The food that Jacob's sons had brought from Egypt did not last long, for Jacob's family was large. Along with his family, there were servants and men who cared for Jacob's flocks. So around Jacob's tent was a camp of other tents and an army of people.
Judah, Jacob's son, the man who years before had urged his brothers to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites , said to his father, "It is of no use for us to go to Egypt unless we take Benjamin with us. The man who rules in that land told us we would not see his face unless our youngest brother was with us."
Jacob asked, "Why did you tell the man that you had a brother? You did me great harm when you told him."
"We had to tell him," answered the sons. "He kept asking us about our family. He wanted to know if our father was living, and if we had any more brothers. We had no idea that he would want us to bring our brother to see him."
Judah said, "Father, send Benjamin with me. I promise to take care of him and bring him safely home. If he does not come back, let me bear the blame forever. He must go or we will all die of starvation."
Reluctantly, Jacob consented. "If he must go, then he must. But take a present to the man, some of the choicest fruits of the land, some spices, perfumes, nuts, and almonds. And take twice as much money, besides the money that was in your sacks. Perhaps that was a mistake, when the money was given back to you. Take your brother Benjamin. May the Lord God make the man kind to you, so that he will set Simeon free, and let you bring Benjamin back. But if it is God's will that I lose my children, I cannot help it."
So ten brothers of Joseph went down a second time to Egypt. They came to Joseph's office, the place where he sold grain to the people. They stood before their brother and bowed as before. Joseph saw that Benjamin was with them, and he said to his steward, the man who was over his house, "Make ready a dinner, for all these men shall dine with me today."
When Joseph's brothers found that they were taken into Joseph's house, they were filled with fear. They said to each other, "We have been taken here on account of the money in our sacks. They will say that we have stolen it, and then they will sell us all for slaves."
But Joseph's steward treated the men kindly, and when they spoke of the money in their sacks, he would not take it. He said, "Never fear. Your God must have sent you this as a gift. I had your money."
The steward received the men into Joseph's house, and washed their feet, according to the custom of the land. At noon, Joseph came in to meet them. They brought him the present from their father, and again they bowed before him, with their faces on the ground.
Joseph asked them if they were well, and said, "Is your father still living? Is he well?"
They answered, "Our father is living and well." And again, they bowed to Joseph.
Joseph look at his younger brother Benjamin, the child of his own mother, Rachel. He said, "Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious unto you, my son."
Joseph's heart was so full that he could not keep back the tears. He quickly went to his own room and wept there. Then he washed his face, came out again, and ordered the table to be set for dinner. They set Joseph's table for himself as the ruler, and another table for his Egyptian officers, and another for the eleven men from Canaan. All eleven brothers were there now because Joseph had brought Simeon out of the prison, and had given him a place with his brothers.
Joseph himself arranged the order of the seats for his brothers, the oldest at the head. All were in order of age down to the youngest. The men wondered at this. How could he possibly know the order of their ages?
Joseph sent dishes from his table to his brothers. He gave to Benjamin five times as much as to the others. Perhaps he wished to see whether they were as jealous of Benjamin as they had been of him.
After dinner, Joseph said to his steward, "Fill the men's sacks with grain, as much as they can carry. Put each man's money in his sack. And put my silver cup in the sack of the youngest, with his money."
The steward did as Joseph had said. Early in the morning the brothers started to go home. A little while afterward, Joseph said to his steward, "Quick! Follow after the men from Canaan and say, "Why have you wronged me, after I had treated you kindly? You have stolen my master's silver cup, out of which he drinks."
The steward followed the men, and overtook them, and charged them with stealing. They said to him, "Why should you talk to us in this manner? We have stolen nothing. We even brought back to you the money that we found in our sacks. So is it likely that we would steal from your lord his silver or gold? You may search us. If you find your master's cup on any of us, let him die, and sell the rest of us as slaves."
Then they took down the sacks from the donkeys, oopened them, and in each man's sack was his money, for the second time. But when they came to Benjamin's sack, there was the ruler's silver cup! Overcome with grief, they tied up their bags again, and laid them on the donkeys, and returned to Joseph's palace.
Joseph was waiting for them. He demanded, "What wicked thing is this that you have done? Didn't you know that I would surely find out your deeds?"
Judah answered him, "Oh my lord, what can we say? God has punished us for our sins, and now we must all be slaves, but us that are older, and the youngest in whose sack the cup was found."
"No!" shouted Joseph. "Only one of you is guilty, the one who has taken away my cup. I will hold him as a slave, and the rest of you can go home to your father."
Then Judah, the very man who had urged his brothers to sell Joseph as a slave, came forward, fell at Joseph's feet, and pleaded with him to let Benjamin go. He told again the whole story, how Benjamin was the one whom his father loved the most of allhis children, now that his brother was lost.
Judah said, "I promised to bear the blame, if this boy was not brought home in safety. If he does not go back, it will kill our poor old father, who has seen much trouble. Please let my youngest brother go home to his father, and I will stay here as a slave in his place!"
Joseph asked them to come near him so he could speak to them. They gathered close, wondering what he had to say.
Joseph explained, "I am Joseph. Is my father really alive?"
How frightened his brothers were when they heard these words, spoken in their own language by the ruler of Egypt. For the first time, they knew that this stern man, who had their lives in his hand, was their own brother whom they had wronged!
Joseph spoke again, "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But do not feel troubled because of what you did. For God sent me before you to save your lives. There have been already two years of need and famine, and there are to be five years more, when there shall neither be plowing of the fields nor harvest. It was not you who sent me here, but God. He sent me to save your lives. God has made me like a father to Pharaoh and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Now, go home, and bring down to my my father and all his family, for that is the only way to save their lives."
Then Joseph placed his arms around Benjamin's neck, and kissed him, and wept upon him. Benjamin wept on his neck. Joseph kissed all his brothers, to show them that he had fully forgiven them. After that, his brothers began to lose their fear of Joseph, and talked with him more freely.
Afterward Joseph sent his brothers home with good news, rich gifts, and abundant food. He sent also wagons in which Jacob and his wives and the little ones of his family might ride from Canaan down to Egypt. Joseph's brothers went home happier than they had been for many years.
1. Why did Jacob instruct his sons to go to Egypt again?
2. What did Judah say to this?
3. What was Jacob's reply?
4. What did his sons then say?
5. What did Judah say to his father?
6. What was his father's reply?
7. How did Joseph receive the brothers?
8. Who did Joseph ask about?
9. What was their answer?
10. What did Joseph say to Benjamin when he saw him?
11. In what order were they placed when they dined?
12. How was Benjamin treated differently at the table than the other brothers?
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