for I fear God:
stay here in prison,
and take grain back for your starving households.
and that you may not die.'
(Genesis 42:18-20 NIV)
"They said to one another,
'Surely we are being punished because of our brother.
when he pleaded with us for his life,
It is amazing that this is the first conclusion which pops into their minds simultaneously. Although many years have gone by, the memory of their sin toward their brother had continued to remain in their minds. Also, from these verses we see that they do think that Joseph is dead, for they believe that they are being called to account for his death. (v.22)