Genesis Chapter Forty-Two
Read Genesis 42:1-6
– Food in
v.1 “Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in
Judah, who had left the presence of
his father to live among the Canaanites, has apparently returned and the family
It is not uncommon for those who are
experiencing adversity to wring their hands in despair and lament their fate is
it? To stand debating, disputing or
procrastinating when decisions must be made and something obviously must be
done will only bring destruction to the timid and fearful. So Jacob says don’t just stand around and
look at each other, and Jacob’s sons are apparently doing just that, not doing
what they could or should to relieve their trouble. Just as Stephen relates in his sermon in
v.2 “And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.”
Jacob has heard that there is corn
Acts “12But when Jacob heard that there was corn in
v.3-4 “And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 4But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.”
Ten of Jacob’s sons went to
v.5-6 “5And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
Apparently as part of his
responsibilities to Pharaoh, Joseph has the ultimate decision regarding sale of
the surplus grain that
Just as we saw the dreams of butler and baker and Pharaoh come true we now also see the dreams of Joseph that caused so much strife with his brothers come true as well. Just as the sheaves of grain bowed before Joseph’s sheaf, Joseph’s brothers now pay the proper honor and homage of that day to the governor of all Egypt; the one next of Pharaoh himself in authority.
Read Genesis 42:7-20 –
v.7-8 “And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them,
but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said
unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the
Joseph’s brothers do not know him. In order to prevent them from finding him out sooner than he wants he pretends not to know them and treats them much like an Egyptian ruler would treat people who had entered his country without invitation. Who are they? Where are they from? What do they want? They try to explain but he gives them no peace nor does he accept their explanation.
v.9 “And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.”
Joseph remembers his dreams and knows that the hand of God is involved in his brothers prostrating themselves before him just as he predicted:
Genesis 37:6-7 “And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.”
Perhaps he wants to
punish them somewhat for what they did to him, the scripture doesn’t tell us
specifically, so he accuses them of being spies. Spies that have come to
seek a weakness in
v.10-11 “And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. 11We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.”
They, of course, continue to deny
his charges, explaining that they are all the sons of one man. They have only come, as have many others, to
buy food. They declare that they are
“TRUE” men, honest men who have no ulterior motive or purpose in coming to
v.12-13 “And he said unto
them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 13And
they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the
Joseph continues to turn a deaf ear to their explanations and continues to charge them with spying. They continue to try to explain, this time telling him that they are ten of twelve brothers. Their youngest brother is still at home with his father but one of their brothers “is NOT”. They do not give an explanation of what they mean by being his being “NOT” because they do not know. In their minds, at best, he is a slave somewhere and may even be dead.
v.14-15 “And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: 15Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.”
Joseph continues to accuse them of
being spies and now devises a means of proving or testing them. First of all he swears by the life of
Pharaoh, an oath that in
Matthew 26:73-74 “And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. 74Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man; And immediately the cock crew.”
Now Joseph demands
that their youngest brother also be brought to
v.16-17 “Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. And he put them all together into ward three days.”
So Joseph makes them a
proposal. Send one of you to
v.18 “And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:”
After allowing his brothers to spend three days in prison he calls them out to make an alternate proposal. He now declares to them that he fears God, the same God that they worship. Consequently they can be assured that he will do them no harm and that they can be assured that those who fear the higher powers of God will be fair and reasonable. Another example in scripture is Nehemiah:
Nehemiah 5:15 “But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God.”
Those who had ruled
the region of
v.19-20 “If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: 20But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
Joseph now tells them his alternate
proposal. He will keep only one of them
in prison and send the rest back to
Read Genesis 42:21-28 – Joseph’s Brothers Accept
v.21 “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.”
Joseph’s brothers now begin to understand that God is visiting these trials and troubles upon them because of the way that they treated Joseph. This is the reason that this distress has come upon them. Just as we are told by the Hebrew writer:
Hebrews 2:2 “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;”
The words spoken by God’s messengers are steadfast and our reward, whether good or bad, will not be kept from us in God’s eternity.
v.22-23 “And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. 23And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.”
Now Joseph begins to see a different mindset among his brethren than he saw when they sold him into slavery. They understand the source of their trouble and it is them. Reuben also reminds them that he did not want them to do any harm to Joseph, nor did he want them to sell him into slavery. When he caused Joseph to be put into the pit it was for the purpose of trying to save him and return him to his father. They are discussing all this among themselves and Joseph is listening because he has not allowed them to know that he speaks their language.
v.24 “And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.”
Joseph is so affected by their conversation that he turns away from them so that they would not see and weeps. But in keeping with his proposal he takes his brother Simeon, binds him personally and sends him back to the prison.
v.25 “25Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.”
Then Joseph does something very strange; strange to his brothers and strange in the view of the world in general. When he has their sacks filled with grain he also has the money that they have used to pay for the grain returned to them by placing it in their sacks. He also commands that enough food be given them to provide for what they would need on their journey home.
v.26-27 “And they laded
their asses with the corn, and departed thence. 27And as one of them
opened his sack to give his ass provender in the
Joseph’s brothers take their grain and their animals and start on their journey back to their homeland. At their first stop along the way they also discover that their grain sacks contain more than just grain. When one of the brothers goes to get grain to feed his pack animal he finds the money that he used to pay for his grain is in his sack also.
v.28 “And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?”
When our conscience is troubling us how doe we view every circumstance that is strange or unusual? Even an act that would normally be considered a kindness is interpreted with fear. When this brother’s money is found in his sack, they suspect no good to come from it, expect it to bring trouble. At this point they are seeing the hand of God behind their trials and are now wondering what else God has in store for them.
Read Genesis 42:29-38 – The Return Home
v.29-30 “And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying, 30The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.”
Upon their return to
v.31-32 “And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
32We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.”
The brothers relate all that they
told “THE MAN” who ruled
v.33-34 “And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffic in the land.”
Then they relate as well Joseph’s
instructions. In order to prove their
contention that they are honest men and not spies, they are to leave one of
their brothers in
v.35 “And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.”
So not only was the money in the
grain sack of one brother but in the grain sacks of all of the brothers, just
as Joseph has instructed. When Jacob and
his sons saw this there were afraid, this is something totally out of the
ordinary. They just knew that this was
something that would be turned against them.
v.36 “And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.”
v.37 “And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.”
Reuben, the elder brother, seemingly
always ready to try something, as he planned to rescue Joseph, not allowing his
brothers to kill him, now makes a rash promise.
He will give
v.38 “And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.”
Benjamin will not be
allowed to go to