your brother, and ye shall trade in the land.
35And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
36And Jacob, their father, said unto them, Ye have bereaved me of my sons: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are upon me.
37And Reuben spoke unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I do not bring him to thee; deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
38And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left; if some disaster should befall him by the way in which ye go, then shall ye bring my gray hairs with sorrow down to Sheol.