Genesis 42:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 42:1, NIV: When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, 'Why do you just keep looking at each other?'

Genesis 42:1, ESV: When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?”

Genesis 42:1, KJV: Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?

Genesis 42:1, NASB: Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, 'Why are you staring at one another?'

Genesis 42:1, NLT: When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, 'Why are you standing around looking at one another?

Genesis 42:1, CSB: When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you keep looking at each other?

What does Genesis 42:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

After focusing on Joseph's experiences in chapters 39, 40, and 41, the spotlight of Genesis swings back to his family in Canaan. The final verses of Genesis 41 described a worldwide famine, drawing people from all over the region to buy food from Egypt. There, the brother sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28) has now become governor of the entire nation.

In Canaan, Joseph's father Jacob and his family were facing a food shortage, along with everyone else. Jacob would have been quite old by this time. More than twenty years have passed since Joseph's brothers sold him to passing slave traders to be rid of him. He was seventeen when he was sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28), and it has been more than seven years since he rose to power at the age of thirty (Genesis 41:46, 53–54). For all these years, Jacob has believed his son dead, killed by a wild animal (Genesis 37:31–34).

Now news reaches Jacob and his sons that there is food in Egypt and that it's for sale. Jacob, still the leader of his clan, becomes unusually impatient. His question is somewhat like the expression "what are you waiting for?" This is not so much a question as a statement: they need to act. They must obtain food before it's too late.