Genesis 42

1 Forsooth Jacob heard that foods were sold in Egypt, and he said to his sons, Why be ye negligent?
2 I [have] heard that wheat is sold in Egypt; go ye down, and buy ye necessaries to us, that we may live, and be not wasted by neediness. (I have heard that corn, or grain, is being sold in Egypt; go ye down there, and buy ye the necessities for us, so that we can live, and not be destroyed by this famine.)
3 Therefore ten brethren of Joseph went down to buy wheat in Egypt, (And so ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy corn, or grain, in Egypt,)
4 and Benjamin was withholden of Jacob at home, that said to his brethren, Lest peradventure in the way he suffer any evil. (but Benjamin was kept at home by Jacob, who said to his sons, Lest he suffer any evil on the way.)
5 Soothly they entered into the land of Egypt, with other men that went thither to buy corn; forsooth hunger was in the land of Canaan. (And they entered into the land of Egypt, with others who went there to buy corn, or grain; for the famine was now in the land of Canaan.)
6 And Joseph was the prince of Egypt, and at his will wheats were sold to [the] peoples. And when his brethren had worshipped him, (And Joseph was the prince, or the ruler, of Egypt, and at his will corn, or grain, was sold to people from all the lands. And so when his brothers had bowed before him,)
7 and he had known them, he spake harder to them, as to aliens, and asked them, From whence came ye? Which answered, From the land of Canaan, that we buy necessaries to our lifelode. (and he knew them, he spoke harshly to them, as to strangers, and asked them, Where did you come from? And they answered, From the land of Canaan, so that we can buy necessities to live.)
8 And nevertheless he knew his brethren, and he was not known of them, (And though he knew his brothers, he was not known by them,)
9 and he bethought on the dreams which he saw sometime. And he said to them, Ye be spyers, ye came to see the feebler things of the land (And he said to them, Ye be spies, and ye came here to spy out our weaknesses).
10 Which said, Lord, it is not so, but thy servants came to buy meats; (And they said, My lord, it is not so, but thy servants have come to buy food;)
11 all we be [the] sons of one man, we came hither peaceably, and thy servants imagine not any evil. (we all be the sons of one man, and we be honest men, and thy servants do not think any evil against thee.)
12 To which he answered, It is in other manner, ye came to see the feeble things of the land. (To whom he answered, It is not so, for ye came here to spy out our weaknesses.)
13 And they said, We thy servants be twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; the youngest is with our father, another is not alive.
14 This it is, he said, that I spake to you, ye be spyers, (But again Joseph said to them, Nay! It is what I have said to you; ye be spies;)
15 right now I shall take experience of you/I shall take very knowing of you; by the health of Pharaoh ye shall not go from hence, till your least brother come hither; (by this I shall prove you; yea, by the life of Pharaoh, ye shall not go away from here, until your youngest brother first come here to me;)
16 send ye one of you, that he bring him, forsooth ye shall be in bonds till those things that ye said be proved, whether those be false or true (whether they be true or false); (or) else, by the health of Pharaoh, ye be spies.
17 Therefore he betook them into keeping three days; (And so he put them in the prison for three days;)
18 soothly in the third day, when they were led out of prison, Joseph said, Do ye that that I said, and ye shall live, for I dread God; (and on the third day, when they were let out of the prison, Joseph said, Do ye what I said, and ye shall live, for I fear God;)
19 if ye be peaceable, one brother of you be bound in prison; forsooth (the rest) go ye, and bear the wheat, which ye have bought, into your houses, (if ye be honest men, then one of your brothers shall be kept here in the prison; but the rest of you go, and take the corn, or the grain, which ye have bought, back to your hungry households, or your hungry families,)
20 and bring ye your youngest brother to me, that I may prove your words, and ye die not. They did as he said, (and bring ye your youngest brother to me, so that you can prove your words, and then ye shall not die. And they concurred,)
21 and they spake together, Worthily we suffer these things (and they said together, We deserve to suffer these things), for we sinned against our brother, and we saw the anguish of his soul, while he prayed us, and we heard him not; therefore this tribulation cometh on us.
