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Genesis 42 Psychological Approach to Bible Study: Joseph and his Brothers

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CHAPTER 42 Jan. 26 
Jacob’s Sons Meet Joseph in Egypt 
Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, Why do you look at one another? 2He said, Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy for us from there, so that we may live, and not die. 3Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4But Jacob didn’t send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers; for he said, Lest perhaps harm happen to him. 5The sons of Israel came to buy among those who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6Joseph was the governor over the land. It was he who sold to all the people of the land. Joseph’s brothers came, and bowed themselves down to him with their faces to the earth. 7Joseph saw his brothers, and he recognized them, but acted like a stranger to them, and spoke roughly with them. He said to them, Where did you come from? They said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. 8Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. 9Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed about them, and said to them, You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land. 10They said to him, No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food. 11We are all one man’s sons; we are honest men. Your servants are not spies. 12He said to them, No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land! 13They said, We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more. 14Joseph said to them, It is like I told you, saying, ‘You are spies!’ 15By this you shall be tested. By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go out from here, unless your youngest brother comes here. 16Send one of you, and let him get your brother, and you shall be bound, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you, or else by the life of Pharaoh surely you are spies. 17He put them all together into custody for three days. 18Joseph said to them the third day, Do this, and live, for I fear God. 19If you are honest men, then let one of your brothers be bound in your prison; but you go, carry grain for the famine of your houses. 20Bring your youngest brother to me; so will your words be verified, and you won’t die. They did so. 21They said one to another, We are certainly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he begged us, and we wouldn’t listen. Therefore this distress has come upon us. 22Reuben answered them, saying, Didn’t I tell you, saying, ‘Don’t sin against the child’, and you wouldn’t listen? Therefore also, behold, his blood is required. 23They didn’t know that Joseph understood them; for there was an interpreter between them. 24He turned himself away from them, and wept. Then he returned to them, and spoke to them, and took Simeon from among them, and bound him before their eyes. 25Then Joseph gave a command to fill their bags with grain, and to restore each man’s money into his sack, and to give them food for the way. So it was done to them.
Jacob’s Sons Return to Canaan 
26They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed from there. 27As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey food in the lodging place, he saw his money. Behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28He said to his brothers, My money is restored! Behold, it is in my sack! Their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling one to another, saying, What is this that God has done to us? 29They came to Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly with us, and took us for spies of the country. 31We said to him, ‘We are honest men. We are no spies. 32We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan’. 33The man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your houses, and go your way. 34Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. So I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land’. 35It happened as they emptied their sacks, that behold, each man’s bundle of money was in his sack. When they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. 36Jacob, their father, said to them, You have bereaved me of my children! Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin away. All these things are against me. 37Reuben spoke to his father, saying, Kill my two sons, if I don’t bring him to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him to you again. 38He said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he only is left. If harm happens to him along the way in which you go, then you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.


42:17 The brothers suffer in prison for three days to prod their conscience about Joseph- typical of a three year tribulation of Israel in the last days to bring them to accept Christ? We get the impression that Joseph changed his plans for them several times; he recalled them when already on their journey etc. - Does this show that he hastened the day of revelation to them from purely emotional considerations- and will the Lord do the same with His Israel?
42:21 “The anguish of his soul” and pleas for deliverance were ignored by the brothers- typical of Christ’s ‘travail of soul’ (Is. 53:12), ignored by Israel (Is. 53:1-4).
42:24 Joseph wept (this is recorded seven times in the record). He must have found it hard to prolong the agony of not revealing himself to them immediately; he was motivated by a desire to make them see the enormity of their sin, for their spiritual good rather than his own vindication- Joseph as a type of Christ makes his story prophetic. This is a stunningly deep prophecy of the intensity of Christ's feelings, as the mighty Son of God, towards His wayward people in the last days. He was a man of sorrow in his mortal life, and will still have an element of this characteristic in the future.