Let Elohim be true and every man a liar!
Genesis 42:27–28, 35, His money…each man’s bundle of money. Some modern biblical scholars suggest a discrepancy in this account, thus ostensibly proving that this story draws from two different oral traditions and documents that have been combined to form the biblical narrative we now have.
For example, J.C.L. Gibson states that “the brothers were dumfounded when they open their sacks at a staging post, on their first return form Egypt, and find their money in them (Gen 42:27–28). It is a dramatic moment, but it is stretching our credulity more than a little to find that they were likewise dumfounded on finding the money after they had returned to Canaan” (Gen 42:35; Language and Image of the Old Testament, pp. 39–40).
There is, however, one small detail that this University of Edinburgh Old Testament professor fails to take into consideration. The Bible doesn’t say in Gen 42:27–28 that each of the brothers opened his sack as the author incorrectly states, but, rather, that “one of them opened his sack…” and that when they got home “they emptied their sacks….”
The fact is that only one man opened his sack (that had presumably been sown shut) in order to provide food for the brothers for their journey home, but when they got home, all the brothers “emptied their sacks” (v. 35) presumably to transfer the grain into more secure storage vessels than sacks were the grain would be subject to destruction by fungus, weevils, moths and rodents. So the brothers were dumfounded the first time when the one sack was opened to find the money, and then dumfounded again when all of their sacks were opened at home to find each man’s money.
Considering that grain sacks are sown shut with a large needle and small cordage, and that once a sack is open, it is difficult to keep the contents from spilling out—especially when being transported over a rough path in a jostling cart—it is highly unlikely that the brothers would have opened any more sacks than necessary except to supply their food needs along the way. This is why only one sack was opened, and not all of them, just as the biblical account tells us.