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Genesis 37-47 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Joseph the Dreamer

37 Jacob stayed and lived in the land of Canaan. This is the same land where his father had lived. This is the story of Jacob’s family.

Joseph was a young man, 17 years old. His job was to take care of the sheep and the goats. Joseph did this work with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. (Bilhah and Zilpah were his father’s wives.) Joseph told his father about the bad things that his brothers did. Joseph was born at a time when his father Israel was very old, so Israel loved him more than he loved his other sons. Jacob gave him a special coat, which was long and very beautiful.[a] When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them, they hated their brother because of this. They refused to say nice things to him.

One time Joseph had a special dream. Later, he told his brothers about this dream, and after that his brothers hated him even more.

Joseph said, “I had a dream. We were all working in the field, tying stacks of wheat together. Then my stack got up. It stood there while all of your stacks of wheat made a circle around mine and bowed down to it.”

His brothers said, “Do you think this means that you will be a king and rule over us?” His brothers hated Joseph more now because of the dreams he had about them.

Then Joseph had another dream, and he told his brothers about it. He said, “I had another dream. I saw the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowing down to me.”

10 Joseph also told his father about this dream, but his father criticized him. His father said, “What kind of dream is this? Do you believe that your mother, your brothers, and I will bow down to you?” 11 Joseph’s brothers continued to be jealous of him, but his father thought about all these things and wondered what they could mean.

12 One day Joseph’s brothers went to Shechem to care for their father’s sheep. 13 Jacob said to Joseph, “Go to Shechem. Your brothers are there with my sheep.”

Joseph answered, “I will go.”

14 His father said, “Go and see if your brothers are safe. Come back and tell me if my sheep are all fine.” So Joseph’s father sent him from the Valley of Hebron to Shechem.

15 At Shechem, Joseph got lost. A man found him wandering in the fields. The man said, “What are you looking for?”

16 Joseph answered, “I am looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are with their sheep?”

17 The man said, “They have already gone away. I heard them say that they were going to Dothan.” So Joseph followed his brothers and found them in Dothan.

Joseph Sold Into Slavery

18 Joseph’s brothers saw him coming from far away. They decided to make a plan to kill him. 19 They said to each other, “Here comes Joseph the dreamer. 20 We should kill him now while we can. We could throw his body into one of the empty wells and tell our father that a wild animal killed him. Then we will show him that his dreams are useless.”

21 But Reuben wanted to save Joseph. He said, “Let’s not kill him. 22 We can put him into a well without hurting him.” Reuben planned to save Joseph and send him back to his father. 23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they attacked him and tore off his long and beautiful coat. 24 Then they threw him into an empty well that was dry.

25 While Joseph was in the well, the brothers sat down to eat. They looked up and saw a group of traders[b] traveling from Gilead to Egypt. Their camels were carrying many different spices and riches. 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit will we get if we kill our brother and hide his death? 27 We will profit more if we sell him to these traders. Then we will not be guilty of killing our own brother.” The other brothers agreed. 28 When the Midianite traders came by, the brothers took Joseph out of the well and sold him to the traders for 20 pieces of silver. The traders took him to Egypt.

29 Reuben had been gone, but when he came back to the well, he saw that Joseph was not there. He tore his clothes to show that he was upset. 30 Reuben went to the brothers and said, “The boy is not in the well! What will I do?” 31 The brothers killed a goat and put the goat’s blood on Joseph’s beautiful coat. 32 Then the brothers showed the coat to their father. And the brothers said, “We found this coat. Is this Joseph’s coat?”

33 His father saw the coat and knew that it was Joseph’s. He said, “Yes, that is his! Maybe some wild animal has killed him. My son Joseph has been eaten by a wild animal!” 34 Jacob was so sorry about his son that he tore his clothes. Then Jacob put on special clothes to show that he was sad. He continued to be sad about his son for a long time. 35 All of Jacob’s sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but Jacob was never comforted. He said, “I will be sad about my son until the day I die.” So Jacob continued to mourn his son Joseph.

36 The Midianite traders later sold Joseph in Egypt. They sold him to Potiphar, an officer of the king of Egypt and the captain of his palace guards.

Judah and Tamar

38 About that time, Judah left his brothers and went to stay with a man named Hirah from the town of Adullam. Judah met a Canaanite girl there and married her. The girl’s father was named Shua. The Canaanite girl gave birth to a son and named him Er. Later, she gave birth to another son and named him Onan. Then she had another son named Shelah. Judah lived in Kezib when his third son was born.

Judah chose a woman named Tamar to be the wife of his first son Er. But Er did many bad things. The Lord was not happy with him, so the Lord killed him. Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and sleep with your dead brother’s wife.[c] Become like a husband to her. If children are born, they will belong to your brother Er.”

Onan knew that the children from this union would not belong to him. He had sexual relations with Tamar, but he did not allow himself to stay inside her. 10 This made the Lord angry. So he killed Onan also. 11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Go back to your father’s house. Stay there and don’t marry until my young son Shelah grows up.” Judah was afraid that Shelah would also be killed like his brothers. So Tamar went back to her father’s home.

12 Later, Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah’s time of sadness, he went to Timnah with his friend Hirah from Adullam. Judah went to Timnah to have the wool cut from his sheep. 13 Tamar learned that Judah, her father-in-law, was going to Timnah to cut the wool from his sheep. 14 Tamar always wore clothes that showed that she was a widow. So she put on some different clothes and covered her face with a veil. Then she sat down near the road going to Enaim, a town near Timnah. Tamar knew that Judah’s younger son Shelah was now grown up, but Judah would not make plans for her to marry him.

