May 6 (Year One)
During the famine in Canaan, Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt. So he said to his sons, “Why are you sitting here doing nothing? I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go there and buy grain for us so that we will live and not die!”
So ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. Jacob did not send Benjamin. (Benjamin was Joseph’s only full brother.) Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to Benjamin.
The famine was very bad in Canaan, so there were many people from Canaan who went to Egypt to buy grain. Among them were the sons of Israel.
Joseph was the governor of Egypt at the time. He was the one who checked the sale of grain to people who came to Egypt to buy it. Joseph’s brothers came to him and bowed before him. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted like he didn’t know them. He was rude when he spoke to them. He said, “Where do you come from?”
The brothers answered, “We have come from the land of Canaan to buy food.”
Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not know who he was. Then Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about his brothers.
Joseph said to his brothers, “You have not come to buy food! You are spies. You came to learn where we are weak.”
But the brothers said to him, “No, sir, we come as your servants. We have come only to buy food. We are all brothers—we all have the same father. We are honest men. We have come only to buy food.”
Then Joseph said to them, “No, you have come to spy on us!”
And the brothers said, “No, sir, we come as servants from Canaan. We are all brothers, sons of the same father. There were twelve brothers in our family. Our youngest brother is still at home with our father, and the other brother died a long time ago.”
But Joseph said to them, “No! I can see that I am right. You are spies. But I will let you prove that you are telling the truth. In the name of Pharaoh, I swear that I will not let you go until your youngest brother comes here. One of you must go back to get your youngest brother while the rest of you stay here in prison. Then we can prove whether you are telling the truth or not. If you are not telling the truth, then by Pharaoh, I swear that you are spies!” Then Joseph put them all in prison for three days.
After three days Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. Do this, and I will let you live. If you are honest men, one of your brothers can stay here in prison, and the others can go and carry grain back to your people. But then you must bring your youngest brother back here to me. Then I will know that you are telling the truth, and you will not have to die.”
The brothers agreed to this. They said to each other, “We are being punished for the bad thing we did to our younger brother Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in. He begged us to save him, but we refused to listen. So now we are in trouble.”
Then Reuben said to them, “I told you not to do anything bad to that boy, but you refused to listen to me. Now we are being punished for his death.”
Joseph was using an interpreter to talk to his brothers, so the brothers did not know that he understood their language. He heard and understood everything they said, and that made him want to cry. So he turned away and left the room. When he came back, he took one of the brothers, Simeon, and tied him up while the others watched. Joseph told the servants to fill the bags with grain. The brothers had given Joseph the money for the grain, but he didn’t keep the money. He put the money in their bags of grain. Then he gave them what they would need for their trip back home.
So the brothers put the grain on their donkeys and left. That night the brothers stopped at a place to spend the night. One of the brothers opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey. And there in the sack, he saw his money! He said to the other brothers, “Look! Here is the money I paid for the grain. Someone put the money back in my sack.” The brothers were very afraid. They said to one another, “What is God doing to us?”
The brothers went back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him about everything that had happened. They said, “The governor of that country spoke rudely to us. He thought that we were spies! We told him, ‘We are honest men, not spies. There are twelve of us brothers, all from the same father. But one of our brothers is no longer living, and the youngest is still at home with our father in Canaan.’
“Then the governor of that country said to us, ‘Here is a way to prove that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me. Take your grain back to your families. Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know if you are honest men or if you were sent from an army to destroy us. If you are telling the truth, I will give your brother back to you. I will give him to you, and you will be free to buy grain in our country.’”
Then the brothers started taking the grain out of their sacks, and every brother found his bag of money in his sack of grain. When the brothers and their father saw the money, they were afraid.
Jacob said to them, “Do you want me to lose all of my children? Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone, and now you want to take Benjamin away too!”
But Reuben said to his father, “Father, you may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. Trust me. I will bring him back to you.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let Benjamin go with you. His brother is dead, and he is the only son left from my wife Rachel. It would kill me if anything happened to him during the trip to Egypt. You would send me to the grave a very sad, old man.”