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1 Now when Iacob saw that there was corne in Egypt, Iacob said vnto his sonnes, Why doe ye looke one vpon an other?

2 And hee said, Beholde, I haue heard that there is corne in Egypt: get you downe thither and buy for vs from thence, that we may liue, and not die.

3 And Iosephs ten brethren went downe to buy corne in Egypt.

4 But Beniamin Iosephs brother, Iacob sent not with his brethren: for he said, Lest peraduenture mischiefe befall him.

5 And the sonnes of Israel came to buy corne among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

6 And Ioseph was the gouernour ouer the land, and hee it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Iosephs brethren came, & bowed downe themselues before him, with their faces to the earth.

7 And Ioseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himselfe strange vnto them, and spake roughly vnto them; and hee saide vnto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan, to buy food.

8 And Ioseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.

9 And Ioseph remembred the dreames which hee dreamed of them, and said vnto them, Ye are spies: to see the nakednes of the land you are come.

10 And they said vnto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy seruants come.

11 We are all one mans sonnes, we are true men: thy seruants are no spies.

12 And he said vnto them, Nay: but to see the nakednesse of the land, you are come.

13 And they said, Thy seruants are twelue brethren, the sonnes of one man in the land of Canaan: and behold, the yongest is this day with our father, and one is not.

14 And Ioseph said vnto them, That is it that I spake vnto you, saying, Ye are spies.

15 Hereby ye shall be proued: by the life of Pharaoh ye shall not goe foorth hence, except your yongest brother come hither.

16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shalbe kept in prison, that your wordes may be proued, whether there be any trueth in you: or els by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.

17 And he put them all together into warde, three dayes.

18 And Ioseph said vnto them the third day, This doe, and liue: for I feare God.

19 If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: goe ye, carry corne for the famine of your houses.

20 But bring your yongest brother vnto mee, so shall your wordes be verified, and yee shall not die: and they did so.

21 And they said one to another, We are verily guiltie concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soule, when he besought vs, and we would not heare: therefore is this distresse come vpon vs.

22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not vnto you, saying, Doe not sinne against the childe, and ye would not heare? therefore behold also, his blood is required.

23 And they knew not that Ioseph vnderstood them: for hee spake vnto them by an interpreter.

24 And hee turned himselfe about from them and wept, and returned to them againe, and communed with them, and tooke from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

25 Then Ioseph commanded to fill their sackes with corne, and to restore euery mans money into his sacke, and to giue them prouision for the way: and thus did he vnto them.

26 And they laded their asses with the corne, and departed thence.

27 And as one of them opened his sacke, to giue his asse prouender in the Inne, he espied his money: for behold, it was in his sackes mouth.

28 And he said vnto his brethren, My money is restored, and loe, it is euen in my sacke: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to an other, What is this that God hath done vnto vs?

29 And they came vnto Iacob their father, vnto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell vnto them, saying;

30 The man who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to vs, and tooke vs for spies of the countrey.

31 And we said vnto him, We are true men; we are no spies.

32 We be twelue brethren, sonnes of our father: one is not, and the yongest is this day with our father, in the land of Canaan.

33 And the man the lord of the countrey said vnto vs, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men: leaue one of your brethren here with me, and take foode for the famine of your housholds, and be gone.

34 And bring your yongest brother vnto me: then shall I know that you are no spies, but that you are true men: so will I deliuer you your brother, and ye shall traffique in the land.

35 And it came to passe as they emptied their sacks, that behold, euery mans bundle of money was in his sacke: and when both they and their father saw the bundels of money, they were afraid.

36 And Iacob their father said vnto them, We haue ye bereaued of my children: Ioseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye wil take Beniamin away: all these things are against me.

37 And Reuben spake vnto his father, saying; Slay my two sonnes, if I bring him not to thee: deliuer him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee againe.

38 And he said, My sonne shall not goe downe with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischiefe befall him by the way in the which yee goe, then shall ye bring downe my gray haires with sorrow to the graue.

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Commentary for Genesis 42

Jacob sends ten sons to buy corn. (1-6) Joseph's treatment of his brethren. (7-20) Their remorse, Simeon detained. (21-24) The rest return with corn. (25-28) Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt. (29-38)1-6 Jacob saw the corn his neighbours had bought in Egypt, and brought home. It is a spur to exertion to see others supplied. Shall others get food for their souls, and shall we starve while it is to be had? Having discovered where help is to be had, we should apply for it without delay, without shrinking from labour, or grudging expense, especially as regards our never-dying souls. There is provision in Christ; but we must come to him, and seek it from him.

