The Kraig Josiah Rice
Devotional Bible Commentary on Genesis

Genesis chapter 42

written by
Kraig J. Rice
www.7-star-admiral.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Clicking on these links will move you down this web page)
Genesis chapter forty two
 Chapter 42 The brothers of Joseph go to Egypt
 Gen. 42:1 - 21 God's Word to you and me is sure
 You and I will see our loved one(s) again
 Has your conscience ever bothered you?
 Gen. 42:22 - 25 Joseph exercised forgiveness
 Gen. 42:26 - 38 Let us show grace and mercy
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A devotional commentary is different from an exegetical commentary. In a devotional commentary like this one I can give the application of a verse rather than just the interpretation of a verse.






Genesis Chapter 42
The brothers of Joseph go to Egypt to get food

"Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, why do ye look one upon another? 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. And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, lest peradventure mischief befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 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. 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. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. 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. And they said unto him, nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. And he said unto them, nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 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. And Joseph said unto them, that is it that I spake unto you, saying, ye are spies: hereby ye shall be proved: by the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. 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. And he put them all together into ward three days. And Joseph said unto them the third day, this do, and live; for I fear God: 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: but bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so. 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"
(Genesis 42:1-21).

God's prophecy to Joseph came true (God's Word to you and me is sure):
As Joseph's brothers bowed themselves before him in Egypt, Joseph remembered the dream prophecy of his youth that God had given him: "...and he said unto them, hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words"
(Genesis 37:6-8).

How many years had passed since Joseph last saw his brothers? It was at least 20 years. How did I get that number? Joseph spent 13 years in Egypt before he met Pharaoh. Then there were 7 years of plenty. That adds up to at least 20 years.

All of God's promises to Joseph were fulfilled. So, what has God showed you and me? God has some wonderful prophecies and promises in His word that are sure to come true: "...because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation"
(Psalm 91:14-16). "But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, (insert your name), and He that formed thee, (insert your name), fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine. When thou passest through the (flood) waters, I will be with thee; and through the (dangerous) rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour"
(Isaiah 43:1b-3a).
And there are many more blessings in God's word for you and me.

  • Click here if you want to study more of God's promises


    Joseph saw Benjamin again (we will see our loved one(s) again):
    Why did Joseph speak roughly to his brothers and throw them in jail for three days? He tested his brothers to see what was in their hearts and minds. Joseph wanted to see if they were true to their word because he wanted to make sure he could count on them enough to bring Benjamin to him. Also, he was trying to get as much information as he could about his family without letting them know who he was. Joseph placed his brothers under much mental stress by putting them in jail with the possibility of their execution as spies. This stress would help strip away any hypocrisy and mental false fronts they might have been putting forward. Stress may also cause any emotionally unstable person to act in strange and erratic ways. Remember, that he had not seen them in about 20 years, so he wanted to observe them to see how this stress would affect them.

    Another reason he was testing them was because he had eventual plans to introduce them to the Pharaoh of Egypt. Before he did this, he needed to cull out any violent and unrepentant murderers in his family so Pharaoh would not be threatened.

    Joseph's brothers were afraid because they did not know what Joseph was going to do. They did not have control of the situation and that gave them anxiety. Joseph was showing them, through this power play, that he was in control and not them. Though Joseph acted harshly, yet his brotherly affection remained. He showed great restraint and had penetrating insight.

    Joseph wanted to see his loved one (Benjamin) again and he eventually did see him. Likewise, you may have lost a loved one in death and you want to see that person again. Take courage, you may eventually see that person again in Heaven. Jesus said: "I AM the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live"
    (John 11:25).


    Joseph's brothers felt guilty (has your conscience ever bothered you?):
    If you have ever done anything wrong then your conscience has probably bothered you. That is a natural and normal way of God showing you that you have sinned against Him- and that you need to take corrective action. Paul the Apostle taught that one's conscience can accuse one of sinful behavior. However, if one persists in continual sinful behavior, one's conscience can become hardened and cease to function correctly. In that case, one's conscience can then excuse one's sinful behavior. Paul the Apostle stated it this way: "...their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another"
    (Romans 2:15). And in another place he wrote: "...having their conscience seared with a hot iron"
    (1 Timothy 4:2). Jesus indicated that any person traveling on the spiritual reprobate road is headed for total spiritual darkness and eternal damnation
    "...because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it"
    (Matthew 7:14).

    Eventually, every sin and every secret will be revealed. There can be a staggering amount of evil and wickedness that can hide in the human heart. "...ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out"
    (Numbers 32:23).
    "Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known"
    (Matthew 10:26; Luke 12:2).
    In other words, there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed. No secret lifestyle will be kept a secret forever. No dirty deed or activity of evil will stay concealed forever. Because of God's righteousness, He will allow these things to be revealed in due time. There is no such thing as secret sin because God knows everything. The brothers of Joseph felt guilty- they had a conspiracy of silence. They knew the pain they inflicted on their brother and on their father. How did they eventually tell Jacob the truth?

    I am convinced that Joseph had prayed for his brothers for many years. The Lord seemed to be convicting each of them for their sin of betrayal against Joseph. Joseph wanted each of his brothers to repent of his sins and invite the Lord into his heart. When you and I sin, let's not harden our heart and conscience against God. Let's acknowledge and confess our sin, repent, and live a holy life that is pleasing to God
    (1 John 1:9).


