Summary: God finally fulfills His promise to Joseph when His brothers bow down before him. He proves that He never leaves us nor fails us no matter where we go or what we do.
Pharaoh’s dreams came true and seven years of plenty were followed by seven years of terrible famine, but Joseph had prepared Egypt and they had more corn than they could even measure. But the whole middle-eastern world, including Joseph’s brothers, suffered and they began to turn to Egypt for help and this is where we continue our story now.
Before we start I want to remind you of Joseph’s dreams. God had showed him that one day his brothers would bow before him. Joseph told them about the dreams and they hated him for it. They plotted his murder and sold him into slavery saying, “Let’s see what becomes of his dreams now” (Gen. 37:20).
Genesis 42 answers that question: what became of his dreams? More importantly, does God keep His word to Joseph?
Let’s look at Genesis 42:1 to find out:
Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. 3And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 4But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
The famine has hit and they’re starting to starve. They’re perplexed to the point that they don’t know what else to do but look to the next person. Maybe eventually someone else will have an idea. And then Jacob, tired of being hungry, throws it out that Egypt is rumored to have food. If someone doesn’t get down there pretty soon they’ll all be dead. So he orders every son but Benjamin to go and find out.
Benjamin’s is Joseph’s brother and the only remaining son of Rachel (Jacob’s favorite wife). To lose Benjamin would be more than he could bear so Benjamin is to stay.
5And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
The Israelites weren’t the only ones that went to buy corn. Hebron is around 400 miles from Egypt so you know this famine is widespread and there were plenty of others.
6And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land:
This starts to set up the tension. Joseph is the one in charge of distributing the corn. If someone wants to get some of it they have to see him first! What will happen when the brothers stand before him?
and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
There it is. God kept His word. But the story moves right along without making a big deal of it:
7And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. 8And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. 9And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 10And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. 11We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. 12And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 13And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not. 14And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: 15Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. 16Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. 17And he put them all together into ward three days.
At first it looks like Joseph is angry or he wants revenge, but we see from the rest of the story that he’s not bitter. He knows this is all from God, and that’s why it says he remembered the dreams. He sees his brother bowed down low and says to himself, “This is from God.” Whether he knows it now or not, he’ll soon realize that his arrival in Egypt was God’s work for good.