15 Judah traveled on that road and saw her, but he thought that she was a prostitute. (Her face was covered with a veil like a prostitute.) 16 So he went to her and said, “Let me have sex with you.” (Judah did not know that she was Tamar, his daughter-in-law.)

She said, “How much will you give me?”

17 Judah answered, “I will send you a young goat from my flock.”

She answered, “I agree to that. But first you must give me something to keep until you send me the goat.”

18 Judah asked, “What do you want me to give you as proof that I will send you the goat?”

Tamar answered, “Give me your seal and its string[d] and your walking stick.” Judah gave these things to her. Then Judah and Tamar had sexual relations, and she became pregnant. 19 Then Tamar went home, took off her veil that covered her face, and again put on the special clothes that showed she was a widow.

20 Later, Judah sent his friend Hirah to Enaim to give the prostitute the goat he promised. Judah also told Hirah to get the special seal and the walking stick from her, but Hirah could not find her. 21 He asked some of the men at the town of Enaim, “Where is the prostitute who was here by the road?”

The men answered, “There has never been a prostitute here.”

22 So Judah’s friend went back to Judah and said, “I could not find the woman. The men who live in that place said that there was never a prostitute there.”

23 So Judah said, “Let her keep the things. I don’t want people to laugh at us. I tried to give her the goat, but we could not find her. That is enough.”

Tamar Is Pregnant

24 About three months later, someone told Judah, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar sinned like a prostitute, and now she is pregnant.”

Then Judah said, “Take her out and burn her.”

25 The men went to Tamar to kill her, but she sent a message to her father-in-law that said, “The man who made me pregnant is the man who owns these things. Look at them. Whose are they? Whose special seal and string is this? Whose walking stick is this?”

26 Judah recognized these things and said, “She is right. I was wrong. I did not give her my son Shelah like I promised.” And Judah did not sleep with her again.

27 The time came for Tamar to give birth. She was going to have twins. 28 While she was giving birth, one baby put his hand out. The nurse tied a red string on the hand and said, “This baby was born first.” 29 But that baby pulled his hand back in, so the other baby was born first. So the nurse said, “You were able to break out first!” So they named him Perez.[e] 30 After this, the other baby was born. This was the baby with the red string on his hand. They named him Zerah.[f]

Joseph Is Sold to Potiphar in Egypt

39 The traders[g] who bought Joseph took him down to Egypt. They sold him to the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, Potiphar. The Lord helped Joseph become a successful man. Joseph lived in the house of his master, Potiphar the Egyptian.

Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord helped Joseph be successful in everything he did. So Potiphar was very happy with Joseph. He allowed Joseph to work for him and to help him rule the house. Joseph was the ruler over everything Potiphar owned. After Joseph was made the ruler over the house, the Lord blessed the house and everything that Potiphar owned. The Lord also blessed everything that grew in Potiphar’s fields. The Lord did this because of Joseph. So Potiphar allowed Joseph to take responsibility for everything in the house. Potiphar didn’t have to worry about anything except deciding what to eat.

Joseph Refuses Potiphar’s Wife

Joseph was a very handsome, good-looking man. After some time, the wife of Joseph’s master began to pay special attention to him. One day she said to him, “Sleep with me.”

But Joseph refused. He said, “My master trusts me with everything in his house. He has given me responsibility for everything here. My master has made me almost equal to him in his house. I cannot sleep with his wife! That is wrong! It is a sin against God.”

10 The woman talked with Joseph every day, but he refused to sleep with her. 11 One day Joseph went into the house to do his work. He was the only man in the house at the time. 12 His master’s wife grabbed his coat and said to him, “Come to bed with me.” But Joseph ran out of the house so fast that he left his coat in her hand.

13 The woman saw that Joseph had left his coat in her hand and had run out of the house. 14 She called to the men outside and said, “Look! This Hebrew slave was brought here to make fun of us. He came in and tried to attack me, but I screamed. 15 My scream scared him and he ran away, but he left his coat with me.” 16 Then she kept his coat until her husband, Joseph’s master, came home. 17 She told her husband the same story. She said, “This Hebrew slave you brought here tried to attack me! 18 But when he came near me, I screamed. He ran away, but he left his coat.”

19 Joseph’s master listened to what his wife said, and he became very angry. 20 So Potiphar put Joseph into the prison where the king’s enemies were held, and that is where Joseph remained.

Joseph in Prison

21 The Lord was with Joseph and continued to show his kindness to him, so the commander of the prison guards began to like Joseph. 22 The commander of the guards put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. Joseph was their leader, but he still did the same work they did. 23 The commander of the guards trusted Joseph with everything that was in the prison. This happened because the Lord was with Joseph. The Lord helped Joseph be successful in everything he did.

Joseph Explains Two Dreams

40 Later, two of Pharaoh’s servants did something wrong to Pharaoh. These servants were the baker and the man who served wine to Pharaoh. Pharaoh became angry with his baker and wine server, so he put them in the same prison as Joseph. Potiphar, the commander of Pharaoh’s guards, was in charge of this prison. The commander put the two prisoners under Joseph’s care. The two men continued to stay in prison for some time. One night both of the prisoners had a dream. The baker and the wine server each had his own dream, and each dream had its own meaning. Joseph went to them the next morning and saw that the two men were worried. He asked them, “Why do you look so worried today?”

