written by Moses* in Genesis 42:1-45:28, 46:28-30
Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt to Buy Grain
1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why don't you do something? 2 I hear that there is grain in Egypt; go there and buy some to keep us from starving to death.” 3 So Joseph's ten half brothers went to buy grain in Egypt, 4 but Jacob did not send Joseph's full brother Benjamin with them, because he was afraid that something might happen to him.
5 The sons of Jacob came with others to buy grain, because there was famine in the land of Canaan. 6 Joseph, as governor of the land of Egypt, was selling grain to people from all over the world. So Joseph's brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he acted as if he did not know them. He asked them harshly, “Where do you come from?”
“We have come from Canaan to buy food,” they answered.
8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 He remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them and said, “You are spies; you have come to find out where our country is weak.”
10 “No, sir,” they answered. “We have come as your slaves, to buy food. 11 We are all brothers. We are not spies, sir, we are honest men.”
12 Joseph said to them, “No! You have come to find out where our country is weak.”
13 They said, “We were twelve brothers in all, sir, sons of the same man in the land of Canaan. One brother is dead, and the youngest is now with our father.”
14 “It is just as I said,” Joseph answered. “You are spies. 15 This is how you will be tested: I swear by the name of the king that you will never leave unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 One of you must go and get him. The rest of you will be kept under guard until the truth of what you say can be tested. Otherwise, as sure as the king lives, you are spies.” 17 With that, he put them in prison for three days.
18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man, and I will spare your lives on one condition. 19 To prove that you are honest, one of you will stay in the prison where you have been kept; the rest of you may go and take back to your starving families the grain that you have bought. 20 Then you must bring your youngest brother to me. This will prove that you have been telling the truth, and I will not put you to death.”
They agreed to this 21 and said to one another, “Yes, now we are suffering the consequences of what we did to our brother; we saw the great trouble he was in when he begged for help, but we would not listen. That is why we are in this trouble now.”
22 Reuben said, “I told you not to harm the boy, but you wouldn't listen. And now we are being paid back for his death.” 23 Joseph understood what they said, but they did not know it, because they had been speaking to him through an interpreter. 24 Joseph left them and began to cry. When he was able to speak again, he came back, picked out Simeon, and had him tied up in front of them.
Joseph's Brothers Return to Canaan
25 Joseph gave orders to fill his brothers' packs with grain, to put each man's money back in his sack, and to give them food for the trip. This was done. 26 The brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain they had bought, and then they left. 27 At the place where they spent the night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey and found his money at the top of the sack. 28 “My money has been returned to me,” he called to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack!” Their hearts sank, and in fear they asked one another, “What has God done to us?”
29 When they came to their father Jacob in Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them: 30 “The governor of Egypt spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying against his country. 31 ‘We are not spies,’ we answered, ‘we are honest men. 32 We were twelve brothers in all, sons of the same father. One brother is dead, and the youngest is still in Canaan with our father.’ 33 The man answered, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men: One of you will stay with me; the rest will take grain for your starving families and leave. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but honest men; I will give your brother back to you, and you can stay here and trade.’”
35 Then when they emptied out their sacks, every one of them found his bag of money; and when they saw the money, they and their father Jacob were afraid. 36 Their father said to them, “Do you want to make me lose all my children? Joseph is gone; Simeon is gone; and now you want to take away Benjamin. I am the one who suffers!”
37 Reuben said to his father, “If I do not bring Benjamin back to you, you can kill my two sons. Put him in my care, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “My son cannot go with you; his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. Something might happen to him on the way. I am an old man, and the sorrow you would cause me would kill me.”
Joseph's Brothers Return to Egypt with Benjamin
1 The famine in Canaan got worse, 2 and when the family of Jacob had eaten all the grain which had been brought from Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, “Go back and buy a little food for us.”
3 Judah said to him, “The man sternly warned us that we would not be admitted to his presence unless we had our brother with us. 4 If you are willing to send our brother with us, we will go and buy food for you. 5 If you are not willing, we will not go, because the man told us we would not be admitted to his presence unless our brother was with us.”
