What does Genesis 42:26 mean?
ESV: Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed.
NIV: they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
NASB: So they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed from there.
CSB: They loaded the grain on their donkeys and left there.
NLT: So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.
KJV: And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
Verse Commentary:
After several days of confinement (Genesis 42:17), nine of Joseph's ten brothers begin the return trip to Canaan (Genesis 42:1–5). They are loaded down with grain, just as they had hoped to be when they came. Simeon has been left behind under the apparent threat of death if they do not return with their youngest brother Benjamin. The men don't realize the governor who harassed them is the very brother they sold into slavery twenty years earlier (Genesis 37:28; 41:41–45). They know the two events are connect, somehow (Genesis 42:21–22).

The brothers also don't know that Joseph has returned their money to their bags. The funds they thought were used to pay for their grain are still with them—something they will be horrified to discover soon (Genesis 42:27).

One painful detail certainly is on their minds. They are once again returning home without one of their brothers, just as they did on that day when they deceptively told their father Jacob that Joseph had died (Genesis 37:31–33). The entire trip home is likely filled with dread at the thought of how Jacob will respond, especially when he hears the ruler of Egypt has demanded they return with his beloved Benjamin.
Verse Context:
Genesis 42:18–28 describes a powerful Egyptian governor sending nine of Jacob's sons home with purchased grain, while keeping Simeon as collateral. He commands the others to return only if they can prove their honesty by bringing along their youngest brother. The men tell each other they must be suffering for abusing another brother, Joseph (Genesis 37:28). They don't realize the governor is Joseph himself (Genesis 42:7) and that he understands their language. After leaving, the horrified brothers find the payment for the grain is still in their bags. They do not know Joseph secretly arranged to give it back to them.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 42 describes the moment Joseph sees his brothers for the first time since they sold him into slavery over 20 years earlier. They have come to Egypt to buy grain, and they do not recognize him. He keeps his secret, speaking roughly to them and hinting they may be spies. He allows them to leave only if they promise to return with their youngest brother Benjamin. He keeps Simeon as collateral but sends them off with full sacks of grain for their family. He also secretly returns their money, something they are terrified to discover on the way home. Back in Canaan, Jacob responds to this terrible news with bitterness and vindictive blame.
Chapter Context:
Twenty years prior to the events of this chapter, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:28). Miraculously, Joseph is now the governor of the nation of Egypt (Genesis 41:44). His brothers, who know nothing of Joseph's fate, have come to buy food during a terrible famine (Genesis 41:56–57). Joseph, probably and justifiably angry at his brothers, keeps his identity a secret, at first. Over the next several chapters, he will test, challenge, and chasten them. Yet there is no revenge involved; everything Joseph does furthers a long-term goal of rescuing the family from starvation.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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