The two men answered, “We both had dreams last night, but we don’t understand what we dreamed. There is no one to explain the dreams to us.”

Joseph said to them, “God is the only one who can understand and explain dreams. So I beg you, tell me your dreams.”

The Wine Server’s Dream

So the wine server told Joseph his dream. The server said, “I dreamed I saw a vine. 10 On the vine there were three branches. I watched the branches grow flowers and then become grapes. 11 I was holding Pharaoh’s cup, so I took the grapes and squeezed the juice into the cup. Then I gave the cup to Pharaoh.”

12 Then Joseph said, “I will explain the dream to you. The three branches mean three days. 13 Before the end of three days, Pharaoh will forgive you and allow you to go back to your work. You will do the same work for Pharaoh as you did before. 14 But when you are free, remember me. Be good to me and help me. Tell Pharaoh about me so that I can get out of this prison. 15 I was kidnapped and taken from the land of my people, the Hebrews. I have done nothing wrong! I should not be in prison.”

The Baker’s Dream

16 The baker saw that the other servant’s dream was good, so he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream. I dreamed there were three baskets of bread on my head. 17 In the top basket there were all kinds of baked food for the king, but birds were eating this food.”

18 Joseph answered, “I will tell you what the dream means. The three baskets mean three days. 19 Before the end of three days, the king will take you out of this prison and cut off your head! He will hang your body on a pole, and the birds will eat it.”

Joseph Is Forgotten

20 Three days later it was Pharaoh’s birthday. He gave a party for all his servants. At the party Pharaoh allowed the wine server and the baker to leave the prison. 21 He freed the wine server and gave him his job back, and once again the wine server put a cup of wine in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But Pharaoh hanged the baker, and everything happened the way Joseph said it would. 23 But the wine server did not remember to help Joseph. He said nothing about him to Pharaoh. The wine server forgot about Joseph.

Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 Two years later Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River. In the dream, seven cows came out of the river and stood there eating grass. They were healthy, good-looking cows. Then seven more cows came out of the river and stood on the bank of the river by the healthy cows. But these cows were thin and looked sick. The seven sick cows ate the seven healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

Pharaoh went back to sleep and began dreaming again. This time he dreamed that he saw seven heads of grain growing on one plant. They were healthy and full of grain. Then he saw seven more heads of grain sprouting, but they were thin and scorched by the hot wind. The thin heads of grain ate the seven good heads of grain. Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was only a dream. The next morning Pharaoh was worried about these dreams, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told these men the dreams, but none of them could explain the dreams.

The Servant Tells Pharaoh About Joseph

Then the wine servant remembered Joseph and said to Pharaoh, “I remember something that happened to me. 10 You were angry with the baker and me, and you put us in prison. 11 Then one night he and I had a dream. Each dream had a different meaning. 12 There was a young Hebrew man in prison with us. He was a servant of the commander of the guards. We told him our dreams, and he explained them to us. He told us the meaning of each dream, 13 and what he said came true. He said I would be free and have my old job back, and it happened. He also said the baker would die, and it happened!”

Joseph Is Called to Explain the Dreams

14 So Pharaoh called Joseph from the prison. The guards quickly got Joseph out of prison. Joseph shaved, put on some clean clothes, and went to see Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can explain it for me. I heard that you can explain dreams when someone tells you about them.”

16 Joseph answered, “I cannot! But God can explain the dream for you, Pharaoh.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing by the Nile River. 18 Seven cows came up out of the river and stood there eating the grass. They were healthy, good-looking cows. 19 Then I saw seven more cows come up out of the river after them, but these cows were thin and looked sick. They were the worst cows I had ever seen anywhere in Egypt! 20 The thin, sick cows ate the first healthy cows, 21 but they still looked thin and sick. You couldn’t even tell they had eaten the healthy cows. They looked as thin and sick as they did in the beginning. Then I woke up.

22 “In my next dream I saw seven heads of grain growing on one plant. They were healthy and full of grain. 23 And then seven more heads of grain grew after them, but they were thin and scorched by the hot wind. 24 Then the thin heads of grain ate the seven good heads of grain.

“I told these dreams to my magicians. But no one could explain the dreams to me. What do they mean?”

Joseph Explains the Dream

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both of these dreams have the same meaning. God is telling you what will happen soon. 26 The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain are seven good years. 27 And the seven thin, sick-looking cows and the seven thin heads of grain mean that there will be seven years of hunger in this area. These seven bad years will come after the seven good years. 28 God has shown you what will happen soon. He will make these things happen just as I told you. 29 For seven years there will be plenty of food in Egypt. 30 But then there will be seven years of hunger. The people will forget how much food there had been in Egypt before. This famine will ruin the country. 31 It will be so bad that people will forget what it was like to have plenty of food.

32 “Pharaoh, you had two dreams about the same thing. That means God wanted to show you that he really will make this happen, and he will make it happen soon! 33 So, Pharaoh, you should choose a wise, intelligent man and put him in charge of Egypt. 34 Then you should choose other men to collect food from the people. During the seven good years, the people must give them one-fifth of all the food they grow. 35 In this way these men will collect all the food during the seven good years and store it in the cities until it is needed. Pharaoh, this food will be under your control. 36 Then during the seven years of hunger, there will be food for the country of Egypt. And Egypt will not be destroyed by the famine.”

