Genesis 42

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1 And Jacob hearing that food was sold in Egypt, said to his sons: Why are ye careless?

2 I have heard that wheat is sold in Egypt: go ye down, and buy us necessaries, that we may live, and not be consumed with want.

3 So the ten brethren of Joseph went down, to buy corn in Egypt:

4 Whilst Benjamin was kept at home by Jacob, who said to his brethren: Lest perhaps he take any harm in the journey.

5 And they entered into the land of Egypt with others that went to buy. For the famine was in the land of Chanaan.

6 And Joseph was governor in the land of Egypt, and corn was sold by his direction to the people. And when his brethren had bowed down to him,

7 And he knew them, he spoke as it were to strangers somewhat roughly, asking them: Whence came you? They answered: From the land of Chanaan, to buy necessaries of life.

8 And though he knew his brethren, he was not known by them.

9 And remembering the dreams, which formerly he had dreamed, he said to them: You are spies. You are come to view the weaker parts of the land.

10 But they said: It is not so, my lord, but thy servants are come to buy food.

11 We are all the sons of one man: we are come as peaceable men, neither do thy servants go about any evil.

12 And he answered them: It is otherwise: you are come to consider the unfenced parts of this land.

13 But they said: We thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Chanaan: the youngest is with our father, the other is not living.

14 He saith: This is it that I said: You are spies.

15 I shall now presently try what you are: by the health of Pharao you shall not depart hence, until your youngest brother come.

16 Send one of you to fetch him: and you shall be in prison, till what you have said be proved, whether it be true or false: or else by the health of Pharao you are spies.

17 So he put them in prison three days.

18 And the third day he brought them out of prison, and said: Do as I have said, and you shall live: for I fear God.

19 If you be peaceable men, let one of your brethren be bound in prison: and go ye your ways and carry the corn that you have bought, unto your houses.

20 And bring your youngest brother to me, that I may find your words to be true, and you may not die. They did as he had said.

21 And they talked one to another: We deserve to suffer these things, because we have sinned against our brother, seeing the anguished of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear: therefore is this affliction come upon us.

22 And Ruben one of them, said: Did not I say to you: Do not sin against the boy: and you would not hear me? Behold his blood is required.

23 And they knew not that Joseph understood, because he spoke to them by an interpreter.

24 And he turned himself away a little while, and wept: and returning he spoke to them.

25 And taking Simeon, and binking him in their presence, he commanded his servants to fill their sacks with wheat, and to put every man's money again in their sacks, and to give them besides provisions for the way: and they did so.

26 But they having loaded their asses with the corn, went their way.

27 And one of them opening his sack, to give his beast provender in the inn, saw the money in the sack's mouth;

28 And said to his brethren: My money is given me again, hehold it is in the sack. And thye were astonished, and troubled, and said to one another: What is this that God hath done unto us?

29 And they came to Jacob their father in the land of Chanaan, and they told him all things that had befallen them, saying:

30 The lord of the land spoke roughly to us, and took us to be spies of the country.

31 And we answered him: We are peaceable men, and we mean no plot.

32 We are twelve brethren born of one father: one is not living, the youngest is with our father in the land of Chanaan.

33 And he said to us: Hereby shall I know that you are peaceable men: Leave one of your brethren with me, and take ye necessary provision for your houses, and go your ways.

34 And bring your youngest brother to me, that I may know you are not spies: and you may receive this man again, that is kept in prison: and afterwards may have leave to buy what you will.

35 When they had told this, they poured out their corn and every man found his money tied in the mouth of his sack: and all being astonished together,

36 Their father Jacob said: You have made me to be without children: Joseph is not living, Simeon is kept in bonds, and Benjamin you will take away: all these evils are fallen upon me.

37 And Ruben answered him: Kill my two sons if I bring him not again to thee: deliver him unto my hand, and I will restore him to thee.

38 But he said: My son shall not go down with you: his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if any mischief befall him in the land to which you go, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to hell.

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Word/Phrase Explanations

Jacob
Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

food
To give food, as in Genesis 41:48, signifies to store up.

sold
'To sell,' as in Genesis 41:56, means transferring to another as their own, because what is sold becomes the property of the one who buys...

egypt
In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

Sons
'Sons of Canaan,' as in Genesis 10, are people who kept external worship separate from internal.

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

wheat
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

Us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

Want
'Want of spiritual nourishment,' denotes a lack of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.

ten
Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

Brethren
Brethren (Gen. 27:29) signify the affections of good.

Corn
Corn,' as in Genesis 42:2, here stands for a word in the original language which means 'breaking,' and also for a similar word meaning to...

Benjamin
'The tribe of Zebulon' signifies the conjunction of people in the third heaven with the Lord, 'the tribe of Joseph,' the conjunction of people in...

harm
To do “harm” in the Bible specifically means attacks and injury by evil and falsity against what is good and true. The reverse is never...

Journey
'To journey' signifies the institutes and order of life.

