Times of testing await those who are guilty and often prove the effectual means of awakening conscience and bringing sin to remembrance.
1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
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.
3 ¶ And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
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.
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.
8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
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.
10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
11 We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
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.
14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.
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.
17 And he put them all together into ward three days.
18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
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:
20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
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.
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.
23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
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.
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.
26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
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.
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?
29 ¶ And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.
31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
33 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:
34 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 traffick in the land.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Genesis 42 Intro – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 42:1-6 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 42:7-18 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 42:19-24 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 42:25-28 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 42:29-38 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 42:1-17 – Joseph Sees His Ten Brothers
The true interpretation of Joseph’s treatment of his brethren is to be found in the supposition that he repeated toward them, as nearly as possible, the behavior that they had shown to himself at the pit’s mouth, and this with no thought of retaliation, but that their consciences might be awakened, and that he might discover if they would deal differently with Benjamin than they had dealt with him. He needed to be sure of their repentance before he could trust himself to them again. His purpose therefore was in part secured when he heard them saying to each other in the dear old home-tongue, which they never expected him to understand, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother” (v. 21). So God deals with us. The east wind blows bitterly in our faces, the famine is behind and the harsh governor before. All these things are hard to bear; but behind them is the tenderest love, which struggles with its tears and is only eager to get us right before entrusting itself to us. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Genesis 42:18-38 – Simeon Held; the Others Sent Home
The behavior of this great Egyptian official—for so the brethren deemed him—must have seemed very hard and tyrannical to the trembling shepherds from the far land of Canaan. They had no idea that he understood what they said, and turned away to weep. But we can read his inner meaning. He must secure their return, so he kept Simeon bound. He wanted to see the beloved Benjamin, and to test their behavior to him, so he threatened that they should not see his face unless their youngest brother accompanied them. He gave to them of his kindly care in the gift of provisions and the return of their money. It was natural that the old father heard their story with failing-heart—“All these things are against me” (v. 36). Nay, in all these things was the life of the Spirit, and in all these things we are more than conquerors. See Romans 8:37.
“Judge not the Lord with feeble sense,
But trust him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.” —Through the Bible Day by Day
Genesis 42:30 – The man spake roughly to us.
He spake roughly, but he did not feel so.—When he had spoken in these harsh tones, he restored their money; turned aside to weep (Genesis 42:24); and did his best to alleviate the toils of travel. So sometimes God seems to deal harshly, and speak roughly; but there is no change in the tender love of his heart. It costs Him immeasurably more than it does us. Often when some unusual severity has been evinced, if we could but see his face, it would be full of pity, pain, and pleading on our behalf. He feels yearnings over use which He restrains, and dares not betray till the work of conviction is complete.
He spake roughly to awaken conscience.—It had slept for twenty years. They had almost forgotten that scene at the pit’s mouth; but as he repeated their tones, and words, and treatment, it all came back again, and they cried, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother” (v. 21). There must be repentance and confession before God can take us to his heart. We must confess the wrongs done to our Brother in heaven and our brothers on earth; and many of the roughness of God’s Providence are intended to awaken us, and bring our sin to remembrance.
He spake roughly to test them.—How did they feel toward each other: was there rivalry, or bitterness, or angry feeling? Beneath his biting words, Joseph would mark their behavior! Would they disown each other, or cling to one another? There was an opportunity for their doing one or the other; and he was glad to notice how their love approved itself. So we are led over stony roads, that God may know what is in our hearts. He gives us opportunities of showing our real feeling towards our brothers, that He may test our love towards Himself. —Our Daily Homily