37 This seemed like a very good idea to Pharaoh, and all his officials agreed. 38 Then Pharaoh told them, “I don’t think we can find anyone better than Joseph to take this job! God’s Spirit is in him, making him very wise!”

39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “God showed these things to you, so you must be the wisest man. 40 I will put you in charge of my country, and the people will obey all your commands. I will be the only one more powerful than you.”

41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I now make you governor over all of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh gave his special ring to Joseph. The royal seal was on this ring. Pharaoh also gave Joseph a fine linen robe and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he told Joseph to ride in his second chariot. Pharaoh’s officials said, “Let him be the governor over the whole land of Egypt!”[h]

44 Then Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, the king over everyone in Egypt, but no one else in Egypt can lift a hand or move a foot unless you say he can.” 45 Then Pharaoh gave Joseph another name, Zaphenath Paneah.[i] He also gave Joseph a wife named Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in the city of On. So Joseph became the governor over the whole country of Egypt.

46 Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving the king of Egypt. He traveled throughout the country of Egypt. 47 During the seven good years, the crops in Egypt grew very well. 48 Joseph saved the food in Egypt during those seven years and stored the food in the cities. In every city he stored grain that grew in the fields around the city. 49 Joseph stored so much grain that it was like the sands of the sea. He stored so much grain that it could not be measured.

50 Joseph’s wife, Asenath, was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest in the city of On. Before the first year of hunger came, Joseph and Asenath had two sons. 51 Joseph named the first son Manasseh.[j] He was given this name because Joseph said, “God made me forget all my hard work and everything back home in my father’s house.” 52 Joseph named the second son Ephraim.[k] Joseph gave him this name because he said, “I had great troubles, but God has made me successful in everything.”

The Famine Begins

53 For seven years people had all the food they needed, but those years ended. 54 Then the seven years of hunger began, just as Joseph had said. No food grew anywhere in any of the countries in that area. But in Egypt people had plenty to eat because Joseph had stored the grain. 55 The famine began, and the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to the Egyptian people, “Go ask Joseph what to do.”

56 There was famine everywhere, so Joseph gave the people grain from the warehouses. He sold the stored grain to the people of Egypt. The famine was bad in Egypt, 57 but the famine was bad everywhere. So people from the countries around Egypt had to come to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain.

The Dreams Come True

42 During the famine in Canaan, Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt. So he said to his sons, “Why are you sitting here doing nothing? I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go there and buy grain for us so that we will live and not die!”

So ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. Jacob did not send Benjamin. (Benjamin was Joseph’s only full brother.[l]) Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to Benjamin.

The famine was very bad in Canaan, so there were many people from Canaan who went to Egypt to buy grain. Among them were the sons of Israel.

Joseph was the governor of Egypt at the time. He was the one who checked the sale of grain to people who came to Egypt to buy it. Joseph’s brothers came to him and bowed before him. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted like he didn’t know them. He was rude when he spoke to them. He said, “Where do you come from?”

The brothers answered, “We have come from the land of Canaan to buy food.”

Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not know who he was. Then Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about his brothers.

Joseph said to his brothers, “You have not come to buy food! You are spies. You came to learn where we are weak.”

10 But the brothers said to him, “No, sir, we come as your servants. We have come only to buy food. 11 We are all brothers—we all have the same father. We are honest men. We have come only to buy food.”

12 Then Joseph said to them, “No, you have come to spy on us!”

13 And the brothers said, “No, sir, we come as servants from Canaan. We are all brothers, sons of the same father. There were twelve brothers in our family. Our youngest brother is still at home with our father, and the other brother died a long time ago.”

14 But Joseph said to them, “No! I can see that I am right. You are spies. 15 But I will let you prove that you are telling the truth. In the name of Pharaoh, I swear that I will not let you go until your youngest brother comes here. 16 One of you must go back to get your youngest brother while the rest of you stay here in prison. Then we can prove whether you are telling the truth or not. If you are not telling the truth, then by Pharaoh, I swear that you are spies!” 17 Then Joseph put them all in prison for three days.

The Troubles Begin

18 After three days Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. Do this, and I will let you live. 19 If you are honest men, one of your brothers can stay here in prison, and the others can go and carry grain back to your people. 20 But then you must bring your youngest brother back here to me. Then I will know that you are telling the truth, and you will not have to die.”

The brothers agreed to this. 21 They said to each other, “We are being punished for the bad thing we did to our younger brother Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in. He begged us to save him, but we refused to listen. So now we are in trouble.”

22 Then Reuben said to them, “I told you not to do anything bad to that boy, but you refused to listen to me. Now we are being punished for his death.”

23-24 Joseph was using an interpreter to talk to his brothers, so the brothers did not know that he understood their language. He heard and understood everything they said, and that made him want to cry. So he turned away and left the room. When he came back, he took one of the brothers, Simeon, and tied him up while the others watched. 25 Joseph told the servants to fill the bags with grain. The brothers had given Joseph the money for the grain, but he didn’t keep the money. He put the money in their bags of grain. Then he gave them what they would need for their trip back home.

26 So the brothers put the grain on their donkeys and left. 27 That night the brothers stopped at a place to spend the night. One of the brothers opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey. And there in the sack, he saw his money! 28 He said to the other brothers, “Look! Here is the money I paid for the grain. Someone put the money back in my sack.” The brothers were very afraid. They said to one another, “What is God doing to us?”

