At the end of the seven good years, the crops began to fail and people started coming to Joseph to ask for food. So Joseph sold them food. Even in Canaan the crops would not grow. So when Jacob heard that there was food for sale in Egypt, he told his ten oldest sons to go down to Egypt and buy food. But he would not let the youngest son Benjamin go down with them because he was afraid that something might happen to him.
When the ten brothers came to Egypt, they went to Joseph to buy grain. But they did not know that this ruler of Egypt was their younger brother. Joseph, however, knew who they were when he first saw them. They bowed down before him with their faces to the ground and Joseph remembered the dreams that he had had over twenty years before. "Where do you come?" he said. "From the land of Canaan, to buy food," they answered. He said, "You are spies, come to see how weak the land is." "No my lord," they replied, "we have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man, not spies. We are twelve brothers; the youngest is at home with our father, and one is dead." But Joseph again said that they were spies and put them in jail for three days.
On the third day Joseph let them out of jail and said, "I am a God-fearing man. Let one of you stay here in jail, while the rest of you take food home. Then to prove you are telling the truth, bring your younger brother back to me." Now he was speaking to them in the Egyptian language and using an interpreter, so they did not know that he could understand what they were saying. "This is happening to us because of what we did to out brother," they said to one another. "We heard him beg for help, but we would not listen. Now we are being paid back." When Joseph heard this, he had to leave the room and cry. When he came back, he had Simeon put in jail and sent the others home.
But he told his servants to put their money back in their grain sacks. On the way home, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey and found his money. Then they were even more afraid. When they got home, they told their father what had happened. Then when they emptied the sacks, they found that all the money had been returned. But Jacob would not let them take Benjamin to Egypt to get Simeon out of jail.
After a while they ate up the grain they had bought and Jacob told the brothers to go back to Egypt. But they said they wouldn't go unless Benjamin went with them. At first he wouldn't agree, but after Judah promised to take the blame if he let anything happen to Benjamin, Jacob agreed that he could go. He told them to take twice as much money and so pay back the money that was returned to them, and also to take a present of perfume, spices, honey, and nuts for the governor.
When they came to Egypt and Joseph saw Benjamin, he told his servants, "Take these men to my house, because they are going to eat with me today." At first they were afraid, and told Joseph's chief servant about the money they found in their grain sacks, but he said, "Don't worry. God must have put it there. I got your money." Then he brought Simeon to them.
When Joseph came to eat, they gave him the present they had brought. When he saw Benjamin, he had to leave the room and cry. Then he came back and had them to sit down at the table in order from the oldest to the youngest. They were surprised at how he knew this. After the meal, he told his chief servant, "Fill their sacks with grain, and put their money back in the sacks. And put my silver cup in the youngest brother's sack." The servant did so, and sent them off. A little while later Joseph told the servant, "Go after them, ask, 'Why did you steal my master's silver cup?'" The servant caught up with them and asked this, but they all said that they had not stolen the cup. He said, "The one in whose sack I find the cup will be my master's slave." So he began to search the sacks, beginning with the oldest's, and found the cup in Benjamin's sack. The brothers tore their clothes in sorrow and all of them went back to the city with Benjamin.
Joseph asked the brothers, "What have you done? Didn't you know that a man like me can find things out?" They answered, "What can we say? God has uncovered our guilt? We will all be your slaves." But Joseph said, "No, just the one who had the cup will be my slave. The rest of you go back to your father." Then Judah came forward and said, "Please sir, if our youngest brother does not go back, our father will die from sorrow. I will stay here as your slave in place of the boy; let him go back with his brothers."
When Joseph heard this, he could no longer control himself and so he ordered all his servants to leave the room. Then he began to cry and said to his brothers, "I am Joseph. Is my father really alive?" When his brothers heard this, they were so scared that they could not answer. Then he said, "Come closer." So they came closer. Again he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. But do not be upset. It was really God who sent me here to you. There have been two years of poor crops. There will be five more. So go back to my father and say, 'God has made me ruler over Egypt. Bring all your family and come to me and I will take care of you.'"
Then Joseph threw his arms around Benjamin and began to cry. Benjamin cried also and then Joseph kissed each of his brothers. When Pharaoh the king of Egypt heard that Joseph's brothers had come, he told Joseph, "Send wagons back with your brothers to bring your whole father's family to Egypt." So Joseph sent his brothers home with the wagons and twenty donkeys loaded with food. And before they left, he told them, "Don't argue on the way."