What does Genesis 42:5 mean?
ESV: Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
NIV: So Israel's sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.
NASB: So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who were coming, because the famine was also in the land of Canaan.
CSB: The sons of Israel were among those who came to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
NLT: So Jacob’s sons arrived in Egypt along with others to buy food, for the famine was in Canaan as well.
KJV: And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
Verse Commentary:
Sent by their father Jacob from the Promised Land of Canaan (Genesis 37:1), the ten oldest "sons of Israel" (Genesis 35:10) arrive in Egypt. They find themselves among the throng of travelers from many lands, all looking to buy food to help their people survive the desperate famine (Genesis 42:1–4). Their younger brother, Benjamin, has not come along. Their father believes he has lost one son to death (Genesis 37:31–34), not knowing Joseph was sold as a slave by the jealous older sons (Genesis 37:28).

One reason for the brothers' hatred of Joseph were his dreams, which predicted they would one day bow to him (Genesis 37:5–11). They don't know that the brother they hated and sold is now the governor of the entire nation of Egypt (Genesis 41:44, 56). The unlikeliest of reunions is about to take place, and each of these ten men will end up bowing in submission, just as the dreams predicted (Genesis 42:6). This will ultimately lead the entire family to come to Egypt, under the leadership of Joseph (Genesis 47:11–12).
Verse Context:
Genesis 42:1–17 contains the unlikeliest of reunions: that between Joseph and his ten oldest brothers (Genesis 37:28). They have been sent by Jacob to Egypt to buy grain during a terrible famine (Genesis 41:53–54). They don't recognize their brother, now an Egyptian ruler. Joseph knows them but keeps the secret; he responds harshly to avoid breaking the illusion. He then puts them in prison for three days, saying they might be spies. All the while, he has a plan in mind.
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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