Jacob, seeing that there were supplies to be had in Egypt, said to his sons, 'Why do you keep staring at one another?
I hear', he said, 'that there are supplies in Egypt. Go down and procure some for us there, so that we may survive and not die.'
So ten of Joseph's brothers went down to procure grain in Egypt.
But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his brothers. 'Nothing must happen to him,' he thought.
Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to get supplies, there being famine in Canaan.
It was Joseph, as the man in authority over the country, who allocated the rations to the entire population. So Joseph's brothers went and bowed down before him, their faces touching the ground.
As soon as Joseph saw his brothers he recognised them. But he did not make himself known to them, and he spoke harshly to them. 'Where have you come from?' he asked. 'From Canaan to get food,' they replied.
Now when Joseph recognised his brothers, but they did not recognise him,
Joseph remembered the dreams he had had about them, and said to them, 'You are spies. You have come to discover the country's weak points.'
'No, my lord,' they said, 'your servants have come to get food.
We are all sons of the same man. We are honest men, your servants are not spies.'
'Oh no,' he replied, 'you have come to discover the country's weak points.'
'Your servants were twelve brothers,' they said, 'sons of the same man in Canaan, but the youngest is at present with our father, and the other one is no more.'
To which Joseph retorted, 'It is as I said, you are spies.
This is the test you are to undergo: as sure as Pharaoh lives you shall not leave unless your youngest brother comes here.
Send one of your number to fetch your brother; you others will remain under arrest, so that your statements can be tested to see whether or not you are honest. If not, then as sure as Pharaoh lives you are spies.'
Whereupon, he put them all into custody for three days.
On the third day Joseph said to them, 'Do this and you will live, for I am a man who fears God.
If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be detained where you are imprisoned; the rest of you, go and take supplies home for your starving families.
But you must bring your youngest brother back to me; in this way, what you have said will be verified, and you will not have to die!' And this is what they did.
And they said to one another, 'Clearly, we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep misery when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen, and now this misery has come home to us.'
Reuben retorted to them, 'Did I not tell you not to wrong the boy? But you would not listen. Now comes the accounting.'
They did not know that Joseph understood, because there was an interpreter between them.
He turned away from them and wept. When he was able to speak to them again, he chose Simeon out of their number and had him bound while they looked on.
Joseph gave the order to fill their panniers with grain, to put back each man's money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them.
Then they loaded their supplies on their donkeys and went away.
But when they camped for the night, one of them opened his sack to give his donkey some fodder and saw his money -- there it was in the mouth of his sack.
He said to his brothers, 'My money has been put back; here it is, in my sack!' Their hearts sank, and they looked at one another in panic, saying, 'What is this that God has done to us?'
Returning to their father Jacob in Canaan, they gave him a full report of what had happened to them,
'The man who is lord of the country spoke harshly to us, accusing us of spying on the country.
We told him, "We are honest men, we are not spies.
We were twelve brothers, sons of the same father. One of us is no more, and the youngest is at present with our father in Canaan."
But the man who is lord of the country said to us, "This is how I shall know whether you are honest: leave one of your brothers with me. Take supplies for your starving families and be gone,
but bring me back your youngest brother and then I shall know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I shall give your brother back to you and you will be free to move about the country." '
As they emptied their sacks, each discovered his bag of money in his sack. On seeing their bags of money they were afraid, and so was their father.
Then their father Jacob said to them, 'You are robbing me of my children; Joseph is no more; Simeon is no more; and now you want to take Benjamin. I bear the brunt of all this!'
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.'
But he replied, 'My son is not going down with you, for now his brother is dead he is the only one left. If any harm came to him on the journey you are undertaking, you would send my white head down to Sheol with grief!'