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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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1 Then Jacob, hearing that food was being sold in Egypt, said to his sons: "Why are you negligent?
2 I have heard that wheat is being sold in Egypt. Go down and buy necessities for us, so that we may be able to live, and not be consumed by destitution."
3 And so, when ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain in Egypt,
4 Benjamin was kept at home by Jacob, who said to his brothers, "Lest perhaps he may suffer harm on the journey."
5 And they entered into the land of Egypt with the others who traveled to buy. For the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 And Joseph was governor in the land of Egypt, and grain was sold under his direction to the people. And when his brothers had reverenced him
7 and he had recognized them, he spoke harshly, as if to foreigners, questioning them: "Where did you come from?" And they responded, "From the land of Canaan, to buy necessary provisions."
8 And although he knew his brothers, he was not known by them.
9 And remembering the dreams, which he had seen in another time, he said to them: "You are scouts. You have come in order to see which parts of the land are weaker."
10 And they said: "It is not so, my lord. But your servants have arrived in order to buy food.
11 We are all sons of one man. We have come in peace, nor do any of your subjects devise evil."
12 And he answered them: "It is otherwise. You have come to examine the unguarded parts of this land."
13 But they said: "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father; the other is not living."
14 He said: "This is just as I have said. You are scouts.
15 I will now continue to put you to the test. By the health of Pharaoh, you will not depart from here, until your youngest brother arrives.
16 Send one of you and bring him. But you will be in chains, until what you have said is proven to be either true or false. Otherwise, by the health of Pharaoh, you are scouts."
17 Therefore, he delivered them into custody for three days.
18 Then, on the third day, he brought them out of prison, and he said: "Do as I have said, and you will live. For I fear God.
19 If you are peaceful, let one of your brothers be bound in prison. Then you may go away and carry the grain that you have bought to your houses.
20 And bring your youngest brother to me, so that I may be able to test your words, and you may not die." They did as he had said,
21 and they spoke to one another: "We deserve to suffer these things, because we have sinned against our brother, seeing the anguish of his soul, when he begged us and we would not listen. For that reason, this tribulation has come upon us."
22 And Reuben, one of them, said: "Did not I say to you, 'Do not sin against the boy,' and you would not listen to me? See, his blood is exacted."
23 But they did not know that Joseph understood, because he was speaking to them through an interpreter.
24 And he turned himself away briefly and wept. And returning, he spoke to them.
25 And taking Simeon, and binding him in their presence, he ordered his ministers to fill their sacks with wheat, and to replace each one's money in their sacks, and to give them, in addition, provisions for the way. And they did so.
26 Then, having loaded their donkeys with the grain, they set out.
27 And one of them, opening a sack to give his beast of burden fodder at the inn, looked upon the money at the sack's mouth,
28 and he said to his brothers: "My money has returned to me. See, it is held in the sack." And they were astonished and troubled, and they said to one another, "What is this that God has done to us?"
29 And they went to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, and they explained to him all the things that had befallen them, saying:
30 "The lord of the land spoke harshly to us, and he considered us to be scouts of the province.
31 And we answered him: 'We are peaceful, and we do not intend any treachery.
32 We are twelve brothers conceived of one father. One is not living; the youngest is with our father in the land of Canaan.'
33 And he said to us: 'Thus will I prove that you are peaceful. Release one of your brothers to me, and take necessary provisions for your houses, and go away,
34 and bring your youngest brother to me, so that I may know that you are not scouts. And this one, who is held in chains, you may be able to receive again. And thereafter, you shall have permission to buy what you want.' "
35 Having said this, when they poured out their grain, each found his money tied to the mouth of his sack. And all were terrified together.
36 Their father Jacob said, "You have caused me to be without children. Joseph is not living, Simeon is held in chains, and Benjamin you would carry away. All these evils have fallen back upon me."
37 And Reuben answered him, "Put my two sons to death, if I do not lead him back to you. Deliver him into my hand, and I will restore him to you."
38 But he said: "My son will not go down with you. His brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any adversity will befall him in the land to which you travel, you would lead my grey hairs down with sorrow to the grave."