“Unit 8: Day 2, Genesis 42–46,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 8: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
Because of widespread famine, Jacob sent 10 of his sons to Egypt to purchase grain. There they met but did not recognize their brother Joseph, who was governor over the land and in charge of selling the grain. Joseph accused them of being spies, imprisoned Simeon, and sent the others back to Canaan, telling them to return with their brother Benjamin. When the family needed more grain, Jacob reluctantly agreed to send Benjamin with his brothers to travel back to Egypt. After seeing his brothers’ remorse for their past sins, as well as their concern for Benjamin and their father, indicating they had changed their nature, Joseph revealed his true identity to them. Jacob and his household moved to Egypt, where he joyfully reunited with Joseph.
How often are God’s words or prophecies fulfilled? As you study Genesis 42–44, look for how God’s word was fulfilled in Joseph’s life.
In Genesis 41 you learned that Pharaoh had appointed Joseph to gather and store grain for seven years in preparation for a famine. After the famine began, Joseph sold grain to the people of Egypt and other nations.
Genesis 42:1–5 tells how Jacob sent all of his sons except Benjamin to Egypt to buy food so they could survive the famine. Read Genesis 42:6–9, looking for what happened when Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt.
Joseph had last seen his brothers more than 20 years earlier, when they had sold him as a slave. You may want to mark in verse 9 what Joseph remembered when he saw his brothers.
- Complete the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Read Genesis 37:6–7, 9–10. Then draw a picture of these two dreams that Joseph had. (Sheaves are bundles of wheat or grain, and obeisance is an expression of deep respect or courtesy before a superior, often made by bowing.)
Read Genesis 42:6, and answer the following question: How were Joseph’s dreams fulfilled?
One truth we can learn from the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams is that God’s words or prophecies given through His servants are fulfilled according to His will. You may want to write this truth in the margin of your scriptures near Genesis 42:6.
Genesis 42:10–20 tells how Joseph tested his brothers, allowing them to show if they had changed, by accusing them of being spies and putting them into prison. After three days Joseph told his brothers that in order to prove that they were honest men, one of them would remain a prisoner in Egypt while the rest were to return home and bring their youngest brother, Benjamin, back to Egypt.
Read Genesis 42:21–24, looking for what Joseph’s brothers began to think about when they realized that one of them would have to remain as a prisoner in Egypt while the others went to get Benjamin.
Notice that Joseph’s brothers mentioned another brother in these verses. Who is the brother that they were referring to in these verses?
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What evidence do you see in Genesis 42:21–22 that Joseph’s brothers were suffering for their sin against him?
Why do you think Joseph’s brothers still felt guilty about what they had done to Joseph even though it had been more than 20 years since they had sold Joseph as a slave and then lied to their father about it?
Consider how feelings of guilt can be a blessing. Read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and underline what he taught were some of the purposes of feeling guilt when we sin: “All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound. When we are in pain, we typically seek relief and are grateful for the medication and treatments that help to alleviate our suffering. Consider sin as a spiritual wound that causes guilt. … Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 44).
Ponder how guilt can protect us from additional spiritual damage. Why is it good that guilt can cause us to regret our sins?
Read the following statement by Elder Bednar, looking for what happens when people repent and make appropriate changes in their lives: “The Savior is often referred to as the Great Physician, and this title has both symbolic and literal significance. … From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve [something that heals and soothes] that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt. However, this salve can only be applied through the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and consistent obedience. The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” 44).
Ponder what you can do to follow Elder Bednar’s counsel to seek peace and spiritual healing by exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repenting of your sins.
Genesis 42:25–35 tells how Joseph imprisoned Simeon and sent the other brothers home with grain. But before they left, Joseph commanded his servants to hide the money his brothers used to purchase the grain in the brothers’ sacks of grain. When the brothers later discovered the money in their sacks, they were afraid.
Read Genesis 42:36–38, looking for how Jacob initially responded to his sons’ request to take Benjamin back to Egypt with them. (The word bereaved in verse 36 means to lose or be deprived of something or someone.)
Jacob at first rejected the idea of sending Benjamin back to Egypt with his other sons. However, in Genesis 43 we learn that the famine continued and Jacob’s family ran out of food again. After Reuben and Judah had solemnly promised that they would protect and return their brother at all costs (see Genesis 42:37; Genesis 43:8–9), Jacob was persuaded to allow Benjamin to go with his nine brothers back to Egypt to get more food. After arriving in Egypt, the brothers were taken to Joseph’s house. There Joseph struggled to conceal his feelings as he saw his brother Benjamin, whom he had not seen for more than 20 years. (Remember that Benjamin is Joseph’s younger brother and his only brother from their mother, Rachel, who had died while giving birth to Benjamin.)
As his brothers were preparing to return to Canaan, Joseph devised a plan that would prevent them from leaving Egypt. Read Genesis 44:1–2, looking for what Joseph planned.
Genesis 44:3–10 tells how Joseph sent his steward to apprehend his brothers and accuse them of stealing Joseph’s silver cup. Joseph’s brothers responded to this accusation by claiming that if one of them had stolen the cup, that person would die and the rest would become Joseph’s servants.
Read Genesis 44:11–17, looking for what happened as the brothers opened their sacks.
What do you think Judah meant when he said, “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” (Genesis 44:16)? _____________
In Genesis 44:18–29 Judah told Joseph what had happened since they came to Egypt the first time to buy grain. He told Joseph how worried their father, Jacob, was to let his youngest son, Benjamin, travel to Egypt because he was afraid of losing him like he had lost another son—Joseph.
Read Genesis 44:30–34, looking for what Judah said would happen to Jacob if Benjamin did not return. In verse 33, mark what Judah was willing to do so that Benjamin could go free. (A surety is similar to a guarantee.)
While we may not know how completely repentant Judah and his brothers were from this account, from Judah’s example we can learn a valuable truth regarding repentance for our own sins: Sincere repentance includes acknowledging our wrongs, turning away from sinful actions, and having our hearts changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
To help you better understand this truth, read the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Repentance means striving to change. … Surely the Lord smiles upon one who desires to come to judgment worthily, who resolutely labors day by day to replace weakness with strength. Real repentance, real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving. Divine forgiveness and healing flow quite naturally to such a soul” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 39).
- Think of someone you know who was willing to make significant changes to his or her behaviors and attitudes in order to repent. In your scripture study journal, describe what the person was like before the change and what the person was like after the change. (Do not write the person’s name or provide other identifying details.)
Think about any attitudes or behaviors that Heavenly Father would like you to change. Record in your personal journal how you will do this.
Joseph’s life was full of trials and hardships. Many of these trials, such as being sold into Egypt as a slave, were cruel and undeserved.
Genesis 45:1–3 tells how Joseph revealed who he was to his brothers. Read Genesis 45:4–8, looking for what Joseph told his brothers about who had really sent him to Egypt. (The phrase “it was not you that sent me hither, but God” in verse 8 means that in spite of Joseph’s brothers’ sin of selling him into slavery, God was with Joseph and guided his being taken into Egypt.)
From these verses we learn that if we are faithful, God can direct our lives and help us make trials become blessings for ourselves and others.
In Genesis 46 we read that Jacob took all of his family and their possessions and traveled to Egypt. On the way, the Lord spoke to Jacob in a vision and told him not to fear settling his family in Egypt because He would be with Jacob and would make of him a great nation.
When Jacob arrived in Egypt, there was a tender reunion between him and his son Joseph.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Genesis 42–46 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: