21 Feb. Genesis 42:1-38

21 Feb. Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt to buy grain

“Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, so he said to his sons, ‘Why are you just sitting here looking at one another? I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy grain for us to eat, so that we will live and not die.’”

“So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with them, because he was afraid that something terrible might happen to him. Along with many other people, the sons of Israel [Jacob] went to Egypt to buy grain, because the people in the land of Canaan were also hungry.”

“Now Joseph was governor over Egypt. He was the one who sold the grain to people who came to buy it. So Joseph’s brothers came to him and bowed face down on the ground before him.”

“When Joseph saw his brothers, he knew who they were, but acted as if he didn’t know them. He asked unkindly, ‘Where do you come from?’ They answered, ‘We have come from the land of Canaan to buy food.’”

“Joseph knew they were his brothers, but they did not know who he was. And Joseph remembered his dreams about his brothers bowing to him.”

“He said to them, ‘You are spies! You came to learn where the nation is weak!’ And they said, ‘We are ten of twelve brothers, sons of the same father, and we live in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is there with our father right now, and our other brother is gone.’”

“But Joseph said to them, ‘I can see I was right! You are spies! But I will give you a way to prove you are telling the truth. As surely as the king lives, you will not leave this place until your youngest brother comes here. One of you must go and get your brother. The rest of you will stay here in prison.’… Then Joseph put them all in prison for three days.”

“On the third day, Joseph said to them, ‘I am a God-fearing man. Do this and I will let you live: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison while the rest of you go and carry grain back to feed your hungry families. Then bring your youngest brother back here to me. If you do this, I will know you are telling the truth and you will not die.’…”

“Then Joseph left them and cried. After a short time he went back and spoke to them. He took Simeon and tied him up while the other brothers watched. Joseph told his servants to fill his brothers’ bags with grain and to put the money the brothers had paid for the grain back in their bags… So the brothers put the grain on their donkeys and left…”

“The brothers went to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan and told him everything that had happened… As the brothers emptied their sacks, each of them found his money in his sack. When they and their father saw it, they were afraid.”

“Their father Jacob said to them, ‘You are robbing me of all my children. Joseph is gone, Simeon is gone, and now you want to take Benjamin away too… Then Reuben said to his father, ‘You may put my two sons to death if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you… But Jacob said, ‘I will not allow Benjamin to go with you. His brother is dead, and he is the only son left from my wife Rachel. I am afraid something terrible might happen to him during the trip to Egypt. Then I would be sad until the day I die.’”

          (Genesis 42:1-38)



After seven years of plenty, famine arrived in Egypt. Jacob and Joseph’s eleven brothers were also suffering from famine in Canaan. Ten of the brothers came to Egypt to buy corn, but the youngest – Rachel’s son Benjamin – stayed at home with his father Jacob.

Joseph recognised his half-brothers, but they didn’t realise who he was. As he looked on with a mixture of amazement and disbelief, Joseph remembered his dreams which had suggested his brothers would one day bow down before him. And he remembered their scorn: “Do you really think you will be king over us? Do you truly think you will rule over us?” (see Genesis 37:5-11)

Full of pity for his brothers, Joseph gave them supplies of grain, but kept Simeon (one of the most violent of the brothers - see Genesis 34:25-31) as surety, and sent the other nine brothers back to Canaan.

He demanded that they return with Benjamin (Joseph’s only true brother); but Jacob would not allow Rachel’s son Benjamin – now his favourite son - to travel to Egypt.

This was not the end of the story, however, and God’s hand was still on this family as we will see!

The photo shows fertile land irrigated by the River Nile.

You can read more about Joseph and the Egyptian famine @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/24-the-journeys-of-isaac-jacob-joseph/joseph-becomes-vizier-of-egypt

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