Genesis Chapter 42

The land of Egypt and the surrounding areas are suffering through a horrible famine at this point in the Bible. Joseph, the son of Jacob (Israel), has made Egypt the place to go to for help. He is the assistant to Pharaoh and is in charge of all the land. People from all around are going to Egypt, to Joseph, to get help in this time of great need.

1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

Jacob decided to send his sons to Egypt to buy some food, so that there family would not starve.

3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
11 We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.
16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
17 And he put them all together into ward three days.
18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
19 If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

Ten of the sons went down to Egypt, leaving Benjamin with his father. Benjamin was the full-blooded brother of Joseph and his father did not want anything to happen to him. Joseph’s brothers bowed before him, just as Joseph had said they would. Joseph disguised himself and asked them where they came from. He accused them of being spies to see things about his land, but they denied his accusations and told him they came to buy food. They explained that they were all brothers of one man and that they had two others brothers, one with their father, and one who was gone. Joseph said that they would prove themselves true as they were held captive until their younger brother came to Egypt. After they were in prison for three days, he told them to pick one of them to stay in prison. The rest were sent back to Canaan with food for the families and the were instructed to bring back Benjamin and prove they were not spies.

21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

The brothers spoke of their remorse for what they had done to Joseph years ago. I think that they felt they were being punished for their sin. Reuben reminded them that he had told them not to do it, but they would not listen to him. Joseph, who knew what they were talking about, went away and cried over this. He went back to them, and bound and took Simeon to place him in prison. I think he did this “before their eyes” as a reminder of what they had done to him many years before.

25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.
26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.
28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

Joseph had them take their sacks of food and put their money back in their sacks as well. Then they were sent away. When one of them went to feed his animals, he saw that he had all his money still and they knew this made them look like thieves.

29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.
31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:
34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.

When they got back home, they told Jacob what had happened when they had encountered the lord of the land, who they did not know was Joseph.

35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

When they emptied their sacks of food, they saw that all of them had their money still and they were all afraid. Jacob spoke to them of how they had caused him to loose two of his sons now and that Benjamin was at risk of being lost as well. Reuben said that if he did not bring him back, Jacob could kill his own sons. Reuben told his father to allow Benjamin to go back with him. Jacob refused because he could not stand to loose another son.

This chapter shows the fulfillment of the revelations that Joseph had received in dreams when he lived with his family. I am sure this time was a difficult one for Joseph. He had been made to suffer a lot because of the choices his brothers made. I am sure that there had been many times throughout those years, when he had thought about the dreams he had and how long it might be before he could see them come to pass. I think he must have held on to hope in these things, in order to get through the difficulties he had experienced. It must have been hard to see his brothers, groveling before him, when the last he saw them they were prepared to kill him to have their way. Joseph must have recognized his many blessings and the hand of the Lord in the tender mercies of his life. This is a great example of trusting the Lord and remaining righteous and faithful through the difficult and prosperous times of our lives. When we continue to follow the commandments and live well in the sight of God, he will lead us to the blessings that he has prepared for us.


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