35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.

One of the brothers had opened his sack of grain on the way home and found his money restored, but apparently the others did not check theirs until they were all gathered before their faither. Now they see that all of them have had their money returned to them and it fills them with dread.

On the one hand, they might rightly assume that this is a trick by that suspicious head Egyptian, Zaphnath-paaneah, who sold them the grain. And based on his attitude towards the brothers earlier, it would seem likely Zaphnath had done this to entrap them, rather than as a kindness. Indeed, they will suggest as much in the very next chapter.

Or, on the other hand, it might have ended up in their grain as a mistake, in which case the Egyptians might have found the imbalance in their ledgers, and then they might assume the brothers had somehow stolen their money back again. In either case, the presence of this money is a disturbing turn of events, giving the Egyptians ample reason to persecute them further.

The prospect of going back to Egypt thus becomes so distasteful, that they won’t even attempt it until they are once again at starvation’s door in the next chapter. Indeed, if it weren’t for the shadow of death upon them, perhaps Simeon would never have been retrieved. He would have been left by his brothers to rot in prison, just as Joseph.

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