6 Jacob said, “Why did you cause me so much trouble by telling the man that you had another brother?”
7 They answered, “The man kept asking about us and our family, ‘Is your father still living? Do you have another brother?’ We had to answer his questions. How could we know that he would tell us to bring our brother with us?”
8 Judah said to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will leave at once. Then none of us will starve to death. 9 I will pledge my own life, and you can hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you safe and sound, I will always bear the blame. 10 If we had not waited so long, we could have been there and back twice by now.”
11 Their father said to them, “If that is how it has to be, then take the best products of the land in your packs as a present for the governor: a little resin, a little honey, spices, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take with you also twice as much money, because you must take back the money that was returned in the top of your sacks. Maybe it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother and return at once. 14 May Almighty God cause the man to have pity on you, so that he will give Benjamin and your other brother back to you. As for me, if I must lose my children, I must lose them.”
15 So the brothers took the gifts and twice as much money, and set out for Egypt with Benjamin. There they presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant in charge of his house, “Take these men to my house. They are going to eat with me at noon, so kill an animal and prepare it.” 17 The servant did as he was commanded and took the brothers to Joseph's house.
18 As they were being brought to the house, they were afraid and thought, “We are being brought here because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time. They will suddenly attack us, take our donkeys, and make us his slaves.” 19 So at the door of the house, they said to the servant in charge, 20 “If you please, sir, we came here once before to buy food. 21 When we set up camp on the way home, we opened our sacks, and each man found his money in the top of his sack—every bit of it. We have brought it back to you. 22 We have also brought some more money with us to buy more food. We do not know who put our money back in our sacks.”
23 The servant said, “Don't worry. Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, must have put the money in your sacks for you. I received your payment.” Then he brought Simeon to them.
24 The servant took the brothers into the house. He gave them water so that they could wash their feet, and he fed their donkeys. 25 They got their gifts ready to present to Joseph when he arrived at noon, because they had been told that they were to eat with him. 26 When Joseph got home, they took the gifts into the house to him and bowed down to the ground before him. 27 He asked about their health and then said, “You told me about your old father—how is he? Is he still alive and well?”
28 They answered, “Your humble servant, our father, is still alive and well.” And they knelt and bowed down before him.
29 When Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, he said, “So this is your youngest brother, the one you told me about. God bless you, my son.” 30 Then Joseph left suddenly, because his heart was full of tender feelings for his brother. He was about to break down, so he went to his room and cried. 31 After he had washed his face, he came out, and controlling himself, he ordered the meal to be served. 32 Joseph was served at one table and his brothers at another. The Egyptians who were eating there were served separately, because they considered it beneath their dignity to eat with Hebrews. 33 The brothers had been seated at the table, facing Joseph, in the order of their age from the oldest to the youngest. When they saw how they had been seated, they looked at one another in amazement. 34 Food was served to them from Joseph's table, and Benjamin was served five times as much as the rest of them. So they ate and drank with Joseph until they were drunk.
The Missing Cup
1 Joseph commanded the servant in charge of his house, “Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's money in the top of his sack. 2 Put my silver cup in the top of the youngest brother's sack, together with the money for his grain.” He did as he was told. 3 Early in the morning the brothers were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to the servant in charge of his house, “Hurry after those men. When you catch up with them, ask them, ‘Why have you paid back evil for good? 5 Why did you steal my master's silver cup? It is the one he drinks from, the one he uses for divination. You have committed a serious crime!’”
6 When the servant caught up with them, he repeated these words. 7 They answered him, “What do you mean, sir, by talking like this? We swear that we have done no such thing. 8 You know that we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money we found in the top of our sacks. Why then should we steal silver or gold from your master's house? 9 Sir, if any one of us is found to have it, he will be put to death, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”
10 He said, “I agree; but only the one who has taken the cup will become my slave, and the rest of you can go free.” 11 So they quickly lowered their sacks to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 Joseph's servant searched carefully, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. 13 The brothers tore their clothes in sorrow, loaded their donkeys, and returned to the city.
14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph's house, he was still there. They bowed down before him, 15 and Joseph said, “What have you done? Didn't you know that a man in my position could find you out by practicing divination?”
16 “What can we say to you, sir?” Judah answered. “How can we argue? How can we clear ourselves? God has uncovered our guilt. All of us are now your slaves and not just the one with whom the cup was found.”
