A study of Genesis 42-47
As interpreted, the famine was severe. Joseph is in charge of all the land, and Egypt had plenty of grain.
Jacob has heard that there is grain in Egypt and makes his sons go there to buy grain. Now, it has been 20 years since the brother’s treacherous act of betrayal, so they did not recognize Joseph. Joseph immediately knew his brothers but did not reveal himself.
Joseph accused the brothers of being spies. The brothers denying this 3 separate times shares they are all brothers of the same father. They also mention their younger brother who stayed back with their father; Joseph used this opportunity to question his father and brother. Joseph demands the brothers prove their trustworthiness by going back and getting their younger brother.
The brothers could buy what they needed, and all were permitted to leave except Simeon, who was kept in captivity.
Joseph put their money back in their bags, unknown to them. When they returned to their home, they saw the money and were fearful. Because the money was in their bags, it may be thought they took the grain without paying.
The brothers shared with Jacob that Joseph wanted them to return with Benjamin. Jacob was distraught over this; Ben was the son of Rachel, whom Jacob loved deeply. He did not want to lose Ben as he had lost Joseph.
The famine was severe, and Jacob forced the brothers to go back to Egypt with Benjamin. When Joseph saw his youngest brother, he ordered a large meal prepared for them all. He was overwhelmed with emotions, so much so he escaped to his rooms and wept.
Joseph gives instructions that his drinking cup is put in Benjamin’s bag as they are all leaving. He is accused of stealing, and Joseph states he is going to keep him as his slave. Fearing what losing Benjamin would do to their father, they pleaded to take his place as Joseph’s slave.
So overcome with emotions, Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers. He wept with them and told them to go and bring their father to him. They did this, and when Joseph and Jacob were reunited, Jacob was so elated he said he could now die with happiness because he knew Joseph was alive.
Jacob lived in Egypt with Joseph for 17 years. Knowing his time was short, he promised Joseph not to bury him in Egypt but take him back to be laid with his fathers. It was a promise that Joseph kept.