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Joseph's Brothers' First Journey To Egypt

When a famine became severe in the land of Israel, Jacob told his sons to go to Egypt because he heard that the land of Goshen was not only coping with the crisis, but had grain to sell (unknown to Jacob, Egypt was doing well because of Jacob's own son, Joseph - see Joseph, Prime Minister Of Egypt).

"42:1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 42:2 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." (Genesis 42:1-2 KJV)

Interestingly, Jacob did not allow Benjamin, Joseph's younger brother, to accompany the other brothers, "Lest peradventure mischief befall him." It seems that, perhaps, Jacob was rightfully suspicious of what had really happened to Joseph (see Joseph's Coat Of Jealousy).

"42:3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 42:4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. 42:5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn [i.e. wheat - see Corn] among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan." (Genesis 42:3-5 KJV)

"Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him"

Upon their arrival in Egypt, they met with the Prime Minister himself, their own brother Joseph, who they did not recognize. Joseph recognized them however - and at that point the very lives of his treacherous brothers were in his hands. Joseph could have had them thrown into prison for the rest of their lives, or sold into slavery as they had done to him, or even executed. But Joseph had compassion (see the Fact Finder question below) on them - along with a hard lesson.

Egyptian

"42:6 And 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. 42:7 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 land of Canaan to buy food.

42:8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. 42:9 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.

42:10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. 42:11 We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.

42:12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

42:13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.

42:14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: 42:15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. 42:16 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. 42:17 And he put them all together into ward three days." (Genesis 42:6-17 KJV)

Knowing that his father Jacob and brother Benjamin were depending upon the return of the brothers with food, Joseph eventually allowed them to go. But not without more for them to wonder about on their return journey (Joseph expected that they would be back because he knew how long the famine would yet last and that the food that he sold to them would not last to the end of it).

The Nile Delta

"42:18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: 42:19 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: 42:20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

42:21 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.

42:22 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. 42:23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

42:24 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.

42:25 Then 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. 42:26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.

42:27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth. 42:28 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?" (Genesis 42:18-28 KJV)

Fact Finder: What is compassion?
See Compassion


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