But there was no relief from the terrible famine throughout the land.
When the grain they had brought from Egypt was almost gone, Jacob said to his sons, "Go again and buy us a little food."
But Judah said, "The man wasn't joking when he warned that we couldn't see him again unless Benjamin came along.
If you let him come with us, we will go down and buy some food.
But if you don't let Benjamin go, we may as well stay at home. Remember that the man said, 'You won't be allowed to come and see me unless your brother is with you.'"
"Why did you ever tell him you had another brother?" Jacob a moaned. "Why did you have to treat me with such cruelty?"
"But the man specifically asked us about our family," they replied. "He wanted to know whether our father was still living, and he asked us if we had another brother so we told him. How could we have known he would say, 'Bring me your brother'?"
Judah said to his father, "Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way. Otherwise we will all die of starvation -- and not only we, but you and our little ones.
I personally guarantee his safety. If I don't bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame forever.
For we could have gone and returned twice by this time if you had let him come without delay."
So their father, Jacob, finally said to them, "If it can't be avoided, then at least do this. Fill your bags with the best products of the land. Take them to the man as gifts -- balm, honey, spices, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.
Take double the money that you found in your sacks, as it was probably someone's mistake.
Then take your brother and go back to the man.
May God Almighty give you mercy as you go before the man, that he might release Simeon and return Benjamin. And if I must bear the anguish of their deaths, then so be it."
So they took Benjamin and the gifts and double the money and hurried to Egypt, where they presented themselves to Joseph.
When Joseph saw that Benjamin was with them, he said to the manager of his household, "These men will eat with me this noon. Take them inside and prepare a big feast."
So the man did as he was told and took them to Joseph's palace.
They were badly frightened when they saw where they were being taken. "It's because of the money returned to us in our sacks," they said. "He plans to pretend that we stole it. Then he will seize us as slaves and take our donkeys."
As the brothers arrived at the entrance to the palace, they went over to the man in charge of Joseph's household.
They said to him, "Sir, after our first trip to Egypt to buy food,
as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks. The money we had used to pay for the grain was there in our sacks. Here it is; we have brought it back again.
We also have additional money to buy more grain. We have no idea how the money got into our sacks."
"Relax. Don't worry about it," the household manager told them. "Your God, the God of your ancestors, must have put it there. We collected your money all right." Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them.
The brothers were then led into the palace and given water to wash their feet and food for their donkeys.
They were told they would be eating there, so they prepared their gifts for Joseph's arrival at noon.
When Joseph came, they gave him their gifts and bowed low before him.
He asked them how they had been getting along, and then he said, "How is your father -- the old man you spoke about? Is he still alive?"
"Yes," they replied. "He is alive and well." Then they bowed again before him.
Looking at his brother Benjamin, Joseph asked, "Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about? May God be gracious to you, my son."
Then Joseph made a hasty exit because he was overcome with emotion for his brother and wanted to cry. Going into his private room, he wept there.
Then he washed his face and came out, keeping himself under control. "Bring on the food!" he ordered.
Joseph ate by himself, and his brothers were served at a separate table. The Egyptians sat at their own table because Egyptians despise Hebrews and refuse to eat with them.
Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and to their amazement, he seated them in the order of their ages, from oldest to youngest.
Their food was served to them from Joseph's own table. He gave the largest serving to Benjamin -- five times as much as to any of the others. So they all feasted and drank freely with him.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)