Genesis  ◦   Chapter 43

1The famine was severe throughout the region, 2and when they had consumed all the grain they brought back from Egypt and were faced with starvation, Jacob said to his sons, “Go back to Egypt and buy us more food.”

3But Judah reminded him, “The governor gave us a stern warning: ‘You will not enter my presence again unless your youngest brother is with you.’ 4If you will send Benjamin with us, then we will go back to Egypt and buy more food. 5But if you refuse to send him, we will not go, because the governor told us, ‘You will not enter my presence again unless your youngest brother is with you.’”

6Israel lamented, “Why have you burdened me like this? Why did you tell the man you had another brother? I wouldn’t be in this position if you didn’t tell him about Benjamin!”

7“The governor thought we were spies and questioned us closely,” they replied. “He asked us if our father was still alive and whether we had another brother. We gave honest answers to his questions to prove we were not spies. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother to stand before me’?”

8Then Judah implored Israel his father, “Send Benjamin with me and we will depart at once, so that you and our children won’t starve to death. 9I pledge my life to keep him safe. I take full and personal responsibility for his security. If I do not bring him back here safely to you, then I will carry the guilt for it forever. 10And if we hadn’t wasted all this time, we could have been there and back twice by now.”

11Forced by circumstances, their father Israel said to them, “If this is the only way to save our family, then do the following: Take some of the best products from our land as gifts for the governor – balm, honey, spices and myrrh, some pistachios, and almonds. 12Also, be sure to take double the silver with you, as you must return the silver that was put back into your bags. Perhaps it was a mistake on their part. 13Now take Benjamin and go back and meet with the governor at once. 14And may the Almighty Creator God impress the governor’s heart to know the truth and have goodwill toward you, so that he will let Simeon and Benjamin return with you. There is nothing more I can do: if I lose my children, then I lose my children.”

15So the brothers gathered the gifts, and took a double amount of silver and their youngest brother Benjamin. They then hurried to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16When Joseph saw that Benjamin was with them, he instructed the servant in charge of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

17The servant did as Joseph had instructed and took the brothers to Joseph’s house. 18When the brothers were taken to his house, they were filled with fear and afraid for their lives. They thought, “He’s brought us here because he thinks we didn’t pay the last time, or that we stole back the silver that we found in our bags. He is going to kill us or enslave us and take our donkeys as compensation.”

19So they approached Joseph’s servant at the entrance of the house and pleaded their case. 20“Sir, please listen to us,” they implored, “we came here the first time and bought food. 21But at our first stop on the way home we opened our bags and each one of us found in our sacks the silver we paid for the food. We have no idea how this happened, but here it is. We have brought it back to return it. 22We have also brought additional silver with us to buy more food this time. Please believe us – we have no idea how the silver got into our bags.”

23The servant reassured them, “All is well. You don’t need to be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure in your bags, for I am sure I received your payment.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24The servant took the brothers into Joseph’s house. He gave them water to wash their feet and provided feed for their donkeys. 25They had heard that they were to eat there, so they arranged their gifts to present them to Joseph when he arrived at noon.

26When Joseph came home, they brought their gifts into the house and presented them to him, and they bowed down on the ground before him. 27He asked if all was well with them, and then asked, “How is your elderly father you told me about? Is he still alive?”

28They answered, “Your humble servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down again, paying honor to Joseph.

29When Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” With kindness, he said to Benjamin, “May God pour his blessings upon you, my son.” 30Overcome with deep affection for his brother, and about to cry, Joseph hurried from the room and went to his private apartment and wept.

31After washing his face, he came back out, and keeping his emotions under control, said, “Serve the food.”

32They served Joseph at one table and his brothers at another. The Egyptians who ate with him ate at a table by themselves, because Egyptians would not eat with Hebrews (as that was offensive to them). 33The brothers had been seated at their table in order of their ages – from the firstborn to the youngest. When they realized how they were seated, they were amazed. 34When the food was served from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s, but no one became jealous of Benjamin; they were just happy to be together. So they ate and drank freely with him.