Genesis 42

1 Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy for us from there, so that we may live, and not die.” 3 Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob didn’t send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers; for he said, “Lest perhaps harm happen to him.” 5 The sons of Israel came to buy amongst those who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6 Joseph was the governor over the land. It was he who sold to all the people of the land. Joseph’s brothers came, and bowed themselves down to him with their faces to the earth. 7 Joseph saw his brothers, and he recognized them, but acted like a stranger to them, and spoke roughly with them. He said to them, “Where did you come from?” They said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.” 8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. 9 Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed about them, and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all one man’s sons; we are honest men. Your servants are not spies.” 12 He said to them, “No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” 13 They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is today with our father, and one is no more.” 14 Joseph said to them, “It is like I told you, saying, ‘You are spies!’ 15 By this you shall be tested. By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go out from here, unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him get your brother, and you shall be bound, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you, or else by the life of Pharaoh surely you are spies.” 17 He put them all together into custody for three days. 18 Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this, and live, for I fear God. 19 If you are honest men, then let one of your brothers be bound in your prison; but you go, carry grain for the famine of your houses. 20 Bring your youngest brother to me; so will your words be verified, and you won’t die.” They did so. 21 They said to one another, “We are certainly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us, and we wouldn’t listen. Therefore this distress has come upon us.” 22 Reuben answered them, saying, “Didn’t I tell you, saying, ‘Don’t sin against the child,’ and you wouldn’t listen? Therefore also, behold, his blood is required.” 23 They didn’t know that Joseph understood them; for there was an interpreter between them. 24 He turned himself away from them, and wept. Then he returned to them, and spoke to them, and took Simeon from amongst them, and bound him before their eyes. 25 Then Joseph gave a command to fill their bags with grain, and to restore each man’s money into his sack, and to give them food for the way. So it was done to them. 26 They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed from there. 27 As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey food in the lodging place, he saw his money. Behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money is restored! Behold, it is in my sack!” Their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?” 29 They came to Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly with us, and took us for spies of the country. 31 We said to him, ‘We are honest men. We are no spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is today with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 The man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your houses, and go your way. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. So I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.’” 35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, each man’s bundle of money was in his sack. When they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. 36 Jacob, their father, said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children! Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin away. All these things are against me.” 37 Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “Kill my two sons, if I don’t bring him to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him to you again.” 38 He said, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he only is left. If harm happens to him along the way in which you go, then you will bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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.

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