42:1 When Jacob heard 1 there was grain in Egypt, he 2 said to his sons, “Why are you looking at each other?” 3 42:2 He then said, “Look, I hear that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy grain for us 4 so that we may live 5 and not die.” 6
42:3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 42:4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, 7 for he said, 8 “What if some accident 9 happens 10 to him?” 42:5 So Israel’s sons came to buy grain among the other travelers, 11 for the famine was severe in the land of Canaan.
42:6 Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country. 12 Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down 13 before him with 14 their faces to the ground. 42:7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger 15 to them and spoke to them harshly. He asked, “Where do you come from?” They answered, 16 “From the land of Canaan, to buy grain for food.” 17
42:8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 42:9 Then Joseph remembered 18 the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!” 19
42:12 “No,” he insisted, “but you have come to see if our land is vulnerable.” 21 42:13 They replied, “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers. 22 We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father at this time, 23 and one is no longer alive.” 24
42:14 But Joseph told them, “It is just as I said to you: 25 You are spies! 42:15 You will be tested in this way: As surely as Pharaoh lives, 26 you will not depart from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 42:16 One of you must go and get 27 your brother, while 28 the rest of you remain in prison. 29 In this way your words may be tested to see if 30 you are telling the truth. 31 If not, then, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 42:17 He imprisoned 32 them all for three days. 42:18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say 33 and you will live, 34 for I fear God. 35 42:19 If you are honest men, leave one of your brothers confined here in prison 36 while the rest of you go 37 and take grain back for your hungry families. 38 42:20 But you must bring 39 your youngest brother to me. Then 40 your words will be verified 41 and you will not die.” They did as he said. 42
42:21 They said to one other, 43 “Surely we’re being punished 44 because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was 45 when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen. That is why this distress 46 has come on us!” 42:22 Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen? So now we must pay for shedding his blood!” 47 42:23 (Now 48 they did not know that Joseph could understand them, 49 for he was speaking through an interpreter.) 50 42:24 He turned away from them and wept. When he turned around and spoke to them again, 51 he had Simeon taken 52 from them and tied up 53 before their eyes.
42:25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill 54 their bags with grain, to return each man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. His orders were carried out. 55 42:26 So they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. 56
42:27 When one of them 57 opened his sack to get feed for his donkey at their resting place, 58 he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 59 42:28 He said to his brothers, “My money was returned! Here it is in my sack!” They were dismayed; 60 they turned trembling one to another 61 and said, “What in the world has God done to us?” 62
42:29 They returned to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan and told him all the things that had happened to them, saying, 42:30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us and treated us 63 as if we were 64 spying on the land. 42:31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies! 42:32 We are from a family of twelve brothers; we are the sons of one father. 65 One is no longer alive, 66 and the youngest is with our father at this time 67 in the land of Canaan.’
42:33 “Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain 68 for your hungry households and go. 42:34 But bring your youngest brother back to me so I will know 69 that you are honest men and not spies. 70 Then I will give your brother back to you and you may move about freely in the land.’” 71
42:35 When they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bag of money in his sack! When they and their father saw the bags of money, they were afraid. 42:36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You are making me childless! Joseph is gone. 72 Simeon is gone. 73 And now you want to take 74 Benjamin! Everything is against me.”
42:37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may 75 put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my care 76 and I will bring him back to you.” 42:38 But Jacob 77 replied, “My son will not go down there with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left. 78 If an accident happens to him on the journey you have to make, then you will bring down my gray hair 79 in sorrow to the grave.” 80
43:3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned 82 us, ‘You will not see my face 83 unless your brother is with you.’ 43:4 If you send 84 our brother with us, we’ll go down and buy food for you. 43:5 But if you will not send him, we won’t go down there because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’”
43:7 They replied, “The man questioned us 87 thoroughly 88 about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ 89 So we answered him in this way. 90 How could we possibly know 91 that he would say, 92 ‘Bring your brother down’?”
43:8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me and we will go immediately. 93 Then we will live 94 and not die – we and you and our little ones. 43:9 I myself pledge security 95 for him; you may hold me liable. If I do not bring him back to you and place him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 96 43:10 But if we had not delayed, we could have traveled there and back 97 twice by now!”
