Genesis 42

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1 Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, "Why do you look at one another?"

2 He said, "Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy for us from there, so that we may live, and not die."

3 Joseph's ten brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.

4 But Jacob didn't send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with his brothers; for he said, "Lest perhaps harm happen to him."

5 The sons of Israel came to buy among those who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

6 Joseph was the governor over the land. It was he who sold to all the people of the land. Joseph's brothers came, and bowed themselves down to him with their faces to the earth.

7 Joseph saw his brothers, and he recognized them, but acted like a stranger to them, and spoke roughly with them. He said to them, "Where did you come from?" They said, "From the land of Canaan to buy food."

8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn't recognize him.

9 Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed about them, and said to them, "You are spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land."

10 They said to him, "No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food.

11 We are all one man's sons; we are honest men. Your servants are not spies."

12 He said to them, "No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land!"

13 They said, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more."

14 Joseph said to them, "It is like I told you, saying, 'You are spies!'

15 By this you shall be tested. By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go forth from here, unless your youngest brother comes here.

16 Send one of you, and let him get your brother, and you shall be bound, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you, or else by the life of Pharaoh surely you are spies."

17 He put them all together into custody for three days.

18 Joseph said to them the third day, "Do this, and live, for I fear God.

19 If you are honest men, then let one of your brothers be bound in your prison; but you go, carry grain for the famine of your houses.

20 Bring your youngest brother to me; so will your words be verified, and you won't die." They did so.

21 They said one to another, "We are certainly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us, and we wouldn't listen. Therefore this distress has come upon us."

22 Reuben answered them, saying, "Didn't I tell you, saying, 'Don't sin against the child,' and you wouldn't listen? Therefore also, behold, his blood is required."

23 They didn't know that Joseph understood them; for there was an interpreter between them.

24 He turned himself away from them, and wept. Then he returned to them, and spoke to them, and took Simeon from among them, and bound him before their eyes.

25 Then Joseph gave a command to fill their bags with grain, and to restore each man's money into his sack, and to give them food for the way. So it was done to them.

26 They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed from there.

27 As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey food in the lodging place, he saw his money. Behold, it was in the mouth of his sack.

28 He said to his brothers, "My money is restored! Behold, it is in my sack!" Their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling one to another, saying, "What is this that God has done to us?"

29 They came to Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and told him all that had happened to them, saying,

30 "The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly with us, and took us for spies of the country.

31 We said to him, 'We are honest men. We are no spies.

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

33 The man, the lord of the land, said to us, 'By this I will know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your houses, and go your way.

34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men. So I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.'"

35 It happened as they emptied their sacks, that behold, each man's bundle of money was in his sack. When they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid.

36 Jacob, their father, said to them, "You have bereaved me of my children! Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin away. All these things are against me."

37 Reuben spoke to his father, saying, "Kill my two sons, if I don't bring him to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him to you again."

38 He said, "My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he only is left. If harm happens to him along the way in which you go, then you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol."

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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...

Grain
Grain signifies inner goods and truths.

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...

said
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...

Look
To look,' as in Genesis 18:22, signifies thinking, because seeing denotes understanding. Look not back behind thee,' as in Genesis 19:17, means that Lot, who...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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

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...

send
'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

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...

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...

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...

Sons of Israel
'The camp of the sons of Israel' represents the church.

Israel
'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

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

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 Canaan
The land of Canaan' in the Word, means love, and consequently, the will of the celestial self.

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

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

Canaan
Canaan signifies a worship in things external without internals, which arose out of the internal church corrupted, called Ham. Thus it is that Ham is...

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...

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...

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...

earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

stranger
'A sojourner' or 'stranger,' as in Matthew 25:32, signifies someone who is willing to be instructed.

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...

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

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

see
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...

nakedness
Clothing in general represents day-to-day knowledge about spiritual things, held in the memory so it can be used for the goodness of life. For someone...

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...

men
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...

Pharaoh
'Pharaoh' signifies scientific ideas, or the natural principle in general. 'Pharaoh' signifies false ideas infesting the truth of the church. Pharaoh,' in Genesis 40, represents...

Go forth
To go forth, as in Genesis 19:14, signifies to recede from, or not to remain in [evil]. To go forth, as in Genesis 41:45, denotes...

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...

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

truth
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...

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 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...

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

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...

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

famine
'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies evils of life. 'Hunger,' or 'famine,' signifies desiring good from affection, because 'bread,' in the internal sense, is the good of...

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...

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...

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

Reuben
'Reuben,' in the highest sense, signifies omniscience. In a spiritual sense, he signifies wisdom, intelligence, science, and faith. In a natural sense, he signifies sight....

Tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

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...

child
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....

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...

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...

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,...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

command
To command is to give an order that something must be done, and is directed to an individual, or a group. It is an imperative,...

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.

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...

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...

Donkeys
Donkeys signify the things relating to the self-intelligence of the sensual man; and camels, the things of self-intelligence in the natural man (Isa 30:6, 7.)

lodging place
"Lodging place" is a tricky term to deal with, because there are several different terms in the original language which are translated several different ways...

place
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

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...

restored
Everyone knows the phrase "the natural order of things." It means that everything is in its proper place, occupying the niche it is meant to...

hearts
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

failed
For something to “fail” in the Bible means there is not enough understanding of truth and desire for good for someone to attain a higher...

Trembling
'The dregs of the cup of trembling' signifies mere falsities which evils are derived from.

happened
The phrase “it came to pass,” often also translated as “it happened,” generally indicates the end of one spiritual state and the beginning of a...

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...

sons of our father
'Sons of a father' denote truths derived from good, so from one origin.

Trade
'To trade' signifies acquiring knowledges for one’s self, and to communicate. This is because in heaven, where the Word is perceived according to the internal...

Bundle
A bundle (Gen. 42:3) signifies orderly arrangement, because the truths ap­pertaining to man are disposed and arranged into series: those which are in the greatest...

afraid
Fear of the unknown and fear of change are both common ideas, and together cover a broad spectrum of the fears we tend to have...

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

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...

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...

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.

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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