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Bible Study Guide
Jacob sends his sons to buy corn in Egypt
Scripture in focus: Genesis 42
42:1 > ”Why do you look at one another?” Jacob noticed that perhaps at the mention of the word “Egypt”, the brothers looked at one another in a strange way. He wanted to know why, but they couldn’t tell him that they sold Joseph to Egypt; they lived with this terrible secret and guilt for 20 years.
42:2 > The famine was not letting up and the only way for Jacob’s family to obtain food was to go into Egypt and buy it.
42:3-4 > Ten of the eleven brothers obeyed their father’s order and immediately set out for Egypt. Benjamin was the youngest and Jacob’s favorite and he didn’t want anything to happen to him so he kept him away from the world.
42:5-8 > Prophesy of a young Joseph’s dreams are fulfilled from verses 9 and 37:5-11 when his brothers paid respect by bowing down to him. Joseph was now a mature adult and Egyptian in appearance and mannerism therefore, his brothers didn’t recognize him. Joseph knew them, though, and he was about to put them through a series of tests.
42:9 > Joseph remembers the dreams he had when he was young. This was God’s doing. He recalled the dreams to Joseph’s memory to guide him accordingly. He was to be used as an instrument for the correction and restoration of the brothers (blueletterbible.org) and therefore, he had to keep his true identity under wraps for now… like a secret agent! He knew his brothers weren’t spies, but he didn’t want to break his role as ruler, so he accused them of being such to hear what they’ll say.
42:10-11 > The brothers replied that they all had the same father and therefore not likely spies.
42:12-13 > Still in character, Joseph accuses the brothers of espionage. The brothers knew they didn’t deserve this rough treatment. After all, they only wanted to obtain food and return home to their waiting father. Feeling the pressure to defend themselves, they told Joseph that they were 12 brothers, but “the youngest is this day with our father” (Benjamin) and “one is not” for they thought Joseph to be dead by now. If they only knew!
42:14-16 > If Joseph’s heart soared (after hearing that his father and youngest brother was still alive) and broke a little (hearing that his own brothers pronounced him to be dead), he did not show any emotion in front of them. He sticks to the spy accusation. Besides, he didn’t trust his brothers’ words when it came to Benjamin. He had to see Benjamin with his own eyes to make sure that they didn’t do something similar to Benjamin as they did to him. One of the brothers had to be elected to go back to Jacob’s house to bring Benjamin down into Egypt to make sure that they were telling the truth.
42:17 > Joseph gives the brothers a taste of the suffering he endured when he was brought into Egypt as a slave by putting them in prison. There, they’ll consult which brother will go up again to Canaan and bring Benjamin. Three days in prison (Joseph spent 3 years) was also enough to humble them and so, they were willing to do whatever Joseph demanded.
42:18-20 > Joseph visits his brothers on the 3rd day to give orders. He feared God meaning that he did not want his brothers to fear him; he wanted them to trust him. If they were really honest men as they said they were, then they’ll do as he says.
42:21 > The guilt returns tenfold! The brothers confer that they were guilty of the sin concerning their brother Joseph. After selling Joseph, they probably never talked of it again, but being imprisoned in Egypt for three days made them realized the error of their sin and it took twenty-two long years.
They’ve reached the first step to salvation by being convicted of their sins. Before we even ask forgiveness, we must identify our sins.
42:22 > Reuben reminds his brothers that he told them not to lay a wicked hand on Joseph (37:21-22). They hearken unto him by not killing Joseph and although the Word does not say, it does seem probable that Reuben went out of sight from his brothers for a little while. Perhaps he took a stroll to try to figure how to get Joseph out of the pit and back home again when his brothers took Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the passing Ishmaelites.
42:23 > The brothers spoke freely thinking that Joseph was an Egyptian hence the reason he was using an interpreter, but Joseph understood every word which tumbled from their lips. See, in order for the relationship between the brothers to be restored, God had to work on their hearts so they can repent, be forgiven, heal, and move on. It probably grieved Joseph, but he had to let God have His way.
42:24 > Overcome with emotion, Joseph wept. He knew this was God’s doing after hearing his brothers confess their sins and especially Reuben’s concern for him. After he composed himself, he returned to speak with his brothers. Simeon was kept as a hostage.
42:25-28 > Joseph’s commands are carried out by a steward or deputy and the brothers – except Simeon – was sent on their way to Canaan. It was only when they stopped to take care of their beasts, that one of them opened his sack only to find his money restored. The money that he paid for the grain! Something was not right and their guilty conscience returned when they pondered “What is this that God has done to us?”
Salvation is a free gift for everyone. We cannot buy it or obtain it by material means.
42:29-35 > The brothers return home and relate all that had befallen them while in Egypt to their father. And lo and behold! When every brother opened their sack, the money they paid to the steward was restored. Again, salvation is a free gift. We cannot buy it. Restoration is a joyful affair for all involved. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit (Psalm 51:12).
With Simeon in prison and with the restored monies, the brothers must return to Egypt for they could be accused of thievery and Simeon could be hanged.
42:36 > Jacob thinks everything is against him. With Joseph presumed dead and Simeon in an Egyptian prison, he did not want to lose another son. Jacob indirectly blamed the other sons for Joseph’s death. Also, he was so overwhelmed, he only thought of himself and how his happiness and comfort was being ripped apart. As Christians, we were never meant to be comfortable. Joseph was certainly not comfortable when he was taken from the pit and sold into Egypt, but he approached the attitude differently. When bad things happen and our world is shaken up, instead of the “Woe is me” attitude, approach it as knowing the situation would work together for the good (Romans 8:28). Even if you cannot see it, trust God.
42:37 > As the eldest, Reuben spoke on behalf of his brothers. “Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee” he doesn’t mean that children should be killed, but he put the life of his two sons at stake to show his father that he would do everything in his will to make sure Benjamin returns home safe and sound. He takes responsibility for Benjamin’s safety.
42:38 > But Jacob refused to send his precious son into Egypt clinging to the fact (and blame) that Joseph was no more with him. His remark also showed that he didn’t care if Simeon spent the rest of his life in an Egyptian prison for he was not of Rachel.
Up next: The return to Egypt
^ I love discovering little nuggets in God’s Word and this chapter in Genesis brings it home where it concerns salvation and restoration. Joseph showed that when power is used properly, it benefits everyone.
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