43:11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and take a gift down to the man – a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachios and almonds. 43:12 Take double the money with you; 98 you must take back 99 the money that was returned in the mouths of your sacks – perhaps it was an oversight. 43:13 Take your brother too, and go right away 100 to the man. 101 43:14 May the sovereign God 102 grant you mercy before the man so that he may release 103 your other brother 104 and Benjamin! As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.” 105
43:15 So the men took these gifts, and they took double the money with them, along with Benjamin. Then they hurried down to Egypt 106 and stood before Joseph. 43:16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant who was over his household, “Bring the men to the house. Slaughter an animal and prepare it, for the men will eat with me at noon.” 43:17 The man did just as Joseph said; he 107 brought the men into Joseph’s house. 108
43:18 But the men were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house. They said, “We are being brought in because of 109 the money that was returned in our sacks last time. 110 He wants to capture us, 111 make us slaves, and take 112 our donkeys!” 43:19 So they approached the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 43:20 They said, “My lord, we did indeed come down 113 the first time 114 to buy food. 43:21 But when we came to the place where we spent the night, we opened our sacks and each of us found his money – the full amount 115 – in the mouth of his sack. So we have returned it. 116 43:22 We have brought additional money with us to buy food. We do not know who put the money in our sacks!”
43:23 “Everything is fine,” 117 the man in charge of Joseph’s household told them. “Don’t be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks. 118 I had your money.” 119 Then he brought Simeon out to them.
43:24 The servant in charge 120 brought the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he gave food to their donkeys. 43:25 They got their gifts ready for Joseph’s arrival 121 at noon, for they had heard 122 that they were to have a meal 123 there.
43:26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, 124 and they bowed down to the ground before him. 43:27 He asked them how they were doing. 125 Then he said, “Is your aging father well, the one you spoke about? Is he still alive?” 43:28 “Your servant our father is well,” they replied. “He is still alive.” They bowed down in humility. 126
43:29 When Joseph looked up 127 and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, whom you told me about?” Then he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 128 43:30 Joseph hurried out, for he was overcome by affection for his brother 129 and was at the point of tears. 130 So he went to his room and wept there.
43:31 Then he washed his face and came out. With composure he said, 131 “Set out the food.” 43:32 They set a place for him, a separate place for his brothers, 132 and another for the Egyptians who were eating with him. (The Egyptians are not able to eat with Hebrews, for the Egyptians think it is disgusting 133 to do so.) 134 43:33 They sat before him, arranged by order of birth, beginning with the firstborn and ending with the youngest. 135 The men looked at each other in astonishment. 136 43:34 He gave them portions of the food set before him, 137 but the portion for Benjamin was five times greater than the portions for any of the others. They drank with Joseph until they all became drunk. 138
1 tn Heb “saw.”
2 tn Heb “Jacob.” Here the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
3 sn Why are you looking at each other? The point of Jacob’s question is that his sons should be going to get grain rather than sitting around doing nothing. Jacob, as the patriarch, still makes the decisions for the whole clan.
4 tn Heb “and buy for us from there.” The word “grain,” the direct object of “buy,” has been supplied for clarity, and the words “from there” have been omitted in the translation for stylistic reasons.
5 tn Following the imperatives, the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav expresses purpose of result.
6 tn The imperfect tense continues the nuance of the verb before it.
7 tn Heb “But Benjamin, the brother of Joseph, Jacob did not send with his brothers.” The disjunctive clause highlights the contrast between Benjamin and the other ten.
8 tn The Hebrew verb אָמַר (’amar, “to say”) could also be translated “thought” (i.e., “he said to himself”) here, giving Jacob’s reasoning rather than spoken words.
9 tn The Hebrew noun אָסוֹן (’ason) is a rare word meaning “accident, harm.” Apart from its use in these passages it occurs in Exodus 21:22-23 of an accident to a pregnant woman. The term is a rather general one, but Jacob was no doubt thinking of his loss of Joseph.
10 tn Heb “encounters.”
11 tn Heb “in the midst of the coming ones.”
12 tn The disjunctive clause either introduces a new episode in the unfolding drama or provides the reader with supplemental information necessary to understanding the story.
