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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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CHAPTER 42
1Forsooth Jacob heard that foods were sold in Egypt, and he said to his sons, Why be ye negligent?
2I [have] heard that wheat is sold in Egypt; go ye down, and buy ye necessaries to us, that we may live, and be not wasted by neediness.
3Therefore ten brethren of Joseph went down to buy wheat in Egypt,
4and Benjamin was withholden of Jacob at home, that said to his brethren, Lest peradventure in the way he suffer any evil.
5Soothly they entered into the land of Egypt, with other men that went thither to buy corn; forsooth hunger was in the land of Canaan.
6And Joseph was the prince of Egypt, and at his will wheats were sold to [the] peoples. And when his brethren had worshipped or honoured him,
7and he had known them, he spake harder to them, as to aliens, and asked them, From whence came ye? Which answered, From the land of Canaan, that we buy necessaries to our lifelode.
8And nevertheless he knew his brethren, and he was not known of them,
9and he bethought on the dreams which he saw sometime. And he said to them, Ye be spyers [or spies], ye came to see the feebler things of the land.
10Which said, Lord, it is not so, but thy servants came to buy meats;
11all we be [the] sons of one man, we came hither peaceably, and thy servants imagine not any evil.
12To which he answered, It is in other manner, ye came to see the feeble things of the land.
13And they said, We thy servants be twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; the youngest is with our father, another is not alive.
14This it is, he said, that I spake to you, ye be spyers [or spies],
15right now I shall take experience or very knowing of you; by the health of Pharaoh ye shall not go from hence, till your least brother come hither;
16send ye one of you, that he bring him, forsooth ye shall be in bonds till those things that ye said be proved, whether those [or they] be false or true; else, by the health of Pharaoh, ye be spies.
17Therefore he betook them into keeping three days;
18soothly in the third day, when they were led out of prison, Joseph said, Do ye that that I said, and ye shall live, for I dread God;
19if ye be peaceable, one brother of you be bound in prison; forsooth the rest go ye, and bear the wheat, which ye have bought, into your houses,
20and bring ye your youngest brother to me, that I may prove your words, and ye die not. They did as he said,
21and they spake together, Worthily we suffer these things, for we sinned against our brother, and we saw the anguish of his soul, while he prayed us, and we heard him not; therefore this tribulation cometh on us.
22Of which one, Reuben, said, Whether I said not to you, Do not ye sin against the child, and ye heard not me? lo! his blood is sought.
23Soothly they knew not that Joseph understood them, for he spake to them by an interpreter or an expounder.
24And he turned away himself a little, and wept; and he turned again, and spake to them. And he took Simeon, and bound him, while they were present;
25and he commanded the servants, that they should fill their sacks with wheat, and that they should put all their money in their bags, and over this give to them meats in the way; which did so.
26And they bare [the] wheats on their asses, and went forth,
27and when the sack of one of them was opened that he should give meat to the work beast in the inn, he beheld the money in the mouth of the bag,
28and he said to his brethren, My money is yielded to me, lo! it is had in the bag; and they were astonied, and troubled, and said together, What thing is this that God hath done to us?
29And they came to Jacob, their father, in the land of Canaan, and told to him all things that befelled to them, and said,
30The lord of the land spake hard to us, and guessed that we were spyers [or spies] of the province;
31to whom we answered, We be peaceable, neither we purpose any treasons;
32we be twelve brethren, engendered of one father, one is not alive, the youngest dwelleth with the father in the land of Canaan.
33And he said to us, Thus I shall prove that ye be peaceable; leave ye one brother of you with me, and take ye meats needful to your houses, and go ye,
34and bring ye to me your youngest brother, that I know that ye be not spyers [or spies], and that ye may receive this brother which is holden in bonds, and that from thenceforth ye have license to buy what things ye will.
35While these things were said, when they all poured out the wheats, they found the money bound in the mouths of their sacks. And when they altogether were afeared,
36their father Jacob said, Ye have made me to be without children; Joseph is not alive, Simeon is holden in bonds, ye shall take away from me Benjamin; all these evils have fallen in on me.
37To whom Reuben answered, Slay thou my two sons, if I shall not bring him again to thee; take thou him in mine hand, and I shall restore him to thee.
38And Jacob said, My son shall not go down with you; his brother is dead, he alone is left; if any adversity shall befall to him in the land to which ye shall go, ye shall lead forth mine hoar hairs with sorrow to hell.