Genesis 42 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
42:1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt,
Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
42:2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt:
get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
42:3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
42:4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren;
for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

42:5 And the sons of Israel came to buy [corn] among those that came:
for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
42:6 And Joseph [was] the governor over the land,
[and] he [it was] that sold to all the people of the land:
and Joseph's brethren came,
and bowed down themselves before him [with] their faces to the earth.
{cp. 37:5-8}
42:7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them,
but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them;
and he said unto them, Whence come ye?
And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
42:8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
42:9 And 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.
42:10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
42:11 We [are] all one man's sons; we [are] true [men], thy servants are no spies.
42:12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
42:13 And they said, Thy servants [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.
42:14 And Joseph said unto them,
That [is it] that I spake unto you, saying, Ye [are] spies:
42:15 Hereby ye shall be proved:
By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence,
except your youngest brother come hither.
42:16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison,
that your words may be proved, whether [there be any] truth in you:
or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye [are] spies.
42:17 And he put them all together into ward three days.
42:18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; [for] I fear God:
42:19 If ye [be] true [men], let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison:
go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
42:20 But bring your youngest brother unto me;
so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die.
And they did so.
42:21 And they said one to another, We [are] verily 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.
42:22 And Reuben answered them, saying,
Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear?
therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
{cp. 9:5,6; 37:19-30}
42:23 And they knew not that Joseph understood [them];
for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
42:24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again,
and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
42:25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn,
and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way:
and thus did he unto them.
Joseph withheld his identity from his brethren for their own benefit.
His actions toward them were motivated not for personal vengeance,
but by his personal fear of God (v.18). He dealt with them according to mercy & truth.
He directed events to test their hearts regarding-
  1. their love for their father.
  2. their love for their incarcerated brother.
  3. their confession & repentance regarding their rejected brother. v.21,22
Joseph's knowledge of his brothers may have influenced his choice of Simeon,
as one worthy of some time in prison (cp. Gen 34:25,26; 49:5).
42:26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
42:27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn,
he espied his money; for, behold, it [was] in his sack's mouth.
42:28 And he said unto his brethren,
My money is restored; and, lo, [it is] even in my sack: and their heart failed [them],
and they were afraid, saying one to another, What [is] this [that] God hath done unto us?
42:29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan,
and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
42:30 The man, [who is] the lord of the land, spake roughly to us,
and took us for spies of the country.
42:31 And we said unto him, We [are] true [men]; we are no spies:
42:32 We [be] twelve brethren, sons of our father;
one [is] not, and the youngest [is] this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
42:33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us,
Hereby shall I know that ye [are] true [men];
leave one of your brethren [here] with me,
and take [food for] the famine of your households, and be gone:
42:34 And bring your youngest brother unto me:
then shall I know that ye [are] no spies, but [that] ye [are] true [men:
so] will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
42:35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that,
behold, every man's bundle of money [was] in his sack:
and when [both] they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
42:36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved [of my children]:
Joseph [is] not, and Simeon [is] not, and ye will take Benjamin [away]:
all these things are against me.
42:37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying,
Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee:
deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
42:38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you;
for his brother is dead, and he is left alone:
if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go,
then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid (v.35)-
They feared that the restored money was a trap to demonstrate their guilt as spies.
all these things are against me (v.36)- Jacob is still not mature in his faith.
During his early years in Egypt, all things had appeared to be against Joseph, also.
Yet, he had maintained an optimistic outlook, because he trusted in the Lord. cp. Rom 8:28; Php 1:6
Jacob refused to entrust Benjamin's safety to Reuben (v.37,38)-
  • Reuben had failed to protect Joseph. cp. 37:29,30
  • Reuben had proven to be untrustworthy in other matters. cp. 49:3,4
  • Reuben's brutal guarantee, lacked love. A father who could contemplate death for his own sons, had little understanding of Jacob's love for Benjamin. For Jacob, the loss of Benjamin would be beyond consolation or compensation. The death of two grandsons (Reuben's sons) could only add to his grief.

Click here to continue the study in Genesis 43:1-
Return to Genesis - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.