The Brothers Report to Jacob

29 The brothers went back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him about everything that had happened. 30 They said, “The governor of that country spoke rudely to us. He thought that we were spies! 31 We told him, ‘We are honest men, not spies. 32 There are twelve of us brothers, all from the same father. But one of our brothers is no longer living, and the youngest is still at home with our father in Canaan.’

33 “Then the governor of that country said to us, ‘Here is a way to prove that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me. Take your grain back to your families. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know if you are honest men or if you were sent from an army to destroy us. If you are telling the truth, I will give your brother back to you. I will give him to you, and you will be free to buy grain in our country.’”

35 Then the brothers started taking the grain out of their sacks, and every brother found his bag of money in his sack of grain. When the brothers and their father saw the money, they were afraid.

36 Jacob said to them, “Do you want me to lose all of my children? Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone, and now you want to take Benjamin away too!”

37 But Reuben said to his father, “Father, you may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. Trust me. I will bring him back to you.”

38 But Jacob said, “I will not let Benjamin go with you. His brother is dead, and he is the only son left from my wife Rachel. It would kill me if anything happened to him during the trip to Egypt. You would send me to the grave[m] a very sad, old man.”

Jacob Lets Benjamin Go to Egypt

43 The famine was very bad in that country. The people ate all the grain they had brought from Egypt. When that grain was gone, Jacob said to his sons, “Go to Egypt and buy some more grain for us to eat.”

But Judah said to Jacob, “But the governor of that country warned us. He said, ‘If you don’t bring your brother back to me, I will refuse to talk to you.’ If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy grain. But if you refuse to send Benjamin, we will not go. The man warned us to not come back without him.”

Israel said, “Why did you tell him you had another brother? Why did you do such a bad thing to me?”

The brothers answered, “He asked lots of questions. He wanted to know all about us and about our family. He asked us, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother at home?’ We only answered his questions. We didn’t know he would ask us to bring our brother to him!”

Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Let Benjamin go with me. I will take care of him. We have to go to Egypt to get food. If we don’t go, we will all die—including our children. I will make sure he is safe. I will be responsible for him. If I don’t bring him back to you, you can blame me forever. 10 If you had let us go before, we could have already made two trips for food.”

11 Then their father Israel said, “If it is really true, take Benjamin with you. But take some gifts to the governor. Take some of the things we have been able to gather in our land. Take him some honey, pistachio nuts, almonds, spices, and myrrh. 12 Take twice as much money with you this time. Take the money that was given back to you after you paid last time. Maybe the governor made a mistake. 13 Take Benjamin, and go back to the man. 14 I pray that God All-Powerful will help you when you stand before the governor. I pray that he will let Benjamin, and also Simeon, come back safely. If not, I will again be sad from losing my children.”

15 So the brothers took the gifts to give to the governor. And the brothers took twice as much money with them as they took the first time. This time Benjamin went with the brothers to Egypt.

The Brothers at Joseph’s House

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his servant, “Bring these men into my house. Kill an animal and cook it. They will eat with me at noon today.” 17 The servant did as he was told. He brought the men into Joseph’s house.

18 The brothers were afraid when they were taken to Joseph’s house and said, “We have been brought here because of the money that was put back in our sacks the last time. They will use this as proof against us and steal our donkeys and make us slaves.”

19 So the brothers went to the servant in charge of Joseph’s house. 20 They said, “Sir, I promise this is the truth. The last time we came, we came to buy food. 21-22 On the way home, we opened our sacks and found our money in every sack. We don’t know how it got there, but we brought that money with us to give it back to you. And we have brought more money to pay for the food that we want to buy this time.”

23 But the servant answered, “Don’t be afraid; believe me. Your God, the God of your father, must have put the money in your sack as a gift. I remember that you paid me for the grain the last time.”

Then the servant brought Simeon out of the prison. 24 The servant led the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he fed their donkeys.

25 The brothers heard that they were going to eat with Joseph, so they worked until noon preparing their gifts for him.

26 When Joseph came home, the brothers gave him the gifts they had brought with them. Then they bowed down to the ground in front of him.

27 Joseph asked them how they were doing. Then he said, “How is your elderly father you told me about? Is he still alive?”

28 The brothers answered, “Yes, sir, our father is still alive.” And they again bowed before Joseph.

29 Then Joseph saw his brother Benjamin. (Benjamin and Joseph had the same mother.) Joseph said, “Is this your youngest brother that you told me about?” Then Joseph said to Benjamin, “God bless you, my son!”

30 Joseph felt a strong desire to show his brother Benjamin that he loved him. He was about to cry and didn’t want his brothers to see him, so he ran into his private room and cried there. 31 Then Joseph washed his face and came out. He regained control of himself and said, “Now it is time to eat.”

32 The servants seated Joseph at a table by himself. His brothers were at another table by themselves, and the Egyptians were at a table by themselves. The Egyptians believed that it was wrong for them to eat with Hebrews.[n] 33 Joseph’s brothers were seated at a table facing him. The brothers were looking at each other because, to their surprise, they had been seated in order, from the oldest to the youngest. 34 Servants were taking food from Joseph’s table and bringing it to them. But the servants gave Benjamin five times more than the others. The brothers continued to eat and drink with Joseph until they were drunk.

Joseph Sets a Trap

44 Then Joseph gave a command to his servant. He said, “Fill the men’s sacks with as much grain as they can carry. Then put each man’s money into his sack with the grain. Put the youngest brother’s money in his sack too. But also put my special silver cup in his sack.” So the servant obeyed Joseph.

Early the next morning the brothers and their donkeys were sent back to their country. After they had left the city, Joseph said to his servant, “Go and follow the men. Stop them and say to them, ‘We were good to you! So why have you been bad to us? Why did you steal my master’s silver cup?[o] My master drinks from that cup, and he uses it to learn secret things. What you did was wrong!’”

So the servant obeyed. He rode out to the brothers and stopped them. The servant said to them what Joseph had told him to say.

But the brothers said to the servant, “Why does the governor say these things? We wouldn’t do anything like that! We brought back the money that we found in our sacks before. So surely we wouldn’t steal silver or gold from your master’s house. If you find the silver cup in any of our sacks, let that man die. You can kill him, and we will be your slaves.”

10 The servant said, “I agree, except that only the man who is found to have the cup will be my slave. The others will be free.”

The Trap Is Sprung; Benjamin Is Caught

11 Then every brother quickly opened his sack on the ground. 12 The servant started looking in the sacks. He started with the oldest brother and ended with the youngest. He found the cup in Benjamin’s sack. 13 The brothers were very sad. They tore their clothes to show their sadness. They put their sacks back on the donkeys and went back to the city.

14 When Judah and his brothers went back to Joseph’s house, Joseph was still there. The brothers fell to the ground and bowed down before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “Why have you done this? Didn’t you know that I have a special way of learning secrets? No one is better at this than I am!”

16 Judah said, “Sir, there is nothing we can say. There is no way to explain. There is no way to show that we are not guilty. God has judged us guilty for something else we have done. So all of us, even Benjamin, will be your slaves.”

17 But Joseph said, “I will not make you all slaves! Only the man who stole the cup will be my slave. You others can go in peace to your father.”

Judah Pleads for Benjamin

18 Then Judah went to Joseph and said, “Sir, please let me speak plainly with you. Please don’t be angry with me. I know that you are like Pharaoh himself. 19 When we were here before, you asked us, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered you, ‘We have a father—he is an old man. And we have a younger brother. Our father loves him because he was born while our father was old. This youngest son’s brother is dead, so he is the only son who is left from that mother. Our father loves him very much.’ 21 Then you said to us, ‘Bring that brother to me. I want to see him.’ 22 And we said to you, ‘That young boy cannot come. He cannot leave his father. If his father loses him, his father will be so sad that he will die.’ 23 But you said to us, ‘You must bring your youngest brother, or I will not sell you grain again.’ 24 So we went back to our father and told him what you said.

25 “Later, our father said, ‘Go back and buy us some more food.’ 26 We said to our father, ‘We cannot go without our youngest brother. The governor said he will not sell us grain again until he sees our youngest brother.’ 27 Then my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife Rachel gave me two sons. 28 I let one son go away, and he was killed by a wild animal. And I haven’t seen him since. 29 If you take my other son away from me, and something happens to him, I will be sad enough to die.’ 30 Now, imagine what will happen when we go home without our youngest brother—he is the most important thing in our father’s life! 31 Our father will die if he sees that the boy isn’t with us—and it will be our fault. We will send our father to his grave a very sad man.

32 “I took responsibility for the young boy. I told my father, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, you can blame me for the rest of my life.’ 33 So now I beg you, please let the boy go back with his brothers, and I will stay and be your slave. 34 I cannot go back to my father if the boy is not with me. I am very afraid of what would happen to my father.”

Joseph Tells Who He Is

45 Joseph could not control himself any longer. He cried in front of all the people who were there. Joseph said, “Tell everyone to leave here.” So all the people left. Only the brothers were left with Joseph. Then he told them who he was. Joseph continued to cry, and all the Egyptian people in Pharaoh’s house heard it. He said to his brothers, “I am your brother Joseph. Is my father doing well?” But the brothers did not answer him because they were confused and afraid.

So Joseph said to his brothers again, “Come here to me. I beg you, come here.” When the brothers went to him, he said to them, “I am your brother Joseph. I am the one you sold as a slave to Egypt. Now don’t be worried. Don’t be angry with yourselves for what you did. It was God’s plan for me to come here. I am here to save people’s lives. This terrible famine has continued for two years now, and there will be five more years without planting or harvest. So God sent me here ahead of you so that I can save your people in this country. It was not your fault that I was sent here. It was God’s plan. God made me like a father to Pharaoh. I am the governor over all his house and over all Egypt.”

Israel Invited to Egypt

Joseph said, “Hurry up and go to my father. Tell him his son Joseph sent this message: ‘God made me the governor of Egypt. So come here to me quickly. Don’t wait. 10 You can live near me in the land of Goshen. You, your children, your grandchildren, and all of your animals are welcome here. 11 I will take care of you during the next five years of hunger. So you and your family will not lose everything you own.’

12 “Surely you can see that I really am Joseph. Even my brother Benjamin knows it is me, your brother, talking to you. 13 So tell my father about the honor I have received here in Egypt. Tell him about everything you have seen here. Now hurry, go bring my father back to me.” 14 Then Joseph hugged his brother Benjamin, and they both began crying. 15 Then Joseph cried as he kissed all his brothers. After this, the brothers began talking with him.

