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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
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.