Joseph stood before the pharaoh. He took a deep breath. “Pharaoh should put someone in charge of all the food in Egypt. Store the extra away. When the crops fail, the people can eat the food in the storehouses. Then they won’t have to go hungry.”
Pharaoh called his advisers. They nodded their heads and mumbled some more. They stood as Pharaoh spoke, “Your God is you in a very special way. He helps you to see where others are and I feel I can trust you. You will know the man for this job. You will rule the house, my people and all the foods in the land. There will be no greater than you in all of Egypt except for myself.”
Joseph staggered back a step. Just this morning he had been a prisoner and Pharaoh was giving him an Egyptian name. It meant “God-speaks; He Lives,” because Pharaoh knew God had spoken through Joseph.
During the next years it happened just the way Joseph had said it would. There were seven years of good crops. Joseph filled all the storehouses, then built new ones and filled those too. When the seven bad years came, Egypt was the only country with food. People froth all over went there to find something to eat.
The famine, as the years without food were called, reached all the way into the land of Canaan. That was where Joseph’s father and brothers still lived. They had grown rich during the seven good years. Once the seven bad years started, though, Jacob and his eleven sons ran out of food. Most of the sons were grown up and had families of their own to feed. Everyone was hungry.
The brothers grumbled, “What will we do now? Where will we find food?” Jacob knew there was food in Egypt. He had heard that from some merchants traveling through the area. He told his sons, “If you don’t want to starve to death, then go to Egypt. Take money with you and buy us some food.”
The brothers loaded up their camels and donkeys. They rode off toward Egypt. Not all of Jacob’s sons left, however. Benjamin stayed at home.
Benjamin was Jacob’s favorite son. After losing Joseph, Jacob never let this last child of Rachel’s out of his sight. Jacob still missed Joseph terribly. But Benjamin made his father laugh and smile. “No,” Jacob thought” Benjamin must stay here with me. What would I do if I lost Rachel’s second child as well as her first?”
Together Benjamin and Jacob waved at the ten brothers. Soon all they could see was a cloud of dust. Jacob took Benjamin’s hand. The father and son began to pray. They prayed for the ten brothers. They prayed they would be kept safe and would come home soon.
When the brothers arrived in Egypt they went straight to the man in charge of selling grain. That was Joseph. They did not see who he was. Joseph looked and acted too much like an Egyptian.
Joseph knew who they were, though. Yet he did not tell them. Instead he called them spies.
“We’re not spies, we’re brothers!”They told him. “There were twelve of. us but one is gone and the youngest is with our father.”
“I don’t believe you,” Joseph said. If you’re not spies, then prove it. Bring the youngest to me. In the meantime, I will keep one of you as prisoner.” Joseph pointed at his brother Simeon.
The brothers stood with their-mouths open. Then Joseph said, “But all of you must spend three days in prison.”
When the three days were over, the ten brothers rode home.
On the way they discovered that the money they had used to pay for the grain had been given back to them. “Oh no,” they moaned. “The Egyptian will think we stole the grain.”
When the brothers arrived home, they told Jacob what had happened. They asked if they could take Benjamin back to Egypt.
“Absolutely not! No one is taking my Benjamin from me. No! Benjamin stays here.” Jacob would not even listen to the brothers. He thought, “It is bad enough that Joseph is dead. Now they have left Simeon behind. No, they will never take Benjamin away.”