16 Pharaoh learned that Joseph’s brothers had come to him. This news spread throughout Pharaoh’s house. Pharaoh and his servants were very excited! 17 So Pharaoh told Joseph, “Tell your brothers to take all the food they need and go back to the land of Canaan. 18 Tell them to bring your father and their families back here to me. I will give you the best land in Egypt to live on. And your family can eat the best food we have here. 19 Also give your brothers some of our best wagons. Tell them to go to Canaan and bring your father and all the women and children back in the wagons. 20 Don’t worry about bringing all of their belongings. We can give them the best of Egypt.”

21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them good wagons just as Pharaoh had promised. And Joseph gave them enough food for their trip. 22 He gave each brother a suit of beautiful clothes. But to Benjamin he gave five suits of beautiful clothes and 300 pieces of silver. 23 Joseph also sent gifts to his father. He sent ten donkeys with bags full of many good things from Egypt. And he sent ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and other food for his father on his trip back. 24 Then Joseph told his brothers to go. While they were leaving, he said to them, “Go straight home, and don’t fight on the way.”

25 So the brothers left Egypt and went to their father in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Father, Joseph is still alive! And he is the governor over the whole country of Egypt.”

Their father did not know what to think. At first he didn’t believe them. 27 But then they told him everything Joseph had said. Then their father saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to bring him back to Egypt, and he became excited and very happy. 28 Israel said, “Now I believe you. My son Joseph is still alive! I am going to see him before I die!”

God Assures Israel

46 So Israel began his trip to Egypt. First he went to Beersheba. There he worshiped God, the God of his father Isaac. He offered sacrifices. During the night God spoke to Israel in a dream and said, “Jacob, Jacob.”

Israel answered, “Here I am.”

Then God said, “I am God, the God of your father. Don’t be afraid to go to Egypt. In Egypt I will make you a great nation. I will go to Egypt with you, and I will bring you out of Egypt again. You will die there, but Joseph will be with you. His own hands will close your eyes when you die.”

Israel Goes to Egypt

Then Jacob left Beersheba and traveled to Egypt. His sons, the sons of Israel, brought their father, their wives, and all their children to Egypt. They traveled in the wagons the Pharaoh had sent. They also had their cattle and everything they owned in the land of Canaan. So Israel went to Egypt with all his children and his family. With him were his sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his granddaughters. All of his family went with him.

The Family of Jacob (Israel)

These are the names of Israel’s sons and family who went to Egypt with him:

Reuben was Jacob’s first son. Reuben’s sons were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

10 Simeon’s sons were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, and Zohar. There was also Shaul. (Shaul was born from a Canaanite woman.)

11 Levi’s sons were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

12 Judah’s sons were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah. (Er and Onan died while still in Canaan.) Perez’s sons were Hezron and Hamul.

13 Issachar’s sons were Tola, Puah, Job, and Shimron.

14 Zebulun’s sons were Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.

15 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were Jacob’s sons from his wife Leah. Leah had these sons in Paddan Aram. She also had a daughter named Dinah. There were 33 people in this family.

16 Gad’s sons were Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.

17 Asher’s sons were Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. Also there were Beriah’s sons, Heber and Malkiel.

18 All these were Jacob’s sons from his wife’s servant, Zilpah. (Zilpah was the maid that Laban had given to his daughter Leah.) There were 16 people in this family.

19 Benjamin was also with Jacob. Benjamin was Jacob and Rachel’s son. (Joseph was also Rachel’s son, but he was already in Egypt.)

20 In Egypt, Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. (Joseph’s wife was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest in the city of On.)

21 Benjamin’s sons were Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.

22 These were the sons of Jacob from his wife Rachel. There were 14 people in this family.

23 Dan’s son was Hushim.

24 Naphtali’s sons were Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.

25 These were the sons of Jacob and Bilhah. (Bilhah was the maid that Laban had given to his daughter Rachel.) There were seven people in this family.

26 The total number of Jacob’s direct descendants who went with him to Egypt was 66 people. (The wives of Jacob’s sons were not counted in this number.) 27 Also, Joseph had two sons in Egypt. With these two grandsons, Jacob’s family in Egypt numbered 70 people in all.

Israel Arrives in Egypt

28 Jacob sent Judah ahead to speak to Joseph. Judah went to Joseph in the land of Goshen. Then Jacob and his people followed into the land. 29 Joseph learned that his father was coming. So he prepared his chariot and went out to meet his father, Israel, in Goshen. When Joseph saw his father, he hugged his neck and cried for a long time.

30 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Now I can die in peace. I have seen your face, and I know that you are still alive.”

31 Joseph said to his brothers and to the rest of his father’s family, “I will go and tell Pharaoh that you are here. I will say to Pharaoh, ‘My brothers and the rest of my father’s family have left the land of Canaan and have come here to me. 32 They are a family of shepherds. They have always kept sheep and cattle. They have brought all their animals and everything they own with them.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you, he will ask, ‘What work do you do?’ 34 You tell him, ‘We are shepherds. All our lives we have been shepherds, and our ancestors were shepherds before us.’ Then Pharaoh will allow you to live in the land of Goshen. Egyptians don’t like shepherds, so it is better that you stay in Goshen.”

Israel Settles in Goshen

47 Joseph went in to Pharaoh and said, “My father and my brothers and all their families are here. They have all their animals and everything they own from the land of Canaan with them. They are now in the land of Goshen.” Joseph chose five of his brothers to be with him before the Pharaoh.

Pharaoh said to the brothers, “What work do you do?”

