God’s Renewing Word of Mercy and Forgiveness
Genesis 42:1-24: The famine is widespread and extends to Canaan. Jacob sends his sons, with the exception of Benjamin, to Egypt to buy grain. When they arrive, Joseph recognizes them but pretends not to know them. He accuses them of being spies and agrees to spare their lives if they will return with their youngest brother.
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt to Buy Grain
42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why don’t you do something? 2 I hear that there is grain in Egypt; go there and buy some to keep us from starving to death.” 3 So Joseph’s ten half brothers went to buy grain in Egypt, 4 but Jacob did not send Joseph’s full brother Benjamin with them, because he was afraid that something might happen to him.
5 The sons of Jacob came with others to buy grain, because there was famine in the land of Canaan. 6 Joseph, as governor of the land of Egypt, was selling grain to people from all over the world. So Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he acted as if he did not know them. He asked them harshly, “Where do you come from?”
“We have come from Canaan to buy food,” they answered.
8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 He remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them and said, “You are spies; you have come to find out where our country is weak.”
10 “No, sir,” they answered. “We have come as your slaves, to buy food. 11 We are all brothers. We are not spies, sir, we are honest men.”
12 Joseph said to them, “No! You have come to find out where our country is weak.”
13 They said, “We were twelve brothers in all, sir, sons of the same man in the land of Canaan. One brother is dead, and the youngest is now with our father.”
14 “It is just as I said,” Joseph answered. “You are spies. 15 This is how you will be tested: I swear by the name of the king that you will never leave unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 One of you must go and get him. The rest of you will be kept under guard until the truth of what you say can be tested. Otherwise, as sure as the king lives, you are spies.” 17 With that, he put them in prison for three days.
18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man, and I will spare your lives on one condition. 19 To prove that you are honest, one of you will stay in the prison where you have been kept; the rest of you may go and take back to your starving families the grain that you have bought. 20 Then you must bring your youngest brother to me. This will prove that you have been telling the truth, and I will not put you to death.”
They agreed to this 21 and said to one another, “Yes, now we are suffering the consequences of what we did to our brother; we saw the great trouble he was in when he begged for help, but we would not listen. That is why we are in this trouble now.”
22 Reuben said, “I told you not to harm the boy, but you wouldn’t listen. And now we are being paid back for his death.” 23 Joseph understood what they said, but they did not know it, because they had been speaking to him through an interpreter. 24 Joseph left them and began to cry. When he was able to speak again, he came back, picked out Simeon, and had him tied up in front of them.
Today’s Key Verse: Genesis 42:6a
Joseph, as governor of the land of Egypt, was selling grain to people from all over the world.
What reason does Joseph give for wanting to test his brothers? Reread verses 21 and 22. To what do the brothers attribute their suffering? Do our actions today have consequences for the future? Explain.
Dear God, there are times when I may not know or be aware of how you are at work in my life. Grant me patience and strengthen my faith, trusting that you are guiding me. Amen.
Genesis 42:25-38: Joseph’s brothers return to Canaan.