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Genesis 42:29--44:34

Context

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 1  as if we were 2  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. 3  One is no longer alive, 4  and the youngest is with our father at this time 5  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 6  for your hungry households and go. 42:34 But bring your youngest brother back to me so I will know 7  that you are honest men and not spies. 8  Then I will give your brother back to you and you may move about freely in the land.’” 9 

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. 10  Simeon is gone. 11  And now you want to take 12  Benjamin! Everything is against me.”

42:37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may 13  put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my care 14  and I will bring him back to you.” 42:38 But Jacob 15  replied, “My son will not go down there with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left. 16  If an accident happens to him on the journey you have to make, then you will bring down my gray hair 17  in sorrow to the grave.” 18 

The Second Journey to Egypt

43:1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 19  43:2 When they finished eating the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Return, buy us a little more food.”

43:3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned 20  us, ‘You will not see my face 21  unless your brother is with you.’ 43:4 If you send 22  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.’”

43:6 Israel said, “Why did you bring this trouble 23  on me by telling 24  the man you had one more brother?”

43:7 They replied, “The man questioned us 25  thoroughly 26  about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ 27  So we answered him in this way. 28  How could we possibly know 29  that he would say, 30  ‘Bring your brother down’?”

43:8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me and we will go immediately. 31  Then we will live 32  and not die – we and you and our little ones. 43:9 I myself pledge security 33  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. 34  43:10 But if we had not delayed, we could have traveled there and back 35  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; 36  you must take back 37  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 38  to the man. 39  43:14 May the sovereign God 40  grant you mercy before the man so that he may release 41  your other brother 42  and Benjamin! As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.” 43 

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 44  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 45  brought the men into Joseph’s house. 46 

43:18 But the men were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house. They said, “We are being brought in because of 47  the money that was returned in our sacks last time. 48  He wants to capture us, 49  make us slaves, and take 50  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 51  the first time 52  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 53  – in the mouth of his sack. So we have returned it. 54  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,” 55  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. 56  I had your money.” 57  Then he brought Simeon out to them.

43:24 The servant in charge 58  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 59  at noon, for they had heard 60  that they were to have a meal 61  there.

43:26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, 62  and they bowed down to the ground before him. 43:27 He asked them how they were doing. 63  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. 64 

43:29 When Joseph looked up 65  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.” 66  43:30 Joseph hurried out, for he was overcome by affection for his brother 67  and was at the point of tears. 68  So he went to his room and wept there.

43:31 Then he washed his face and came out. With composure he said, 69  “Set out the food.” 43:32 They set a place for him, a separate place for his brothers, 70  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 71  to do so.) 72  43:33 They sat before him, arranged by order of birth, beginning with the firstborn and ending with the youngest. 73  The men looked at each other in astonishment. 74  43:34 He gave them portions of the food set before him, 75  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. 76 

The Final Test

44:1 He instructed the servant who was over his household, “Fill the sacks of the men with as much food as they can carry and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 44:2 Then put 77  my cup – the silver cup – in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” He did as Joseph instructed. 78 

44:3 When morning came, 79  the men and their donkeys were sent off. 80  44:4 They had not gone very far from the city 81  when Joseph said 82  to the servant who was over his household, “Pursue the men at once! 83  When you overtake 84  them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 44:5 Doesn’t my master drink from this cup 85  and use it for divination? 86  You have done wrong!’” 87 

44:6 When the man 88  overtook them, he spoke these words to them. 44:7 They answered him, “Why does my lord say such things? 89  Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 90  44:8 Look, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. Why then would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 44:9 If one of us has it, 91  he will die, and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”

44:10 He replied, “You have suggested your own punishment! 92  The one who has it will become my slave, 93  but the rest of 94  you will go free.” 95  44:11 So each man quickly lowered 96  his sack to the ground and opened it. 44:12 Then the man 97  searched. He began with the oldest and finished with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 44:13 They all tore their clothes! Then each man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

44:14 So Judah and his brothers 98  came back to Joseph’s house. He was still there, 99  and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 44:15 Joseph said to them, “What did you think you were doing? 100  Don’t you know that a man like me can find out things like this by divination?” 101 

44:16 Judah replied, “What can we say 102  to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? 103  God has exposed the sin of your servants! 104  We are now my lord’s slaves, we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

44:17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do this! The man in whose hand the cup was found will become my slave, but the rest of 105  you may go back 106  to your father in peace.”

44:18 Then Judah approached him and said, “My lord, please allow your servant to speak a word with you. 107  Please do not get angry with your servant, 108  for you are just like Pharaoh. 109  44:19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 44:20 We said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young boy who was born when our father was old. 110  The boy’s 111  brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, 112  and his father loves him.’

44:21 “Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see 113  him.’ 114  44:22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves his father, his father 115  will die.’ 116  44:23 But you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 44:24 When we returned to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.

44:25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ 44:26 But we replied, ‘We cannot go down there. 117  If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go, 118  for we won’t be permitted to see the man’s face if our youngest brother is not with us.’

