The last posting ended with Jacob *refusing to let Benjamin* travel back to Egypt with his older brothers, so that Simeon, who had stayed behind in Egypt as a hostage, might be released. Hence the brothers remained for the time being in Canaan.
It wasn’t too long, though, before the large quantities of corn and grain, that the brothers had brought back from Egypt, began seriously to deplete. Since the seven-year famine covered all the world, including Canaan, and since it was only Egypt that had stored enough food from the good years to tide over the famine years, the only realistic source of food for hungry Hebrews in Canaan was Egypt.
Jacob therefore said to his sons, “I want you boys to go back to Egypt and get more corn and grain.”
One of the brothers, Judah, said, “We’ll go, but only if Benjamin comes with us.”
“I’ve made clear many times that Benjy stays with me,” said Jacob. “You’ll just have to go without him. The ten of you are big strong boys. You’ll manage.”
“You forget, Father, that the Egyptian de facto prime minister told us he’ll assume we’re spies if we don’t produce Benjy. He’ll accordingly have us killed if we set foot in Egypt without him,” said Judah.
“Why did you even tell him you had another brother?” said Jacob.
“Because he asked us whether we had, so we said ‘yes.’ How were we to know he would respond as he did?” said Judah.
“His being so inquisitive about whether you had another brother does strike me as odd,” said Jacob. “It should have struck you as odd too, and you would have kept quiet about Benjy.”
“It’s all very well for you to say this, Father, but you weren’t there, were you.” said Judah.
“Don’t be facetious, boy,” said Jacob, “this is your father you’re speaking to.”
“That you think me facetious is beside the point, Father, which is that if you refuse to let Benjy come to Egypt with us, we won’t go for obvious reasons, so we’ll have no food and we’ll all die, including Benjy. You would be cutting off your nose to spite your face, wouldn’t you say, Father?”
“You do have a point, boy, despite your facetious tone.”
“I’ll go surety for Benjy if you let him come with us,” said Judah. “If Benjy doesn’t return from Egypt with us, you may hold me responsible and you can hold me guilty all my life.”
“Since I’m so old and can expect soon to be dead,” said Jacob, “I won’t be able to hold you guilty for long. So you’ll get off cheaply. Anyway, it seems I’ve little choice but to let Benjy go with you all. So, I’ll let him go. I would like also for you to take to give to this de facto prime minister some of the produce for which Canaan is famous, like balsam, honey, gum, tragacanth, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Also, give him some silver in addition to the silver you found in your sacks. I’ll not have this man think we Hebrews are charity cases for him to look down upon.”
Whereupon the brothers, including Benjamin, set off for Egypt.
Source: Genesis 43, 1-15