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Genesis 42-43 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

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 ten 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 twelve 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. When 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 silver 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 silver there at the top of his bag. 28 He said to his brothers, “My silver 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 twelve brothers, sons of the same[f] father. One is no longer living, and the youngest is now 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 silver! When they and their father saw their bags of silver, they were afraid.

36 Their father Jacob said to them, “It’s me that you make childless. 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,[g] 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 a little 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 have you caused 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 dependents. I will be responsible for him. You can hold me personally accountable![h] 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 delayed, 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—a little balsam and a little honey, aromatic gum and resin, pistachios and almonds. 12 Take twice as much silver with you. Return the silver 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 silver, and Benjamin. They immediately went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his steward, “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 silver 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[i] and spoke to him at the doorway of the house.

20 They said, “My lord, 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 silver was at the top of his bag! It was the full amount of our silver, and we have brought it back with us. 22 We have brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver 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 silver.” 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 knelt low and paid homage to 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 and wept there. 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 detestable 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 became drunk with Joseph.

Footnotes:

  1. 42:9 Lit nakedness, also in v. 12
  2. 42:13 Or today, also in v. 32
  3. 42:14 Lit “That which I spoke to you saying:
  4. 42:19 Lit your brothers
  5. 42:22 Lit Even his blood is being sought!”
  6. 42:32 Lit of our
  7. 42:37 Lit hand
  8. 43:9 Lit can seek him from my hand
  9. 43:19 Lit approached the one who was over the house
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

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