Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 12

Genesis 42–47

Bible text(s)

Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt to Buy Corn

1When Jacob learnt that there was corn in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why don't you do something? 2I hear that there is corn in Egypt; go there and buy some to keep us from starving to death.” 3So Joseph's ten half-brothers went to buy corn in Egypt, 4but Jacob did not send Joseph's full-brother Benjamin with them, because he was afraid that something might happen to him.

5The sons of Jacob came with others to buy corn, because there was famine in the land of Canaan. 6Joseph, as governor of the land of Egypt, was selling corn to people from all over the world. So Joseph's brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7When 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.

8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9He remembered the dreams he had dreamt 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. 11We are all brothers. We are not spies, sir, we are honest men.”

12Joseph said to them, “No! You have come to find out where our country is weak.”

13They 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. 15This 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. 16One 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.” 17Then he put them in prison for three days.

18On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man, and I will spare your lives on one condition. 19To 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 corn that you have bought. 20Then 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 21and 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.”

22Reuben said, “I told you not to harm the boy, but you wouldn't listen. And now we are being paid back for his death.” 23Joseph understood what they said, but they did not know it, because they had been speaking to him through an interpreter. 24Joseph 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.

Joseph's Brothers Return to Canaan

25Joseph gave orders to fill his brothers' packs with corn, to put each man's money back in his sack, and to give them food for the journey. This was done. 26The brothers loaded their donkeys with the corn they had bought, and then they left. 27At the place where they spent the night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey and found his money at the top of the sack. 28“My money has been returned to me,” he called to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack!” Their hearts sank, and in fear they asked one another, “What has God done to us?”

29When they came to their father Jacob in Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them: 30“The governor of Egypt spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying against his country. 31‘We are not spies,’ we answered, ‘we are honest men. 32We were twelve brothers in all, sons of the same father. One brother is dead, and the youngest is still in Canaan with our father.’ 33The man answered, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men: one of you will stay with me; the rest will take corn for your starving families and leave. 34Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but honest men; I will give your brother back to you, and you can stay here and trade.’ ”

35Then when they emptied out their sacks, every one of them found his bag of money; and when they saw the money, they and their father Jacob were afraid. 36Their father said to them, “Do you want to make me lose all my children? Joseph is gone; Simeon is gone; and now you want to take away Benjamin. I am the one who suffers!”

37Reuben said to his father, “If I do not bring Benjamin back to you, you can kill my two sons. Put him in my care, and I will bring him back.”

38But Jacob said, “My son cannot go with you; his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. Something might happen to him on the way. I am an old man, and the sorrow you would cause me would kill me.”

Genesis 42GNBOpen in Bible reader

Joseph's Brothers Return to Egypt with Benjamin

1The famine in Canaan got worse, 2and when the family of Jacob had eaten all the corn which had been brought from Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy a little food for us.”

3Judah said to him, “The man sternly warned us that we would not be admitted to his presence unless we had our brother with us. 4If you are willing to send our brother with us, we will go and buy food for you. 5If you are not willing, we will not go, because the man told us we would not be admitted to his presence unless our brother was with us.”

6Jacob said, “Why did you cause me so much trouble by telling the man that you had another brother?”

7They answered, “The man kept asking about us and our family, ‘Is your father still living? Have you got another brother?’ We had to answer his questions. How could we know that he would tell us to bring our brother with us?”

8Judah said to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will leave at once. Then none of us will starve to death. 9I will pledge my own life, and you can hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you safe and sound, I will always bear the blame. 10If we had not waited so long, we could have been there and back twice by now.”

11Their father said to them, “If that is how it has to be, then take the best products of the land in your packs as a present for the governor: a little resin, a little honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12Take with you also twice as much money, because you must take back the money that was returned in the top of your sacks. Maybe it was a mistake. 13Take your brother and return at once. 14May Almighty God cause the man to have pity on you, so that he will give Benjamin and your other brother back to you. As for me, if I must lose my children, I must lose them.”

15So the brothers took the gifts and twice as much money, and set out for Egypt with Benjamin. There they presented themselves to Joseph. 16When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant in charge of his house, “Take these men to my house. They are going to eat with me at noon, so kill an animal and prepare it.” 17The servant did as he was commanded and took the brothers to Joseph's house.

