The Bible Slam: Genesis Chapter 42

The famine is very bad in Canaan, where Joseph's father Jacob (aka Israel) and older brothers live.   Jacob tells his sons that they should travel to Egypt and buy some of the grain that he heard was for sale there.   Per his instructions, they do not take the youngest son, Benjamin, because Jacob is afraid something will happen to him and that's he'd disappear just like Joseph.

Previously, Joseph's older brothers had tossed him into a well because they were sick of their father's favoritism toward him and were weary of listening to Joseph's dreams about how they will bow down to him.   They had told their dad that Joseph had apparently been killed by wild animals.

In Egypt, Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers but they don't recognize him.   He speaks gruffly through an interpreter and pretends that he doesn't know who they are. They reveal that their elderly father is still alive and that there is a younger brother, Benjamin, who is with the father.

Joseph remembers his dreams about the brothers bowing to him and decides that he will make his brothers squirm.

Accusing his ten brothers of being spies from Canaan, Joseph imprisons them for three days, and then offers them a test of trustworthiness.   He holds his older brother Simeon captive and tells the others that if they are not spies, they will return with Benjamin.   If they do so, Simeon will be freed and they would be able to trade in Egypt.   Before they leave, he hides the money that they had paid for the gain in their bags.

Along the way home, the brothers discover the money and are afraid that they are being set up as spies.   They tell their father what happened and he refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt.   To try to change his dad's mind, Reuben offers to have his own two sons killed if he does not bring Simeon and Benjamin back from the next trip to Egypt.

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Discussion Points.

After what his brothers put him through by dumping him down a well, you can't really blame Joseph for wanting to get back at them.   However, it seems he is not considering the pain he is causing to his elderly father, who had favored him.

Concerning Reuben's promise, it seems a bit brutal to have his two boys killed if Simeon and Benjamin are not returned.   Perhaps he said this to prove his sincerity (in a warped kind of way) and did not intend to through with his promise.

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