Story Eighteen

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 4
THE food which Jā́ cob's sons had brought from Ḗ ġy̆pt did not last long, for Jā́ cob's family was large. Most of his sons were married and had children of their own; so that the children and grand-children were sixty-six, besides the servants who waited on them, and the men who cared for Jā́ cob's flocks. So around the tent of Jacob was quite a camp of other tents and an army of people.
When the food that had come from Ḗ ġy̆pt was nearly eaten up, Jā́ cob said to his sons:
"Go down to Wept again, and buy some more food for us.”
And Jū́ dah, Jā́ cob's son, the man who years before had urged his brothers to sell Jṓ s̝eph to the Ĭś̝ ra-el-ītes, said to his father:
"It is of no use for us to go to Ḗ ġy̆pt, unless we take Bĕń ja-mĭn with us. The man who rules in that land said to us, 'You shall not see my face, unless your youngest brother be with you." ”
Ĭś̝ ra-el said, "Why did you tell the man that you had a brother? You did me great harm when you told him.”
"Why," said Jā́ cob's sons, "we could not help telling him. The man asked us all about our family. Is your father yet living? Have you any more brothers? and we had to tell him, his questions were so close. How should we know that he would say, 'Bring your brother here for me to see him.”
And Jū́ dah said, "Send Bĕń ja-mĭn with me, and I will take care of him. I promise you, that I will bring him safely home. If he does not come back, let me bear the blame forever. He must go, or we shall die for want of food; and we might have gone down to Ḗ ġy̆pt and come home again, if we had not been kept back.”
And Jā́ cob said, "If he must go, then he must. But take a present to the man, some of the choicest fruits of the land, some spices, and perfumes, and nuts, and almonds. And take twice as much money, besides the money that was in your sacks. Perhaps that was a mistake, when the money was given back to you. And take your brother Bĕń ja-mĭn; and may the Lord God make the man kind to you, so that he will set Sĭḿ e-on free, and let you bring Bĕń ja-mĭn back. But if it is God's will that I lose my children, I cannot help it.”
So ten brothers of Joseph went down a second time to Ḗ ġy̆pt, Bĕń ja-mĭn going in place of Sĭḿ e-on. They came to Jō˗s̝eph’s office, the place where he sold grain to the people; and they stood before their brother, and bowed as before.. Jō˗s̝eph saw that Bĕń ja-mĭn was with them, and he said to his steward, the man who was over his house: "Make ready a dinner, for all these men shall dine with me to-day.”
When Jō˗s̝eph’s brothers found that they were taken into Jō˗s̝eph’s house, they were filled with fear; they said to each other:
"We have been taken here on account of the money in our sacks. They will say that we have stolen; and then they will sell us all for slaves.”
But Jṓ s̝eph’s steward, the man who was over his house, treated the men kindly, and when they spoke of the money in their sacks, he would not take it again, saying: "Never fear; your God must have sent you this as a gift. I had your money." The steward received the men into Jṓ s̝eph’s house, and washed their feet, according to the custom of the land. And at noon, Jṓ s̞eph came in to meet them. They brought him the present from their father, and again they bowed before him, with their faces on the ground.
And Jṓ s̝eph asked them if they were well, and said: "Is your father still living, the old man of whom you' spoke? Is he well?”
And they said, "Our father is well, and he is living." And again they bowed to Jṓ s̝eph. And Jṓ s̝eph looked at his younger brother, Bĕń ja-mĭn, the child of his own mother, Rā́ chel; and he said: "Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious unto you, my son.”
And Jṓ s̝eph’s heart was so full that he could not keep back his tears. He went in haste to his own room, and wept there. Then he washed his face, and came out again, and ordered the table to be set for dinner. They set Jṓ s̝eph’s table for himself, as the ruler, and another table for his Ē̇-ġy̆ṕtian officers, and another for the eleven men from Cā́năan; for Jó̄ s̝eph had brought Sĭḿe-on out of the prison, and had given him a place with his brothers.
Jó̄-s̝eph himself arranged the order of the seats for his brothers, the oldest at the head; and all in order of age down to the youngest. The men wondered at this, and could not see how the ruler of Ḗ ġy̆pt should know the order of their ages. And Jó̄ s̝eph sent dishes from his table to his brothers; and he gave to Bĕń ja-mĭn five times as much as to the others. Perhaps he wished to see whether they were as jealous of Bĕń ja-mĭn as in other days they had been toward him.
