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Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt To Buy Grain

42 When Jacob found out there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you just sitting here, staring at one another? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Now go down and buy some, so we won’t starve to death.”

Ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something might happen to him. So Jacob’s sons joined others from Canaan who were going to Egypt because of the terrible famine.

Since Joseph was governor of Egypt and in charge of selling grain, his brothers came to him and bowed with their faces to the ground. 7-8 They did not recognize Joseph, but right away he knew who they were, though he pretended not to know. Instead, he spoke harshly and asked, “Where do you come from?”

“From the land of Canaan,” they answered. “We’ve come here to buy grain.”

Joseph remembered what he had dreamed about them and said, “You’re spies! You’ve come here to find out where our country is weak.”

10 “No sir,” they replied. “We’re your servants, and we have only come to buy grain. 11 We’re honest men, and we come from the same family—we’re not spies.”

12 “That isn’t so!” Joseph insisted. “You’ve come here to find out where our country is weak.”

13 But they explained, “Sir, we come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and one of our brothers is dead.”

14 Joseph replied:

It’s just like I said. You’re spies, 15 and I’m going to find out who you really are. I swear by the life of the king that you won’t leave this place until your youngest brother comes here. 16 Choose one of you to go after your brother, while the rest of you stay here in jail. That will show whether you are telling the truth. But if you are lying, I swear by the life of the king that you are spies!

17 Joseph kept them all under guard for three days, 18 before saying to them:

Since I respect God, I’ll give you a chance to save your lives. 19 If you are honest men, one of you must stay here in jail, and the rest of you can take the grain back to your starving families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I’ll know that you are telling the truth, and you won’t be put to death.

Joseph’s brothers agreed 21 and said to one another, “We’re being punished because of Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in, but we refused to help him when he begged us. That’s why these terrible things are happening.”

22 Reuben spoke up, “Didn’t I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn’t listen, and now we have to pay the price for killing him.”

23 They did not know that Joseph could understand them, since he was speaking through an interpreter. 24 Joseph turned away from them and cried, but soon he turned back and spoke to them again. Then he had Simeon tied up and taken away while they watched.

Joseph’s Brothers Return to Canaan

25 Joseph gave orders for his brothers' grain sacks to be filled with grain and for their money[a] to be put in their sacks. He also gave orders for them to be given food for their journey home. After this was done, 26 they each loaded the grain on their donkeys and left.

27 When they stopped for the night, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and right away he saw his moneybag. 28 “Here’s my money!” he told his brothers. “Right here in my sack.”

They were trembling with fear as they stared at one another and asked themselves, “What has God done to us?”

29 When they returned to the land of Canaan, they told their father Jacob everything that had happened to them:

30 The governor of Egypt was rude and treated us like spies. 31 But we told him, “We’re honest men, not spies. 32 We come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and the other is dead.”

33 Then the governor of Egypt told us, “I’ll find out if you really are honest. Leave one of your brothers here with me, while you take the grain to your starving families. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me, so I can be certain that you are honest men and not spies. After that, I’ll let your other brother go free, and you can stay here and trade.”

35 When the brothers started emptying their sacks of grain, they found their moneybags in them. They were frightened, and so was their father Jacob, 36 who said, “You have already taken my sons Joseph and Simeon from me. And now you want to take away Benjamin! Everything is against me.”

37 Reuben spoke up, “Father, if I don’t bring Benjamin back, you can kill both of my sons. Trust me with him, and I will bring him back.”

38 But Jacob said, “I won’t let my son Benjamin go down to Egypt with the rest of you. His brother is already dead, and he is the only son I have left.[b] I am an old man, and if anything happens to him on the way, I’ll die from sorrow, and all of you will be to blame.”

Joseph’s Brothers Return to Egypt with Benjamin

43 The famine in Canaan got worse, until finally, Jacob’s family had eaten all the grain they had bought in Egypt. So Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy some more grain.”

3-5 Judah replied, “The governor strictly warned us that we would not be allowed to see him unless we brought our youngest brother with us. If you let us take Benjamin along, we will go and buy grain. But we won’t go without him!”

Jacob asked, “Why did you cause me so much trouble by telling the governor you had another brother?”

