29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying, 30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. 31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies: 32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan. 33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: 34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
The brothers make it back home and now they have to tell their father what transpired. Yes, they have the grain, but at what cost? And this, of course, is not the first time that they have returned to their father with a tragic report. Once, more than twenty years ago, they came to tell him that his son had been ravaged by a beast, now they inform him that another son is bound in prison.
And while it might appear that the brothers couldn’t possibly be responsible for the misfortune in Egypt, they actually are. If it felt like the foreign ruler had some strange vendetta against them it’s because he really did, and though they don’t know it, they have only themselves to blame for it.
The perpetually guilty may very well portray themselves as perpetually unfortunate, but sooner or later the mask starts to wear thin, and one begins to wonder if the always-unlucky isn’t actually creating his own bad luck. And as we will see in Jacob’s response, he is not about to give these troublesome sons the benefit of the doubt.