1 And the famine was sore in the land.
Right you are. This story has been a few chapters in the telling now, I'm fairly certain that it’s clear that the ’famine was sore in the land’ by now.
2 And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.
I guess we've gone back in time a little, They decided to go back at the end of the last chapter. Is it odd that Jacob (Israel) was only concerned by the lack of food and hadn't already sent them back to rescue/bargain for Simeon?
3 And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
Judah explains that they need to take Benjamin with them or they won’t be seen by the Don of Egypt (Joseph their brother if you’d forgotten).
4 If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:
And get Simeon back, Judah! Don’t forget, if you take Benjamin with you, you’ll get Simeon back. Why have they forgotten about Simeon?
5 But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
Yes we get it!
6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?
Jacob (Israel), quite oddly is accusing his sons of doing him wrong by happening to mention, when asked by the man that controlled all of the food in the known world, that they had younger brother.
7 And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
Clearly the brothers think his accusation is as odd as I do.
8 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.
Judah pitches the idea of bringing Benjamin along again.
9 I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:
Well Judah, Reuben already offered up the lives of his sons in the last chapter. I don’t think offering to bear the blame will in any way sweeten the deal...
10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
...and adding caveats won’t help.
11 And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:
Wait! What? I thought ’famine was sore in the land’. We now learn they have ready access to honey, nuts (including almonds?) and spices. How hungry can they really be?
12 And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:
Taking the money back is a wise move as it was an obvious test (which they already failed once when they didn't turn back the moment they found the money). I fail to see how the money could have ’accidentally’ found its way into their bags and I fail to see how they failed to see that it was a test, but hey, it’s certainly not the greatest failure of intellect I've seen in this book so far.
13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:
Right. Jacob (Israel) will allow Benjamin to go. I hope for his sake the whole thing goes well.
14 And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.
Finally someone remembers Simeon!
15 And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
I’m glad we did the whole trip to Egypt in one sentence, tales of desert journeys can be so tiresome. Let’s see what Joseph has to say.
16 And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
Clearly Joseph is pleased. He’s giving them dinner. With meat no less!
17 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.
18 And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.
Why didn't they just give the money back rather than worry about the possible retribution for keeping it.
19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,
Ah right, they are about to, we just needed to be told about their fears beforehand.
20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:
21 And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand.
I still think this ought to have been the first thing they said when they arrived, but, oh well.
22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.
23 And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.
That’s just a plain lie. I'm guessing from the language that the steward has a different God or gods, I guess that’s not surprising with him being an Egyptian. Simeon is free at least, it doesn’t say how long he’s been locked up for but it’s at least as long as a trip from Egypt to Canaan and back and however long it took for Israel and sons to get hungry.
24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.
25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.
26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.
As planned. Will Joseph like the present?
27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?
Joseph asks after his dad. How nice.
28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.
29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.
An emotional reunion for Joseph. I’d imagine that the brothers would be slightly confused by Joseph’s emotional response, given that they don’t know that the man they are dealing with is Joseph. I still can’t figure out why they haven’t recognised him. Surely he can’t have changed that much.
30 And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.
I suppose it’s a fair response to run off and hide in order to cry.
31 And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.
Having regained his composure, Joseph orders the bread.
32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
I like that the author is acknowledging the multicultural nature of the gathering. I particularly enjoy the blasé acknowledgement of the racism displayed, it’s clearly commonplace and accepted.
33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.
34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
Everyone likes a party right? I wonder what the youthful Benjamin makes of his preferential treatment.
So what are we to make of this chapter?
This is by far the most detailed of the stories so far, however the details are often really odd and don't contribute to the narrative.
Let's see what happens in the next chapter.