Joseph Brothers Go to Egypt to Buy Grain

For many years Monterey California, a coastal town, was a pelican’s paradise. As the fishermen cleaned their fish, they flung the innards to the pelicans. The birds grew fat, lazy, and contented. Eventually, however the innards were utilized, and there were no longer snacks for … More


The famine was so great in Canaan that Jacob decided to send his sons (except Benjamin) down to  Egypt to buy food (vv. 1-3). The reason he did not send Benjamin was that he was the only son by Rachel that he still had and he did not want something to happen to him (v. 4). The famine was so bad that many people from Canaan went to Egypt to buy grain (v. 5). Joseph was governor of all Egypt and a part of his work was to sell grain to those who came. One day among the crowd he saw a group of ten men dressed like shepherds from the land of Canaan. Immediately he knew that they were his brothers, even though it had been twenty years since he had seen them (v. 6). However, he acted like he did not know them and was rude to them (v. 7).

Joseph’s brothers do not recognize him dressed in his royal robes and so they bow before him as the other people are doing (v. 8). Joseph remembers the dream he had dreamed about them and accused them of being spies who had come to find out what made their country weak (v. 9). They denied this and said they were honest men who had come to buy grain (vv. 10-11). Joseph again tests them by accusing them of being spies (v. 12). They explained that they had come from a family of twelve brothers and that one was at home and the other one had died, referring to Joseph (v. 13) Joseph still accused them of being spies and told them they can’t leave until the younger brother comes (vv. 14-15). He put them in jail for three days and sent one of them to get the younger brother (vv. 16-17). 


How would I have felt toward my broth­ers if I had been treated by them as he was? Would I be ready to forget, forgive and help them in a time of need? I hope so!

Genesis 42:1-17 (English Standard Version)

When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you look at one another?" And he said, "Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die." So ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. "Where do you come from?" he said. They said, "From the land of Canaan, to buy food." And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, "You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land." They said to him, "No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies." He said to them, "No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see." And they said, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more." But Joseph said to them, "It is as I said to you. You are spies. By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies." And he put them all together in custody for three days.

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