King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 42

Jacob sends ten sons to buy corn. (1-6) Joseph’s treatment of his brethren. (7-20) Their remorse, Simeon detained. (21-24) The rest return with corn. (25-28) Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt. (29-38)

Genesis 42 Audio:

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Jacob sends ten sons to buy corn

1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?

2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.

4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Joseph’s treatment of his brethren

7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.

9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.

11 We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.

12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.

14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:

15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.

16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.

17 And he put them all together into ward three days.

18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:

19 If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:

20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

Their remorse, Simeon detained

21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.

23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

The rest return with corn

25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.

26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.

27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.

28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt

29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,

30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.

31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:

32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.

33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:

34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.

35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.

36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.

38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Careless. Heb. “gazing at one another,” like idle people.

Ver. 6. To him. Conformably to the prophetic dreams. C. xxxvii. 7. 9. M. — Joseph was like a prince or sultan, shallit, with sovereign authority. C.

Ver. 8. By them. Years and change of situation, had made such an alteration in him. God was pleased that Jacob should remain so long ignorant of his son’s fate, that, by sorrow, he might do penance, and purify himself from every stain; and that he might not attempt to redeem Joseph, whose slavery was to be the source of so much good to his family. M. — Joseph did not make himself known at first; in order to bring his brethren to a true sense of their duty, that they might obtain pardon for their sin. Thus pastors must sometimes treat their penitents with a degree of severity. S. Greg. hom. 22. Ezec. S. Aug. ser. 82. de Tem. W.

Ver. 9. You are spies. This he said by way of examining them, to see what they would answer. Ch. — Aquila translates “vagrants” going from place to place, as if to discover the weakest parts. Joseph was a person in authority. It was his duty to guard against invasion. He knew how his brethren had treated Sichem, and how they had behaved to himself; and though he might not suppose, that they had any evil design upon Egypt, yet he had a right to make them give an account of themselves. H. — He wished also to extort from them a true account respecting Jacob and Benjamin. M.

Ver. 15. Health. This oath implies, that he is willing that even Pharao, whom he so much revered, should perish, if he did not execute what he said: (H.) or, as Pharao is now in health, so true it is you should not all depart, till your youngest brother come. C.

Ver. 16. Or else by the health of Pharao you are spies. That is, if these things you say be proved false, you are to be held for spies for your lying, and shall be treated as such. Joseph dealt in this manner with his brethren, to bring them by means of affliction to a sense of their former sin, and a sincere repentance for it.

Ver. 18. God. I shall do nothing contrary to justice or good faith, as I know I have a superior in heaven, to whom I must give an account. M.

Ver. 21. We deserve. Conscience upbraids. “Punishment opens the mouth, which sin had shut.” S. Greg. M. — They had sold Joseph about 22 years before! C.

Ver. 22. His blood. Ruben supposed his brother was dead, (v. 13,) and judging that Jacob would not let Benjamin come, he thought they must all perish. H.

Ver. 23. Interpreter, to keep them at a greater distance. It does not appear that the sons of Jacob were ignorant of the language of the country. C.

Ver. 25. Simeon. If he had joined himself to Ruben and Juda, who seemed inclined to protect Joseph, they might easily have prevented the cruel act, by overawing their younger brothers. Hence he was most guilty. M. — Presence. That they might learn to condole with an afflicted brother.

Ver. 34. And you may, &c. Joseph had said, (v. 20,) and you may not die, which they thus interpret. H.

Ver. 35. Astonished. One had before made the discovery, v. 28. Now all find their purses among the corn, which renews their astonishment. C.

Ver. 36. Without. Through excess of grief, Jacob speaks with a degree of exaggeration; or he thought his children were now taken from him so fast, that he would soon have none left.

Ver. 37. Kill, &c. By this proposal, he meant to signify his utmost care and zeal to bring back young Benjamin safe to his father.

Ver. 38. Alone: the son of my beloved Rachel. H. — To hell. That is, to that place where the souls then remained, as above, chap. xxxvii. ver. 35. (Ch.) though with respect to his grey hairs, and body, it may signify the grave. H.