The Brother’s Three Trips to Egypt
Genesis 42 – 44
The Brother’s First trip to Egypt (Gen. 42)
1 And Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down thither and buy grain for us from thence, in order that we may live, and not die. 3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy grain out of Egypt. 4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest mischief may befall him. 5 So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those that came; for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6 And Joseph, he was the governor over the land — he it was that sold the corn to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brethren came and bowed down to him, the face to the earth. 7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and knew them; but he made himself strange to them, and spoke roughly to them, and said to them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan, to buy food. 8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they did not know him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamt of them; and he said to them, Ye are spies: to see the exposed places of the land ye are come. 10 And they said to him, No, my lord; but to buy food are thy servants come. 11 We are all one man’s sons; we are honest: thy servants are not spies. 12 And he said to them, No; but to see the exposed places of the land are ye come. 13 And they said, Thy servants were twelve brethren, 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 to them, That is it that I have spoken to you, saying, Ye are spies. 15 By this ye shall be put to the proof: as Pharaoh lives, ye shall not go forth hence, unless your youngest brother come hither! 16 Send one of you, that he may fetch your brother, but ye shall be imprisoned, and your words shall be put to the proof, whether the truth is in you; and if not, as Pharaoh lives, ye are spies. 17 And he put them in custody three days. 18 And Joseph said to them the third day, This do, that ye may live: I fear God. 19 If ye are honest, let one of your brethren remain bound in the house of your prison, but go ye, carry grain for the hunger of your households; 20 and bring your youngest brother to me, in order that your words be verified, and that ye may not die. And they did so. 21 Then they said one to another, We are indeed guilty concerning our brother, whose anguish of soul we saw when he besought us, and we did not hearken; therefore this distress is come upon us. 22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Did I not speak to you, saying, Do not sin against the lad? But ye did not hearken; and now behold, his blood also is required. 23 And they did not know that Joseph understood, for the interpreter was between them. 24 And he turned away from them, and wept. And he returned to them, and spoke to them, and took Simeon from among them, and bound him before their eyes. v.24 Reuben has forfeited the responsibility and Simeon was next in line.
25 And Joseph gave orders to fill their vessels with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way. And thus did they to them. 26 And they loaded their asses with their grain, and departed thence. 27 And one of them opened his sack to give his ass food in the inn, and saw his money, and behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28 And he said to his brethren, My money is returned to me, and behold, it is even in my sack. And their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God has done to us? 29 And they came into the land of Canaan, to Jacob their father, and told him all that had befallen them, saying, 30 The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us, and treated us as spies of the land. 31 And we said to him, We are honest; we are not spies: 32 we are 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 land, said to us, Hereby shall I know that ye are honest: leave one of your brethren with me, and take for the hunger of your households, and go, 34 and bring your youngest brother to me, and I shall know that ye are not spies, but are honest. Your brother will I give up to you; and ye may trade in the land. 35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that behold, every man had his bundle of money in his sack; and they saw their bundles of money, they and their father, and were afraid. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, Ye have bereaved me of children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin! All these things are against me. 37 And Reuben spoke to his father, saying, Slay my two sons if I bring him not back to thee: give him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. v.37 What kind of comfort would this have been to Jacob? He had lost one son already… how would killing to of his grandsons be a comfort to him?
38 But he said, My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left; and if mischief should befall him by the way in which ye go, then would ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol.
Jacob brought to the point where he lets Benjamin go (43:1-14)
1 And the famine was grievous in the land. 2 And it came to pass, when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, Go again, buy us a little food. 3 And Judah spoke to him, saying, The man did positively testify to us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, unless your brother be with you. 4 If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food; 5 but if thou do not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, Ye shall not see my face, unless your brother be with you. 6 And Israel said, Why did ye deal so ill with me as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother? 7 And they said, The man asked very closely after us, and after our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye a brother? And we told him according to the tenor of these words. Could we at all know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
8 And Judah said to Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live, and not die, both we and thou and our little ones. 9 I will be surety for him: of my hand shalt thou require him; if I bring him not to thee, and set him before thy face, then shall I be guilty toward thee for ever. 10 For had we not lingered, we should now certainly have returned already twice. vv.8-10 Judah was a wicked, ungodly man, as we see from ch.37 and ch.38. Yet the Lord was doing a work in his heart. Here Judah steps up, saying, “I’ll take all the blame if something happens to Benjamin”.
11 And their father Israel said to them, If it is then so, do this: take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a gift: a little balsam and a little honey, tragacanth and ladanum, pistacia-nuts and almonds. 12 And take other money in your hand, and the money that was returned to you in the mouth of your sacks, carry back in your hand: perhaps it is an oversight. 13 And take your brother, and arise, go again to the man. 14 And the Almighty GOD give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin! And I, if I be bereaved of children, am bereaved. vv.11-14 Here we find Jacob coming down to rock bottom. All the balsam and honey in the world could not satisfy the governor of Egypt. All the money that Jacob had was nothing in light of the riches of Egypt. It was Benjamin that was required. He comes to the point where he is willing to let go.
