The Children's Bible
The Testing Of Joseph's Brothers
hen Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you stand looking at each other? I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us, that we may live and not die." So Joseph's ten brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's own brother, with his brothers, for he feared that some harm might come to him. So the sons of Jacob went with others to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
Now Joseph was the governor over Egypt; it was he who sold grain to all the people of the land. So Joseph's brothers came and bowed before him with their faces to the earth. When Joseph saw his brothers, he knew them; but he acted as a stranger toward them and spoke harshly to them and said, "Where do you come from?" They said, "From the land of Canaan to buy food." So Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not know him.
Joseph also remembered the dreams which he had had about them and said to them, "You spies! you have come to see how defenseless the land is." But they said to him, "No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants are not spies." But he again said to them, "No, you have come to see how defenseless the land is." They answered, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one father in the land of Canaan. The youngest is to-day with our father, and one is dead." Joseph said to them, "It is just as I said to you, 'You are spies.' By this you shall be tested: as sure as Pharaoh lives you shall not go away unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain in prison, that it may be proved whether you are telling the truth or not. Or else, as sure as Pharaoh lives, you are indeed spies." So he put them all into prison for three days.
Then Joseph said to them on the third day, "Do this and live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay in prison, but you go, carry grain for the needs of your households and bring your youngest brother to me. So you will prove that you have told the truth and you shall not die."
They did as Joseph commanded, but they said to one another, "We are indeed guilty because of the way we treated our brother, for when we saw his trouble and when he pleaded with us, we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come upon us." Reuben added, "Did I not say to you, 'Do not sin against the boy,' but you would not listen?"
They did not know, however, that Joseph understood them, for he had spoken to them through an interpreter. But he turned away from them and wept. Then he came back and spoke to them, and taking Simeon from among them, bound him before their eyes. Then Joseph gave orders to fill their vessels with grain and to put every man's money back in his sack and to give them food for the journey; and thus it was done to them. So they loaded their asses with their grain and went away.
When they came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened, saying, "The man who is master in that land spoke harshly to us and put us in prison as spies. We said to him, 'We are honest men; we are not spies; we are twelve brothers, sons of the same father; one is no longer living, and the youngest is to-day with our father in the land of Canaan.' But the man who is master in that land said to us, 'This is how I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me and take the grain to supply the needs of your households and go. Bring your youngest brother to me; then I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men; and I will give your brother back to you and you shall be free to go about in the land.'"
As they were emptying their sacks, they found that each man's purse with his money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw their purses and the money, they were afraid and they turned trembling to one another with the question, "What is this that God has done to us?" Jacob their father said to them, "You have robbed me of my children: Joseph is no longer living and Simeon is no longer here, and now you would take Benjamin also! All this trouble has come to me!" But Reuben said to his father, "You may put my two sons to death, if I do not bring him to you. Put him in my charge and I will bring him back to you." Then Jacob said, "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead and he only is left. If harm should come to him on the way by which you go, then you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
The famine was severe in the land; and when Joseph's brothers had eaten up the grain which they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, "Go again, buy us a little food." But Judah said to him, "The man plainly said to us: 'You shall not see me again unless your brother is with you.' If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food, but if you will not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, 'You shall not see me unless your brother is with you.'" Jacob said, "Why did you bring trouble upon me by telling the man you had another brother?" They replied, "The man asked all about us and our family, saying, 'Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' So we answered his questions as he asked them. How were we to know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down'?"
Then Judah said to Jacob, his father, "Send the lad with me, and we will go at once, that both we and you and our little ones may live and not die. I will be responsible for him; from me you may demand him. If I do not bring him to you and set him before you, let me bear the blame forever; for if we had not waited so long, surely we would by this time have come back the second time." So their father said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: take some of the fruits of the land in your jars and carry a present to the man, a little balsam, a little syrup, spices, ladanum, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take twice as much money with you, carrying back the money that was put in your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. Take also your brother and go again to the man. May God Almighty grant that the man may be merciful to you and free Benjamin and your other brother. But if I am robbed of my sons, I am bereaved indeed!" So the men took the present and twice as much money and Benjamin, and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.
When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Bring the men into the house, kill animals, and prepare the meal, for these men will dine with me at noon." The steward did as Joseph ordered, and brought the men into Joseph's house. But the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph's house, and they said, "We are being brought in on account of the money that was put in our grain sacks at our first visit, that he may accuse us and fall upon us and take us as slaves, together with our asses."
So when they came near to Joseph's steward, they spoke to him at the door of the house and said, "Oh, my lord, we came down the first time only to buy food; but when we reached home, we opened our sacks and found that each man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in its full weight; and we have brought it back with us. We have brought down with us more money with which to buy food. We do not know who put our money into our sacks." He replied, "Peace be to you, fear not; your God and the God of your father has given you the treasure in your sacks; your money came to me."
Then he brought Simeon out to them. The steward also took the men to Joseph's house and gave them water with which to wash their feet, and he gave their asses fodder. Then they made ready the present for Joseph, when he should come at noon, for they had heard that they were to eat there.
When Joseph came into the house, they gave him the present which they had brought and bowed down low before him. He asked them about their welfare and said, "Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still living?" They replied, "Your servant, our father, is well; he is still alive." Then they bowed their heads and knelt down before him.
When Joseph looked up and saw Benjamin his brother, his own mother's son, he said, "Is this your youngest brother of whom you spoke to me?" And he added, "God be gracious to you, my son." Then because of his longing for his brother he sought a place in which to weep. So he went into his room and wept there.
Then he bathed his face and came out and said, "Bring on the food." So they brought food for him by himself and for them by themselves and for the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians would not eat with the Hebrews, for to do so was hateful to them. Joseph's brothers were seated before him, the eldest first, as was his right as the oldest, and the youngest last, and the men looked at each other in astonishment. Then Joseph had portions served to them from the food before him. But Benjamin's portions were five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.
Then he gave this command to the steward of his household: "Fill the men's grain sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest and the money too that he paid for his grain." And the steward did as Joseph commanded.
As soon as the morning light appeared, the men were sent away with their asses. When they had gone out of the city, but were not yet far away, Joseph commanded his steward, "Follow after the men and when you overtake them, say to them, 'Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup, that from which my master drinks? You have done wrong in so doing.'"
So the steward overtook them and said these words to them. They said to him, "Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! Remember that we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money which we found in our sacks. Why then should we steal silver or gold from your master's house? Let that one of your servants with whom it is found die, and we will be my lord's slaves." He said, "Let it now be as you have said: he with whom it is found shall be my slave; but you shall be innocent." Then each one quickly took down his sack and opened it. The steward searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his ass and returned to the city.