When Joseph first met again his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. At that time he was the governor of the land, and their brothers came to Egypt from the land of Canaan to buy grain from Joseph. So, naturally the brothers bowed themselves before Joseph with their faces to the ground. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them (Gen 37.1-11), the dreams that partly were instrumental to his exile to Egypt. The dream that was coming true in front of his eyes.
Joseph then treated his brothers like strangers. Even more, Joseph accused them of being spies to the land: “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” (Gen 42.9) The brothers of course denied it. But Joseph did not relent. He accused them of being spies again.
Then, the brothers responded again, this time giving out their background as to convince Joseph that they were not spies: “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” So, you see, Joseph, we are nothing more than a family. We are twelve brothers, and here we are, ten of them. Where are the other two? One is with our father, and one is no more. And that’s all! How could we, this single family, be a potential danger to your country? A fine rebuttal, indeed.
But, they leaked out an information that Joseph might need: the youngest is this day with our father! Joseph then accused them again, for the third time, and this time added that to prove their innocence, they must be able to bring the youngest brother to Egypt. They fell nicely to Joseph’s trap.
And this spells disaster for Jacob (the father, for those who are not familiar with the story). Upon hearing the news from Judah, Jacob was bewildered, why the heck they needed to tell the governor of the land that they had another brother. And, guess what did the brothers answer?
“The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions.”
And Joseph, never asked those questions. Like father, like sons, indeed. Cunning and deceptive.