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Genesis 42:1-45:15Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Joseph’s Brothers in Egypt

42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you keep looking at each other? Listen,” he went on, “I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us so that we will live and not die.” So 10 of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he thought, “Something might happen to him.”

The sons of Israel were among those who came to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. Joseph was in charge of the country; he sold grain to all its people. His brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them.

“Where do you come from?” he asked.

“From the land of Canaan to buy food,” they replied.

Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Joseph remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies. You have come to see the weakness[a] of the land.”

10 “No, my lord. Your servants have come to buy food,” they said. 11 “We are all sons of one man. We are honest; your servants are not spies.”

12 “No,” he said to them. “You have come to see the weakness of the land.”

13 But they replied, “We, your servants, were 12 brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now[b] with our father, and one is no longer living.”

14 Then Joseph said to them, “I have spoken:[c] ‘You are spies!’ 15 This is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one from among you to get your brother. The rest of you will be imprisoned so that your words can be tested to see if they are true. If they are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 So Joseph imprisoned them together for three days.

18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “I fear God—do this and you will live. 19 If you are honest, let one of you[d] be confined to the guardhouse, while the rest of you go and take grain to relieve the hunger of your households. 20 Bring your youngest brother to me so that your words can be confirmed; then you won’t die.” And they consented to this.

21 Then they said to each other, “Obviously, we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come to us.”

22 But Reuben replied: “Didn’t I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn’t listen. Now we must account for his blood!”[e]

23 They did not realize that Joseph understood them, since there was an interpreter between them. 24 He turned away from them and wept. Then he turned back and spoke to them. He took Simeon from them and had him bound before their eyes. 25 Joseph then gave orders to fill their containers with grain, return each man’s money to his sack, and give them provisions for their journey. This order was carried out. 26 They loaded the grain on their donkeys and left there.

The Brothers Return Home

27 At the place where they lodged for the night, one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his money there at the top of the bag. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been returned! It’s here in my bag.” Their hearts sank. Trembling, they turned to one another and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29 When they reached their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them: 30 “The man who is the lord of the country spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying on the country. 31 But we told him: We are honest and not spies. 32 We were 12 brothers, sons of the same[f] father. One is no longer living, and the youngest is now[g] with our father in the land of Canaan. 33 The man who is the lord of the country said to us, ‘This is how I will know if you are honest: Leave one brother with me, take food to relieve the hunger of your households, and go. 34 Bring back your youngest brother to me, and I will know that you are not spies but honest men. I will then give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the country.’”

35 As they began emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his bag of money! When they and their father saw their bags of money, they were afraid.

36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my sons. Joseph is gone and Simeon is gone. Now you want to take Benjamin. Everything happens to me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You can kill my two sons if I don’t bring him back to you. Put him in my care,[h] and I will return him to you.”

38 But Jacob answered, “My son will not go down with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left. If anything happens to him on your journey, you will bring my gray hairs down to Sheol in sorrow.”

Decision to Return to Egypt

43 Now the famine in the land was severe. When they had used up the grain they had brought back from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us some food.”

But Judah said to him, “The man specifically warned us: ‘You will not see me again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go, for the man said to us, ‘You will not see me again unless your brother is with you.’”

“Why did you cause me so much trouble?” Israel asked. “Why did you tell the man that you had another brother?”

They answered, “The man kept asking about us and our family: ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ And we answered him accordingly. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother here’?”

Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me. We will be on our way so that we may live and not die—neither we, nor you, nor our children. I will be responsible for him. You can hold me personally accountable![i] If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, I will be guilty before you forever. 10 If we had not wasted time, we could have come back twice by now.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your packs and take them down to the man as a gift—some balsam and some honey, aromatic gum and resin, pistachios and almonds. 12 Take twice as much money with you. Return the money that was returned to you in the top of your bags. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also, and go back at once to the man. 14 May God Almighty cause the man to be merciful to you so that he will release your other brother and Benjamin to you. As for me, if I am deprived of my sons, then I am deprived.”

The Return to Egypt

15 The men took this gift, double the amount of money, and Benjamin. They made their way down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his steward,[j] “Take the men to my house. Slaughter an animal and prepare it, for they will eat with me at noon.” 17 The man did as Joseph had said and brought them to Joseph’s house.

18 But the men were afraid because they were taken to Joseph’s house. They said, “We have been brought here because of the money that was returned in our bags the first time. They intend to overpower us, seize us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys.” 19 So they approached Joseph’s steward[k] and spoke to him at the doorway of the house.

20 They said, “Sir, we really did come down here the first time only to buy food. 21 When we came to the place where we lodged for the night and opened our bags of grain, each one’s money was at the top of his bag! It was the full amount of our money, and we have brought it back with us. 22 We have brought additional money with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our money in the bags.”

23 Then the steward said, “May you be well. Don’t be afraid. Your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your bags. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24 The steward brought the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet, and got feed for their donkeys. 25 Since the men had heard that they were going to eat a meal there, they prepared their gift for Joseph’s arrival at noon. 26 When Joseph came home, they brought him the gift they had carried into the house, and they bowed to the ground before him.

