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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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Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
1#Ac 7:12Now when Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2#Ge 43:8And he said, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”
3Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4#Ge 42:38But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers for he said, “Perhaps some harm might happen to him.” 5#Ge 12:10; 41:57Thus the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6Now Joseph was the governor over the land, and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. So Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves down before him with their faces to the ground. 7#Ge 42:30Joseph saw his brothers, and he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger to them and spoke harshly to them. He said to them, “From where do you come?”
And they said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.”
8Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not know him. 9#Ge 37:5–9Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. He said to them, “You are spies! You came to see the nakedness of the land!”
10#Ge 37:8They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come only to buy food. 11#Ge 42:19We are all one man’s sons. We are honest men. Your servants are not spies.”
12But he said to them, “No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!”
13#Ge 37:30; 42:32They said, “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father today, and one is no longer living.”
14Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you, ‘You are spies!’ 15#1Sa 17:55Here is how you will be tested. By the life of Pharaoh, you will not leave here unless your youngest brother comes here. 16Send one of you, and let him get your brother, and you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested, whether there be any truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, you are surely spies.” 17#Ge 40:4; 40:7He put them all together in custody for three days.
18#Lev 25:43; Ne 5:15Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God. 19If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your prison house. The rest of you go and carry grain for the famine of your households. 20#Ge 42:34; 43:5Nevertheless, bring your youngest brother to me so that your words may be verified and you shall not die.” And they did so.
21#Hos 5:15; Ge 37:23–28Then they said one to another, “We are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. Therefore, this distress has come upon us.”
22#1Ki 2:32; 2Ch 24:22Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore, his blood is now required of us.” 23They did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke to them through an interpreter.
24#Ge 43:30He turned himself away from them and wept, but then turned back to them again and spoke with them. Then he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
25#1Pe 3:9Joseph then gave the command to fill their sacks with grain and to restore every man’s money to his sack and to give them provisions for the way. And it was done for them.
Joseph’s Brothers Return Home
26They loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed from there.
27#Ex 4:24As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed in the lodging place, he saw his money. It was in the mouth of his sack. 28And he said to his brothers, “My money has been returned. Here it is in my sack!”
Then their hearts sank, and they were afraid, saying to one another, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29They came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan and told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30#Ge 42:7“The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us and took us for spies of the country. 31And we said to him, ‘We are honest men. We are not spies. 32We are twelve brothers, all sons of our father. One is no longer living, and the youngest is with our father today in the land of Canaan.’
33#Ge 42:19–20; 42:15“The man, the lord of the country, said to us, ‘Here is how I may know that you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, take food for the famine of your households, and be gone. 34#Ge 34:10; 34:21But bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. Then I will deliver your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’ ”
35#Ge 43:21As they emptied their sacks, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. When both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. 36#Ge 43:14Then Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children! Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you will take Benjamin away. All these things are against me.”
37#Ge 46:9Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “Kill my two sons if I fail to bring him to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”
38#Ge 37:35; 37:33; 42:4But Jacob said, “My son must not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should happen to him on the journey you are to make, then you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.”