Genesis 42:1-2 “…Why do you look at one another…go down…and buy for us…”
The famine which Jacob saw in Pharaoh’s dreams has spread to other lands besides Egypt. Jacob and his family are beginning to suffer. Must have gotten down and depressed. Sounds like Jacob’s saying what are you doing just standing around, go down there and get us some grain. God could have provided for them in Canaan, but this was part of His plan which He had shown to Abraham. He removes Abraham’s descendants to Egypt to grow them into a nation while He gives the Canaanites plenty of time to repent of their ways. They don’t, and He uses the Israelites to judge them later.
4 “…Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin…”
He only had one son left from Rachel, the wife he truly loved. He wasn’t about to risk losing him.
5 “…among those who journeyed…”
Others were going down to Egypt as well.
8 “…Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him”
Being older, they probably hadn’t changed that much. Joseph had gone from being a teenager to a young adult. Plus he was probably dressed as an Egyptian with an Egyptian haircut. Also, they believed him dead so the idea of noticing any resemblance to their brother wouldn’t have entered their minds.
14 “…You are spies!”
Commentary goes into much discussion over this statement and relates what others say regarding it, that it was somehow a reflection on Joseph’s character. I don’t think it’s that complex. He has already shown that he is able to view circumstances as being controlled by God and thus has no problem letting go of past wrongs toward himself without retaliation or grudge. He needs a way and reason to continue communicating with his brothers without giving himself away too soon in order to find out the status of his father and Benjamin. His brothers have already provided much information. He wants to be sure they are telling the truth and gather more details. Can’t blame him. They weren’t exactly model citizens when they sold him.
19 “If you are honest men…go and carry grain for the famine of your houses”
There’s the tell. He wants to see if they have indeed changed. This also provides a way for him to get grain back to Canaan for his family while testing them.
24 “…he took Simeon…bound him…”
They hadn’t forgotten what they did to Joseph, and it has apparently been eating away at them over the years. Now they are facing adversity and see it as payment for their sins, signs of a guilty conscience. Commentary suggests the selection of Simeon may have been significant. Judah was the one to suggest that they sell Joseph. Perhaps Simeon showed the most hostility toward him and was more interested in killing him at the beginning. Selecting him as the brother to stay behind under house arrest would have fed their guilt and confirmed their fears they were paying for their actions.
35 “…each man’s bundle of money was in his sack…”
Not exactly sure what Joseph’s full intent was here. Perhaps just to further test their honesty.
36 “…All these things are against me”
Nothing but bad news. They got the grain, but Jacob has supposedly lost another son and his youngest is threatened. The situation seems terrible, but the truth is actually working for his betterment. Another reason we should trust God and not lose hope when things look bleak.
38 “…My son shall not go down with you…”
At this point, Jacob can’t handle dealing with the situation any longer. They have some grain so the urgency is gone temporarily. Simeon is missing, but that’s not enough to force Jacob into further action just yet. I feel like he’s saying he just can’t think about any of this anymore right now.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.