13 sn Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him. Here is the beginning of the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams (see Gen 37). But it is not the complete fulfillment, since all his brothers and his parents must come. The point of the dream, of course, was not simply to get the family to bow to Joseph, but that Joseph would be placed in a position of rule and authority to save the family and the world (41:57).
14 tn The word “faces” is an adverbial accusative, so the preposition has been supplied in the translation.
15 sn But pretended to be a stranger. Joseph intends to test his brothers to see if they have changed and have the integrity to be patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. He will do this by putting them in the same situations that they and he were in before. The first test will be to awaken their conscience.
16 tn Heb “said.”
17 tn The verb is denominative, meaning “to buy grain”; the word “food” could simply be the direct object, but may also be an adverbial accusative.
18 sn You are spies. Joseph wanted to see how his brothers would react if they were accused of spying.
19 tn Heb “to see the nakedness of the land you have come.”
20 tn Heb “and they said to him.” In context this is best understood as an exclamation.
21 tn Heb “and he said, ‘No, for the nakedness of the land you have come to see.’” The order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for clarity.
22 tn Heb “twelve [were] your servants, brothers [are] we.”
23 tn Heb “today.”
24 tn Heb “and the one is not.”
25 tn Heb “to you, saying.”
26 tn Heb “[By] the life of Pharaoh.”
sn As surely as Pharaoh lives. Joseph uses an oath formula to let the brothers know the certainty of what he said. There is some discussion in the commentaries on swearing by the life of Pharaoh, but since the formulation here reflects the Hebrew practice, it would be hard to connect the ideas exactly to Egyptian practices. Joseph did this to make the point in a way that his Hebrew brothers would understand. See M. R. Lehmann, “Biblical Oaths,” ZAW 81 (1969): 74-92.
27 tn Heb “send from you one and let him take.” After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose.
28 tn The disjunctive clause is here circumstantial-temporal.
29 tn Heb “bound.”
30 tn The words “to see” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
31 tn Heb “the truth [is] with you.”
32 sn The same Hebrew word is used for Joseph’s imprisonment in 40:3, 4, 7. There is some mirroring going on in the narrative. The Hebrew word used here (אָסַף, ’asaf, “to gather”) is not normally used in a context like this (for placing someone in prison), but it forms a wordplay on the name Joseph (יוֹסֵף, yosoef) and keeps the comparison working.
33 tn Heb “Do this.”
34 tn After the preceding imperative, the imperative with vav (ו) can, as here, indicate logical sequence.
35 sn For I fear God. Joseph brings God into the picture to awaken his brothers’ consciences. The godly person cares about the welfare of people, whether they live or die. So he will send grain back, but keep one of them in Egypt. This action contrasts with their crime of selling their brother into slavery.
36 tn Heb “bound in the house of your prison.”
37 tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial-temporal.
38 tn Heb “[for] the hunger of your households.”
39 tn The imperfect here has an injunctive force.
40 tn After the injunctive imperfect, this imperfect with vav indicates purpose or result.
41 tn The Niphal form of the verb has the sense of “to be faithful; to be sure; to be reliable.” Joseph will test his brothers to see if their words are true.
42 tn Heb “and they did so.”
43 tn Heb “a man to his neighbor.”
44 tn Or “we are guilty”; the Hebrew word can also refer to the effect of being guilty, i.e., “we are being punished for guilt.”
45 tn Heb “the distress of his soul.”
46 sn The repetition of the Hebrew noun translated distress draws attention to the fact that they regard their present distress as appropriate punishment for their refusal to ignore their brother when he was in distress.
47 tn Heb “and also his blood, look, it is required.” God requires compensation, as it were, from those who shed innocent blood (see Gen 9:6). In other words, God exacts punishment for the crime of murder.
48 tn The disjunctive clause provides supplemental information that is important to the story.
49 tn “was listening.” The brothers were not aware that Joseph could understand them as they spoke the preceding words in their native language.
50 tn Heb “for [there was] an interpreter between them.” On the meaning of the word here translated “interpreter” see HALOT 590 s.v. מֵלִיץ and M. A. Canney, “The Hebrew melis (Prov IX 12; Gen XLII 2-3),” AJSL 40 (1923/24): 135-37.
51 tn Heb “and he turned to them and spoke to them.”
52 tn Heb “took Simeon.” This was probably done at Joseph’s command, however; the grand vizier of Egypt would not have personally seized a prisoner.
