12 “He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” 13 And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” 14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. 15 By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” 17 And he put them all together in custody for three days.” (Genesis 42:12–17 (ESV)
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Joseph’s dream of his brothers’ sheaves bowing to his has begun to come true (Gen. 37:5–8; 42:6), but it still remains for his parents and his youngest brother to come before him (37:9–11). However, he does not know if these others are still alive, and so he moves to find out about the rest of his family. Yet Joseph does not reveal his identity to his brothers when they first bow before him (42:7), probably because he assumes they will not tell him, their envied sibling, the truth.”
Joseph accused his elder brothers a second time of being spies against Egypt. In their defense, they began to reveal details of their family who lived in Canaan. They described their family as consisting of twelve brothers, the sons of one man. They acknowledged the existence of an even younger brother, Benjamin, who we know remained with his father Jacob (Gen. 42:1-5).
Interestingly, the mention that one of their brothers “is no more.” This is a euphemism to mean that one of their brothers was dead, or perhaps missing. They did not know that Joseph, the brother they sold into slavery so many years ago and perhaps they thought was dead, was the individual who was before them.
Puritan commentator Matthew Henry writes about Joseph’s brothers that “they were very submissive. They spoke to him with all the respect imaginable: ‘Nay, my lord’ (v. 10)—a great change since they said, ‘Behold, this dreamer comes.’ They very modestly deny the charge: We are no spies. They tell him their business that they came to buy food, a justifiable errand, and the same that many strangers came to Egypt upon at this time. They undertake to give a particular account of themselves and their family (v. 13), and this was what they wanted.”
Joseph again accused them of being spies (vs. 14). Joseph initially imprisoned his brothers for three days. He also tested them by saying that they would remain prisoners until their youngest brother came to Egypt. The brothers who threw Joseph into a pit, and later sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:12-28), are now the ones in prison.
Dr. Sproul explains that, “Under pressure, they confess that Benjamin is still alive and begin to allay Joseph’s fears about his brother’s fate. But Joseph does not know whether they have come to acknowledge their guilt for the way they got rid of him. In fact, they gloss over his fate, merely saying that Joseph, before whom they unknowingly stand, is “no more” (v. 13). Joseph accuses his brothers not only to find out about the rest of his family, but also to punish them for their sins. They are put in prison, for example, just as Joseph was imprisoned by them in the pit (37:24).”
Galatians 6:7–8 (ESV) says, “7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Take the necessary steps today to repent of your sin knowing that you will reap what you sow. The consequences of sin can be far greater than we ever thought imaginable.
Soli deo Gloria!