42 25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put back their silver into each one’s sack, and to provide them with supplies for their trip. It was done. 26 The brothers loaded their grain onto their donkeys and went out from there.
27 One of them opened their sack to feed his donkey when they camped for the night and saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My silver has been returned. It’s right here in my sack.” The heart went out of them, trembling, they said to each other, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29 When they returned to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told all that had befallen them: 30 “The man who governed the country spoke harshly to us and accused us of being spies in the country. 31 We said, ‘We are honest. We would never spy. 32 We twelve are brothers, all our father’s sons. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 The man, country’s administrator, said, ‘Here is how I will know you are honest: Leave one of your brothers with me, take grain for those famished in your households, and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me, so I will know that you are not spies, but honest. I will give your brother back to you, and you may engage in trade throughout the land.’”
35 When they opened their sacks, each one found a pouch of his silver in his sack. When they and their father saw the pouches of silver, they were afraid. 36 Jacob their father said to them, “I am bereaved. Joseph is no more. Simeon is no more. Benjamin, you would take? All this comes upon me!”
37 Reuben spoke to his father, “My two sons, you may put to death if I do not bring him back to you. Place him in my hands, and I will return him to you.”
38 Jacob said, “My son will not go down with you because his brother is dead, and he alone remains. Should harm befall him on the way you go, you will bring down on my gray hair, grief, all the way to Sheol.”
With Joseph’s decision to keep Simeon as a hostage, nine brothers prepare to leave with the grain they have purchased from the Grain Master. Joseph, with Jacob’s trickery running in his veins, orders those filling the bags with grain to sneak the silver used to purchase the grain into the middle of the bags. Joseph’s servants also supplied provisions for the brother’s return trip.
That evening, or a next, one of the brothers found silver in his bag while feeding his donkey. In reporting his find to his brothers, they were flabbergasted. The longer they tried to make sense of this discovery, the more scared they became. In the end, fear best describes their state. The silver traps them into not only being accused of being spies but also charged with thievery. Who else but G*D could arrange this state of affairs that turns “good fortune” into a trap?
Upon arriving in Canaan, the brothers tell Jacob of their trip. They speak of being called spies, of the need to take Benjamin back to Egypt to prove their innocence, and the trap of the silver that will be present should they return to ransom Simeon.
Jacob meets, again, his fear of what Esau would do to him—take his flocks and destroy his family (well, sons). In typical Jacob fashion, Jacob makes the situation all about him. Joseph came by his centering dreams honestly.
Reuben, still looking to get back into Jacob’s good graces, offers his two sons to Jacob as collateral for Benjamin’s safety.
Jacob is adamant that Rachel’s remaining son will not be put at risk. Choosing Benjamin means Simeon is disposable for Jacob. As time drags on, readers may wonder how Simeon is faring in the pit of a dungeon.