After seven years of bountiful crops, the seven years of famine began. Soon, people from Egypt and all over the world (countries around Egypt) began to be hungry and to purchase grain from the storehouses of Egypt. Pharaoh placed Joseph in charge of the sales.
Meanwhile, Jacob and his family in Canaan exhausted their food supply and heard about the Egyptian grain. Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. He was still protective of his youngest son, Benjamin and kept him home, “lest some calamity befall him.”
The following events are both sad and humorous. Joseph’s ten brothers came before him to make their purchases and BOWED THEMSELVES TO THE GROUND just as his dreams had prophesied. He recognized them, but they did not know him.
Speaking through an interpreter, Joseph accused his brothers of being spies against Egypt. They strongly declared their innocence as they spoke of their father and their other two brothers, the younger being with their father and, “one is no more.”
After keeping his brothers locked in prison for three days, Joseph released them with the stipulation that Simeon would remain in prison while they returned home and brought Benjamin to confirm their story that they were not spies.
Twenty plus years after they had sold their brother, Joseph’s brothers were still suffering from guilty consciences regarding their sin. Unaware that he could understand their native language, Reuben reminded them of how he had tried to prevent them from selling Joseph, “and you would not listen.” At that point Joseph was overcome with emotion and turned away from them and wept.
To further disturb and test his brothers, Joseph ordered that the money used to pay for the grain would be placed in the tops of their sacks. Upon finding the money, they were quite troubled as they feared that they would be accused of stealing the money.
After hearing the report from his sons, Jacob was distressed. “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.” With that said, he refused to allow his youngest son to leave.
With the passage of time, Jacob and his sons had eaten all of their food and it was time to buy more grain. After being reminded that they could not see the man (Joseph, the grain seller) without bringing their younger brother with them, Jacob reluctantly allowed Benjamin to accompany his brothers to Egypt. Judah, who had suggested selling Joseph to the traders many years earlier, accepted responsibility for his safety.
To further assure favor from the Egyptians, Jacob returned the money from the first trip along with money for the grain they were going to buy. He also sent a gift of some of the best produce that they had—including spices, honey and nuts.
Compounding their fears of reprisal, upon arrival in Egypt, Joseph ordered that they be taken to his house to dine at noon. They expected to be taken as slaves because of the money that had been returned in their sacks.
Joseph was overcome with emotion again when he saw his brother, Benjamin. He hurried out of their presence into his bedroom and wept. After composing himself, he washed his face and returning to them said, “Serve the bread.”
Following the meal, the test of Jacob’s sons continued. Joseph ordered the sacks to be filled as much as they could carry. He also ordered that their money again be placed in the mouth of their sacks AND that his silver cup would be placed in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack.
Soon after the brothers left the next morning for home, Joseph sent his steward to overtake them and confront them with, “Why have you repaid evil for good?”
When the silver cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, they were promptly returned to face Joseph again at his house. He proposed to send everyone back home except for Benjamin, who would become his slave because of his misdeed.
Judah, being responsible for Benjamin pled for his release because of his father’s love of his youngest son. He stated that his father would die of grief if Benjamin were not returned to him. Judah climaxed his appeal by offering himself as a slave instead of Benjamin.