Genesis 42:18-38

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 42:18-38 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 42

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 42:18-38 In-Context

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 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.”

Cross References 45

  • 1. S Genesis 20:11; S Genesis 22:12; Leviticus 19:14; Leviticus 25:43; 2 Samuel 23:3
  • 2. S ver 11
  • 3. ver 16
  • 4. S ver 2
  • 5. S ver 15; ver 15,34; Genesis 43:5; Genesis 44:23
  • 6. Genesis 37:26-28
  • 7. Genesis 45:5; Hosea 5:15
  • 8. Genesis 37:21-22
  • 9. S Genesis 9:5
  • 10. Genesis 45:24; 1 Kings 2:32; 2 Chronicles 24:22; Psalms 9:12
  • 11. Genesis 38:16
  • 12. S Genesis 11:7
  • 13. S Genesis 29:11
  • 14. S ver 13; Genesis 43:14,23; Genesis 45:14-15
  • 15. Genesis 43:2
  • 16. ver 27,35; Ge 43:12,18,21; Genesis 44:1,8
  • 17. Jeremiah 40:5
  • 18. Genesis 45:21,23; Ro 12:17,20-21
  • 19. S Genesis 32:15; Genesis 44:13; Genesis 45:17; 1 Samuel 25:18; Isaiah 30:6
  • 20. Judges 19:19; Job 39:9; Isaiah 1:3
  • 21. S ver 25; Genesis 43:21-22
  • 22. Joshua 2:11; Joshua 5:1; Joshua 7:5
  • 23. Mark 5:33
  • 24. Genesis 43:23
  • 25. S ver 5
  • 26. Genesis 44:24
  • 27. ver 7
  • 28. S ver 9
  • 29. ver 11
  • 30. S ver 13
  • 31. S ver 2; ver 19,20
  • 32. S ver 11
  • 33. S ver 24
  • 34. Genesis 34:10
  • 35. S ver 25
  • 36. Genesis 43:18; Ge 43:12,15,18
  • 37. S ver 13
  • 38. S ver 24; Genesis 43:14
  • 39. Job 3:25; Proverbs 10:24; Romans 8:31
  • 40. S Genesis 39:4
  • 41. Genesis 43:9; Genesis 44:32
  • 42. Genesis 37:33
  • 43. ver 4
  • 44. S Genesis 37:35
  • 45. Genesis 44:29,34; Genesis 48:7

Footnotes 1

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