Genesis – Chapter 43

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 43


1 Now the famine in the land grew more severe.


So when they had used up all the rations they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, «Go back and procure us a little more food.»


But Judah replied: «The man strictly warned us, ‘You shall not appear in my presence unless your brother is with you.’


If you are willing to let our brother go with us, we will go down to procure food for you.


But if you are not willing, we will not go down, because the man told us, ‘You shall not appear in my presence unless your brother is with you.'»


Israel demanded, «Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man that you had another brother?»


They answered: «The man kept asking about ourselves and our family: ‘Is your father still living? Do you have another brother?’ We had to answer his questions. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?»


Then Judah urged his father Israel: «Let the boy go with me, that we may be off and on our way if you and we and our children are to keep from starving to death.


I myself will stand surety for him. You can hold me responsible for him. If I fail to bring him back, to set him in your presence, you can hold it against me forever.


Had we not dilly-dallied, we could have been there and back twice by now!»


Their father Israel then told them: «If it must be so, then do this: Put some of the land’s best products in your baggage and take them down to the man as gifts: some balm and honey, gum and resin, and pistachios and almonds.


Also take extra money along, for you must return the amount that was put back in the mouths of your bags; it may have been a mistake.


Take your brother, too, and be off on your way back to the man.


May God Almighty dispose the man to be merciful toward you, so that he may let your other brother go, as well as Benjamin. As for me, if I am to suffer bereavement, I shall suffer it.»


So the men got the gifts, took double the amount of money with them, and, accompanied by Benjamin, were off on their way down to Egypt to present themselves to Joseph.


When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he told his head steward, «Take these men into the house, and have an animal slaughtered and prepared, for they are to dine with me at noon.»


Doing as Joseph had ordered, the steward conducted the men to Joseph’s house.


But on being led to his house, they became apprehensive. «It must be,» they thought, «on account of the money put back in our bags the first time, that we are taken inside; they want to use it as a pretext to attack us and take our donkeys and seize us as slaves.»


So they went up to Joseph’s head steward and talked to him at the entrance of the house.


«If you please, sir,» they said, «we came down here once before to procure food.


But when we arrived at a night’s encampment and opened our bags, there was each man’s money in the mouth of his bag – our money in the full amount! We have now brought it back.


We have brought other money to procure food with. We do not know who put the first money in our bags.»


«Be at ease,» he replied; «you have no need to fear. Your God and the God of your father must have put treasures in your bags for you. As for your money, I received it.» With that, he led Simeon out to them.


The steward then brought the men inside Joseph’s house. He gave them water to bathe their feet, and got fodder for their donkeys.


Then they set out their gifts to await Joseph’s arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to dine there.


When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, while they bowed down before him to the ground.


After inquiring how they were, he asked them, «And how is your aged father, of whom you spoke? Is he still in good health?»


«Your servant our father is thriving and still in good health,» they said, as they bowed respectfully.


When Joseph’s eye fell on his full brother Benjamin, he asked, «Is this your youngest brother, of whom you told me?» Then he said to him, «May God be gracious to you, my boy!»


With that, Joseph had to hurry out, for he was so overcome with affection for his brother that he was on the verge of tears. He went into a private room and wept there.


After washing his face, he reappeared and, now in control of himself, gave the order, «Serve the meal.»


2 It was served separately to him, to the brothers, and to the Egyptians who partook of his board. (Egyptians may not eat with Hebrews; that is abhorrent to them.)


When they were seated by his directions according to their age, from the oldest to the youngest, they looked at one another in amazement;


3 and as portions were brought to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as large as anyone else’s. So they drank freely and made merry with him.

1 [1-34] This chapter and the following one are from the Yahwist source, in which Judah, not Reuben as in the Elohist source, volunteers to go surety for Benjamin.
2 [32] Separately to him: that Joseph did not eat with the other Egyptians was apparently a matter of rank.
3 [34] Five times as large as: probably an idiomatic expression for «much larger than.»