Joseph – week 3, day 3


TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 42:1-5 (NIV*)

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.


Quote BeginMy sons. What am I to do with such sons? We’re on the verge of starvation here in Canaan, and they’re just sitting around looking at each other, each hoping that the other one will take some responsibility for fixing the situation. I am an old man, and I had high hopes that my sons would grow up to take care of me in my old age. Such dreams. I’ve heard that they still have grain for sale in Egypt, and I would go there myself, but… I’m an old man! I would have thought that my boys would have taken it upon themselves to find a way to get food for me, but I’ll just have to light a fire under them. Again. I’ll send a few of them off to Egypt to buy grain so that we don’t starve. Actually, I think I’ll send them all, and get some peace and quiet for a change. But no way am I sending Benjamin with them. They don’t have a good track record of keeping their youngest brothers alive. Benjamin stays safe here with me. I can’t lose him the way I lost Joseph. I’m an old man, and that might just kill me…Quote End
— Jacob


  • Why do you think the brothers were “looking at each other”?
  • This is a life and death situation (see verse 2). Why is it Jacob who comes up with a solution, and not the brothers?
  • Why do you think Jacob didn’t just send one or two of his sons to Egypt?
  • Why did Jacob not send Benjamin with the rest of his brothers?
  • If you were Benjamin, how do you think you might feel at being left behind?
  • How do you think you would have felt as one of the brothers entering the city in Egypt with all of the other people in need?


This passage contains foreshadowing of the Exodus: “Verse 5 seems to be set already in Egypt. It blends the brothers into a crowd of peoples who have made the journey for the same purpose, picking up on the theme of 41:57. The phrase ‘sons of Israel’ appears purposely ambiguous; it refers to Jacob, but also anticipates the Israel of the exodus. The journeys in and out of Egypt mirror later developments.” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. I (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1994, 626.

Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV, © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

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