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GENESIS 42:1-4 "1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 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. 3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him."

42:6-8 "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. 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. 8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him."

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The famine was everywhere in the land except Egypt. Joseph had done a good job storing the excess food for the past 7 years and Egypt was selling food to all the surrounding countries. When Jacob heard about the corn in Egypt, he sent all of his sons except Benjamin to buy corn not knowing that his lost son, Joseph, was governor over Egypt.

When Joseph's brothers came into his presence for the first time, he immediately knew who they were but they did not recognize him. They bowed down before him and Joseph remembered telling them of his dream and how the sun, moon, stars and sheaves bowed down to him. He remembered how they had scoffed at him and resented him and he made himself strange to them. He did not reveal to them who he was. Even speaking to them through an interpreter, lest they recognized his speech, rather Joseph accused them of being there to spy on Egypt. They assured him that they were all brothers and even told him they had another brother at home with his father.

A TASTE OF PRISON

GENESIS 42:14-20 "And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: 15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. 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. 17 And he put them all together into ward three days. 18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: 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: 20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so."

Joseph had his 10 brothers put in prison for 3 days. He then brought them out and told them he was going to keep Simeon until they brought their youngest brother, Benjamin, who was Joseph's only full brother, back to prove that they were not spies. Some say Joseph did this to give them a taste of prison, maybe to get even. Do you think that if Joseph had told his brothers who he was, given them provisions and sent them on their way that they would have told their father what they had done? Joseph was very wise in his dealings with his brothers. He knew their treacherous nature.

A GUILTY CONSCIENCE

GENESIS 42:21-24 "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. 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. 23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter. 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."

It broke Joseph's heart when he overheard his brothers talking about their guilt in his separation from his family. He had begged them not to sell him into slavery but they had not listened to his pleas. How callous and hardhearted they had been, and now they felt they were being punished for their evil deed. If they had only known! Joseph knew he could not trust them to go and bring his father and brother to Egypt so he wisely kept one and sent the others home. He knew they would eventually have to bring Benjamin back for more food and to free Simeon. He would only reveal himself then. He put their money back in their sacks and sent them home.

When they told Jacob what had happened to them in Egypt, he refused to let them take Benjamin back to get Simeon, even though Reuben swore to him that he'd bring Benjamin back home. He had already lost one of his beloved Rachel's sons and was not about to risk losing the other. He said the loss of his sons was going to bring about his death.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Do you think Joseph should have revealed himself to his brothers?

Why do you think he kept Simeon in Egypt?

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