Genesis 43; Genesis 44; Genesis 45; Matthew 12:24-50

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Genesis 43

1 The famine was severe in the land.
2 When they finished eating the grain they had brought from Egypt, Israel said to his sons, "Go back and buy us a little more food."
3 Judah said to him, "The man gave us a severe warning: 'You won't be allowed to see me again unless your brother is with you.'
4 If you let our brother go with us, we'll go and buy food for you.
5 If you won't let him go, we won't go. The man said to us, 'You won't be allowed to see me again unless your brother is with you.'"
6 Israel asked, "Why have you made trouble for me by telling the man you had another brother?"
7 They answered, "The man kept asking about us and our family: 'Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?' We simply answered his questions. How could we possibly know he would say, 'Bring your brother here'?"
8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, "Send the boy along with me. Let's get going so that we won't starve to death.
9 I guarantee that he will come back. You can hold me responsible for him. If I don't bring him back to you and place him here in front of you, you can blame me the rest of my life.
10 If we hadn't waited so long, we could have made this trip twice by now."
11 Then their father Israel said to them, "If that's the way it has to be, then take the man a gift. Put some of the best products of the land in your bags. Take a little balm, a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.
12 Take twice as much money with you. You must return the money that was put back in your sacks. Maybe it was a mistake.
13 Take your brother, and go back to the man.
14 May God Almighty make him merciful to you so that he will send your other brother and Benjamin [home] with you. If I lose my children, I lose my children."
15 The men took the gifts, twice as much money, and Benjamin. They went to Egypt, where they presented themselves to Joseph.
16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the man in charge of his house, "Take these men to my house. Butcher an animal, and prepare a meal, because they are going to eat with me at noon."
17 So the man did as Joseph said and took them to Joseph's house.
18 The men were frightened, because they had been brought to Joseph's house. They thought, "We've been brought here because of the money that was put back into our sacks the first time. They're going to attack us, overpower us, take our donkeys, and make us slaves."
19 So they came to the man in charge of Joseph's house and spoke to him at the door.
20 "Please, sir," they said, "we came here to buy food once before.
21 When we stopped for the night, we opened our sacks, and each man found all of his money inside. So we brought it back with us.
22 We also brought more money to buy food. We have no idea who put our money back in our sacks."
23 "It's alright," he said. "Don't be afraid! Your God, the God of your father, must have given you treasure in your sacks. I received your money." Then he brought Simeon out to them.
24 The man took the brothers into Joseph's house. He gave them water to wash their feet and feed for their donkeys.
25 They got their gifts ready for Joseph's return at noon, because they had heard they were going to eat there.
26 When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought to the house. Then they bowed to him with their faces touching the ground.
27 He asked them how they were. Then he said, "You told me about your elderly father. How is he? Is he still alive?"
28 They answered, "Yes, sir. Our father is alive and well." Then they knelt, bowing down.
29 As Joseph looked around, he saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son. "Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?" he asked. "God be gracious to you, my son," he said.
30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, he hurried away, looking for a place to cry. He went into his private room and cried there.
31 Then he washed his face and came out. He was in control of his emotions when he said, "Serve the food."
32 He was served separately from his brothers. The Egyptians who were there with him were also served separately, because they found it offensive to eat with Hebrews.
33 The brothers were seated facing him according to their ages--from the oldest to the youngest. They looked at each other in amazement.
34 Joseph had portions of food brought to them from his table, but Benjamin's portion was five times more than any of the others. So they ate and drank with Joseph until they were drunk.

Genesis 44

1 Joseph commanded the man in charge of his house, "Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry. Put each man's money in his sack.
2 Then put my silver cup in the youngest brother's sack along with the money for his grain." He did what Joseph told him.
3 At dawn the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.
4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to the man in charge of his house, "Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, 'Why have you paid me back with evil when I was good to you?
5 Isn't this the cup that my master drinks from and that he uses for telling the future? What you have done is evil!'"
6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them.
7 They answered him, "Sir, how can you say such things? We would never think of doing anything like that!
8 We brought the money we found in our sacks back from Canaan. So why would we steal any silver or gold from your master's house?
9 If one of us has it, he will die, and the rest of us will become your slaves."
10 "I agree," he said. "We'll do what you've said. The man who has the cup will be my slave, and the rest of you can go free."
11 Each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it.
12 Then the man made a thorough search. He began with the oldest and ended with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
13 When they saw this, they tore their clothes in grief. Then each one loaded his donkey and went back into the city.
14 Judah and his brothers arrived at Joseph's house while Joseph was still there. Immediately, they bowed with their faces touching the ground.
15 Joseph asked them, "What have you done? Don't you know that a man like me can find things out because he knows the future?"
16 "Sir, what can we say to you?" Judah asked. "How else can we explain it? How can we prove we're innocent? God has uncovered our guilt. Now all of us are your slaves, including the one who had the cup."
17 But Joseph said, "I would never think of doing that! Only the man who had the cup will be my slave. The rest of you can go back to your father in peace."
18 Then Judah went up to Joseph and said, "Please, sir, let me speak openly with you. Don't be angry with me, although you are equal to Pharaoh.
19 Sir, you asked us, 'Do you have a father or a brother?'
20 We answered, 'We have a father who is old and a younger brother born to him when he was already old. The boy's brother is dead, so he's the only one of his mother's sons left, and his father loves him.'
21 "Then you said to us, 'Bring him here to me so that I can see him myself.'
22 We replied, 'The boy can't leave his father. If the boy leaves him, his father will die.'
23 Then you told us, 'If your youngest brother doesn't come here with you, you will never be allowed to see me again.'
24 When we went back to our father, we told him what you had said.
25 "Then our father said, 'Go back and buy us a little more food.'
26 We answered, 'We can't go back. We can only go back if our youngest brother is with us. The man won't see us unless our youngest brother is with us.'
27 "Then our father said to us, 'You know that my wife [Rachel] gave me two sons.
28 One is gone, and I said, "He must have been torn to pieces!" I haven't seen him since.
29 If you take this one away from me too and anything happens to him, you'll drive this gray-haired old man to his grave.'
30 "Our father's life is wrapped up with the boy's life. If I come [home] without the boy
31 and he sees that the boy isn't [with me], he'll die. The grief would drive our gray-haired old father to his grave.
32 "I guaranteed my father that the boy would come back. I said, 'If I don't bring him back to you, then you can blame me the rest of my life, Father.'
33 Sir, please let me stay and be your slave in the boy's place, and let the boy go back with his brothers.
34 How could I go back to my father if the boy isn't with me? I couldn't bear to see my father's misery!"