They answered, “He asked a lot of questions about us and our family. He wanted to know if you were still alive and if we had any more brothers. All we could do was answer his questions. How could we know he would tell us to bring along our brother?”

Then Judah said to his father, “Let Benjamin go with me, and we will leave right away, so that none of us will starve to death. I promise to bring him back safely, and if I don’t, you can blame me as long as I live. 10 If we had not wasted all this time, we could already have been there and back twice.”

11 Their father said:

If Benjamin must go with you, take the governor a gift of some of the best things from our own country, such as perfume, honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds.[c] 12 Also take along twice the amount of money for the grain, because there must have been some mistake when the money was put back in your sacks. 13 Take Benjamin with you and leave right away.

14 When you go in to see the governor, I pray that God All-Powerful will be good to you and that the governor will let your other brother and Benjamin come back home with you. If I must lose my children, I suppose I must.

15 The brothers took the gifts, twice the amount of money, and Benjamin. Then they hurried off to Egypt. When they stood in front of Joseph, 16 he saw Benjamin and told the servant in charge of his house, “Take these men to my house. Slaughter an animal and cook it, so they can eat with me at noon.”

17 The servant did as he was told and took the brothers to Joseph’s house. 18 But on the way they got worried and started thinking, “We are being taken there because of the money that was put back in our sacks last time. He will arrest us, make us his slaves, and take our donkeys.”

19 So when they arrived at Joseph’s house, they said to the servant in charge, 20 “Sir, we came to Egypt once before to buy grain. 21 But when we stopped for the night, we each found in our grain sacks the exact amount we had paid. We have brought that money back, 22 together with enough money to buy more grain. We don’t know who put the money in our sacks.”

23 “It’s all right,” the servant replied. “Don’t worry. The God you and your father worship must have put the money there, because I received your payment in full.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The servant took them into Joseph’s house and gave them water to wash their feet. He also tended their donkeys. 25 The brothers got their gifts ready to give to Joseph at noon, since they had heard they were going to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought, and they bowed down to him. 27 After Joseph had asked how they were, he said, “What about your elderly father? Is he still alive?”

28 They answered, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And again they bowed down to Joseph.

29 When Joseph looked around and saw his brother Benjamin, he said, “This must be your youngest brother, the one you told me about. God bless you, my son.”

30 Right away he rushed off to his room and cried because of his love for Benjamin. 31 After washing his face and returning, he was able to control himself and said, “Serve the meal!”

32 Joseph was served at a table by himself, and his brothers were served at another. The Egyptians sat at yet another table, because Egyptians felt it was disgusting to eat with Hebrews. 33 To the surprise of Joseph’s brothers, they were seated in front of him according to their ages, from the oldest to the youngest. 34 They were served food from Joseph’s table, and Benjamin was given five times as much as each of the others. So Joseph’s brothers drank with him and had a good time.

The Missing Cup

44 1-2 Later, Joseph told the servant in charge of his house, “Fill the men’s grain sacks with as much as they can hold and put their money in the sacks. Also put my silver cup in the sack of the youngest brother.” The servant did as he was told.

Early the next morning, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. But they had not gone far from the city when Joseph told the servant, “Go after those men! When you catch them, say, ‘My master has been good to you. So why have you stolen his silver cup? Not only does he drink from his cup, but he also uses it to learn about the future. You have done a terrible thing.’”

When the servant caught up with them, he said exactly what Joseph had told him to say. But they replied, “Sir, why do you say such things? We would never do anything like that! We even returned the money we found in our grain sacks when we got back to Canaan. So why would we want to steal any silver or gold from your master’s house? If you find that one of us has the cup, then kill him, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”

10 “Good!” the man replied, “I’ll do what you have said. But only the one who has the cup will become my slave. The rest of you can go free.”

11 Each of the brothers quickly put his sack on the ground and opened it. 12 Joseph’s servant started searching the sacks, beginning with the one that belonged to the oldest brother. When he came to Benjamin’s sack, he found the cup. 13 This upset the brothers so much that they began tearing their clothes in sorrow. Then they loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

14 When Judah and his brothers got there, Joseph was still at home. So they bowed down to Joseph, 15 who asked them, “What have you done? Didn’t you know I could find out?”

