‘But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here.”’ (Genesis 42:14-15)
Joseph has recognized his brothers, but they don’t know him. That gives him the opportunity to test them: have the brothers changed since they sold him as a slave? Are they still liars, or have they indeed become “honest men”, as they call themselves? Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies, and tells them that they need to bring their youngest brother as proof that they have spoken the truth about their background. That is a problematic request, since father Jacob is not at all ready to send his youngest son Benjamin to Egypt! But eventually he has to, and this gives Joseph an excellent opportunity to see how the other brothers treat him.
It turns out that the brothers have indeed changed: they don’t show any jealousy towards Benjamin, even though Joseph gives him five times more food than the others during a meal. And when Joseph accuses Benjamin of theft and threatens to enslave him, his brother Judah even pleads: “Please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers.” (Genesis 44:33)
The brothers do not take their opportunity to get rid of Benjamin, but try to protect him wherever they can. This gives Joseph the answers he was looking for, and he reveals himself: “I am your brother, Joseph”!
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