Genesis 42

1 Now when Jacob saw that there was food in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why are ye looking upon one another?
2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is food in Egypt; go down there and buy for us from there that we may live, and not die.
3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy wheat in Egypt.
4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure disaster befall him.
5 And the sons of Israel came to buy among those that came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 And Joseph was the lord over the land, and he it was that sold the wheat to all the people of the land; and Joseph’s brethren came and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
7 And when Joseph saw his brethren, he knew them, but made himself strange unto them and spoke roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Where have you come from? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8 And Joseph knew his brethren but they did not know him.
9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
10 And they said unto him, No, my lord, but to buy food are thy slaves come.
11 We are all one man’s sons; we are men of the truth, thy slaves have never been spies.
12 And he said unto them, No, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
13 And they said, Thy slaves are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that which I spoke unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth from here unless your youngest brother comes here.
16 Send one of you and let him bring your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison that your words may be proved, whether there is any truth in you; or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
17 And he put them all together into prison for three days.
18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, Do this and live, for I fear God.
19 If ye are men of the truth, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison; go ye, carry food for the famine of your houses
20 but bring your youngest brother unto me, so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
21 And they said one to another, We are truly guilty concerning our brother in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
22 Then Reuben answered them, saying, Did I not speak unto you, saying, Do not sin against the young man, and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, his blood is also required.
23 And they did not know that Joseph understood them, for he spoke unto them by an interpreter.
24 And he turned himself about from them and wept and returned to them again and spoke with them and took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with wheat and to restore each man’s money into his sack and to give them provisions for the way; and thus it was done unto them.
26 And they laded their asses with the wheat and departed from there.
27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass fodder in the inn, he saw his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.
28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, behold, it is even in my sack. And their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God has done unto us?
29 And they came unto Jacob, their father, unto the land of Canaan and told him all that had befallen them, saying,
30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us for spies of the country.
31 And we said unto him, We are men of the truth; we have never been spies.
32 We are twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby I shall know that ye are men of the truth; leave one of your brethren here with me and take food for the famine of your households and go
34 and bring your youngest brother unto me; then I shall know that ye are not spies, but that ye are men of the truth; thus I will deliver you your brother, and ye shall trade in the land.
35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
36 And Jacob, their father, said unto them, Ye have bereaved me of my sons: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are upon me.
37 And Reuben spoke unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I do not bring him to thee; deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left; if some disaster should befall him by the way in which ye go, then shall ye bring my gray hairs with sorrow down to Sheol.

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.

Chapter Summary

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 Commentaries

The Jubilee Bible

(from the Scriptures of the Reformation)

edited by Russell M. Stendal

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