Here is a further thought on why the brothers may have been hesitant to make the necessary journey to obtain bread:
‘For one thing, the trip to Egypt was long (250-300 miles) and dangerous, and a round trip could consume six weeks’ time. Even after arriving in Egypt, the men wouldn’t be certain of a friendly reception. As “foreigners” from Canaan, they would be very vulnerable and could even be arrested and enslaved. If that happened to Jacob’s sons, who would care for their families and their aged father?
Perhaps too the memory of selling their innocent brother to traders going down to Egypt haunted Jacob’s sons. The brothers had done that evil deed over thirty years ago and by now were convinced that Joseph was dead (Gen.42:13), but they hadn’t forgotten the scene (vv.17-24). Conscience has a way of digging up the past and arousing doubts and fears within us.’ Warren Wiersbe: Old Testament Commentary, p.125.
One thing was for sure, Jacob was not going to let the boys take Benjamin along. Maybe, after what had happened to Joseph, Jacob was rightly suspicious of his sons. As far as he was concerned, Benjamin was his last living link with his beloved Rachel and he didn’t intend to lose the second of his favourite sons (38).
But the other brothers went…and momentous events are about to unfold.
“No sooner had Joseph said, ‘God has made me forget…all my father’s household’ (41:51) than his brothers turned up in Egypt. And what was more surprising, considering the many visitors who came to Egypt at that time, Joseph saw them there. He recognised them but, of course, they failed to recognise him. This is the first of three journeys to Egypt by Joseph’s brothers, and each is more momentous than the previous one.” G.J.Wenham: ‘The New Bible Commentary’, p.87.