Genesis 42

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English: Young's Literal Translation         

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1 And Jacob seeth that there is corn in Egypt, and Jacob saith to his sons, `Why do you look at each other?'

2 he saith also, `Lo, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt, go down thither, and buy for us from thence, and we live and do not die;'

3 and the ten brethren of Joseph go down to buy corn in Egypt,

4 and Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob hath not sent with his brethren, for he said, `Lest mischief meet him.'

5 And the sons of Israel come to buy in the midst of those coming, for the famine hath been in the land of Canaan,

6 and Joseph is the ruler over the land, he who is selling to all the people of the land, and Joseph's brethren come and bow themselves to him -- face to the earth.

7 And Joseph seeth his brethren, and discerneth them, and maketh himself strange unto them, and speaketh with them sharp things, and saith unto them, `From whence have ye come?' and they say, `From the land of Canaan -- to buy food.'

8 And Joseph discerneth his brethren, but they have not discerned him,

9 and Joseph remembereth the dreams which he dreamed of them, and saith unto them, `Ye [are] spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye have come.'

10 And they say unto him, `No, my lord, but thy servants have come to buy food;

11 we [are] all of us sons of one man, we [are] right men; thy servants have not been spies;'

12 and he saith unto them, `No, but the nakedness of the land ye have come to see;'

13 and they say, `Thy servants [are] twelve brethren; we [are] sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and lo, the young one [is] with our father to-day, and the one is not.'

14 And Joseph saith unto them, `This [is] that which I have spoken unto you, saying, Ye [are] spies,

15 by this ye are proved: Pharaoh liveth! if ye go out from this -- except by your young brother coming hither;

16 send one of you, and let him bring your brother, and ye, remain ye bound, and let your words be proved, whether truth be with you: and if not -- Pharaoh liveth! surely ye [are] spies;'

17 and he removeth them unto charge three days.

18 And Joseph saith unto them on the third day, `This do and live; God I fear!

19 if ye [are] right men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your ward, and ye, go, carry in corn [for] the famine of your houses,

20 and your young brother ye bring unto me, and your words are established, and ye die not;' and they do so.

21 And they say one unto another, `Verily we [are] guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul, in his making supplication unto us, and we did not hearken: therefore hath this distress come upon us.'

22 And Reuben answereth them, saying, `Spake I not unto you, saying, Sin not against the lad? and ye hearkened not; and his blood also, lo, it is required.'

23 And they have not known that Joseph understandeth, for the interpreter [is] between them;

24 and he turneth round from them, and weepeth, and turneth back unto them, and speaketh unto them, and taketh from them Simeon, and bindeth him before their eyes.

25 And Joseph commandeth, and they fill their vessels [with] corn, also to put back the money of each unto his sack, and to give to them provision for the way; and one doth to them so.

26 And they lift up their corn upon their asses, and go from thence,

27 and the one openeth his sack to give provender to his ass at a lodging-place, and he seeth his money, and lo, it [is] in the mouth of his bag,

28 and he saith unto his brethren, `My money hath been put back, and also, lo, in my bag:' and their heart goeth out, and they tremble, one to another saying, `What [is] this God hath done to us!'

29 And they come in unto Jacob their father, to the land of Canaan, and they declare to him all the things meeting them, saying,

30 `The man, the lord of the land, hath spoken with us sharp things, and maketh us as spies of the land;

31 and we say unto him, We [are] right men, we have not been spies,

32 we [are] twelve brethren, sons of our father, the one is not, and the young one [is] to-day with our father in the land of Canaan.

33 `And the man, the lord of the land, saith unto us, By this I know that ye [are] right men -- one of your brethren leave with me, and [for] the famine of your houses take ye and go,

34 and bring your young brother unto me, and I know that ye [are] not spies, but ye [are] right men; your brother I give to you, and ye trade with the land.'

35 And it cometh to pass, they are emptying their sacks, and lo, the bundle of each man's silver [is] in his sack, and they see their bundles of silver, they and their father, and are afraid;

36 and Jacob their father saith unto them, `Me ye have bereaved; Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and Benjamin ye take -- against me have been all these.'

37 And Reuben speaketh unto his father, saying, `My two sons thou dost put to death, if I bring him not in unto thee; give him into my hand, and I -- I bring him back unto thee;'

38 and he saith, `My son doth not go down with you, for his brother [is] dead, and he by himself is left; when mischief hath met him in the way in which ye go, then ye have brought down my grey hairs in 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...

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...

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...

saith
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...

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
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...

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...

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...

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

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...

Sent
'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...

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...

Coming
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

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

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.

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...

Ruler
'A ruler' or 'governor' signifies goods of the church, and in the opposite sense, falsities.

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...

Bow
A bow signifies falsity of doctrine destroying truth, and spear, the falsity of evil de­stroying good. (Jer. 6:23.)

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

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...

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

Sharp
'Sharp' signifies something accurate and exquisite.

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...

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.

young
'The son of a cow' signifies the celestial natural level and natural exterior good.

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 out
To go out to meet, as in Genesis 14:17, signifies to submit themselves. To go out, as in Genesis 28:10, signifies to live more remotely....

Send
'To send' signifies revealing.

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.

removeth
As with many verbs, the meaning of "remove" in the Bible varies a good bit depending on context. It generally involves a separation of spiritual...

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.

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...

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.

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...

Hearken
'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

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....

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...

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...

Round
Something 'round' relates to good. 'A small round thing,' as in Exodus 16:14, refers to the good of truth in its first formation. This is...

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...

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...

Vessels
'Vessels,' in the internal sense, signify things serving as a receptacle, as scientific ideas and knowledges are to truths, and as truths themselves are to...

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

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...

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

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...

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

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...

heart
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...

Tremble
'To tremble,' as in Jeremiah 10:10, relates to the church when falsities are believed and called truths.

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...

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

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...

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...

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

Pass
'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

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...

silver
'Spoil of gold, and silver, and cattle' signifies falsified truths.

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...

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...

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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