The majority of this chapter is spent on accounting for all of the people included in Jacob’s house/family that went with him to Egypt. They are organized by mother. Jacob finally arrives in Egypt, and reunites with his son Joseph. Jacob is brought to tears with joy. Joseph then goes to tell the pharaoh that his family has arrived. He also informs them that he will tell the pharaoh that they are shepherds, and to say the same when they are asked. This is because shepherds are abhorrent to Egyptians.
Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, and immediately asks about his father. He tells his brothers to hurry home, get their father and to have everyone move down to Egypt, where he will provide for them. Pharaoh then hears about Joseph’s brothers, and also says that they should move to Egypt, where they will be provided with the best that Egypt has to offer. They returned to their father, who did not believe them until he saw all that Pharaoh and Joseph had sent with them. He then exclaimed, “My son Joseph is still alive! I must go and see him before I die.”
The famine continued, and the brothers father, Israel for this chapter, told them to go back to Egypt and to buy more grain. They reminded their father that in Egypt, they were told not to return unless they brought along their youngest brother. Judah convinced Israel to let him be responsible for the youngest brother. Israel also told the boys to bring gifts for grain seller in Egypt, pistachios, almonds, gum, as well as double the money they brought last time. This was to return the money from the first time, and to pay for new grain too.
When Joseph saw his brothers return, he had the house steward slaughter an animal and prepare a banquet for them. However, the brothers became apprehensive when they were led into Joseph’s house. They thought they were being led into a trap, and told the steward of what had happened to them last time and the money they found. The steward said that he had received the money for their purchase, and that they should not worry. Thew meal went well and Joseph inquired about the state of his family.
The famine in the previous chapter was not just in Egypt, but the entire region. Joseph’s family sends ten of his brothers to Egypt to buy grain. Jacob, their father, keeps Benjamin behind for fear that something bad might happen to him. Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers, but keeps his identity hidden, and speaks harshly to them, accusing them of being spies, and locks them all up for three days. After three days, Joseph stated that in order to prove their innocence the brothers must return with their youngest, the caveat being that one brother must remain in custody. Simeon was bound, and the other 9 brothers were loaded with grain and sent home. Upon return, the brothers informed their father, Jacob, of what had happened, and also discovered that their money had been returned. However, Jacob refused to let the brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin in order to rescue Simeon.
Whole Joseph was imprisoned, the royal baker and cup bearer were imprisoned as well. While doing his duties one day, he noticed that they looked disturbed. Upon inquiry, they stated that they had both had dreams, but nobody to interpret them. Joseph offered his help. First was the cup bearer:
“I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. It had barely budded when its blossoms came out, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes, pressed them out into his cup, and put it in Pharaoh’s hand.” (Genesis 40:10-11)
Joseph interprets this dream favorably, telling the man that he will be restored to his former position of cup bearer. Joseph then requests that when this happens, that the cup bearer tell the pharaoh about Joseph, and how he was kidnapped from his land and is wrongly imprisoned. Because of the favorable interpretation given to the cup bearer, the baker asks for his dream to be interpreted as well:
“I too had a dream. In it I had three bread baskets on my head; in the top one were all kinds of bakery products for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” (Genesis 40:16-17)
Joseph did not interpret this dream in a favorable way. Instead, he told the baker that in three days the pharaoh would have him impaled. Three days later the pharaoh had a banquet, and Joseph’s interpretations of the dreams came true. The baker was impaled, and the cup bearer was restored to his position, however he did not tell the pharaoh about Joseph.
Joseph (whose brothers tried to kill him and left him down a well) was sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph was good at being a house servant, and his master made him his personal servant. Joseph was trusted with the household, and with this God blessed the entire house. The masters wife took a liking to Joseph, and continuously asked him to sleep with her. Joseph always refused, seeing the act as a sin against God. One day she came onto him by grabbing his cloak. Joseph ran away, leaving his cloak in her hand. She then told the other servants and her husband that Joseph tried to have his way with her, but her screams prevented it. The master of the house had Joseph imprisoned. God remained with Joseph while in prison, causing the jailer to be well disposed towards Joseph. Joseph was put in charge of the prisoners, and just about anything else that had to be done.
Judah, one of Jacob’s sons marries an unnamed woman. With her he has 3 sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er marries Tamar, but he greatly offended God, so God killed him. Judah then gives Tamar to Onan saying,
“Have intercourse with your brother’s wife, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.”
Onan knew that any child conceived with Tamar would be considered his brothers, so every time they had sex, he pulled out. This made God angry, and God killed him. Judah then sent Tamar back to her father’s house, telling her to wait until Shelah grows up. Time passes, and Judah’s wife dies. After he mourns he goes to visit the people who shear his sheep. Tamar is told of his journey, and she takes off her widow’s clothes and wraps herself in a shawl, and waits for Judah to pass. At this point Shelah has grown up, but Tamar has not been given to him. When Judah passes her, he thinks she is a prostitute, and does not recognize her as his daughter-in-law. For the price of a young goat he has sex with Tamar. After, Tamar goes home and back to being a widow. When Judah becomes aware that Tamar is pregnant, she is accused of being a prostitute. Tamar then reveals that it is Judah’s child she is carrying, and he says that she is in the right, because he did not give her to Shelah. Tamar is not burned to death, and has twins.