The brothers said to Pharaoh, “Sir, we are shepherds, just as our ancestors were shepherds before us.” They said to Pharaoh, “The famine is very bad in Canaan. There are no fields left with grass for our animals, so we have come to live in this land. We ask you to please let us live in Goshen.”

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. You can choose any place in Egypt for them to live. Give your father and your brothers the best land. Let them live in the land of Goshen. And if they are skilled shepherds, they can also care for my cattle.”

Then Joseph called his father Jacob to come in to meet Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

Then Pharaoh said to him, “How old are you?”

Jacob said to Pharaoh, “I have had a short life with many troubles. I am only 130 years old. My father and his ancestors lived to be much older than I am.”

10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left from his meeting with him.

11 Joseph did what Pharaoh said and gave his father and brothers land in Egypt. It was the best land in Egypt, in the eastern part of the country, around Rameses. 12 Joseph also gave his father, his brothers, and all their people the food they needed.

Joseph Buys Land for Pharaoh

13 The famine got worse; there was no food anywhere in the land. Egypt and Canaan became very poor because of this bad time. 14 People in the land bought more and more grain. Joseph saved the money and brought it to Pharaoh’s house. 15 After some time, the people in Egypt and Canaan had no money left. They had spent all their money to buy grain. So the people of Egypt went to Joseph and said, “Please give us food. Our money is gone. If we don’t eat, we will die while you are watching.”

16 But Joseph answered, “Give me your cattle, and I will give you food.” 17 So the people used their cattle and horses and all their other animals to buy food. And that year, Joseph gave them food and took their animals.

18 But the next year the people had no animals and nothing to buy food with. So they went to Joseph and said, “You know that we have no money left, and all our animals belong to you. So we have nothing left—only what you see—our bodies and our land. 19 Surely we will die while you are watching. But if you give us food, we will give Pharaoh our land, and we will be his slaves. Give us seed so that we can plant. Then we will live and not die, and the land will grow food for us again.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. All the people in Egypt sold Joseph their fields. They did this because they were very hungry. 21 And everywhere in Egypt all the people became Pharaoh’s slaves. 22 The only land Joseph didn’t buy was the land that the priests owned. The priests didn’t need to sell their land because Pharaoh paid them for their work. So they used this money to buy food to eat.

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh. So I will give you seed, and you can plant your fields. 24 At harvest time, you must give one-fifth of your crops to Pharaoh. You can keep four-fifths for yourselves. You can use the seed you keep for food and planting the next year. Now you can feed your families and your children.”

25 The people said, “You have saved our lives. We are happy to be slaves to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph made a law at that time in the land, and that law continues today. The law says that one-fifth of everything from the land belongs to the Pharaoh who owns all the land. The only land he does not own is the land of the priests.

Don’t Bury Me in Egypt

27 Israel stayed in Egypt. He lived in the land of Goshen. His family grew and became very large. They became landowners there and did very well.

28 Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years, so he was 147 years old. 29 The time came when Israel knew he would soon die, so he called his son Joseph to him. He said, “If you love me, put your hand under my leg and make a promise.[p] Promise that you will do what I say and that you will be truthful with me. When I die, don’t bury me in Egypt. 30 Bury me in the place where my ancestors are buried. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in our family grave.”

Joseph answered, “I promise that I will do what you say.”

31 Then Jacob said, “Make a vow to me.” And Joseph vowed to him that he would do this. Then Israel laid his head back down on the bed.[q]

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 37:3 beautiful The Hebrew means “striped,” or possibly, “many colored.”
  2. Genesis 37:25 traders Literally, “Ishmaelites.”
  3. Genesis 38:8 Go and sleep … wife In Israel if a man died without children, one of his brothers would take the widow. If a child was born, it would be considered the dead man’s child.
  4. Genesis 38:18 seal … string People wrote a contract, folded it, tied it with string, put wax or clay on the string, and pressed the seal onto it to seal it. This was like signing the agreement. Also in verse 25.
  5. Genesis 38:29 Perez This name is like the word meaning “to break out.”
  6. Genesis 38:30 Zerah This name is like the word meaning “bright.”
  7. Genesis 39:1 traders Literally, “Ishmaelites.”
  8. Genesis 41:43 Or “Then Pharaoh had Joseph ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and they said, ‘Bow before Joseph.’ In this way Joseph became the governor over all of Egypt.”
  9. Genesis 41:45 Zaphenath Paneah This Egyptian name probably means “sustainer of life,” but it is like Hebrew words meaning “a person who explains secret things.”
  10. Genesis 41:51 Manasseh This is like the Hebrew word meaning “to forget.”
  11. Genesis 41:52 Ephraim This name is like the Hebrew word meaning “twice fruitful.”
  12. Genesis 42:4 full brother Literally, “brother.” Joseph and Benjamin had the same mother.
  13. Genesis 42:38 grave Or “Sheol,” the place of death.
  14. Genesis 43:32 The Egyptians … Hebrews The Egyptians would not eat with them because they were shepherds and ate meat from cattle, sheep, and goats. To the Egyptians, these animals represented some of their gods. See Gen. 46:34.
  15. Genesis 44:4 Why did … silver cup This is from the ancient Greek version.
  16. Genesis 47:29 put your hand … make a promise This was a sign of a very important promise that Jacob trusted Joseph to keep.
  17. Genesis 47:31 Then Israel … on the bed Or “Then Israel bowed down at the head of his bed” or “Then Israel worshiped on the head of the staff.”
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

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