27 He asked if they were well, and he said, “How is your elderly father that you told me about? Is he still alive?”

28 They answered, “Your servant our father is well. He is still alive.” And they bowed down to honor him.

29 When he looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother that you told me about?” Then he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Joseph hurried out because he was overcome with emotion for his brother, and he was about to weep. He went into an inner room to weep. 31 Then he washed his face and came out. Regaining his composure, he said, “Serve the meal.”

32 They served him by himself, his brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who were eating with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, since that is abhorrent to them. 33 They were seated before him in order by age, from the firstborn to the youngest. The men looked at each other in astonishment. 34 Portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, and Benjamin’s portion was five times larger than any of theirs. They drank, and they got intoxicated with Joseph.

Joseph’s Final Test

44 Then Joseph commanded his steward: “Fill the men’s bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each one’s money at the top of his bag. Put my cup, the silver one, at the top of the youngest one’s bag, along with his grain money.” So he did as Joseph told him.

At morning light, the men were sent off with their donkeys. They had not gone very far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Get up. Pursue the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good?[l] Isn’t this the cup that my master drinks from and uses for divination? What you have done is wrong!’”

When he overtook them, he said these words to them. They said to him, “Why does my lord say these things? Your servants could not possibly do such a thing. We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found at the top of our bags. How could we steal gold and silver from your master’s house? If any of us is[m] found to have it, he must die, and we also will become my lord’s slaves.”

10 The steward replied, “What you have said is right, but only the one who is found to have it will be my slave, and the rest of you will be blameless.”

11 So each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 The steward searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and each one loaded his donkey and returned to the city.

14 When Judah and his brothers reached Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell to the ground before him. 15 “What is this you have done?” Joseph said to them. “Didn’t you know that a man like me could uncover the truth by divination?”

16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “How can we plead? How can we justify ourselves? God has exposed your servants’ iniquity. We are now my lord’s slaves—both we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

17 Then Joseph said, “I swear that I will not do this. The man in whose possession the cup was found will be my slave. The rest of you can go in peace to your father.”

Judah’s Plea for Benjamin

18 But Judah approached him and said, “Sir, please let your servant speak personally to my lord.[n] Do not be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 and we answered my lord, ‘We have an elderly father and a younger brother, the child of his old age. The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him to me so that I can see him.’ 22 But we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he were to leave, his father would die.’ 23 Then you said to your servants, ‘If your younger brother does not come down with you, you will not see me again.’

24 “This is what happened when we went back to your servant my father: We reported your words to him. 25 But our father said, ‘Go again, and buy us some food.’ 26 We told him, ‘We cannot go down unless our younger brother goes with us. So if our younger brother isn’t with us, we cannot see the man.’ 27 Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One left—I said that he must have been torn to pieces—and I have never seen him again. 29 If you also take this one from me and anything happens to him, you will bring my gray hairs down to Sheol in sorrow.’

30 “So if I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us—his life is wrapped up with the boy’s life— 31 when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die. Then your servants will have brought the gray hairs of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. 32 Your servant became accountable to my father for the boy, saying, ‘If I do not return him to you, I will always bear the guilt for sinning against you, my father.’ 33 Now please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave, in place of the boy. Let him go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the grief that would overwhelm my father.”

Joseph Reveals His Identity

45 Joseph could no longer keep his composure in front of all his attendants,[o] so he called out, “Send everyone away from me!” No one was with him when he revealed his identity to his brothers. But he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and also Pharaoh’s household heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But they could not answer him because they were terrified in his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.[p] Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

“Return quickly to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me without delay. 10 You can settle in the land of Goshen and be near me—you, your children, and grandchildren, your sheep, cattle, and all you have. 11 There I will sustain you, for there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise, you, your household, and everything you have will become destitute.”’ 12 Look! Your eyes and my brother Benjamin’s eyes can see that it is I , Joseph, who am[q] speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all my glory in Egypt and about all you have seen. And bring my father here quickly.”

14 Then Joseph threw his arms around Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his shoulder. 15 Joseph kissed each of his brothers as he wept,[r] and afterward his brothers talked with him.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 42:9 Lit nakedness
  2. Genesis 42:13 Or today
  3. Genesis 42:14 Lit “That which I spoke to you saying
  4. Genesis 42:19 Lit your brothers
  5. Genesis 42:22 Lit Even his blood is being sought
  6. Genesis 42:32 Lit of our
  7. Genesis 42:32 Or today
  8. Genesis 42:37 Lit hand
  9. Genesis 43:9 Lit can seek him from my hand
  10. Genesis 43:16 Lit to the one who was over his house
  11. Genesis 43:19 Lit approached the one who was over the house
  12. Genesis 44:4 LXX adds Why have you stolen my silver cup?
  13. Genesis 44:9 Lit If your servants are
  14. Genesis 44:18 Lit speak a word in my lord’s ears
  15. Genesis 45:1 Lit all those standing about him
  16. Genesis 45:7 Or keep alive for you many survivors
  17. Genesis 45:12 Lit that my mouth is
  18. Genesis 45:15 Lit brothers, and he wept over them

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