Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
1Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
K.J.V. Bible Text
Like others in many countries, Jacob, his remaining sons and all their families were in the grip of the famine when Jacob heard that there was grain to be purchased in Egypt. Of course, he wanted his sons to go there. Who would not want to buy food when there was great hunger if they had money to purchase it?
You will recall that Joseph was one of Jacob’s twelve sons. Ten of the remaining eleven set out for Egypt but the youngest, Benjamin, was kept at home by Jacob because Jacob feared something would happen to him. (It is apparent that after Joseph was taken away and presumed to be dead, Jacob had transferred his affection to Benjamin; and of course, he wanted to keep him safe.)
When Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt and asked to buy grain, he recognized them but they did not recognize him. I can easily understand this. No one who had sold someone into slavery would expect to encounter them in the position second only to the Pharaoh of Egypt.
Joseph pretended his brothers were strangers and asked them where they came from. He then declared that they were spies who had come to see where Egypt was unprotected.
When I read this part, I wondered if Joseph was human enough to feel some vengeful excitement of having such control over his brothers, who had after all, sought to kill him many years before.
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