16 “Sir, what can we say?” Judah replied. “How can we prove we are innocent? God has shown that we are guilty. And now all of us are your slaves, especially the one who had the cup.”

17 Joseph told them, “I would never punish all of you. Only the one who was caught with the cup will become my slave. The rest of you are free to go home to your father.”

Judah Pleads for Benjamin

18 Judah went over to Joseph and said:

Sir, you have as much power as the king[d] himself, and I am only your slave. Please don’t get angry if I speak. 19 You asked us if our father was still alive and if we had any more brothers. 20 So we told you, “Our father is a very old man. In fact, he was already old when Benjamin was born. Benjamin’s brother is dead. Now Benjamin is the only one of the two brothers who is still alive, and our father loves him very much.”

21 You ordered us to bring him here, so you could see him for yourself. 22 We told you that our father would die if Benjamin left him. 23 But you warned us that we could never see you again, unless our youngest brother came with us. 24 So we returned to our father and reported what you had said.

25 Later our father told us to come back here and buy more grain. 26 But we answered, “We can’t go back to Egypt without our youngest brother. We will never be let in to see the governor, unless he is with us.”

27 Sir, our father then reminded us that his favorite wife had given birth to two sons. 28 One of them was already missing and had not been seen for a long time. My father thinks the boy was torn to pieces by some wild animal, 29 and he said, “I am an old man. If you take Benjamin from me, and something happens to him, I will die of a broken heart.”

30 That’s why Benjamin must be with us when I go back to my father. He loves him so much 31 that he will die if Benjamin doesn’t come back with me. 32 I promised my father that I would bring him safely home. If I don’t, I told my father he could blame me the rest of my life.

33 Sir, I am your slave. Please let me stay here in place of Benjamin and let him return home with his brothers. 34 How can I face my father if Benjamin isn’t with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father in such sorrow.

Joseph Tells His Brothers Who He Is

45 Since Joseph could no longer control his feelings in front of his servants, he sent them out of the room. When he was alone with his brothers, he told them, “I am Joseph.” Then he cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him and told about it in the king’s[e] palace.

Joseph asked his brothers if his father was still alive, but they were too frightened to answer. Joseph told them to come closer to him, and when they did, he said:

Yes, I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt. Don’t worry or blame yourselves for what you did. God is the one who sent me ahead of you to save lives.

There has already been a famine for two years, and for five more years no one will plow fields or harvest grain. But God sent me on ahead of you to keep your families alive and to save you in this wonderful way. After all, you weren’t really the ones who sent me here—it was God. He made me the highest official in the king’s court and placed me over all Egypt.

Now hurry back and tell my father that his son Joseph says, “God has made me ruler of Egypt. Come here as quickly as you can. 10 You will live near me in the region of Goshen with your children and grandchildren, as well as with your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own. 11 I will take care of you there during the next five years of famine. But if you don’t come, you and your family and your animals will starve to death.”

12 All of you, including my brother Benjamin, can tell by what I have said that I really am Joseph. 13 Tell my father about my great power here in Egypt and about everything you have seen. Hurry and bring him here.

14 Joseph and Benjamin hugged each other and started crying. 15 Joseph was still crying as he kissed each of his other brothers. After this, they started talking with Joseph.

16 When it was told in the palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, the king and his officials were happy. 17 So the king said to Joseph:

Tell your brothers to load their donkeys and return to Canaan. 18 Have them bring their father and their families here. I will give them the best land in Egypt, and they can eat and enjoy everything that grows on it. 19 Also tell your brothers to take some wagons from Egypt for their wives and children to ride in. And be sure to have them bring their father. 20 They can leave their possessions behind, because they will be given the best of everything in Egypt.

21 Jacob’s sons agreed to do what the king had said. And Joseph gave them wagons and food for their trip home, just as the king had ordered. 22 Joseph gave some new clothes to each of his brothers, but to Benjamin he gave five new outfits and three hundred pieces of silver. 23 To his father he sent ten donkeys loaded with the best things in Egypt, and ten other donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other food for the return trip. 24 Then he sent his brothers off and told them, “Don’t argue on the way home!”

