SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
42:1 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you looking at each other?” 2 He then said, “Look, I hear that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy grain for us so that we may live and not die.”
3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, “What if some accident happens to him?” 5 So Israel’s sons came to buy grain among the other travelers, for the famine was severe in the land of Canaan.
6 Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country. Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger to them and spoke to them harshly. He asked, “Where do you come from?” They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy grain for food.”
8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!”
10 But they exclaimed, “No, my lord! Your servants have come to buy grain for food! 11 We are all the sons of one man; we are honest men! Your servants are not spies.”
12 “No,” he insisted, “but you have come to see if our land is vulnerable.” 13 They replied, “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers. We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father at this time, and one is no longer alive.”
14 But Joseph told them, “It is just as I said to you: You are spies! 15 You will be tested in this way: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not depart from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 One of you must go and get your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison. In this way your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If not, then, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 He imprisoned them all for three days. 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live, for I fear God. 19 If you are honest men, leave one of your brothers confined here in prison while the rest of you go and take grain back for your hungry families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then your words will be verified and you will not die.” They did as he said.
21 They said to one another, “Surely we’re being punished because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen. That is why this distress has come on us!” 22 Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen? So now we must pay for shedding his blood!” 23 (Now they did not know that Joseph could understand them, for he was speaking through an interpreter.) 24 He turned away from them and wept. When he turned around and spoke to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and tied up before their eyes.
25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return each man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. His orders were carried out. 26 So they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27 When one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey at their resting place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money was returned! Here it is in my sack!” They were dismayed; they turned trembling to one another and said, “What in the world has God done to us?”
29 They returned to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan and told him all the things that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us and treated us as if we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies! 32 We are from a family of twelve brothers; we are the sons of one father. One is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father at this time in the land of Canaan.’
33 “Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for your hungry households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother back to me so I will know that you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give your brother back to you and you may move about freely in the land.’”
35 When they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bag of money in his sack! When they and their father saw the bags of money, they were afraid. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You are making me childless! Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone. And now you want to take Benjamin! Everything is against me.”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my care and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down there with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left. If an accident happens to him on the journey you have to make, then you will bring down my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.”
43:1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 When they finished eating the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Return, buy us a little more food.”
3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you send our brother with us, we’ll go down and buy food for you. 5 But if you will not send him, we won’t go down there because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’”
6 Israel said, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had one more brother?”
7 They replied, “The man questioned us thoroughly about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered him in this way. How could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”
8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me and we will go immediately. Then we will live and not die—we and you and our little ones. 9 I myself pledge security for him; you may hold me liable. If I do not bring him back to you and place him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 But if we had not delayed, we could have traveled there and back twice by now!”
11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and take a gift down to the man—a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachios and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you; you must take back the money that was returned in the mouths of your sacks—perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take your brother too, and go right away to the man. 14 May the Sovereign God grant you mercy before the man so that he may release your other brother and Benjamin! As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.”
15 So the men took these gifts, and they took double the money with them, along with Benjamin. Then they hurried down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant who was over his household, “Bring the men to the house. Slaughter an animal and prepare it, for the men will eat with me at noon.” 17 The man did just as Joseph said; he brought the men into Joseph’s house.
18 But the men were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house. They said, “We are being brought in because of the money that was returned in our sacks last time. He wants to capture us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys!” 19 So they approached the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 They said, “My lord, we did indeed come down the first time to buy food. 21 But when we came to the place where we spent the night, we opened our sacks and each of us found his money—the full amount—in the mouth of his sack. So we have returned it. 22 We have brought additional money with us to buy food. We do not know who put the money in our sacks!”
23 “Everything is fine,” the man in charge of Joseph’s household told them. “Don’t be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks. I had your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.
24 The servant in charge brought the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he gave food to their donkeys. 25 They got their gifts ready for Joseph’s arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to have a meal there.
26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, and they bowed down to the ground before him. 27 He asked them how they were doing. Then he said, “Is your aging father well, the one you spoke about? Is he still alive?” 28 “Your servant our father is well,” they replied. “He is still alive.” They bowed down in humility.
29 When Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, whom you told me about?” Then he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Joseph hurried out, for he was overcome by affection for his brother and was at the point of tears. So he went to his room and wept there.
31 Then he washed his face and came out. With composure he said, “Set out the food.” 32 They set a place for him, a separate place for his brothers, and another for the Egyptians who were eating with him. (The Egyptians are not able to eat with Hebrews, for the Egyptians think it is disgusting to do so.) 33 They sat before him, arranged by order of birth, beginning with the firstborn and ending with the youngest. The men looked at each other in astonishment. 34 He gave them portions of the food set before him, but the portion for Benjamin was five times greater than the portions for any of the others. They drank with Joseph until they all became drunk.
44:1 He instructed the servant who was over his household, “Fill the sacks of the men with as much food as they can carry and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 2 Then put my cup—the silver cup—in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” He did as Joseph instructed.
3 When morning came, the men and their donkeys were sent off. 4 They had not gone very far from the city when Joseph said to the servant who was over his household, “Pursue the men at once! When you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Doesn’t my master drink from this cup and use it for divination? You have done wrong!’”
6 When the man overtook them, he spoke these words to them. 7 They answered him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8 Look, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. Why then would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If one of us has it, he will die, and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”
10 He replied, “You have suggested your own punishment! The one who has it will become my slave, but the rest of you will go free.” 11 So each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the man searched. He began with the oldest and finished with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 13 They all tore their clothes! Then each man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.
14 So Judah and his brothers came back to Joseph’s house. He was still there, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What did you think you were doing? Don’t you know that a man like me can find out things like this by divination?”
16 Judah replied, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has exposed the sin of your servants! We are now my lord’s slaves, we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”
17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do this! The man in whose hand the cup was found will become my slave, but the rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
18 Then Judah approached him and said, “My lord, please allow your servant to speak a word with you. Please do not get angry with your servant, for you are just like Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 We said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young boy who was born when our father was old. The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’
21 “Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him.’ 22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves his father, his father will die.’ 23 But you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we returned to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ 26 But we replied, ‘We cannot go down there. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go, for we won’t be permitted to see the man’s face if our youngest brother is not with us.’
27 “Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife gave me two sons. 28 The first disappeared and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and an accident happens to him, then you will bring down my gray hair in tragedy to the grave.’
30 “So now, when I return to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us—his very life is bound up in his son’s life. 31 When he sees the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father in sorrow to the grave. 32 Indeed, your servant pledged security for the boy with my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame before my father all my life.’
33 “So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers. 34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”
45:1 Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept loudly; the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. 4 Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life! 6 For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Now go up to my father quickly and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay! 10 You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me—you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. 11 I will provide you with food there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor—you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”’ 12 You and my brother Benjamin can certainly see with your own eyes that I really am the one who speaks to you. 13 So tell my father about all my honor in Egypt and about everything you have seen. But bring my father down here quickly!”
14 Then he threw himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept over them. After this his brothers talked with him.