Jacob Comes Down into Egypt

When Joseph’s steward and the officers of his household heard what had come about, they too rejoiced. And it was told Pharaoh himself that after many years of separation, Joseph’s own brethren had come into Egypt to buy corn, and had at first not recognized him or even so much as dreamed it was he; but that he had now made himself known to them and they were re-united. This pleased Pharaoh well, and he himself spoke with Joseph.

‘Tell your brethren,’ he said, ‘that it is Pharaoh’s will and desire that they return at once into their own country and bring back with them your father and their wives and children. Bid them trouble not with what goods they have. For from henceforth they shall have the best that Egypt affords, they shall live on the fat of the land and shall never again be in want or danger. Let them be supplied with baggage- wagons and with whatever else they may need in their long and arduous journey into Egypt—for themselves, their wives and their little ones and for your father. Thou knowest that in all things thy joys are my joys. Let nothing then be wanting for their comfort and for thine own peace of mind. The best that Egypt has is theirs.’

So Joseph gave orders that his brothers should be provided with baggage-wagons as Pharaoh had said, with horses to draw them, and beasts of burden, and all things else and every comfort that his father or their wives and their daughters might need on the journey.

For presents, too, from himself, he gave them one and all changes of raiment, the choicest in Egypt, famous through all time for the fineness of its linen. But to his brother Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of raiment. To his father he sent a present too, such as prince might send to prince—ten he-asses laden with all the riches of Egypt—things of beauty, rare and costly; and ten she-asses, their paniers piled with wheat and fruits and delicacies for his comfort on the journey.

The next morning, when they were assembled together in the courtyard of Joseph’s house, and beyond its gates stood ready the baggage-wagons and the asses and the servants that were to go with them, Joseph himself came down out of his house to greet them and to bid them farewell; and his two small sons were with him. He embraced his brothers, and gave them but one word of counsel. ‘Remember only this,’ he said, ‘that between you and me there remains nothing now but love and friendship, so let there be peace between you all. No reproaches, no recriminations, nothing but well and fair until we meet again. I would not that you fall out with one another by the way.’

They talked together until the last moment came for their departure. Their cares were over, and as they set out in the clear brightness of the morning a great company of Joseph’s household watched them go.

Day after day they continued their journey, sleeping when dark came on where it was customary for caravans to camp for the night, until, after they had turned inward from the sea, they came without mischance into Canaan. News had already been brought to Jacob from servants whom he had sent out to keep watch for them, that they were drawing near. They came together to his tent, and when he saw that Simeon was with them, and Benjamin himself was clasped again in his arms, he bowed his head in thanks to God for this great mercy.

Hope had all but faded into despair; now he was at peace. But when they told him that his son Joseph was not only still alive but was lord and governor over the whole land of Egypt, he gazed at them, trembling. His heart fainted within him; for joy itself may be so sudden sweet as to be beyond credence. He could not believe them. He sat gazing mutely into their faces, and they were filled with remorse.

Even when they repeated to him in Joseph’s own words the message he had bidden them bring, his mind was still in confusion. It was not until, supporting his feeble footsteps, they led him out, and with his own eyes he saw the Egyptian wagons, and the horses that had been sent to carry him into Egypt, that he doubted no more. His spirit revived within him.

‘It is enough,’ he said. ‘Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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