53 tn Heb “and he bound him.” See the note on the preceding verb “taken.”
54 tn Heb “and they filled.” The clause appears to be elliptical; one expects “Joseph gave orders to fill…and they filled.” See GKC 386 §120.f.
55 tn Heb “and he did for them so.” Joseph would appear to be the subject of the singular verb. If the text is retained, the statement seems to be a summary of the preceding, more detailed statement. However, some read the verb as plural, “and they did for them so.” In this case the statement indicates that Joseph’s subordinates carried out his orders. Another alternative is to read the singular verb as passive (with unspecified subject), “and this was done for them so” (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV).
56 tn Heb “and they went from there.”
57 tn Heb “and the one.” The article indicates that the individual is vivid in the mind of the narrator, yet it is not important to identify him by name.
58 tn Heb “at the lodging place.”
59 tn Heb “and look, it [was] in the mouth of his sack.” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the reader to look through the eyes of the character and thereby draws attention to the money.
60 tn Heb “and their heart went out.” Since this expression is used only here, the exact meaning is unclear. The following statement suggests that it may refer to a sudden loss of emotional strength, so “They were dismayed” adequately conveys the meaning (cf. NRSV); NIV has “Their hearts sank.”
61 tn Heb “and they trembled, a man to his neighbor.”
62 tn Heb “What is this God has done to us?” The demonstrative pronoun (“this”) adds emphasis to the question.
63 tn Heb “made us.”
64 tn The words “if we were” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
65 tn Heb “twelve [were] we, brothers, sons of our father [are] we.”
66 tn Heb “the one is not.”
67 tn Heb “today.”
68 tn The word “grain” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
69 tn After the imperative, the cohortative with prefixed vav indicates purpose/result.
70 tn Heb “that you are not spies, that you are honest men.”
71 sn Joseph’s brothers soften the news considerably, making it sound like Simeon was a guest of Joseph (Leave one of your brothers with me) instead of being bound in prison. They do not mention the threat of death and do not at this time speak of the money in the one sack.
72 tn Heb “is not.”
73 tn Heb “is not.”
74 tn The nuance of the imperfect verbal form is desiderative here.
75 tn The nuance of the imperfect verbal form is permissive here.
76 tn Heb “my hand.”
77 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
78 sn The expression he alone is left meant that (so far as Jacob knew) Benjamin was the only surviving child of his mother Rachel.
79 sn The expression bring down my gray hair is figurative, using a part for the whole – they would put Jacob in the grave. But the gray head signifies a long life of worry and trouble.
80 tn Heb “to Sheol,” the dwelling place of the dead.
81 tn The disjunctive clause gives supplemental information that is important to the storyline.
82 tn The infinitive absolute with the finite verb stresses the point. The primary meaning of the verb is “to witness; to testify.” It alludes to Joseph’s oath, which was tantamount to a threat or warning.
83 tn The idiom “see my face” means “have an audience with me.”
84 tn Heb “if there is you sending,” that is, “if you send.”
85 tn The verb may even have a moral connotation here, “Why did you do evil to me?”
86 tn The infinitive construct here explains how they brought trouble on Jacob.
87 tn The word “us” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
88 tn The infinitive absolute with the perfect verbal form emphasizes that Joseph questioned them thoroughly.
89 sn The report given here concerning Joseph’s interrogation does not exactly match the previous account where they supplied the information to clear themselves (see 42:13). This section may reflect how they remembered the impact of his interrogation, whether he asked the specific questions or not. That may be twisting the truth to protect themselves, not wanting to admit that they volunteered the information. (They admitted as much in 42:31, but now they seem to be qualifying that comment.) On the other hand, when speaking to Joseph later (see 44:19), Judah claims that Joseph asked for the information about their family, making it possible that 42:13 leaves out some of the details of their first encounter.
90 tn Heb “and we told to him according to these words.”
91 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the imperfect verbal form, which here is a historic future (that is, future from the perspective of a past time).
92 tn Once again the imperfect verbal form is used as a historic future (that is, future from the perspective of past time).
93 tn Heb “and we will rise up and we will go.” The first verb is adverbial and gives the expression the sense of “we will go immediately.”
