A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Joseph and his brothers - Part II


As the famine in Egypt worsened, the people survived, but other countries suffered. Joseph’s older brothers came from their homeland to buy food. They did not recognise Joseph now he was a high ranking Egyptian official, but he knew them immediately. He ordered them to leave Simeon in prison while they returned home to their father Jacob with the food they had purchased. When they needed more, they were to return with Benjamin, the youngest brother. 

Joseph's brothers with the hidden silverOn the journey they discovered that the silver with which they had paid for the food had been replaced in their grain sacks. Terrified to return but desperately needing more food, they brought Benjamin back to Egypt with them. This time, Joseph had his own silver cup hidden in Benjamin’s sack, and sent his steward after them. Joseph told them that Benjamin must stay as his slave. Judah begged him to spare their youngest brother, saying that this loss, on top of the loss of Joseph in the past, would kill their father. He offered to stay in Benjamin’s place.

Then Joseph knew that the brothers realised what they had done in the past (harming Joseph and lying about his death) was wrong and were sorry for the grief they had brought to their father Jacob. He told them who he was. The brothers were terrified: the helpless young brother they had once sold into slavery was now very powerful.

Joseph said,

God sent me to Egypt, not you. He sent me ahead of you so that I could save many lives, including your own.’  

On Joseph’s orders, the brothers brought Jacob to Egypt. For the rest of the famine, the family lived there safely and with honour.

The story illustrates:

  • The belief that God works things out for the good of his followers
  • The belief that God is in control.

Bible References

Genesis 42:1-38, Genesis 43:1-34, Genesis 44:1-34, Genesis 45:1-28, Genesis 46:7
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