The Second Journey to Egypt

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

3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned2 us, ‘You will not see my face3 unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you send4 our brother with us, we’ll go down and buy food for you. 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.’

6 Israel said, “Why did you bring this trouble5 on me by telling6 the man you had one more brother?

7 They replied, “The man questioned us7 thoroughly8 about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’9 So we answered him in this way.10 How could we possibly know11 that he would say,12Bring your brother down?

8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me and we will go immediately.13 Then we will live14 and not die – we and you and our little ones. 9 I myself pledge security15 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.16 10 But if we had not delayed, we could have traveled there and back17 twice by now!

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. 12 Take double the money with you;18 you must take back19 the money that was returned in the mouths of your sacks – perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take your brother too, and go right away20 to the man.21 14 May the sovereign God22 grant you mercy before the man so that he may release23 your other brother24 and Benjamin! As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.”25

15 So the men took these gifts, and they took double the money with them, along with Benjamin. Then they hurried down to Egypt26 and stood before Joseph. 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.” 17 The man did just as Joseph said; he27 brought the men into Joseph’s house.28

18 But the men were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house. They said, “We are being brought in because of29 the money that was returned in our sacks last time.30 He wants to capture us,31 make us slaves, and take32 our donkeys! 19 So they approached the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 They said, “My lord, we did indeed come down33 the first time34 to buy food. 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 amount35in the mouth of his sack. So we have returned it.36 22 We have brought additional money with us to buy food. We do not know who put the money in our sacks!

23Everything is fine,”37 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.38 I had your money.”39 Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The servant in charge40 brought the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he gave food to their donkeys. 25 They got their gifts ready for Joseph’s arrival41 at noon, for they had heard42 that they were to have a meal43 there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside,44 and they bowed down to the ground before him. 27 He asked them how they were doing.45 Then he said, “Is your aging father well, the one you spoke about? Is he still alive? 28 Your servant our father is well,” they replied. “He is still alive.” They bowed down in humility.46

29 When Joseph looked up47 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.”48 30 Joseph hurried out, for he was overcome by affection for his brother49 and was at the point of tears.50 So he went to his room and wept there.

31 Then he washed his face and came out. With composure he said,51Set out the food.” 32 They set a place for him, a separate place for his brothers,52 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 disgusting53 to do so.)54 33 They sat before him, arranged by order of birth, beginning with the firstborn and ending with the youngest.55 The men looked at each other in astonishment.56 34 He gave them portions of the food set before him,57 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.58

143:1tn The disjunctive clause gives supplemental information that is important to the storyline. 243:3tn 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. 343:3tn The idiom “see my face” means “have an audience with me.” 443:4tn Heb “if there is you sending,” that is, “if you send.” 543:6tn The verb may even have a moral connotation here, “Why did you do evil to me?” 643:6tn The infinitive construct here explains how they brought trouble on Jacob. 743:7tn The word “us” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. 843:7tn The infinitive absolute with the perfect verbal form emphasizes that Joseph questioned them thoroughly. 943:7sn 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. 1043:7tn Heb “and we told to him according to these words.” 1143:7tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the imperfect verbal form, which here is a historic future (that is, future from the perspective of a past time). 1243:7tn Once again the imperfect verbal form is used as a historic future (that is, future from the perspective of past time). 1343:8tn 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.” 1443:8tn After the preceding cohortatives, the prefixed verbal form (either imperfect or cohortative) with the prefixed conjunction here indicates purpose or result. 1543:9tn 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. 1643:9sn 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. 1743:10tn Heb “we could have returned.” 1843:12tn Heb “in your hand.” 1943:12tn Heb “take back in your hand.” The imperfect verbal form probably has an injunctive or obligatory force here, since Jacob is instructing his sons. 2043:13tn Heb “arise, return,” meaning “get up and go back,” or “go back immediately.” 2143:13sn 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). 2243:14tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “sovereign God” in Gen 17:1. 2343:14tn Heb “release to you.” After the jussive this perfect verbal form with prefixed vav (ו) probably indicates logical consequence, as well as temporal sequence. 2443:14sn 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). 2543:14tn 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. 2643:15tn Heb “they arose and went down to Egypt.” The first verb has an adverbial function and emphasizes that they departed right away. 2743:17tn Heb “the man.” This has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun “he” for stylistic reasons. 2843:17sn This verse is a summary statement. The next verses delineate intermediate steps (see v. 24) in the process. 2943:18tn Heb “over the matter of.” 3043:18tn Heb “in the beginning,” that is, at the end of their first visit. 3143:18tn 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. 3243:18tn The word “take” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. 3343:20tn The infinitive absolute is used for emphasis before the finite verbal form. 3443:20tn Heb “in the beginning” (see the note on the phrase “last time” in v. 18). 3543:21tn Heb “in its weight.” 3643:21tn Heb “brought it back in our hand.” 3743:23tn 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. 3843:23sn 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. 3943:23tn Heb “your money came to me.” 4043:24tn Heb “the man.” 4143:25tn The construction uses the infinitive construct after the preposition, followed by the subjective genitive. 4243:25tn The action precedes the action of preparing the gift, and so must be translated as past perfect. 4343:25tn Heb “eat bread.” The imperfect verbal form is used here as a historic future (future from the perspective of the past). 4443:26tn Heb “into the house.” 4543:27tn Heb “concerning peace.” 4643:28tn Heb “and they bowed low and they bowed down.” The use of synonyms here emphasizes the brothers’ humility. 4743:29tn Heb “and he lifted his eyes.” The referent of “he” (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 4843:29sn Joseph’s language here becomes warmer and more personal, culminating in calling Benjamin my son. 4943:30tn 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. 5043:30tn Heb “and he sought to weep.” 5143:31tn Heb “and he controlled himself and said.” 5243:32tn Heb “them”; the referent (Joseph’s brothers) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 5343:32tn 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. 5443:32tn 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 That the Egyptians found eating with foreigners disgusting is well-attested in extra-biblical literature by writers like Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo. 5543:33tn Heb “the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth.” 5643:33sn 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. 5743:34tn Heb “and he lifted up portions from before his face to them.” 5843:34tn 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.