18As they were being brought to the house, they were afraid and thought, “We are being brought here because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time. They will suddenly attack us, take our donkeys, and make us his slaves.” 19So at the door of the house, they said to the servant in charge, 20“If you please, sir, we came here once before to buy food. 21When we set up camp on the way home, we opened our sacks, and each man found his money in the top of his sack — every bit of it. We have brought it back to you. 22We have also brought some more money with us to buy more food. We do not know who put our money back in our sacks.”

23The servant said, “Don't worry. Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, must have put the money in your sacks for you. I received your payment.” Then he brought Simeon to them.

24The servant took the brothers into the house. He gave them water so that they could wash their feet, and he fed their donkeys. 25They got their gifts ready to present to Joseph when he arrived at noon, because they had been told that they were to eat with him. 26When Joseph got home, they took the gifts into the house to him and bowed down to the ground before him. 27He asked about their health and then said, “You told me about your old father — how is he? Is he still alive and well?”

28They answered, “Your humble servant, our father, is still alive and well.” And they knelt and bowed down before him.

29When Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, he said, “So this is your youngest brother, the one you told me about. God bless you, my son.” 30Then Joseph left suddenly, because his heart was full of tender feelings for his brother. He was about to break down, so he went to his room and cried. 31After he had washed his face, he came out, and controlling himself, he ordered the meal to be served. 32Joseph was served at one table and his brothers at another. The Egyptians who were eating there were served separately, because they considered it beneath their dignity to eat with Hebrews. 33The brothers had been seated at table, facing Joseph, in the order of their age from the eldest to the youngest. When they saw how they had been seated, they looked at one another in amazement. 34Food was served to them from Joseph's table, and Benjamin was served five times as much as the rest of them. So they ate and drank with Joseph until they were drunk.

Genesis 43GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Missing Cup

1Joseph commanded the servant in charge of his house, “Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's money in the top of his sack. 2Put my silver cup in the top of the youngest brother's sack, together with the money for his corn.” He did as he was told. 3Early in the morning the brothers were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to the servant in charge of his house, “Hurry after those men. When you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you paid back evil for good? 5Why did you steal my master's silver cup? It is the one he drinks from, the one he uses for divination. You have committed a serious crime!’ ”

6When the servant caught up with them, he repeated these words. 7They answered him, “What do you mean, sir, by talking like this? We swear that we have done no such thing. 8You know that we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found in the top of our sacks. Why then should we steal silver or gold from your master's house? 9Sir, if any one of us is found to have it, he will be put to death, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”

10He said, “I agree; but only the one who has taken the cup will become my slave, and the rest of you can go free.” 11So they quickly lowered their sacks to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12Joseph's servant searched carefully, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13The brothers tore their clothes in sorrow, loaded their donkeys, and returned to the city.

14When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, he was still there. They bowed down before him, 15and Joseph said, “What have you done? Didn't you know that a man in my position could find you out by practising divination?”

16“What can we say to you, sir?” Judah answered. “How can we argue? How can we clear ourselves? God has uncovered our guilt. All of us are now your slaves and not just the one with whom the cup was found.”

17Joseph said, “Oh, no! I would never do that! Only the one who had the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back safe and sound to your father.”

Judah Pleads for Benjamin

18Judah went up to Joseph and said, “Please, sir, allow me to speak with you freely. Don't be angry with me; you are like the king himself. 19Sir, you asked us, ‘Have you got a father or another brother?’ 20We answered, ‘We have a father who is old and a younger brother, born to him in his old age. The boy's brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother's children still alive; his father loves him very much.’ 21Sir, you told us to bring him here, so that you could see him, 22and we answered that the boy could not leave his father; if he did, his father would die. 23Then you said, ‘You will not be admitted to my presence again unless your youngest brother comes with you.’

24“When we went back to our father, we told him what you had said. 25Then he told us to return and buy a little food. 26We answered, ‘We cannot go; we will not be admitted to the man's presence unless our youngest brother is with us. We can go only if our youngest brother goes also.’ 27Our father said to us, ‘You know that my wife Rachel bore me only two sons. 28One of them has already left me. He must have been torn to pieces by wild animals, because I have not seen him since he left. 29If you take this one from me now and something happens to him, the sorrow you would cause me would kill me, old as I am.’