25 Joseph’s brothers left Egypt, and when they arrived in Canaan, 26 they told their father that Joseph was still alive and was the ruler of Egypt. But their father was so surprised that he could not believe them. 27 Then they told him everything Joseph had said. When he saw the wagons Joseph had sent, he felt much better 28 and said, “Now I can believe you! My son Joseph must really be alive, and I will get to see him before I die.”

Jacob and His Family Go to Egypt

46 Jacob packed up everything he owned and left for Egypt. On the way he stopped near the town of Beersheba and offered sacrifices to the God his father Isaac had worshiped. That night, God spoke to him and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” Jacob answered.

God said, “I am God, the same God your father worshiped. Don’t be afraid to go to Egypt. I will give you so many descendants that one day they will become a nation. I will go with you to Egypt, and later I will bring your descendants back here. Your son Joseph will be at your side when you die.”

5-7 Jacob and his family set out from Beersheba and headed for Egypt. His sons put him in the wagon that the king[f] had sent for him, and they put their small children and their wives in the other wagons. Jacob’s whole family went to Egypt, including his sons, his grandsons, his daughters, and his granddaughters. They took along their animals and everything else they owned.

8-15 When Jacob went to Egypt, his children who were born in northern Syria[g] also went along with their families.

Jacob and his wife Leah had a total of thirty-three children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but two of their grandchildren had died in Canaan.

Their oldest son Reuben took his sons Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

Their son Simeon took his sons Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, whose mother was a Canaanite.

Their son Levi took his sons Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

Their son Judah took his sons Shelah, Perez, and Zerah. Judah’s sons Er and Onan had died in Canaan. Judah’s son Perez took his sons Hezron and Hamul.

Their son Issachar took his sons Tola, Puvah, Jashub,[h] and Shimron.

Their son Zebulun took his sons Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.

Their daughter Dinah also went.

16-18 Jacob and Zilpah, the servant woman Laban had given his daughter Leah, had a total of sixteen children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Their son Gad took his sons Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.

Their son Asher took his sons Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, and Beriah, who took his sons, Heber and Malchiel.

Serah, the daughter of Asher, also went.

19-22 Jacob and Rachel had fourteen children and grandchildren.

Their son Joseph was already in Egypt, where he had married Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, the priest of Heliopolis.[i] Joseph and Asenath had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

Jacob and Rachel’s son Benjamin took his sons Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.

23-25 Jacob and Bilhah, the servant woman Laban had given his daughter Rachel, had seven children and grandchildren.

Their son Dan took his son Hushim.

Their son Naphtali took his sons Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.

26 Sixty-six members of Jacob’s family went to Egypt with him, not counting his daughters-in-law. 27 Jacob’s two grandsons who were born there made it a total of seventy members of Jacob’s family in Egypt.

28 Jacob had sent his son Judah ahead of him to ask Joseph to meet them in Goshen. 29 So Joseph got in his chariot and went to meet his father. When they met, Joseph hugged his father around the neck and cried for a long time. 30 Jacob said to Joseph, “Now that I have seen you and know you are still alive, I am ready to die.”

31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to everyone who had come with them:

I must go and tell the king[j] that you have arrived from Canaan. 32 I will tell him that you are shepherds and that you have brought your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own. 33 The king will call you in and ask what you do for a living. 34 When he does, be sure to say, “We are shepherds. Our families have always raised sheep.” If you tell him this, he will let you settle in the region of Goshen.

Joseph wanted them to say this to the king, because the Egyptians did not like to be around anyone who raised sheep.

Footnotes

  1. 42.25 money: Probably in the form of small pieces of silver and/or other precious or semi-precious metals; there were no coins or paper money at this time.
  2. 42.38 only son I have left: Jacob had only two sons by Rachel, his favorite wife.
  3. 43.11 honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds: Some of these foods were still available in Canaan, but the main food was bread, and there was no grain to make bread.
  4. 44.18; 45.2; 46.5-7 the king: See the note at 12.15.
  5. 44.18; 45.2; 46.5-7 the king: See the note at 12.15.
  6. 44.18; 45.2; 46.5-7 the king: See the note at 12.15.
  7. 46.8-15 northern Syria: See the note at 24.10.
  8. 46.8-15 Jashub: The Samaritan Hebrew Text and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “Iob.”
  9. 46.19-22 Heliopolis: See the note at 41.45.
  10. 46.31 the king: See the note at 12.15.