Genesis 42:25-38

25 Then Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them.

26 So they loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed from there.

27 But as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack.

28 So he said to his brothers, “My money has been restored, and there it is, in my sack!” Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to one another, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29 Then they went to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan and told him all that had happened to them, saying:

30 “The man who is lord of the land spoke roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.

31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies.

32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is with our father this day in the land of Canaan.’

33 Then the man, the lord of the country, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, take food for the famine of your households, and be gone.

34 And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. I will grant your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.’ ”

35 Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.

36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

37 Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”

38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.”

Their journey back home must have been over a distance of about 250 miles or more. Presumably Jacob was still living in Hebron, and Joseph’s headquarters were possibly at or near the city of Memphis, which is about 10 miles south of the present city of Cairo. Thus, the journey would take them probably about three weeks. — Morris, page 601

Their hearts failed them and they were afraid (v.28) — presumably because they believed the Egyptians would consider that they’d not paid for the grain and so had, in fact, stolen it. When the time came to return to Egypt (which they would have to do eventually to recover Simeon), the governor would have an extra thing to accuse them of.

When Jacob discovered that all his sons had money in their sacks, he reacted with horror (v.36) and expected the worst.

Jacob accused his nine sons (more truly than he knew) of having been responsible for the loss of two of his children, Joseph and Simeon, and now surely they were going to cause the loss of Benjamin also, which was more than he could bear. And not only this, if they went into Egypt with Benjamin as the man had instructed them, they could all be charged with robbery, and maybe none of them would be allowed to return! Jacob would lose his entire family … Before he could really think through the situation and regain his trust and faith in God, he cried out that everything was against him. …

Upset by his father’s distress, Reuben (typically concerned, and meaning well, but nevertheless confused and unstable) rashly promised that he would be responsible for Benjamin if Jacob would let him go with them. If anything happened to him, he assured his father, then Jacob could slay his (Reuben’s) own two sons in punishment. Exactly what satisfaction he thought his father could get out of killing two of his grandsons, after already losing his sons, is hardly clear. …

Jacob simply refused altogether to consider letting Benjamin go down to Egypt … And there the matter stood for the time being. — Morris, pages 602-603.

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