Genesis Challenge | Chapters 42-44: Jacob’s Sons Are Tested

While Joseph’s faith was matured in chapters 39-41, in 42-44, Jacob’s sons are tested by God. God’s ultimate goal in Jacob’s family is complete reconciliation, which we will see accomplished in chapter 50. Early in this chapter, the famine that affects Egypt and all the surrounding lands reveals that Jacob continues to favor the sons of Rachel. With Joseph gone, Jacob has turned his special attention to Joseph’s younger full brother, Benjamin. When it becomes urgent to buy grain from Egypt, Jacob sends his other 10 sons on the dangerous journey, but can’t bear to part with his beloved Benjamin.

The motive behind the events of chapters 42-44 can be hard understand, so let’s try to unpack it. Remember that by the time Joseph’s brothers arrive in Egypt to buy grain, it has been over 20 years since Joseph has seen them (13 years from Joseph’s captivity to his elevation as Prime Minister plus, at least 7 years of abundant harvests before the famine). He has had no news of his family. He has no idea whether their self-centered, deceptive, and violent natures have changed. Do they feel remorse for what they did all those years ago? Can they be trusted? These are some reasons why he devised his elaborate plan to put his brothers at his mercy in order to achieve real reconciliation. Here are some issues to consider as you read these chapters:

  • Do you think that the brothers’ attitude toward their predicament in 42:21-23 show some signs of remorse for what they did to Joseph more than 20 years before?
  • Notice what seems to be a deep change of heart in Judah as described in chapters 43 and 44. At some point Judah seems to have moved back home from his time away in Adullam. How has Judah changed since chapter 38? Does this reflect a change in the brothers as a whole?
  • Can people truly change later in life?


As you work your way through this chapter, use these four questions as guides for discovery and personal growth:

  • Find at least one new fact.
  • Discover at least one cultural difference between times in Genesis and our own culture.
  • Pinpoint any faith principles you see.
  • Select one attitude, behavior, or action that you want to apply in your own life.

You will find it helpful to keep a journal or log to record your thoughts, questions, and findings. Please feel free to share what you are learning on the Aspect Ministries Facebook page.