44:27 “Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife gave me two sons. 119  44:28 The first disappeared 120  and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” I have not seen him since. 44:29 If you take 121  this one from me too and an accident happens to him, then you will bring down my gray hair 122  in tragedy 123  to the grave.’ 124 

44:30 “So now, when I return to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us – his very life is bound up in his son’s life. 125  44:31 When he sees the boy is not with us, 126  he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father in sorrow to the grave. 44:32 Indeed, 127  your servant pledged security for the boy with my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame before my father all my life.’

44:33 “So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers. 44:34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see 128  my father’s pain.” 129 

1 tn Heb “made us.”

2 tn The words “if we were” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

3 tn Heb “twelve [were] we, brothers, sons of our father [are] we.”

4 tn Heb “the one is not.”

5 tn Heb “today.”

6 tn The word “grain” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

7 tn After the imperative, the cohortative with prefixed vav indicates purpose/result.

8 tn Heb “that you are not spies, that you are honest men.”

9 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.

10 tn Heb “is not.”

11 tn Heb “is not.”

12 tn The nuance of the imperfect verbal form is desiderative here.

13 tn The nuance of the imperfect verbal form is permissive here.

14 tn Heb “my hand.”

15 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

16 sn The expression he alone is left meant that (so far as Jacob knew) Benjamin was the only surviving child of his mother Rachel.

17 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.

18 tn Heb “to Sheol,” the dwelling place of the dead.

19 tn The disjunctive clause gives supplemental information that is important to the storyline.

20 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.

21 tn The idiom “see my face” means “have an audience with me.”

22 tn Heb “if there is you sending,” that is, “if you send.”

23 tn The verb may even have a moral connotation here, “Why did you do evil to me?”

24 tn The infinitive construct here explains how they brought trouble on Jacob.

25 tn The word “us” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

26 tn The infinitive absolute with the perfect verbal form emphasizes that Joseph questioned them thoroughly.

27 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.

28 tn Heb “and we told to him according to these words.”

29 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).

30 tn Once again the imperfect verbal form is used as a historic future (that is, future from the perspective of past time).

31 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.”

32 tn After the preceding cohortatives, the prefixed verbal form (either imperfect or cohortative) with the prefixed conjunction here indicates purpose or result.

33 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.

34 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.

35 tn Heb “we could have returned.”

36 tn Heb “in your hand.”

37 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.

38 tn Heb “arise, return,” meaning “get up and go back,” or “go back immediately.”

39 sn The man refers to the Egyptian official, whom the reader or hearer of the narrative knows is Joseph. In this context both the sons and Jacob refer to him simply as “the man” (see vv. 3-7).

40 tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “sovereign God” in Gen 17:1.

41 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.

42 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).

43 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.

44 tn Heb “they arose and went down to Egypt.” The first verb has an adverbial function and emphasizes that they departed right away.

45 tn Heb “the man.” This has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun “he” for stylistic reasons.

46 sn This verse is a summary statement. The next verses delineate intermediate steps (see v. 24) in the process.

47 tn Heb “over the matter of.”

48 tn Heb “in the beginning,” that is, at the end of their first visit.

49 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.

50 tn The word “take” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

51 tn The infinitive absolute is used for emphasis before the finite verbal form.

52 tn Heb “in the beginning” (see the note on the phrase “last time” in v. 18).

53 tn Heb “in its weight.”

54 tn Heb “brought it back in our hand.”

55 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.

56 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.

57 tn Heb “your money came to me.”

58 tn Heb “the man.”

59 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct after the preposition, followed by the subjective genitive.

60 tn The action precedes the action of preparing the gift, and so must be translated as past perfect.

61 tn Heb “eat bread.” The imperfect verbal form is used here as a historic future (future from the perspective of the past).

62 tn Heb “into the house.”

63 tn Heb “concerning peace.”

64 tn Heb “and they bowed low and they bowed down.” The use of synonyms here emphasizes the brothers’ humility.

65 tn Heb “and he lifted his eyes.” The referent of “he” (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

66 sn Joseph’s language here becomes warmer and more personal, culminating in calling Benjamin my son.

67 tn Heb “for his affection boiled up concerning his brother.” The same expression is used in 1 Kgs 3:26 for the mother’s feelings for her endangered child.

68 tn Heb “and he sought to weep.”

69 tn Heb “and he controlled himself and said.”

70 tn Heb “them”; the referent (Joseph’s brothers) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

71 tn Or “disgraceful.” The Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה (toevah, “abomination”) describes something that is loathsome or off-limits. For other practices the Egyptians considered disgusting, see Gen 46:34 and Exod 8:22.

72 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.

73 tn Heb “the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth.”

74 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.

75 tn Heb “and he lifted up portions from before his face to them.”

76 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.

77 tn The imperfect verbal form is used here to express Joseph’s instructions.

78 tn Heb “and he did according to the word of Joseph which he spoke.”

79 tn Heb “the morning was light.”