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

famine
The three words, sword, famine and pestilence, appear in a group in 26 different Bible verses. That's not an accident. Sword, famine and pestilence describe...

governor
"Rulers" or "governors" in the Bible represent the most basic, most essential true ideas that guide us in life, ideas that spring directly from the...

people
The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

bowed
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

spoke
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

Strangers
In Ezekiel 28:7, 'strangers' signify falsities which destroy truths, and 'the terrible of the nations,' evils which destroy good.

Spies
'Spies,' as in Genesis 42:9, denote people who learn the church's truth only for gain.

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

View
'To view' denotes thinking.

my lord
Characters in the Bible will often address others using the term “my lord,” and it seems to be no more than an expression of respect....

servants
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

twelve
'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

youngest
In general, birth order in the Bible reflects the progression of spiritual states, but the specifics of those states depends greatly on context: who the...

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

brother
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

Send
'To send' signifies revealing.

Prison
'The house of the prison' denotes the vastation of falsity, and also falsity itself.

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

three
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

Third
'Three' denotes fullness, and 'a third,' not full.

Third day
'The third day' signifies the end of a state of preparation for reception, and so an end of purification, as in Exodus 19:16. 'The third...

Fear
Fear has various significations according to the thing which causes it. Fear signifies love. Fear, as in Gen 28:17, signifies a holy change.

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

Bound
Being bound, as in Genesis 42:16, denotes to be separated, for he who is kept b. is separated, viz., from the spiritual good, which is...

ways
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

Find
To not to be found any more, signifies not to rise again.

Words
'Words,' as in Exodus 34:28, signify everything pertaining to doctrine.

die
'To perish,' or 'die,' relates to damnation, or the state in hell.

seeing
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

Affliction
An affliction "such as was not from the beginning of the world, no nor ever shall be", mentioned in 'Matthew 24:21', means the infestation from...

upon
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

sin
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

Boy
A boy (Gen. 18:7) signifies the natural man, and consequently, him who ministers and administers. Boy (Gen. 22:3) signifies the Lord's former rational principle merely...

blood
The internal meaning of “blood” is a little tricky, because Swedenborg gives two meanings that seem quite different. In most cases, Swedenborg links blood with...

turned
Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

wept
'Weeping with a loud voice' signifies the ultimate of grief.

Simeon
In Revelation 7, 'Simeon', in the highest sense, signifies providence, in a spiritual sense, love towards our neighbor, or charity, and in a natural sense,...

fill
There are two ways something can be filled: It can be filled with something bad against the wishes of its owner, or it can be...

Money
'Money' relates to truth.

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Way
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

Sack
'A sack' in Genesis 42:25, means a receptacle, and here 'a receptacle' on the natural level, because it is a story about the truths and...

beast
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

provender
To 'give straw and provender,' as in Genesis 24:32, signifies instruction in truths and goods.

Inn
An inn' signifies a place of instruction. An inn' signifies the exterior natural level in general. This cannot be confirmed from parallel passages in the...

mouth
In most cases, "mouth" in the Bible represents thought and logic, especially the kind of active, concrete thought that is connected with speech. The reason...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

Country
Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

provision
'Provision' or 'meat,' as in Genesis 42:25 and Psalm 78:25, signifies support from truth and good.

children
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

kill
The Lord is love itself, and that love is the ultimate source of all energy and thus of all life. It follows, then, that the...

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

hand
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

Son
'A son,' as in Genesis 5:28, signifies the rise of a new church. 'Son,' as in Genesis 24:3, signifies the Lord’s rationality regarding good. 'A...

go down
To go up and to go down: in the Word, mention is made of going up and going down when speaking of going from one...

Dead
Dead (Gen. 23:8) signifies night, in respect to the goodnesses and truths of faith.

Sorrow
'The woman condemned to 'bring forth sons in sorrow' denotes the anxieties and combats in the production of truths.

Hell
'Hell,' as mentioned in Jonah 2:3, signifies the earth below.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library by following this link.


 Dramatize the Story of Joseph Receiving His Brothers
Retell the story or read selected portions from the Word as the children dramatize the story of the brothers going to Egypt and being reunited with Joseph. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Food for the Soul
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Good and Bad Times
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Joseph's Brother Bow - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: act out the story of Joseph's brothers traveling to Egypt and appearing before Joseph, make a sack and show that it has both grain and money in it, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Joseph's Brother Bow - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: act out a script of Joseph's brothers traveling to Egypt and appearing before Joseph, make a Lord's Prayer book (video demonstration), scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Joseph's Brother Bow - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: escape a maze blindfolded to show how we need the Lord to get to heaven, explore the differences between appearance and reality, read and reflect on a door handle sign about being an instrument of God, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Joseph's Brother Bow - Level D
Complete lesson with activity choices: escape a maze blindfolded to show how we need the Lord to get to heaven, explore the differences between civil, moral and spiritual judgments in "You Are Spies!", read and reflect on a door handle sign about being an instrument of God, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

 Joseph Welcomes His Family
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Overview of Joseph a Man of Integrity Levels A B C D for Ages 3-18
Overview of the Youth Journey Program "Joseph: a man of integrity", Levels A, B, C, and D for ages 3-18.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 18

 Sacks of Grain from Egypt
This project involves either letting the children make small sacks out of felt or making the sacks ahead of time and then using them to dramatize the story.
Project | Ages 4 - 10


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