OceanSide church of Christ

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Genesis 42

Victor M. Eskew


I.           The Title of Genesis 42


A.   Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt for Grain

B.    Joseph’s Dreams Come True

C.   They Did Not Know It Was Joseph


II.         The Key Verse of Genesis 42:  Genesis 42:6


And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was who sold to all the people of the land:  and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.


Why this verse?  This verse tells of the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams when he was a young man.  God has exalted Joseph.  The brothers are humbled before him.  His position, however, will enable him to do good for the family who rejected him.


III.       The Outline of Genesis 42


i.               GRAIN IN EGYPT (Gen. 42:1-4)                                   Famine

ii.              BEFORE JOSEPH IN EGYPT (Gen. 42:5-26)                 Fulfillment

iii.            THE FEAR OF EGYPT (Gen. 42:27-38)                         Fear


IV.        The Lessons from Genesis 42


A.   Standing and looking at one another is not beneficial when solutions to problems exist (Gen. 42:1-2).


Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?  And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt:  get ye down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.


B.    After tragedy befalls us, we often react with overprotection (Gen. 42:4).


But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.


C.   The righteous will ultimately be vindicated (Gen. 42:6).


And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land:  and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.


1.     Joseph dreamed two dreams (Gen. 37:7, 9).

2.     Because of the dreams, Joseph’s brothers hated him (Gen. 37:5, 8) and envied him (Gen. 37:11).

3.     When he dreamed and revealed the dreams to his family, they asked him two questions.

a.     And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us?  Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? (Gen. 37:8)

b.    Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? (Gen. 37:10).

4.     Genesis 42:8-9


And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew him not.  And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them…


D.   How do we explain Joseph’s actions toward his brothers?

1.     He does several things to them.

a.     He hid his identity from them (Gen. 42:7).

b.    He spoke roughly to them (Gen. 42:7).

c.    He accused them of being spies (Gen. 42:9, 12, 14, 16).

d.    He put them in ward three days (Gen. 42:17).

e.     He kept Simeon unto they returned with their younger brother (Gen. 42:24).


a.     Barnes:  “All that we know of Joseph’s character heretofor, 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” (e-sword).

b.    Morris

1)     He wanted first of all to determine their true attitudes and then to set events in motion which would finally bring them to a true attitude of repentance and unity toward God and among themselves (Genesis Record, 596).

2)     With regard to putting them in ward, he says:  “Joseph may have reasoned also that, as they had spurned their brother’s pleas, so now theirs should be spurned.  As they had sent him away into slavery and imprisonment, so now it would be good for them to have a similar experience” (Genesis Record, 597).

3.     This appears to have been part of a plan by Joseph to get his brothers to return to Egypt.

a.     Joseph may have known that the best way to get innocent people to speak freely was to charge them with wrongdoing.  If they would speak, he could find out much about his family.

b.    His harsh treatment showed them that he was a tough, serious ruler.  He meant what he said.  This was necessary to get them to obey his conditions of return, namely, bring Benjamin with them.

c.    His keeping of Simeon was a guarantee that they would return.  If his father were still alive, he would not allow his son to remain in captivity.

d.    It is interesting that Joseph reveals to them that he is being merciful to them because he feared God (Gen. 42:18).

e.     Joseph was a human being.  Some of his treatment may have been a form of retribution.


E.    When evil happens in our lives, we often go back into the past in order to attribute some sinful actions of ours for its cause (Gen. 42:21-22).


And they said one to another, We are very guilty concerning our brother in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.  And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake not I unto you, saying, Do no sin against the child; and ye would not hear?  Therefore, behold, also his blood is required.


F.     Joseph is not a man who has revenge in his heart.  He loves and cares for his brethren (Gen. 42:24a, 25).


And he turned himself about from them, and wept….Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way:  and thus did he unto them.


G.   The goodness of others can be perceived in the wrong way (Gen. 42:28).


And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored, and, lo, it is even in my sack:  and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?


H.   When “self” has been afflicted, it is difficult not to grieve (Gen. 42:36).


And Jacob their father said unto the, Me have ye bereft of my children:  Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away:  all these things are against me.


I.     As the oldest, Reuben tries to take responsibility and give assurance to his father (Gen. 42:37).


And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee:  deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.


J.    Man is often adamant in his protection of self-interests (Gen. 42:38).


And he (Jacob) said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in which ye go, then ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.