22 Of which one, Reuben, said, Whether I said not to you, Do not ye sin against the child, and ye heard not me? lo! his blood is sought. (And Reuben said to them, Did I not say to you, Do not ye do this sin against the boy, but ye would not listen to me? lo! now his blood is sought from us.)
23 Soothly they knew not that Joseph understood them, for he spake to them by (an) interpreter/by an expounder.
24 And he turned away himself a little, and wept; and he turned again, and spake to them (And he turned himself away a little, and wept; and then he turned back, and spoke to them). And he took Simeon, and bound him, while they were present;
25 and (then privily,) he commanded the servants, that they should fill their sacks with wheat, and that they should put all their money in their bags, and over this give to them meats in the way; which did so. (and then privately, he commanded his servants, to fill all their sacks with corn, or with grain, and to put all their money back into their bags, and, more than this, to give them food for the way; and this was done.)
26 And they bare [the] wheats on their asses, and went forth, (And so the brothers loaded the corn, or the grain, on their donkeys, and went away,)
27 and when the sack of one of them was opened that he should give meat to the work beast in the inn, he beheld the money in the mouth of the bag, (and at an inn, when one of them opened his sack to give some food to his work beast, he beheld the money in the mouth of the bag,)
28 and he said to his brethren, My money is yielded (again) to me, lo! it is had in the bag (lo! it is here in the bag); and they were astonished, and troubled, and said together, What thing is this that God hath done to us?
29 And they came to Jacob, their father, in the land of Canaan, and told to him all things that befelled to them, and said,
30 The lord of the land spake hard to us, and guessed that we were spyers of the province; (The lord of the land spoke harshly to us, and said that we went there to spy out his land;)
31 to whom we answered, We be peaceable (We be honest men), neither we purpose any treasons;
32 (for) we be twelve brethren, engendered of one father (begotten by one father), (though) one (of us) is not alive, (and) the youngest dwelleth with the father in the land of Canaan.
33 And he said to us, Thus I shall prove that ye be peaceable; leave ye one brother of you with me, and take ye meats needful to your houses, and go ye, (And he said to us, I shall prove that ye be honest men in this way; leave ye one of your brothers with me, and take the food needed for your households, or for your families, and go ye home,)
34 and bring ye to me your youngest brother, that I know that ye be not spyers, and that ye may receive this brother which is holden in bonds, and that from thenceforth ye have license to buy what things ye will. (and bring ye your youngest brother here to me, so that I know that ye be not spies, and then ye can have this brother back who is held in prison, and from then on ye shall have license to buy whatever ye desire.)
35 While these things were said, when they all poured out the wheats, they found the money bound in the mouths of their sacks. And when they all together were afeared, (And after they had said these things, when they all poured out their corn, or their grain, they all found their money in the mouths of their sacks. And now they all were very much afraid,)
36 their father Jacob said, Ye have made me to be without children; Joseph is not alive, Simeon is holden in bonds, (and) ye shall take away from me Benjamin; all these evils have fallen in (on) me. (and their father Jacob said, Ye have made me to be without my children; Joseph is not alive, Simeon is held in prison, and now ye shall take Benjamin away from me; all these evils be against me.)
37 To whom Reuben answered, Slay thou my two sons, if I shall not bring him again to thee; take thou him in mine hand (give thou him into my hands), and I shall restore him to thee.
38 And Jacob said, My son shall not go down with you; his brother is dead, he alone is left; if any adversity shall befall to him in the land to which ye shall go, ye shall lead forth mine hoar hairs with sorrow to hell (if any adversity shall befall him in the land to which ye shall go, ye shall bring down my hoar hairs in sorrow to the grave/unto 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


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

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.