Genesis 42

Genesis 42:2 There is corn in Egypt

There is wine in Babylon.  There is corn in Egypt.  There are cedars in Lebanon.  There are casinos in Vegas.   But someday—someday, people will say, “The glory of God is in Zion.” (D&C 45:67)

Genesis 42:4 Benjamin… Jacob sent not

Jacob’s favorite wife was Rachel and his favorite sons were from her, Joseph and Benjamin.  Having lost Joseph, Jacob couldn’t bear the thought of losing Benjamin.

While we should not judge Jacob for having favorites, we learn the lesson that sibling rivalry and jealousy are the natural result in the family dynamic.

Genesis 42:6, 9 Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him

Remember Joseph’s dreams?  He dreamed of sheaves of grain from the field.  Each of the sheaves represented one of the sons of Jacob, and each of the sheaves bowed down to Joseph’s sheave.  When he innocently told his brothers the dream, they asked, “Shalt thou indeed reign over us?” (Gen. 37:8) 

What none of them could see at that time was that Joseph would be second in command in all of Egypt.  They would indeed bow down to their younger brother.  His second dream was of “the sun and the moon and the eleven stars” bowing before Joseph.  All Joseph’s dreams would be fulfilled when his father and mother came and depended upon Joseph for survival.  When his brothers arrive, Joseph immediately remembers and understands.

Genesis 42:13 Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man. . . and one is not

Can you imagine what is going through Joseph’s mind when he hears his brother speak of him as if he were dead?  How hard would that be to hear?  How can a mortal not harbor ill feelings and resentment when they were the ones who threw him into the pit?  Joseph’s self-control is remarkable.  He keeps up the charade and plays the part of the cruel Egyptian governor.

“All that we know of Joseph's character heretofore, and throughout this whole affair, goes to prove that his object in all his seemingly harsh treatment was to get at their hearts, to test their affection toward Benjamin, and to bring them to repent of their unkindness to himself.” (  

Genesis 42:17-24 he put them all together into ward three days

Joseph’s plan is brilliant.  He figures there is no harm in letting them stew in their distress.  He intentionally gives them the time to reflect on the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner.  It had been 22 years since they had tossed him into the pit.  Joseph had spent many years in prison because of his brethren.  Wasn’t it only fair for them to experience the fear of God for a few days?  Then he carefully listens in on their conversation, understanding every word of their language.  His heart is so big that instead of feeling revenge as they fret, he weeps out of love and forgiveness. 

This is the greatest story of forgiveness in the Bible.  The Lord has put this story in the Bible for us.  He knows that centuries and millennia of family conflict is coming.  Joseph shows us how we are to act when we are hurt by those who should be our greatest protectors.  How can we face God at the judgment day complaining about our parents or siblings?  Will we be like the man who approached Jesus saying, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13) God has no patience for our petty family disputes.  We may puff out our chests, sulk in our injured pride, and justify any retribution we can, but God won’t justify us.  He will simply say, “Remember Joseph who was sold into Egypt by his brethren?  Has your family ever been that mean to you?  Can you compare your little misunderstanding to the years of suffering that Joseph experienced?  Don’t you recall that Joseph, after all he went through, had enough mercy and love in his heart to forgive and embrace his family?  Now, my dear son or daughter, what is your excuse? How can you feel justified in your rancor?  Have I not forgiven you?  Then how is it that you cannot forgive your own family?”

What will be our reply at that fateful day? It’s a sobering thought, but God has given us Joseph to teach us how to forgive and love each other—especially our own family members.

Genesis 42:19 If ye be true men

Three times, Joseph has accused them of being spies.  They are scared out of their wits and want to do nothing more than to prove their integrity.  Joseph, knowing this, plays on their hearts with the phrase, “If ye be true men. . .”  As if to say, “I am giving you a chance to prove yourselves to me. . . Let’s see how you do.”

Genesis 42:25 fil their sacks with corn, and . . .  restore every man’s money into his sack

Restitution is what Joseph deserves from his brethren, but instead he gives them restitution when they deserved none.  In yet another example of the greatness of his heart, he returns their money and gives them corn for free.  The net effect of this benevolence is skepticism among his brethren who can only imagine that it is a trick to call them thieves the next time they show up in Egypt.