After dinner, Jō˗s̝eph said to his steward, "Fill the men's sacks with grain, as much as they can carry; and put each man's money in his sack. And put my silver cup in the sack of the youngest, with his money.”
The steward did as Joseph had said; and early in the morning the brothers started to go home. A little while afterward, Jṓ s̝eph said to his steward:
"Hasten, follow after the men from Cā́ năan, and say, 'Why have you wronged me, after I had treated you kindly? You have stolen my master's silver cup, out of which he drinks.'" The steward followed the men, and overtook them, and charged them with stealing. And they said to him:
"Why should you talk to us in this manner? We have stolen nothing. Why, we brought back to you the money that we found in our sacks; and is it likely that we would steal from your lord his silver or gold? You may search us; and if you find your master's cup on any of us, let him die, and the rest of us may be sold as slaves.”
Then they took down the sacks from the asses, and opened them; and in each man's sack was his money, for the second time.
And when they came to Bĕń ja-mĭn's sack, there was the ruler's silver cup! Then, in the greatest sorrow, they tied up their bags again, and laid them on the asses, and came back to Jṓ s̝eph’s palace. And Joseph said to them:
"What wicked thing is this that you have done? Did you not know that I would surely find out your deeds?”
Then Judah said, "O my lord, what can we say? God has punished us for our sins; and now we must all be slaves, both us that are older, and the youngest in whose sack the cup was found.”
"No," said Jṓ s̝eph, "only one of you is guilty, the one who has taken away my cup; I will hold him as a slave, and the rest of you can go home to your father.”
Joseph wished to see whether his brothers were still selfish, and were willing to let Bĕńja-mĭn suffer, if they could escape.
Then Jū́ dah, the very man who had urged his brothers to sell Jṓ s̝eph as a slave, came forward, and fell at Jṓ s̝eph's feet, and pleaded with him to let Bĕńja-mĭn go. He told again the whole story, how Bĕn-já mĭn was the one whom his father loved the most of all his children, now that his brother was lost. He said:
"I promised to bear the blame, if this boy was not brought home in safety. If he does not go back, it will kill our poor old father, who has seen much trouble. Now let my youngest brother go home to his father, and I will stay here as a slave in his place!”
Joseph knew now what he had longed to know, that his brothers were no longer cruel nor selfish, but one of them was willing to suffer, so that his brother might be spared. And Jṓ s̝eph could not any longer keep his secret, for his heart longed after his brothers, and he was ready to weep again, with tears of love and joy. He sent all his Ē-ġy̆ṕ tian servants out of the room, so that he might be alone with his brothers, and then said:
"Come near to me, I wish to speak with you;" and they came near, wondering. Then Jṓ s̞eph said:
"I am Jṓ s̝eph; is my father really alive?" How frightened his brothers were, as they heard these words, spoken in their own language by the ruler of Ḗ ġy̆pt, and for the first time knew that this stern man, who had their lives in his hand, was their own brother whom they had wronged! Then Jṓ s̝eph said again:
"I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Ḗ ġy̆pt. But do not feel troubled because of what you did. For God sent me before you to save your lives. There have been already two years of need and famine, and there are to be five years more, when there shall neither be plowing of the fields nor harvest. It was not you who sent me here, but God, and he sent me to save your lives. God has made me like a father to Phā́ raōh and ruler over all the land of Ḗ ġy̆pt. Now, go home, and bring down to me my father and all his family, for that is the only way to save their lives.”
Then Jṓ s̝eph placed his arms around Bĕń ja-mĭn's neck, and kissed him, and wept upon him. And Bĕń-ja-mĭn wept on his neck. And Jṓ s̝eph kissed all his brothers, to show them that he had fully forgiven them; and after that his brothers began to lose their fear of Jṓ s̝eph, and talked with him more freely.
Afterward Jṓ s̝eph sent his brothers home with good news, and rich gifts, and abundant food. He sent also wagons in which Jā́ cob and his wives and the little ones of his family might ride from Cā́ năan down to Ḗ ġy̆pt. And Jṓ s̝eph's brothers went home happier than they had been for many years.