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Genesis 42

The famine and Joseph's brothers

42:0The story goes back to Jacob and his family. Jacob is living in Canaan. He does not have any food. But he knows that there is food in Egypt.

1 Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt. So he said to his sons, ‘Why do you keep looking at each other? 2 I have heard that there is food in Egypt. Go there and buy some for us. Buy it so that we do not die.’

42:2God was planning to save his people.

3 Then 10 of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt. They went to buy food. 4 But Israel (Jacob) did not send Benjamin. Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to him. That is why he did not send him. He was Joseph's brother. 5 Jacob's sons were among the people who went to Egypt, to buy food. They went to Egypt because there was famine in Canaan.

6 Now Joseph was the man who had authority in the land. He was the man who sold food to all the people. Joseph's brothers arrived in Egypt. And they bowed down to him. They put their faces to the ground.

42:6Joseph's first dream had showed his brothers bowing down to him.

7 As soon as Joseph saw the men, he knew that they were his brothers. But he did not tell them who he was. And he spoke words to them that were not kind. He asked them, ‘Where do you come from?’ They replied ‘From the land of Canaan. We have come to buy food.’ 8 Joseph knew that they were his brothers. But they did not recognise Joseph. He spoke to his brothers through a man who could speak Hebrew. That is why they did not recognise him.

42:8Joseph was only 17 years old when they sold him as a slave. He now looked like an Egyptian. He did not have hair on his face. And he wore special clothes. He was a man with authority.

9 Then Joseph remembered his dream about his brothers. He said to them, ‘You have come to see where you can attack our land.’ 10 They replied ‘No my lord! Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. We are honest men. We are not enemies.’ 12 But Joseph said ‘No! You have come to see where you can attack us.’ 13 And Joseph's brothers replied ‘We were 12 brothers, the sons of one man. He lives in Canaan. The youngest brother is with our father. And one brother is not with us any more.’ 14 Joseph said ‘It is as I told you. You have come to see where you can attack us. You are enemies! 15 I will see if what you say is true. This is how I will see it. As Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place. You will not leave until your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you to get your brother. I will keep the other brothers in prison. Then I will know if what you said is true. If you are not saying what is true, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are enemies!’

42:16Joseph said ‘As surely as Pharaoh lives’, to show that he meant what he said.

17 And Joseph put his brothers in prison for 3 days.

18 On the 3rd day Joseph said to them ‘Do what I say. Then you will stay alive, because I believe in God.’

42:18Joseph showed his brothers that he had authority in Egypt. Now he showed them that he was under God's authority.

19 Joseph said ‘If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay in prison. The other brothers can go back to Canaan. And take food back with you, because your families are hungry. 20 But you must return to Egypt. And you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that what you say is true. And you will not die.’ And the brothers said, ‘Yes, we will do what you say.’

21 They said to each other, ‘This is happening because of what we did to Joseph. He asked us not to kill him. We saw how sad he was. But we would not listen. That is why we are in this trouble.’ 22 Reuben said, ‘I told you not to do wrong to the boy. But you would not listen! Now we will have bad things done to us.’ 23 Joseph had a man who could speak Hebrew. Joseph spoke to this servant in the Egyptian language. The servant then spoke to the brothers in Hebrew. Joseph understood what the brothers said. But they did not know that.

42:23The brothers still did not know that this important man was Joseph. They thought that he was an Egyptian. They did not know that he spoke Hebrew too.

24 Joseph turned away from his brothers. And he began to weep. But then he turned to face them again. And he spoke to them again. Then Joseph had Simeon taken from them. And the servants tied Simeon's hands. This happened in front of the other brothers. 25 Then Joseph told servants to fill the brothers' bags with food. And he told them to put each man's silver back into his bag. And he told them to give the brothers food for their journey. And the servants did what Joseph told them.

42:25Silver is a valuable metal. The brothers brought silver to pay for the food.

26 Then the brothers put their food on to their donkeys. And they left. 27 They travelled until it was night. Then they stopped. One of the brothers opened his bag to get food for his donkey. And he saw his silver inside his bag. 28 He said to his brothers, ‘They have given back my silver. Here it is in my bag.’ All the men were surprised. And they were very frightened. They said, ‘What has God done to us?’

29 Some time passed. And they arrived at Canaan. They went to their father Jacob. And they hold Jacob everything that had happened to them. 30 They said, ‘There is a man who is lord over the land. He spoke words to us that were not kind. And he said that we were enemies. He said that we were looking for a place to attack Egypt. 31 But we said to him “We are honest men. We are not enemies. 32 We are 12 brothers, all the sons of one father. One brother is not with us any more. And the youngest brother is with our father in Canaan.” 33 Then the man who is lord over the land said, “I want to know if your are honest men. This is how I will know. You must leave one of your brothers here, with me. Then take food for your hungry families and leave. 34 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. So, I will know that you are not enemies. And I will know that you are honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you. And you can buy and sell things in the land.” ’

35 The brothers emptied their bags. And in their bags, they found each man's silver! The brothers and their father saw the bags of silver. And they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them ‘You have taken my children away from me. Joseph is not here any more. And Simeon is not here any more. And now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!’ 37 Then Reuben said to Jacob, ‘I will bring Benjamin back to you. If I do not, then you can kill both of my sons. Trust me with Benjamin. I will bring him back.’ 38 But Jacob said, ‘My son will not go with you. He will not go with you because his brother is dead. He is the only one left. Something bad may happen on your journey. I am an old man. If something bad happened to him, I would die. I would die because I would be so sad.’

42:38Benjamin is Jacob's youngest son. Benjamin's mother was Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved his other wives. Jacob thinks that Joseph, Rachel's other son is dead. Jacob shows that he loves Benjamin more than he loves his other sons. Even when Simeon is in prison, Jacob does not want Benjamin to go to Egypt.