The Brother’s second trip to Egypt (43:15 – 44:5)
15 And the men took that gift, and took double money in their hand, and Benjamin, and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and came before Joseph. 16 And Joseph saw Benjamin with them, and said to the man who was over his house, Bring the men into the house, and slaughter cattle, and make ready; for the men shall eat with me at noon. 17 And the man did as Joseph had said; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house. 18 And the men were afraid because they were brought into Joseph’s house, and said, Because of the money that was returned to us in our sacks at the beginning are we brought in, that he may turn against us, and fall upon us and take us for bondmen, and our asses. 19 And they came up to the man that was over Joseph’s house, and they spoke to him at the door of the house, 20 and said, Ah! my lord, we came indeed down at the first to buy food. 21 And it came to pass when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money according to its weight; and we have brought it again in our hand. 22 And other money have we brought down in our hand to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks. 23 And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; your money came to me. And he brought Simeon out to them. 24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses food. 25 And they made ready the gift for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they should eat bread there. 26 When Joseph came home, they brought him the gift that was in their hand, into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth. 27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well — the old man of whom ye spoke? Is he yet alive? 28 And they said, Thy servant our father is well; he is yet alive. And they bowed, and made obeisance.
29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother of whom ye spoke to me? And he said, God be gracious to thee, my son! 30 And Joseph made haste, for his bowels burned for his brother; and he sought a place to weep, and he went into the chamber, and wept there. vv.29-30 Joseph wept not merely because he hadn’t seen Benjamin in years, but also because he knew what it had cost Jacob to let him go.
31 And he washed his face, and came out, and controlled himself, and said, Set on bread. 32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians. 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth; and the men marvelled one at another.
34 And he had portions carried to them from before him. And Benjamin’s portion was five times greater than the portions of them all. And they drank, and made merry with him. v.34 Joseph, looking to see repentance in the hearts of his brethren, recreates a very familiar scene. Remember Joseph’s coat of many colors? The brothers hated him becomes they envied him, so says Stephen in Acts 7:9; “And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt”. It reminds us of how Pilate “knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matt. 27:18). There was no evidence of envy now towards Benjamin.
1 And he commanded him who was over his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry; and put every man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain-money. And he did according to the word of Joseph which he had spoken. 3 In the morning, when it was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses. 4 They were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, when Joseph said to him who was over his house, Up! follow after the men; and when thou overtakest them, thou shalt say to them, Why have ye rewarded evil for good? 5 Is not this it in which my lord drinks, and in which indeed he divines? Ye have done evil in what ye have done.
The Brother’s third return to Egypt (44:6-34)
6 And he overtook them, and he spoke to them these words. 7 And they said to him, Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from thy servants to do such a thing! 8 Behold, the money that we found in our sacks` mouths we have brought again to thee from the land of Canaan; and how should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold? 9 With whomsoever of thy servants it is found, let him die; and we also will be my lord’s bondmen. 10 And he said, Now also let it be according to your words: let him with whom it is found be my bondman, but ye shall be blameless. 11 And they hasted and laid down every man his sack on the ground, and opened every man his sack. 12 And he searched carefully: he began at the eldest, and ended at the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they rent their clothes, and loaded every man his ass, and they returned to the city.
14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; and he was still there; and they fell down before him to the ground. 15 And Joseph said to them, What deed is this which ye have done? Did ye not know that such a man as I can certainly divine? 16 And Judah said, What shall we say to my lord? what shall we speak, and how justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of thy servants; behold, we are my lord’s bondmen, both we, and he in whose hand the cup has been found. vv.14-17 Judah now takes the lead in repentance, just as the two tribes will in the day of Israel’s restoration.
17 And he said, Far be it from me to do so! The man in whose hand the cup has been found, he shall be my bondman; but as for you, go up in peace to your father. 18 Then Judah came near to him, and said, Ah! my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother? 20 And we said to my lord, We have an aged father, and a child born to him in his old age, yet young; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother; and his father loves him. 21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down to me, that I may set mine eye on him. 22 And we said to my lord, The youth cannot leave his father: if he should leave his father, his father would die. 23 And thou saidst to thy servants, Unless your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. 24 And it came to pass when we came up to thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25 And our father said, Go again, buy us a little food. 26 But we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us. 27 And thy servant my father said to us, Ye know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 and the one went out from me, and I said, He must certainly have been torn in pieces; and I have not seen him again hitherto. 29 And if ye take this one also from me, and mischief should befall him, ye will bring down my grey hairs with misery to Sheol. 30 And now, when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad is not with us, — seeing that his life is bound up with his life, 31 it will come to pass when he sees that the lad is not there, that he will die; and thy servants will bring down the grey hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32 For thy servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, If I bring him not to thee, then I shall be guilty toward my father all my days. 33 And now, let thy servant stay, I pray thee, instead of the lad a bondman to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brethren; 34 for how should I go up to my father if the lad were not with me? — lest I see the evil that would come on my father. vv.17-34 Joseph was a master with souls. He play it just right to test his brothers’ heart toward Benjamin. They could return, but the guilty man must stay. Judah replays the whole scene from he presence of his father. He says, “I cannot do this. I’ll take Benjamin’s place”. This was a profound and deep work in Judah’s soul. See how Joseph crafted this scene precisely to match the circumstances of his own betrayal? This was the perfect opportunity to abandon the second son of Rachel. There was nothing stopping them from turning around right there and going home.