XXXII. But he, groaning most bitterly, said, “Whom shall I lament first? the youngest but one, who was not the last, but the first to encounter the series of disasters which has befallen our family? or the second, on whom the second evil has fallen, namely, captivity, which is only inferior in misery to death? or the youngest, who is now to undertake that most detestable journey, since go he must, without being warned by the calamities which have befallen his brethren? and I, torn to pieces as to all my limbs and all my parts (for children are the limbs of their parents), am in danger of becoming utterly childless who was so short a time ago accounted happy in the number and excellence of my children.” But the eldest replied, “I give you my two sons as hostages, the only children that I have, slay them if I bring not back again to you, safe and sound, the brother whom you entrust to my hand, and who, by his visit to Egypt, will effect two things of the greatest importance for us; first, he will give a most evident proof that we are not spies and enemies; and, secondly, he will enable us to recover our brother, whom we have left in captivity.”
But as his father was much grieved and said that he did not know what to do, because while he had but two sons of one mother, one of them was now dead, and the other was left desolate and almost alone, so that he dreaded the journey, and though alive would die from fear before he could accomplish it, from a recollection of those fearful events which his elder brother had encountered; while he wa.s speaking thus, the brethren put forward as their spokesman him who was the boldest among them, and by his nature inclined to take the lead, and who was eloquent in speech, and he said what seemed good to them all; for they agreed, as their necessary food was falling short, for the corn which they had previously bought was now exhausted, and as the famine was again pressing upon and overwhelming them, to go for more in one united body, but not to go at all if the youngest still remained behind; because the governor of the country had forbidden them to appear before him without him.