Lesson 38: Joseph and His Brethren
The seven years of plenty were now over in the land of Egypt and the seven years of famine (scarcity) had begun. Nothing would grow in the land so all the people went to Joseph to buy corn because Joseph had saved much corn in the big storehouses. Many people also came from other lands to buy corn because the famine was everywhere. Among the people who came from other lands were Joseph's brothers. Jacob, their father, had sent them to buy corn.
Joseph knew his brothers when he saw them, but they did not know Joseph. Joseph would have been dressed like an Egyptian, and it was a long time since the brothers had last seen Joseph. When the brothers asked to buy corn Joseph spoke crossly to them and told them that they were spies. Joseph asked them if there were others in their family. When he learned that Jacob and Benjamin were still alive Joseph told them in order to prove to him that they were not spies, they would have to bring their younger brother Benjamin down to Egypt. Joseph told them that he would keep Simeon, one of the brothers, until they came back with Benjamin. The brothers then got their sacks of corn and started off for their home in the land of Canaan. They had not gone far when they found all the money they paid for the corn was put back in their sacks. They did not know that Joseph had their money returned to them. Joseph was testing his brothers.
The brothers arrived home and told Jacob all that happened to them. Jacob did not want them to go back to Egypt with Benjamin. But at last, when nearly all their corn was gone, Jacob let the brothers take Benjamin with them. The brothers promised their father that they would take good care of Benjamin.
The brothers came to Egypt and went to Joseph and told him how their mpney had been returned to them in their sacks. This made Joseph realize that his brothers were now honest men. Joseph also knew Benjamin and it made him very happy to see him. Joseph did not yet tell his brothers who he was. Joseph still wanted to test his brothers to see if they had become better men. Simeon and all the brothers got their sacks of corn again and started on their way home. This time Joseph sent one of his servants after the brothers. The servant found one of Joseph's cups in Benjamin's sack. This made the brothers very worried. They did not know that Joseph had put the cup there. It was Joseph's way of testing his brothers. The brothers all hurried back to Joseph to try to explain to him that they had not taken the cup. Judah, one of the brothers told Joseph that he would take all the blame if Joseph would only let Benjamin return to his father.
Now, Joseph knew that his brothers had really changed. They had become better men, and showed Joseph that they were honest and more kind then they used to be. So now Joseph told his brothers who he was, and he kissed them because he was so happy to see them. (Genesis 45:1-5)
Joseph told his brothers not to be afraid of him. He told them that he was not angry with them because they had sold him to the Ishmaelites. Joseph told them that it was God's way of saving their lives from the famine and it allowed Joseph to help save the lives of many other people. This was a very happy time for Joseph and his brethren. In the next lesson we will learn about the happy times in Joseph's life.
- Did Joseph's brothers know him?
- How did Joseph act to his brothers?
- Why did Joseph want to test his brothers?
- What did the brothers find in their sacks the first time they left Egypt?
- What did the brothers find in their sacks the second time they left Egypt?
- What kind of men were Joseph's brothers now?