This chapter is all about Joseph’s brothers going to Egypt. The brothers aren’t that bright because they don’t even recognize their brother, Joseph. Joseph’s brothers don’t realize who Joseph is until chapter 45. Joseph kinda gets a bit of “revenge” on his brothers in this chapter. But it ends up, at the end of the story arc, that the family finally gets back together! I hope you enjoy the read!
When Jacob/Israel learned that there was food in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do y’all just keep looking at each other?! I’ve heard that there’s food in Egypt. Go there & buy some. So that we can live & not die.” Then 10 of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy food. But Jacob/Israel didn’t send Benjamin because Jacob was afraid that something might happen to him. (So the 10 brothers that went to Egypt, plus Joseph & Benjamin make 12. As in the 12 tribes of Israel.)
So Israel/Jacob’s sons were among those who went to buy food from Egypt. Because the famine had came to Canaan too. Now Joseph was the “governor” of Egypt, the one who sold the food to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed to him with their faces to the ground. (Thus fulfilling his interpretation of his dream about his brothers, from chapter 37.)
As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he knew who they were. But he pretended he didn’t know them & behaved harshly towards them. Joseph asks them where they came from. They replied that they were from Canaan & that they’d come to buy food. Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him. Joseph remembered his dreams & told his brothers that they were spies.
Joseph’s brothers told Joseph that they weren’t spies, that they’d only come to buy food. Joseph again said they were spies. The brothers tell Joseph that they were brothers of one man & that they were from Canaan. They also told Joseph that the youngest brother was with their dad, & one was dead. Joseph still says that they’re spies. The only was Joseph will believe them is if they bring the youngest brother to him & they’ll be able to leave Egypt. Joseph tells them to send one to go get their youngest brother, & that they rest will remain in prison until the youngest brother returns. (In this case, it’s Benjamin. Even though it’s really Joseph. They all are still going with the story that Joseph’s dead. Even though at least 9 of them know better.) Joseph put them in custody for 3 days.
On the 3rd day, Joseph says to his brothers (who still don’t recognize him), “If you’re honest men, let 1 of you brothers stay here in prison. While the rest of you go & feed your starving families. But you MUST bring the youngest brother to me.” They proceed doing this course of action.
The brothers thought that this was karma getting them back. Reuben threw out a “I told you so!” The brothers were talking in front of Joseph. Verse 23 says “…that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.” (Why would he need an interpreter? He grew up with these men, he should know the language of his brothers & father. Right?)
Joseph turned away from them & begins to weep. He turned back around, speaking again to them. He had Simeon take from them, & arrested before their eyes. Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with food, to put each man’s silver back in his sack. Plus giving them provisions for the journey. After this was done, they left.
At their camp for the night, they opened their sacks & saw the silver. The brother’s hearts sank & they all turned to each other, trembling. When they got back to Canaan, they told Jacob/Israel everything that had happened. As they were unpacking their bags, they all had their silver back in their pouches. Jacob/Israel says to the remaining brothers that Joseph & Simeon is no more & now they wanted to take Benjamin. Jacob says “Hell no!” (Pretty much!)
Reuben says to Jacob/Israel that his dad that Jacob can put his sons to death if he doesn’t bring Benjamin back home. Jacob/Israel still says no because since Joseph is “dead,” Benjamin is the only son left of Rachel (who was the love of Jacob’s life, let’s be honest.). And that if something was to happen to Benjamin, that he’d to Sheol in grief.