7-20 Joseph was hard upon his brethren, not from a spirit of revenge, but to bring them to repentance. Not seeing his brother Benjamin, he suspected that they had made away with him, and he gave them occasion to speak of their father and brother. God, in his providence, sometimes seems harsh with those he loves, and speaks roughly to those for whom yet he has great mercy in store. Joseph settled at last, that one of them should be left, and the rest go home and fetch Benjamin. It was a very encouraging word he said to them, "I fear God;" as if he had said, You may be assured I will do you no wrong; I dare not, for I know there is one higher than I. With those that fear God, we may expect fair dealing.

21-24 The office of conscience is to bring to mind things long since said and done. When the guilt of this sin of Joseph's brethren was fresh, they made light of it, and sat down to eat bread; but now, long afterward, their consciences accused them of it. See the good of afflictions; they often prove the happy means of awakening conscience, and bringing sin to our remembrance. Also, the evil of guilt as to our brethren. Conscience now reproached them for it. Whenever we think we have wrong done us, we ought to remember the wrong we have done to others. Reuben alone remembered with comfort, that he had done what he could to prevent the mischief. When we share with others in their sufferings, it will be a comfort if we have the testimony of our consciences for us, that we did not share in their evil deeds, but in our places witnessed against them. Joseph retired to weep. Though his reason directed that he should still carry himself as a stranger, because they were not as yet humbled enough, yet natural affection could not but work.

25-28 The brethren came for corn, and corn they had: not only so, but every man had his money given back. Thus Christ, like Joseph, gives out supplies without money and without price. The poorest are invited to buy. But guilty consciences are apt to take good providences in a bad sense; to put wrong meanings even upon things that make for them.

29-38 Here is the report Jacob's sons made to their father. It troubled the good man. Even the bundles of money Joseph returned, in kindness, to his father, frightened him. He laid the fault upon his sons; knowing them, he feared they had provoked the Egyptians, and wrongfully brought home their money. Jacob plainly distrusted his sons, remembering that he never saw Joseph since he had been with them. It is bad with a family, when children behave so ill that their parents know not how to trust them. Jacob gives up Joseph for gone, and Simeon and Benjamin as in danger; and concludes, All these things are against me. It proved otherwise, that all these things were for him, were working together for his good, and the good of his family. We often think that to be against us, which is really for us. We are afflicted in body, estate, name, and in our relations; and think all these things are against us, whereas they are really working for us a weight of glory. Thus does the Lord Jesus conceal himself and his favour, thus he rebukes and chastens those for whom he has purposes of love. By sharp corrections and humbling convictions he will break the stoutness and mar the pride of the heart, and bring to true repentance. Yet before sinners fully know him, or taste that he is gracious, he consults their good, and sustains their souls, to wait for him. May we do thus, never yielding to discouragement, determining to seek no other refuge, and humbling ourselves more and more under his mighty hand. In due time he will answer our petitions, and do for us more than we can expect.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Genesis 42

  • Tonya Dwyer
    I love this story.
  • Cynthia Baniassad
    I agree 100 with Mr Ralph M Waters!!!
  • Cynthia Baniassad
    I believe Jacob secretly wondered if his sons had anything to do with Joseph's disappearance, and spoke with gentle but slightly bitter sarcasm when he suggestedJoseph's blood brother might also come to harm. I haven't seen that possibility mentioned in any of the commentaries.
  • Anne
    Joseph's treatment of his brothers forces them to reflect on their evil deed against him without them knowing he was their brother whom they wronged. Guilty conciences will cause us to realize our sins and humble ourselves and repent.
  • Gary johnson
    We don't get away with anything in this life, the eye of the Lord is upon the good as well as the evil that we do, a day of reckoning is coming.
  • A disciple
    I know that the Lord Jesus has forgiven me my sins, and made me clean through His word. Yet I am deeply mortified and grieved when I think of about how badly I polluted myself in sins. I think this is a good sign of true awakening, when there's a real repentance and conversion. When the day comes that God wipes away all tears from off all our faces, then will we be made to forget the pat for ever.

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