This could be my favourite line so far. Verses one and two.
"When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" 2 He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die." "
After which he cried, 'why must I be surrounded by frickin idiots?!?!'
Well, much chagrined, ten of his sons (Joseph's half-brothers) went down to Egypt to see about this grain. Jacob did not send Benjamin with them (Joseph's full brother) because he was afraid something would befall him. What with how well sending Joseph out with those cretins had worked. 'Maybe we should bring a BEAR in here, so you all can stand idly by and watch it devour me like you did for your brother!' may have been a dinner time rant.
When his brothers went to Egypt they had to buy grain from the man with the keys to the kingdom: Joseph. So the moral of this story is. . . sell your brother into slavery so he can make something of himself?
The author makes sure to rub in the fact that all his brothers bowed down to Joseph. Nudge nudge. Like in the dream.
So Joseph recognised his brothers, but they didn't recognise this pony-tailed, clean-shaven, skirt-wearing la-ti-da with the eye makeup, big surprise.
So Joseph pretends he doesn't know them and gives them a hard time. You're spies! No we're not! Yes you are! etc.
They let it slip that there are 12 of them, except one is dead (no grain needed for him) and one brother is still in Canaan. Because they haven't been able to sell him into slavery, presumably.
Aha! I knew you were slaves! (?) Joseph put them in jail and told them to send one of their number to go get their little brother.
After three days Joseph relented and let them take grain back, but one of them had to stay there, for insurance. He told them if they didn't come back with Bejamin, he'd kill them all. If you know what I mean. They agreed.
The author wants us to know that all the brothers thought they were being punished for what they did to Joseph all those years ago. Which, like most of the bible, I actually do not believe. But that's moot.
Reuben berated them because he apparently did have a conscience, evidenced by his former actions.
At this point I imagined the brothers were quarrelling while going down the road. Oh no. After they accept Joseph's terms, they "proceeded to do" what he had asked. But not before standing before him, bickering in what they thought was a language foreign to him.
Yeah. So the 'literature' standard isn't really up to snuff in this story. Moving on.
Joseph probably winked at his interpreter for being in on the joke with him. But he also turned away from his brothers so he could weep a bit before he had one of them bound and taken away.
He also gave them back the money they'd paid, stashing it in their sacks of grain. When one of them found it that night you can imagine how much they freaked. What kind of sick motherfucker takes one of our own and then sends the money back?!? Did he think he was PURCHASING our brother?!? Ooooo dad's gonna be pissed.
When they returned home they recounted the trip in tedious detail.
When Jacob saw the full grain sacks AND the pouches of money he told them all they'd deprived him of two sons already, and now they wanted the third! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!
So Reuben stepped up. All right, enough with the Charlton Heston impressions (who?) if I don't bring Benjamin back you can put my own sons to death. Both of them.
Jacob did not believe him. Think about it: Benjamin was his last link to his favourite wife, Rachel. He told them it wasn't going to happen. First a bear, then some poncey Egyptian skirt-wearer, who knows what would be next. If Benjamin came to harm, he figured he might as well die himself. He was pretty melodramatic in his old age.