    "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. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter. 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"
    (Genesis 42:22-25).

    Joseph exercised forgiveness, patience, and toleration
    (however Simeon was jailed a second time
    ):
    Joseph's brothers thought that what was happening to them was a punishment from God to them for what they did to Joseph many years earlier. Why did they think that? Because they felt guilty and because they knew that every sin has a consequence or more. Were they sorry for what they had done to Joseph? Reuben had tried to do the right thing then and Reuben was trying to do the right thing at their present time.

    Simeon, an unstable trouble maker, might have been a brother who was unrepentant as he stood before Joseph. Joseph knew what Simeon was saying in Hebrew. Simeon might have been saying: "I am glad for what I did to Joseph years before. I am not going to go along with the rest of you. I am going to get a sword and kill these Egyptians". He might have been angry, rebellious, unteachable, and unruly. There seems to be one in every large crowd. Joseph exercised much patience, toleration, and forgiveness in regards to his brothers. But, Joseph decided to "let Simeon cool his heels" (place him in jail) for three days, along with his other brothers, in order to make him and the others conform to Joseph's will. Maybe Simeon complained the most or was the loudest. There is an old saying: "the squeaky wheel gets the grease". But, in his case, he got sent back to jail a second time. Someone else came up with a similar saying: "the squeaky wheel gets the axe". Sometimes, God has to get our willful cooperation before He can carry out His plan for our life.

    One time there was an old stubborn mule who had a will of his own. A young boy went to the mule and tried to get it to move to plow his field but the mule refused to move. The old farmer, who owned the mule, had a wood board that had a sharp nail sticking through it. The farmer picked up the board and showed it to the mule. The mule put his ears back and began to move. The boy was able to get his entire field plowed and asked the farmer why that board did the trick with the mule. The farmer laughed and said: "I believe in applying the board of education to the seat of learning and the mule knows that!"

    Let us discuss Simeon a little more. What did Simeon do while Joseph was observing him for three days in jail? We are not told, however, he might have been screaming, cussing, threatening to kill his jailer, throwing his food back at the jailer, or acting some other way that brought him into disfavor with the Egyptians.

    Why did Joseph humiliate Simeon by having him tied up in front of his brothers? My guess is that it was Simeon who humiliated Joseph twenty years earlier by tying him up so he could be sold by Judah to the slave traders. I imagine that Simeon had a few words of hatred and violence to tell Joseph while he tied him up and stripped him of his cherished coat of many colors. The memory of those words and actions may have replayed over and over in Joseph's mind for twenty years.

    Simeon might have been the one who wanted to murder Joseph twenty years earlier. Why? Because Simeon was the angry one. In my opinion, a consistently angry person, many times, will have a criminal past that he or she is trying to conceal. Simeon helped murder the men of Shalem City- he was a killer at heart, so it is logical to accuse him of the attempted murder of Joseph. That could be the reason why Joseph had him put into prison
    (Genesis 42:24). Joseph gave him a criminal record there at that time. Later, Simeon was probably put on probation in Egypt and placed under surveillance there for the rest of his natural life. He was warned that he would be executed if he ever committed any murder in Egypt.

    Simeon was held in jail as surety (a guarantee) that Benjamin would be delivered. And if Benjamin was delayed in coming, then Simeon would spend more time in jail. Did Joseph make his imprisonment as easy as possible? I doubt if Simeon was fed bread and water.

    Where is the line drawn between vengeance and justice? I will let you decide that answer for yourself. Joseph was faced with a choice- should he forgive his brothers or should he execute vengeance on them? Joseph acted like Jesus- Joseph was a very Christ-like person. Joseph made the right choice- he forgave his brothers. There is a message here for you and me. Jesus stated: "...for if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"
    (Matthew 6:14-15).
    "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, "I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven"
    (Matthew 18:21-22).


    "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. And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence. 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. 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? And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying, the man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. And we said unto him, we are true men; we are no spies: 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" 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: 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 traffic in the land. 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. 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. 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. 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"
    (Genesis 42:26-38).

    Joseph blessed his family with food and money (let us show grace and mercy):
    Joseph's brothers found their full money sacks in the mouths of their grain sacks. Instead of rejoicing, they were fearful: "...and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, what is this that God hath done unto us?" So many times God gets blamed for the actions of others. Most of the time He gets blamed for the actions of Satan but in this particular incident, He got blamed for the actions of Joseph. Why? Because Joseph's brothers were thinking negative. When one thinks negative thoughts, it is hard to think positive thoughts. I knew a woman one time who only thought negative thoughts about herself. When I praised her for doing something wonderful, she could not accept the praise. It takes some training to learn how to think positive thoughts, rather than negative thoughts, and it takes some training on how to accept and extend genuine praise.

    Joseph was a giver. He loved his family and found a means to bless them. He put their money back in their food sacks. Why did he do that? It was intended as encouragement and secret good will. I think it is wonderful when a true Christian believer can bless a needy person. That way, God is more in line to get the credit for it. Let us show grace and mercy to those needy individuals in our sphere of influence. Our Lord said: "...verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me"
    (Matthew 25:40).



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