Genesis 42

Joseph's brothers go to Egypt

42:1Jacob is living in Canaan with his sons, except for Joseph. There is no food in Canaan, but Jacob knows that there is food in Egypt.

1 Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt. So he said to his sons, ‘There is no food here, so why are you just sitting there? 2 I have heard that there is food in Egypt. Go there and buy some for us. Then we may continue to live and not die.’

3 So 10 of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt to buy food. 4 But Jacob did not send his youngest son, Benjamin, with them. Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to Benjamin. 5 Jacob's sons went to Egypt, as well as other people who went there to buy food. They all went to Egypt because there was a bad famine in Canaan.

6 Joseph had authority to rule Egypt at that time. He was the man who sold food to all the Egyptians. When Joseph's brothers arrived there, they bent down in front of him, with their faces to the ground.

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

7 As soon as Joseph saw the men, he knew that they were his brothers. But he spoke to them as if they were strangers. He did not speak to them in a kind way. He asked them, ‘Where do you come from?’ They replied, ‘We come from the land of Canaan. We have come here to buy food.’ 8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.

42:8Joseph was only 17 years old when they sold him as a slave. He now looked like an Egyptian. Probably he spoke to his brothers in the language of Egypt. Then a man who could speak Hebrew told the brothers what Joseph had said. That is why they did not recognize him.

9 Then Joseph remembered the dream that he had dreamed about his brothers. He said to them, ‘You have come here secretly to see how your people can attack our land.’ 10 They replied ‘No, my lord, that is not true! We are your servants and we have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. We are honest men. We are not your enemies.’

12 But Joseph said, ‘No! You have come here to see if our country is weak so that you can attack us.’ 13 Joseph's brothers replied, ‘We belong to a family of 12 brothers. We are the sons of one man who lives in Canaan. Our youngest brother stayed at home with our father. One other brother is not with us any more.’ 14 Joseph said to them, ‘It is as I told you. You are our enemies! 15 I will see if what you say is true. This is what I will do. I promise by the life of Pharaoh himself, I will not let you leave this place. You must first bring your youngest brother here. Only then I will let you go. 16 One of you must go to bring your brother here. I will keep you others in prison. In that way I will know if what you said is true. If your youngest brother does not come, then I will certainly know that you are enemies!’

42:16Joseph made a promise ‘by the life of Pharaoh’. He wanted to show his brothers that he meant what he said.

17 Then Joseph put his brothers in prison for three days.

18 On the third day Joseph said to them, ‘Do what I say. Then you will stay alive, because I respect God. 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison. The other brothers can go back to Canaan. You may 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 have said is true. Then you will not die.’ Joseph's brothers agreed to do what he told them.

42:18Joseph showed his brothers that he was under God's authority, so he would not cheat them.

21 The brothers said to each other, ‘This punishment is happening to us because of what we did to Joseph. We saw how upset he was when he asked us not to kill him. But we refused to be kind to him. That is why we have all this trouble.’ 22 Reuben said, ‘I told you not to do anything bad to the boy. But you would not agree! We killed him and now we must receive the punishment.’ 23 While they said all this, they did not know that Joseph could understand them. Joseph had been speaking in the Egyptian language and someone else told the brothers his message in Hebrew.

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

24 Joseph went away from his brothers and he began to weep. But then he returned to speak to them again. While they watched, Joseph told his men to tie Simeon's hands and take him away. 25 Then Joseph told his servants to fill the brothers' bags with food. He also told them to put each man's money back into his bag. He told them to give the brothers enough food for their journey. The servants did what Joseph told them. 26 Then the brothers put the bags of food on to their donkeys. Then they left.

42:25The brothers had brought the money to pay for the food.

27 They travelled until they reached a place to sleep that night. One of the brothers opened his bag to get food for his donkey. Then he saw his money inside his bag, at the top. 28 He said to his brothers, ‘They have given back my money! Here it is in my bag!’ All the brothers were upset and frightened. They asked each other, ‘What has God done to us?’

29 After some time they arrived back in Canaan. They went to their father, Jacob. They told him everything that had happened to them. 30 They said, ‘We met the man who is lord over Egypt. He spoke strong words to us. He thought that we were enemies who had come to find a way to attack Egypt. 31 But we said to him, “We are honest men. We are not your enemies. 32 We belong to a family of 12 brothers, all the sons of one father. One brother is not with us any more, and the youngest brother is at home with our father in Canaan.” 33 Then the man who is lord over Egypt said, “I want to know if your are honest men. This is what I will do. You must leave one of your brothers here, with me. Then take food for your hungry families and leave Egypt. 34 But then you must bring your youngest brother here to me. If you do that, I will know that you are really honest men. I will know that you are not our enemies. Then I will give your brother back to you. You will be able to stay in Egypt and you can buy and sell things here.” ’

35 The brothers started to take the food out of their bags. And in their bags, they found each man's money! When the brothers and their father saw the money, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, ‘You are taking my children away from me! Joseph is not here any more. Simeon also is not here. Now you want to take Benjamin away from me. Everything that happens is hurting me!’

37 Then Reuben said to his father, Jacob, ‘I will bring Benjamin back to you. If I do not, then you can kill both of my sons. Trust me to take care of him. I will bring him back.’ 38 But Jacob said, ‘My son will not go with you. His brother is already dead. Benjamin is the only one left. Something bad may happen to him on your journey. I am already an old man. If I lose Benjamin, I would be so sad that I would die.’

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.