80 tn Heb “and the men were sent off, they and their donkeys.” This clause, like the preceding one, has the subject before the verb, indicating synchronic action.

81 tn Heb “they left the city, they were not far,” meaning “they had not gone very far.”

82 tn Heb “and Joseph said.” This clause, like the first one in the verse, has the subject before the verb, indicating synchronic action.

83 tn Heb “arise, chase after the men.” The first imperative gives the command a sense of urgency.

84 tn After the imperative this perfect verbal form with vav consecutive has the same nuance of instruction. In the translation it is subordinated to the verbal form that follows (also a perfect with vav consecutive): “and overtake them and say,” becomes “when you overtake them, say.”

85 tn Heb “Is this not what my master drinks from.” The word “cup” is not in the Hebrew text, but is obviously the referent of “this,” and so has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

86 tn Heb “and he, divining, divines with it.” The infinitive absolute is emphatic, stressing the importance of the cup to Joseph.

87 tn Heb “you have caused to be evil what you have done.”

88 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

89 tn Heb “Why does my lord speak according to these words?”

90 tn Heb “according to this thing.”

91 tn Heb “The one with whom it is found from your servants.” Here “your servants” (a deferential way of referring to the brothers themselves) has been translated by the pronoun “us” to avoid confusion with Joseph’s servants.

92 tn Heb “Also now, according to your words, so it is.” As the next statement indicates, this does mean that he will do exactly as they say. He does agree with them the culprit should be punished, but not as harshly as they suggest. Furthermore, the innocent parties will not be punished.

93 tn Heb “The one with whom it is found will become my slave.”

94 tn The words “the rest of” have been supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

95 tn The Hebrew word נָקִי (naqi) means “acquitted,” that is, free of guilt and the responsibility for it.

sn The rest of you will be free. Joseph’s purpose was to single out Benjamin to see if the brothers would abandon him as they had abandoned Joseph. He wanted to see if they had changed.

96 tn Heb “and they hurried and they lowered.” Their speed in doing this shows their presumption of innocence.

97 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

98 sn Judah and his brothers. The narrative is already beginning to bring Judah to the forefront.

99 tn The disjunctive clause here provides supplemental information.

100 tn Heb “What is this deed you have done?” The demonstrative pronoun (“this”) adds emphasis to the question. A literal translation seems to contradict the following statement, in which Joseph affirms that he is able to divine such matters. Thus here the emotive force of the question has been reflected in the translation, “What did you think you were doing?”

101 tn Heb “[is] fully able to divine,” meaning that he can find things out by divination. The infinitive absolute appears before the finite verb for emphasis, stressing his ability to do this.

102 tn The imperfect verbal form here indicates the subject’s potential.

103 tn The Hitpael form of the verb צָדֵק (tsadeq) here means “to prove ourselves just, to declare ourselves righteous, to prove our innocence.”

104 sn God has exposed the sin of your servants. The first three questions are rhetorical; Judah is stating that there is nothing they can say to clear themselves. He therefore must conclude that they have been found guilty.

105 tn The words “the rest of” have been supplied in the translation for clarification and for stylistic reasons.

106 tn Heb “up” (reflecting directions from their point of view – “up” to Canaan; “down” to Egypt).

107 tn Heb “Please my lord, let your servant speak a word into the ears of my lord.”

108 tn Heb “and let not your anger burn against your servant.”

109 sn You are just like Pharaoh. Judah’s speech begins with the fear and trembling of one who stands condemned. Joseph has as much power as Pharaoh, either to condemn or to pardon. Judah will make his appeal, wording his speech in such a way as to appeal to Joseph’s compassion for the father, whom he mentions no less than fourteen times in the speech.

110 tn Heb “and a small boy of old age,” meaning that he was born when his father was elderly.

111 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the boy just mentioned) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

112 tn Heb “he, only he, to his mother is left.”

113 tn The cohortative after the imperative indicates purpose here.

114 tn Heb “that I may set my eyes upon him.”

115 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the boy’s father, i.e., Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

116 tn The last two verbs are perfect tenses with vav consecutive. The first is subordinated to the second as a conditional clause.

117 tn The direct object is not specified in the Hebrew text, but is implied; “there” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

118 tn Heb “go down.”

119 tn Heb “that two sons my wife bore to me.”

120 tn Heb “went forth from me.”

121 tn The construction uses a perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive to introduce the conditional clause and then another perfect verbal form with a vav consecutive to complete the sentence: “if you take…then you will bring down.”

122 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. See Gen 42:38.

123 tn Heb “evil/calamity.” The term is different than the one used in the otherwise identical statement recorded in v. 31 (see also 42:38).

124 tn Heb “to Sheol,” the dwelling place of the dead.

125 tn Heb “his life is bound up in his life.”

126 tn Heb “when he sees that there is no boy.”

127 tn Or “for.”

128 tn The Hebrew text has “lest I see,” which expresses a negative purpose – “I cannot go up lest I see.”

129 tn Heb “the calamity which would find my father.”



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