30-31“And now, sir,” Judah continued, “if I go back to my father without the boy, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with me, he will die. His life is wrapped up with the life of the boy, and he is so old that the sorrow we would cause him would kill him. 32What is more, I pledged my life to my father for the boy. I told him that if I did not bring the boy back to him, I would bear the blame all my life. 33And now, sir, I will stay here as your slave in place of the boy; let him go back with his brothers. 34How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I cannot bear to see this disaster come upon my father.”

Genesis 44GNBOpen in Bible reader

Joseph Tells his Brothers Who he Is

1Joseph was no longer able to control his feelings in front of his servants, so he ordered them all to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. 2He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the king's palace. 3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But when his brothers heard this, they were so terrified that they could not answer. 4Then Joseph said to them, “Please come closer.” They did, and he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people's lives. 6This is only the second year of famine in the land; there will be five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor reaping. 7God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure that you and your descendants survive. 8So it was not really you who sent me here, but God. He has made me the king's highest official. I am in charge of his whole country; I am the ruler of all Egypt.

9“Now hurry back to my father and tell him that this is what his son Joseph says: ‘God has made me ruler of all Egypt; come to me without delay. 10You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me — you, your children, your grandchildren, your sheep, your goats, your cattle, and everything else that you have. 11If you are in Goshen, I can take care of you. There will still be five years of famine; and I do not want you, your family, and your livestock to starve.’ ”

12Joseph continued, “Now all of you, and you too, Benjamin, can see that I am really Joseph. 13Tell my father how powerful I am here in Egypt and tell him about everything that you have seen. Then hurry and bring him here.”

14He threw his arms round his brother Benjamin and began to cry; Benjamin also cried as he hugged him. 15Then, still weeping, he embraced each of his brothers and kissed them. After that, his brothers began to talk with him.

16When the news reached the palace that Joseph's brothers had come, the king and his officials were pleased. 17He said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers to load their animals and to return to the land of Canaan. 18Let them get their father and their families and come back here. I will give them the best land in Egypt, and they will have more than enough to live on. 19Tell them also to take wagons with them from Egypt for their wives and small children and to bring their father with them. 20They are not to worry about leaving their possessions behind; the best in the whole land of Egypt will be theirs.”

21Jacob's sons did as they were told. Joseph gave them wagons, as the king had ordered, and food for the journey. 22He also gave each of them a change of clothes, but he gave Benjamin 300 pieces of silver and five changes of clothes. 23He sent his father ten donkeys loaded with the best Egyptian goods and ten donkeys loaded with corn, bread, and other food for the journey. 24He sent his brothers off and as they left, he said to them, “Don't quarrel on the way.”

25They left Egypt and went back home to their father Jacob in Canaan. 26“Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “He is the ruler of all Egypt!” Jacob was stunned and could not believe them.

27But when they told him all that Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to take him to Egypt, he recovered from the shock. 28“My son Joseph is still alive!” he said. “This is all I could ask for! I must go and see him before I die.”

Genesis 45GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jacob and his Family Go to Egypt

1Jacob packed up all he had and went to Beersheba, where he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2God spoke to him in a vision at night and called, “Jacob, Jacob!”

“Yes, here I am,” he answered.

3“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go to Egypt; I will make your descendants a great nation there. 4I will go with you to Egypt, and I will bring your descendants back to this land. Joseph will be with you when you die.”

5Jacob set out from Beersheba. His sons put him, their small children, and their wives in the wagons which the king of Egypt had sent. 6They took their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan and went to Egypt. Jacob took all his descendants with him: 7his sons, his grandsons, his daughters, and his granddaughters.

8The members of Jacob's family who went to Egypt with him were his eldest son Reuben 9and Reuben's sons: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 10Simeon and his sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. 11Levi and his sons: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12Judah and his sons: Shelah, Perez, and Zerah. (Judah's other sons, Er and Onan, had died in Canaan.) Perez' sons were Hezron and Hamul. 13Issachar and his sons: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron. 14Zebulun and his sons: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15These are the sons that Leah had borne to Jacob in Mesopotamia, besides his daughter Dinah. In all, his descendants by Leah numbered 33.

16Gad and his sons: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arod, and Areli. 17Asher and his sons: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. Beriah's sons were Heber and Malchiel. 18These sixteen are the descendants of Jacob by Zilpah, the slave woman whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah.

19Jacob's wife Rachel bore him two sons: Joseph and Benjamin. 20In Egypt Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, by Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in Heliopolis. 21Benjamin's sons were Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. 22These fourteen are the descendants of Jacob by Rachel.

