If It Must Be


Whenever our family gets ready to take a road trip, I make a list of all the essentials we’ll need while traveling. If you’ve ever adventured with children in tow, you’ll understand that this is no small feat! Before our trip even begins, I try to think of everything we could possibly need in order to assure a positive outcome. And yet, the last thing we do before driving out of our neighborhood is to prayerfully recognize God’s hand in our journey, asking for his provision as we go.

  • When you think of responsibility, what comes to mind? What about mercy?


1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” 7 They replied, “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. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. 14 May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

15 So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Due to famine, the brothers had previously gone to Egypt and bought grain, unknowingly, from their brother Joseph. What requirement did Israel’s sons have to fulfill in order to buy grain again (vss. 1-7)?
  2. In verses 8-9, Judah stepped up in a big way. What did he offer, and what did his oath communicate to both his father and his brothers?
  3. What things did Israel instruct his sons to take with them on their mission (vss. 11-13)? What was the purpose in taking these things?
  4. Who did Israel hope to receive, upon his sons’ return (vs. 14)? Israel’s emotions and words throughout this passage (especially in verse 14) reveal several things about his confidence and faith in God. Write down your observations.
  5. In what areas of your life do you need to exercise responsibility today? Where do you need to call upon God’s mercy? Talk to God about any steps you need to take.


Judah indeed stepped up by taking responsibility for the return of Benjamin. He took the initiative with strength and grace. In response, Israel wisely prepared his sons with the tangible things needed to appease the man in Egypt; he also knew that God’s role in the situation was supreme. Sending presents, extra money, and the youngest son of his family were essential, but they alone couldn’t bring about the results he desired. He knew only a merciful God could grant these things.

  • Prayerfully acknowledge that all of your circumstances have first passed through God’s sovereign hands. 
  • Praise him for the mercy and provision he extends to you daily.