17 Joseph said, “Oh, no! I would never do that! Only the one who had the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go back safe and sound to your father.”
Judah Pleads for Benjamin
18 Judah went up to Joseph and said, “Please, sir, allow me to speak with you freely. Don't be angry with me; you are like the king himself. 19 Sir, you asked us, ‘Do you have a father or another brother?’ 20 We answered, ‘We have a father who is old and a younger brother, born to him in his old age. The boy's brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother's children still alive; his father loves him very much.’ 21 Sir, you told us to bring him here, so that you could see him, 22 and we answered that the boy could not leave his father; if he did, his father would die. 23 Then you said, ‘You will not be admitted to my presence again unless your youngest brother comes with you.’
24 “When we went back to our father, we told him what you had said. 25 Then he told us to return and buy a little food. 26 We answered, ‘We cannot go; we will not be admitted to the man's presence unless our youngest brother is with us. We can go only if our youngest brother goes also.’ 27 Our father said to us, ‘You know that my wife Rachel bore me only two sons. 28 One of them has already left me. He must have been torn to pieces by wild animals, because I have not seen him since he left. 29 If you take this one from me now and something happens to him, the sorrow you would cause me would kill me, as old as I am.’
30-31 “And now, sir,” Judah continued, “if I go back to my father without the boy, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with me, he will die. His life is wrapped up with the life of the boy, and he is so old that the sorrow we would cause him would kill him. 32 What is more, I pledged my life to my father for the boy. I told him that if I did not bring the boy back to him, I would bear the blame all my life. 33 And now, sir, I will stay here as your slave in place of the boy; let him go back with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I cannot bear to see this disaster come upon my father.”
Joseph Tells His Brothers Who He Is
1 Joseph was no longer able to control his feelings in front of his servants, so he ordered them all to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. 2 He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the king's palace. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But when his brothers heard this, they were so terrified that they could not answer. 4 Then Joseph said to them, “Please come closer.” They did, and he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people's lives. 6 This is only the second year of famine in the land; there will be five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor reaping. 7 God sent me ahead of you to rescue you in this amazing way and to make sure that you and your descendants survive. 8 So it was not really you who sent me here, but God. He has made me the king's highest official. I am in charge of his whole country; I am the ruler of all Egypt.
9 “Now hurry back to my father and tell him that this is what his son Joseph says: ‘God has made me ruler of all Egypt; come to me without delay. 10 You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your sheep, your goats, your cattle, and everything else that you have. 11 If you are in Goshen, I can take care of you. There will still be five years of famine; and I do not want you, your family, and your livestock to starve.’”
12 Joseph continued, “Now all of you, and you too, Benjamin, can see that I am really Joseph. 13 Tell my father how powerful I am here in Egypt and tell him about everything that you have seen. Then hurry and bring him here.”
14 He threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and began to cry; Benjamin also cried as he hugged him. 15 Then, still weeping, he embraced each of his brothers and kissed them. After that, his brothers began to talk with him.
16 When the news reached the palace that Joseph's brothers had come, the king and his officials were pleased. 17 He said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers to load their animals and to return to the land of Canaan. 18 Let them get their father and their families and come back here. I will give them the best land in Egypt, and they will have more than enough to live on. 19 Tell them also to take wagons with them from Egypt for their wives and small children and to bring their father with them. 20 They are not to worry about leaving their possessions behind; the best in the whole land of Egypt will be theirs.”
21 Jacob's sons did as they were told. Joseph gave them wagons, as the king had ordered, and food for the trip. 22 He also gave each of them a change of clothes, but he gave Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of clothes. 23 He sent his father ten donkeys loaded with the best Egyptian goods and ten donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and other food for the trip. 24 He sent his brothers off and as they left, he said to them, “Don't quarrel on the way.”
25 They left Egypt and went back home to their father Jacob in Canaan. 26 “Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “He is the ruler of all Egypt!” Jacob was stunned and could not believe them.
27 But when they told him all that Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to take him to Egypt, he recovered from the shock. 28 “My son Joseph is still alive!” he said. “This is all I could ask for! I must go and see him before I die.”