23Dan and his son Hushim. 24Naphtali and his sons: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. 25These seven are the descendants of Jacob by Bilhah, the slave woman whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel.

26The total number of the direct descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt was 66, not including his sons' wives. 27Two sons were born to Joseph in Egypt, bringing to seventy the total number of Jacob's family who went there.

Jacob and his Family in Egypt

28Jacob sent Judah ahead to ask Joseph to meet them in Goshen. When they arrived, 29Joseph got in his chariot and went to Goshen to meet his father. When they met, Joseph threw his arms round his father's neck and cried for a long time. 30Jacob said to Joseph, “I am ready to die, now that I have seen you and know that you are still alive.”

31Then Joseph said to his brothers and the rest of his father's family, “I must go and tell the king that my brothers and all my father's family, who were living in Canaan, have come to me. 32I will tell him that you are shepherds and take care of livestock and that you have brought your flocks and herds and everything else that belongs to you. 33When the king calls for you and asks what your occupation is, 34be sure to tell him that you have taken care of livestock all your lives, just as your ancestors did. In this way he will let you live in the region of Goshen.” Joseph said this because Egyptians will have nothing to do with shepherds.

Genesis 46GNBOpen in Bible reader

1So Joseph took five of his brothers and went to the king. He said, “My father and my brothers have come from Canaan with their flocks, their herds, and all that they own. They are now in the region of Goshen.” 2He then presented his brothers to the king. 3The king asked them, “What is your occupation?”

“We are shepherds, sir, just as our ancestors were,” they answered. 4“We have come to live in this country, because in the land of Canaan the famine is so severe that there is no pasture for our flocks. Please give us permission to live in the region of Goshen.” 5The king said to Joseph, “Now that your father and your brothers have arrived, 6the land of Egypt is theirs. Let them settle in the region of Goshen, the best part of the land. And if there are any capable men among them, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

7Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to the king. Jacob gave the king his blessing, 8and the king asked him, “How old are you?”

9Jacob answered, “My life of wandering has lasted 130 years. Those years have been few and difficult, unlike the long years of my ancestors in their wanderings.” 10Jacob gave the king a farewell blessing and left. 11Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt, giving them property in the best of the land near the city of Rameses, as the king had commanded. 12Joseph provided food for his father, his brothers, and all the rest of his father's family, including the very youngest.

The Famine

13The famine was so severe that there was no food anywhere, and the people of Egypt and Canaan became weak with hunger. 14As they bought corn, Joseph collected all the money and took it to the palace. 15When all the money in Egypt and Canaan was spent, the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Don't let us die. Do something! Our money is all gone.”

16Joseph answered, “Bring your livestock; I will give you food in exchange for it if your money is all gone.” 17So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys. That year he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18The following year they came to him and said, “We will not hide the fact from you, sir, that our money is all gone and our livestock belongs to you. There is nothing left to give you except our bodies and our lands. 19Don't let us die. Do something! Don't let our fields be deserted. Buy us and our land in exchange for food. We will be the king's slaves, and he will own our land. Give us corn to keep us alive and seed to sow in our fields.”

20Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for the king. Every Egyptian was forced to sell his land, because the famine was so severe; and all the land became the king's property. 21Joseph made slaves of the people from one end of Egypt to the other. 22The only land he did not buy was the land that belonged to the priests. They did not have to sell their lands, because the king gave them an allowance to live on. 23Joseph said to the people, “You see, I have now bought you and your lands for the king. Here is seed for you to sow in your fields. 24At the time of harvest you must give a fifth to the king. You can use the rest for seed and for food for yourselves and your families.”

25They answered, “You have saved our lives; you have been good to us, sir, and we will be the king's slaves.” 26So Joseph made it a law for the land of Egypt that a fifth of the harvest should belong to the king. This law still remains in force today. Only the lands of the priests did not become the king's property.

Jacob's Last Request

27The Israelites lived in Egypt in the region of Goshen, where they became rich and had many children. 28Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years, until he was 147 years old. 29When the time drew near for him to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “Place your hand between my thighs and make a solemn vow that you will not bury me in Egypt. 30I want to be buried where my fathers are; carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”

Joseph answered, “I will do as you say.”

31Jacob said, “Make a vow that you will.” Joseph made the vow, and Jacob gave thanks there on his bed.

Genesis 47GNBOpen in Bible reader
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