94 tn After the preceding cohortatives, the prefixed verbal form (either imperfect or cohortative) with the prefixed conjunction here indicates purpose or result.
95 tn The pronoun before the first person verbal form draws attention to the subject and emphasizes Judah’s willingness to be personally responsible for the boy.
96 sn I will bear the blame before you all my life. It is not clear how this would work out if Benjamin did not come back. But Judah is offering his life for Benjamin’s if Benjamin does not return.
97 tn Heb “we could have returned.”
98 tn Heb “in your hand.”
99 tn Heb “take back in your hand.” The imperfect verbal form probably has an injunctive or obligatory force here, since Jacob is instructing his sons.
100 tn Heb “arise, return,” meaning “get up and go back,” or “go back immediately.”
103 tn Heb “release to you.” After the jussive this perfect verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) probably indicates logical consequence, as well as temporal sequence.
104 sn Several Jewish commentators suggest that the expression your other brother refers to Joseph. This would mean that Jacob prophesied unwittingly. However, it is much more likely that Simeon is the referent of the phrase “your other brother” (see Gen 42:24).
105 tn Heb “if I am bereaved I am bereaved.” With this fatalistic sounding statement Jacob resolves himself to the possibility of losing both Benjamin and Simeon.
106 tn Heb “they arose and went down to Egypt.” The first verb has an adverbial function and emphasizes that they departed right away.
107 tn Heb “the man.” This has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun “he” for stylistic reasons.
109 tn Heb “over the matter of.”
110 tn Heb “in the beginning,” that is, at the end of their first visit.
111 tn Heb “to roll himself upon us and to cause himself to fall upon us.” The infinitives here indicate the purpose (as viewed by the brothers) for their being brought to Joseph’s house.
112 tn The word “take” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
113 tn The infinitive absolute is used for emphasis before the finite verbal form.
115 tn Heb “in its weight.”
116 tn Heb “brought it back in our hand.”
117 tn Heb “and he said, ‘peace to you.’” Here the statement has the force of “everything is fine,” or perhaps even “calm down.” The referent of “he” (the man in charge of Joseph’ household) has been specified in the translation for clarity, and the order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged for stylistic reasons.
118 sn Your God and the God of your father…This is the first clear reference in the story to the theme of divine providence – that God works through the human actions to do his will.
119 tn Heb “your money came to me.”
120 tn Heb “the man.”
121 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct after the preposition, followed by the subjective genitive.
122 tn The action precedes the action of preparing the gift, and so must be translated as past perfect.
123 tn Heb “eat bread.” The imperfect verbal form is used here as a historic future (future from the perspective of the past).
124 tn Heb “into the house.”
125 tn Heb “concerning peace.”
126 tn Heb “and they bowed low and they bowed down.” The use of synonyms here emphasizes the brothers’ humility.
127 tn Heb “and he lifted his eyes.” The referent of “he” (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
128 sn Joseph’s language here becomes warmer and more personal, culminating in calling Benjamin my son.
130 tn Heb “and he sought to weep.”
131 tn Heb “and he controlled himself and said.”
132 tn Heb “them”; the referent (Joseph’s brothers) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
133 tn Or “disgraceful.” The Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה (to’evah, “abomination”) describes something that is loathsome or off-limits. For other practices the Egyptians considered disgusting, see Gen 46:34 and Exod 8:22.
134 tn Heb “and they set for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians who were eating with him by themselves, for the Egyptians are not able to eat food with the Hebrews, for it is an abomination for the Egyptians.” The imperfect verbal form in the explanatory clause is taken as habitual in force, indicating a practice that was still in effect in the narrator’s time.
sn That the Egyptians found eating with foreigners disgusting is well-attested in extra-biblical literature by writers like Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo.
135 tn Heb “the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth.”
136 sn The brothers’ astonishment indicates that Joseph arranged them in this way. They were astonished because there was no way, as far as they were concerned, that Joseph could have known the order of their birth.
137 tn Heb “and he lifted up portions from before his face to them.”
138 tn Heb “and they drank and were intoxicated with him” (cf. NIV “drank freely with him”; NEB “grew merry”; NRSV “were merry”). The brothers were apparently relaxed and set at ease, despite Joseph’s obvious favoritism toward Benjamin.