Genesis 42

Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?”
2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”
3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.
4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.
5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.
6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.
7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”
8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.
9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food.
11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”
12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”
14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies!
15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.
16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!”
17 And he put them all in custody for three days.
18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God:
19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households.
20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.
21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”
22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”
23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.
24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them,
26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack.
28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said,
30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land.
31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies.
32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go.
34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade[a] in the land.’ ”
35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened.
36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

Genesis 42 Commentary

Chapter 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)

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 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.

Cross References 80

  • 1. Acts 7:12
  • 2. Genesis 43:2,4; Genesis 44:25
  • 3. ver 19,33; Genesis 43:8; Genesis 47:19; Psalms 33:18-19
  • 4. ver 10; Genesis 43:20
  • 5. S Genesis 35:18
  • 6. ver 38
  • 7. S Genesis 41:57
  • 8. ver 13,29; Genesis 31:18; Genesis 45:17
  • 9. S Genesis 12:10; S Deuteronomy 32:24; Acts 7:11
  • 10. S Genesis 41:41; S Nehemiah 5:14
  • 11. S Genesis 41:36
  • 12. S Genesis 33:3; Genesis 37:7-10
  • 13. ver 30
  • 14. S Genesis 29:4
  • 15. Genesis 37:2
  • 16. S Genesis 37:7
  • 17. ver 14,16,30; Deuteronomy 1:22; Joshua 2:1; Joshua 6:22
  • 18. ver 12
  • 19. S Genesis 37:8
  • 20. S ver 3
  • 21. ver 13; Ge 44:7,9,16,19,21,31; Genesis 46:34; Genesis 47:3
  • 22. ver 15,16,19,20,34
  • 23. ver 31
  • 24. ver 9
  • 25. S ver 11
  • 26. S ver 5; Genesis 46:31; Genesis 47:1
  • 27. ver 24,32,36; S Genesis 37:30,33; Genesis 43:7,29,33; Genesis 44:8; Genesis 44:20; Jeremiah 31:15
  • 28. S ver 9
  • 29. 1 Samuel 17:55
  • 30. S ver 11; Ge 43:3,5,7; Genesis 44:21,23
  • 31. ver 15
  • 32. ver 19
  • 33. S ver 11
  • 34. S ver 9
  • 35. S Genesis 40:4
  • 36. S Genesis 20:11; S Genesis 22:12; Leviticus 19:14; Leviticus 25:43; 2 Samuel 23:3
  • 37. S ver 11
  • 38. ver 16
  • 39. S ver 2
  • 40. S ver 15; ver 15,34; Genesis 43:5; Genesis 44:23
  • 41. Genesis 37:26-28
  • 42. Genesis 45:5; Hosea 5:15
  • 43. Genesis 37:21-22
  • 44. S Genesis 9:5
  • 45. Genesis 45:24; 1 Kings 2:32; 2 Chronicles 24:22; Psalms 9:12
  • 46. Genesis 38:16
  • 47. S Genesis 11:7
  • 48. S Genesis 29:11
  • 49. S ver 13; Genesis 43:14,23; Genesis 45:14-15
  • 50. Genesis 43:2
  • 51. ver 27,35; Ge 43:12,18,21; Genesis 44:1,8
  • 52. Jeremiah 40:5
  • 53. Genesis 45:21,23; Ro 12:17,20-21
  • 54. S Genesis 32:15; Genesis 44:13; Genesis 45:17; 1 Samuel 25:18; Isaiah 30:6
  • 55. Judges 19:19; Job 39:9; Isaiah 1:3
  • 56. S ver 25; Genesis 43:21-22
  • 57. Joshua 2:11; Joshua 5:1; Joshua 7:5
  • 58. Mark 5:33
  • 59. Genesis 43:23
  • 60. S ver 5
  • 61. Genesis 44:24
  • 62. ver 7
  • 63. S ver 9
  • 64. ver 11
  • 65. S ver 13
  • 66. S ver 2; ver 19,20
  • 67. S ver 11
  • 68. S ver 24
  • 69. Genesis 34:10
  • 70. S ver 25
  • 71. Genesis 43:18; Ge 43:12,15,18
  • 72. S ver 13
  • 73. S ver 24; Genesis 43:14
  • 74. Job 3:25; Proverbs 10:24; Romans 8:31
  • 75. S Genesis 39:4
  • 76. Genesis 43:9; Genesis 44:32
  • 77. Genesis 37:33
  • 78. ver 4
  • 79. S Genesis 37:35
  • 80. Genesis 44:29,34; Genesis 48:7

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates how that Jacob having heard there was corn in Egypt, sent all his sons but Benjamin thither to buy corn, Ge 42:1-5; and coming before Joseph, they bowed to him, and he knowing them, though they knew not him, spoke roughly to them, and charged them with being spies, Ge 42:6-9; they in their defence urged that they were the sons of one man in Canaan, with whom their youngest brother was left, on which Joseph ordered them to send for him, to prove them true men, Ge 42:10-16; and put them all into prison for three days, and then released them, and sent them away to fetch their brother, Ge 42:17-20; this brought to mind their treatment of Joseph, and they confessed their guilt to each other, which Joseph heard, and greatly affected him, they supposing he understood them not, and before he dismissed them bound Simeon before their eyes, whom he retained till they returned, Ge 42:21-24; then he ordered his servants to fill their sacks with corn, and put each man's money in his sack, which one of them on the road found, opening his sack for provender, filled them all with great surprise and fear, Ge 42:25-28; upon their return to Jacob they related all that had befallen them, and particularly that the governor insisted on having Benjamin brought to him, Ge 42:29-34; their sacks being opened, all their money was found in them, which greatly distressed them and Jacob also, who was very unwilling to let Benjamin go, though Reuben offered his two sons as pledges for him, and himself to be a surety, Ge 42:35-38.

Genesis 42 Commentaries

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