Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: email@example.com) 2004
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GENESIS 42:1-3 (Joseph’s brothers arrive to buy grain)
42:1-2 People from all the surrounding countries were buying grain from Joseph (41:57). Jacob and his sons lived in Hebron, 200 miles, 240 km, to the north-east. The direct route was across the wilderness of Shur which the Jews who came out of Egypt found too arid to cross on the way to the promised land (25:18; Exodus15:22; 16:1). To buy grain in Egypt would require at least a two week journey with their donkeys (42:26) each way. But the alternative was to starve (see the famine in Canaan, 42:5).
42:3-4 Jacob sent ten of his sons to buy grain, but he did not allow Benjamin to go on this risky journey. Benjamin was the second son from his favorite wife Rachel who had died in childbirth (34:16-18). By this time Benjamin was the father of ten children (46:21), but Jacob still feared for his safety after what had happened to his brother Joseph.
42:5-9 The ten brothers arrived and prostrated themselves before Joseph (see 41:40-41) who was selling grain to people from other surrounding countries. It seems that Joseph kept this responsibility to himself in a centralized location, and left the sales of grain to local Egyptians to be handled by officials in each city (41:35, 48). Part of the dream (37:7) was now fulfilled but according to the other dream his father and younger brother (37:9-10) would also need to be present. It seems that Joseph intended to make sure they also came. This explains the fact that he did not greet his brothers when they arrived, he accused them of being spies, and treated them very harshly. His Egyptian dress, clean-shaven face, and the fact that he used an interpreter (42:23) prevented the brothers from recognizing Joseph after 20 years.
42:10‑13 By careful questioning he forced them to admit that they were a family of twelve brothers, one of whom was at home and the other whom they presumed was dead. They did not admit that they had sold him into slavery (37:28).
GENESIS 42:1 (Joseph sends nine brothers back to bring Benjamin)
42:14-20 Joseph would test the truth of what they had said by keeping nine of them in prison and sending one back to bring his own blood brother Benjamin. He probably realized that one brother would not be able to take sufficient food to Hebron for his father and younger brother. So three days later he changed the terms of the arrangement and told them that he feared God as they did, and he would only keep one of them in jail till their youngest brother was brought back.
42:21-22 When this was arranged, the sin of what they had done to Joseph (37:23-24, 28; see 44:16) suddenly came back to mind. Reuben claimed he had tried to prevent them from harming Joseph but they did not listen (37:21-22, 29-30). And now the wrath of God was catching up with their crime. When a great crime has been committed God may need to use tough methods to bring conviction of sin. David did not realize what he had done till he heard Nathan’s parable and its powerful application (2 Samuel 12:1-13; see Acts 2:37).
42:25-26 Joseph then ordered his assistants to put the money each had paid on top of the full bags of grain. They must also given them all the food they would need for the long journey home. So they loaded their donkeys and went back on their way. Jesus said “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27) and Joseph had been able to get over the longing for revenge for what they had done to him (37:23, 28; see 50:15-20; Romans 12:18-21). He knew that God had overruled their plans to do him harm, and appointed him to save the lives of many people (45:5, 7-8)
42:27-28 At the first stop for the night one of them opened his bag of grain to feed his donkey, and found the money that had been returned. This threw the nine brothers into awesome confusion as they wondered what God was doing for them.
GENESIS 42:29.-38 (Jacob refuses to let his son Benjamin go to Egypt)
42:29-34 When they arrived back in Hebron they rehearsed for their father the strange events which had occured. Simeon would only be released if they brought Benjamin back with them, and they would then be free to buy grain in Egypt.
42:35-38 The sight of the bundles of money in each brother’s sack awed and perplexed them. Reuben offered to let Jacob kill his two sons if he did not bring Simeon back, but Jacob was adamant that Benjamin would not be taken to Egypt. If Benjamin was harmed on the journey, Jacob felt he would die of sorrow. So the brothers remained with their father, and Simeon was left to languish in the Egyptian jail.
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