Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” Genesis 43:1-2
When Jacob initially made the decision to not send Benjamin with his other brothers, it automatically created consequences. First of all, Simeon was still being held by Pharoah’s food manager, Joseph. I suspect, though, that Joseph had mercy on Simeon and he made living conditions inside the prison better than he had them. Secondly, since the famine was severe, they still needed more food and would have to go to Egypt again. The choices now were “don’t eat,” or “send Benjamin,” or “locate food elsewhere.” If the brothers were to travel elsewhere besides Egypt, they might not find the food they wanted and will have wasted valuable time. They knew Egypt had food, and so the only option was to send Benjamin and deal with that risk.
Because Jacob refused to send Benjamin right away, they were now in a life or death situation. How long did it take the family to eat that grain? Probably not much time at all, perhaps weeks at the most.
I can appreciate the pressure Jacob was under when the sons returned from Egypt. But while his concern for Benjamin was laudable, his concern for Simeon in prison was negligible. All of that will change very soon.
We are rarely faced with the decisions Jacob was faced with. Because of his large family he had more to consider because men, women, and children needed to be fed. He knew what he had to do. He didn’t like it, and we would see more drama unfold before it was over, but he desperately needed more food.