The Brothers Return to Canaan
"Then Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man's money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them. So they loaded their donkeys with the grain and departed from there. But as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack. So he said to his brothers, 'My money has been restored, and there it is, in my sack!' Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to one another, 'What is this that God has done to us?'" (Gen. 42:25-28).

Although Simeon had to remain in prison, the other brothers were permitted to go home. Joseph provided them with a lot of food to take with them and secretly had their money returned to them in their sacks (likely not wanting to sell grain but give it to his family). While some might perceive this as a matter of good fortune, the brothers are terrified when they discover the money. They had been accused of being spies, and returning home with some of the money they had paid for the grain would not help them clear that charge. They immediately ask each other with great concern: "What is this that God has done to us?" It appears that both trials and grace remind them of their guilt toward Joseph! One lesson for today that is so clearly seen in this context is that languishing guilt can destroy one's peace of mind. Thus, the wise will do everything they can to live righteously to minimize regrets.

After arriving home they told their father Jacob all that had happened to them. They explained that they would have to bring Benjamin back with them next time if they wanted to trade in the land and free Simeon. This was how the "lord of the land" (i.e., Joseph) would know they weren't spies! Based on his later response, it is certain Jacob was very displeased by these words.

"Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man's bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said to them, 'You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me'" (Gen. 42:35,36). Although they had brought back food, Jacob was very pessimistic after seeing the money in each sack of grain (and not just the one sack they had noted at first). Israel accuses his sons of bereaving him; they were making him childless, so to speak. Ironically, he is much closer to the truth than he realizes with this statement! The brothers were responsible!

"Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, 'Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.' But he said, 'My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave'" (Gen. 42:37,38). The firstborn speaks up here with a bold but foolish plan. What good would killing Reuben's sons do if he failed to bring back Benjamin safely? I suppose Reuben felt that there was nothing of greater value he could pledge to his father to ensure Benjamin's safety. Jacob speaks definitely at this point that Benjamin would not go to Egypt--period. His words here show clearly what one might have expected all along. After Joseph's "death," Benjamin became the favored son. Jacob is even more zealous to protect and favor him than he was Joseph. He cannot bear the thought of losing Benjamin; the grief would literally kill him.