The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Genesis
The news that there was corn to be bought in Egypt reached Jacob among the rest; and he said to his sons, What means this lethargy?
They tell me there is corn for sale in Egypt; why do you not go down there, and buy enough for us to live on, instead of waiting till we starve?
So ten of Joseph’s brethren went down into Egypt to buy corn there;
only Benjamin his father kept at home, saying to the others, Some harm might befall him on the way.
So they made their way into Egypt with others who were going there to buy; the whole of Chanaan was by now famine-stricken.
Egypt was under the control of Joseph: it was at his discretion that corn was sold to foreign nations. And when his brethren came and did him reverence,
he recognized them; but he treated them as strangers, and talked roughly to them. Whence come you? he asked. From the land of Chanaan, they said, to buy food.
Well as he knew them, his brethren did not know him again,
and his mind went back to the dreams he had had, long ago. You are spies, he told them; you have come to find out where our country’s defences are weak.
No, my lord, they said, we are thy servants, come here to buy food,
sons of one father, all of us, sent on an errand of peace; thy servants know nothing of any evil intent.
I know better, he answered; you have come to spy out where our country is ill defended.
We are all brethren, they said; our father, in the land of Chanaan, is the father of twelve sons; the youngest is still with him, and one of us no longer lives.
I was sure of it, said he; you are spies, all of you.
I will put you to the test; your youngest brother must come here, or, by the life of Pharao, none of you shall leave this land.
One of you must go and fetch him, the rest shall be my prisoners, until you give me proof whether your story is true or not. If you refuse this, as sure as Pharao lives, you are spies.
So he committed them to prison, and kept them there for three days.
When the third day came, they were released, and now he said to them, Do what I bade you, and I will spare your lives; I am a man that fears God.
To prove whether your errand is peaceful, one of you must be kept here in prison; the rest shall go home, taking with them the corn they have bought.
Then you must bring your youngest brother here into my presence; when you have done that, I shall know that your story is true, and your lives shall be spared.
And they bowed to his will, saying to one another, It is no more than we deserve, we, who so wronged our brother, and looked on without pity when he pleaded, in anguish, for his life. That is what has brought all this trouble upon us.
And Ruben said to the rest, I pleaded with you not to do the boy such wrong, and you would not listen to me; we are being punished, now, for his murder.
All this Joseph understood, although they did not suspect it (he always spoke to them through an interpreter);
so that he withdrew from them for a little, and gave himself up to tears. Then he went back and spoke to them,
taking Simeon, and fastening chains upon him, there in their presence. Meanwhile, he had bidden his servants fill their sacks with corn, enclosing in each sack the money its owner had paid, and providing them with victuals for their journey as well. All this was done,
and now they loaded their asses with the corn, and were on their homeward journey,
when one of them opened his sack, to feed his beast at a halting-place. And there, in the mouth of the sack, he found his money.
Look, he said to his brethren, my money has been restored to me; here it is, in the sack. And their minds misgave them; they said to one another in bewilderment, What is this God has done to us?
When they came back to their father Jacob, in Chanaan, they told him of all that had happened;
how the regent of the country had spoken to them roughly, taking them for spies,
and how they had answered, Ours is an errand of peace, we have no mischievous intent;
there were twelve of us, all born of one father; one is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father in Chanaan.
And then, the test of their honesty he had proposed; that they should go home with what they needed, leaving one of them behind; that he should remain a prisoner,
until they cleared themselves of suspicion by coming back with their youngest brother; then they should be restored, and they should be free to buy as they would.
When they had finished their story, they began unloading the corn, and were filled with dismay at finding the money each had paid enclosed there in his sack.
As for their father Jacob, he told them, You have made a childless man of me; Joseph is dead, Simeon a prisoner, and you would rob me of Benjamin too; it is I who have to bear all this trouble.
Whereupon Ruben answered, Kill my own two sons in requital of it, if I do not restore Benjamin to thee in safety; give me charge of him, and I will bring him back.
No, said he, I will not let this son of mine go with you; his brother is dead, and he is all I have left; if any harm should befall him in the country of your travels, you would send an old man sorrowing to the grave.
The Holy Bible