Genesis 45

1 Joseph could no longer control his emotions in front of everyone who was standing around him, so he cried out, "Have everyone leave me!" No one else was there when Joseph told his brothers who he was.
2 He cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it.
3 Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" His brothers could not answer him because they were afraid of him.
4 "Please come closer to me," Joseph said to his brothers. When they did so, he said, "I am Joseph, the brother you sold into slavery in Egypt!
5 Now, don't be sad or angry with yourselves that you sold me. God sent me ahead of you to save lives.
6 The famine has been in the land for two years. There will be five more years without plowing or harvesting.
7 God sent me ahead of you to make sure that you would have descendants on the earth and to save your lives in an amazing way.
8 It wasn't you who sent me here, but God. He has made me [like] a father to Pharaoh, lord over his entire household, and ruler of Egypt.
9 "Hurry back to my father, and say to him, 'This is what your son Joseph says, "God has made me lord of Egypt. Come here to me right away!
10 Live in the land of Goshen, where you will be near me. Live there with your children and your grandchildren, as well as your flocks, your herds, and everything you have.
11 I will provide for you in Egypt, since there will be five more years of famine. Then you, your family, and all who belong to you won't lose everything."'
12 "You and my brother Benjamin can see for yourselves that I am the one who is speaking to you.
13 Tell my father how greatly honored I am in Egypt and about everything you have seen. Hurry and bring my father here!"
14 He threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and cried with Benjamin, who was crying on his shoulder.
15 He kissed all his brothers and cried with them. After that his brothers talked with him.
16 When Pharaoh's household heard the news that Joseph's brothers had come, Pharaoh and his officials were pleased.
17 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Say to your brothers, 'Load up your animals, and go back to Canaan.
18 Take your father and your families, and come to me. I will give you the best land in Egypt. Then you can enjoy the best food in the land.'
19 "Give them this order: 'Take wagons with you from Egypt for your children and your wives. Bring your father, and come back.
20 Don't worry about your belongings because the best of everything in Egypt is yours.'"
21 Israel's sons did as they were told. Joseph gave them wagons and supplies for their trip as Pharaoh had ordered.
22 He gave each of them a change of clothes, but he gave Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of clothes.
23 He sent his father ten male donkeys carrying Egypt's best products and ten female donkeys carrying grain, bread, and food for his father's trip.
24 So Joseph sent his brothers on their way. As they were leaving, he said to them, "Don't quarrel on your way back!"
25 So they left Egypt and came to their father Jacob in Canaan.
26 They told him, "Joseph is still alive! Yes, he is ruler of Egypt." Jacob was stunned and didn't believe them.
27 Yet, when they told their father everything Joseph had said to them and he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to bring him back, his spirits were lifted.
28 "You have convinced me!" Israel said. "My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."

Matthew 12:24-50

24 When the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man can force demons out of people only with the help of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons."
25 Since Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is ruined. And every city or household divided against itself will not last.
26 If Satan forces Satan out, he is divided against himself. How, then, can his kingdom last?
27 If I force demons out of people with the help of Beelzebul, who helps your followers force them out? That's why they will be your judges.
28 But if I force demons out with the help of God's Spirit, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
29 How can anyone go into a strong man's house and steal his property? First he must tie up the strong man. Then he can go through his house and steal his property.
30 "Whoever isn't with me is against me. Whoever doesn't gather with me scatters.
31 So I can guarantee that people will be forgiven for any sin or cursing. However, cursing the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this world or the next.
33 "Make a tree good, and then its fruit will be good. Or make a tree rotten, and then its fruit will be rotten. A person can recognize a tree by its fruit.
34 You poisonous snakes! How can you evil people say anything good? Your mouth says what comes from inside you.
35 Good people do the good things that are in them. But evil people do the evil things that are in them.
36 "I can guarantee that on judgment day people will have to give an account of every careless word they say.
37 By your words you will be declared innocent, or by your words you will be declared guilty."
38 Then some scribes and Pharisees said, "Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign."
39 He responded, "The people of an evil and unfaithful era look for a miraculous sign. But the only sign they will get is the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 Just as Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with you at the time of judgment and will condemn you, because they turned to God and changed the way they thought and acted when Jonah spoke his message. But look, someone greater than Jonah is here!
42 The queen from the south will stand up at the time of judgment with you. She will condemn you, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear Solomon's wisdom. But look, someone greater than Solomon is here!
43 "When an evil spirit comes out of a person, it goes through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn't find any.
44 Then it says, 'I'll go back to the home I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean, and in order.
45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself. They enter and take up permanent residence there. In the end the condition of that person is worse than it was before. That is what will happen to the evil people of this day."
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowds, his mother and brothers were standing outside. They wanted to talk to him.
47 Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside. They want to talk to you."
48 He replied to the man speaking to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
49 Pointing with his hand at his disciples, he said, "Look, here are my mother and my brothers.
50 Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother and sister and mother."