Monthly Archives: June 2013

Genesis 44:1-17

interactive-worldmap Verses 1-17

Joseph’s Policy. B. C. 1707.

1And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth. 2And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. 3As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses. 4 And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good? 5 Is not thisit in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. 6 And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words. 7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing: 8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold? 9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen. 10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant and ye shall be blameless. 11Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack. 12And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city. 14And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. 15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? 16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found. 17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.

Joseph heaps further kindnesses upon his brethren, fills their sacks, returns their money, and sends them away full of gladness but he also exercises them with further trials. Our God thus humbles those whom he loves and loads with benefits. Joseph ordered his steward to put a fine silver cup which he had (and which, it is likely, was used at his table when they dined with him) into Benjamin’s sack’s mouth, that it might seem as if he had stolen it from the table, and put it here himself, after his corn was delivered to him. If Benjamin had stolen it, it had been the basest piece of dishonesty and ingratitude that could be and if Joseph, by ordering it to be there, had designed really to take advantage against him, it had been in him most horrid cruelty and oppression but it proved, in the issue, that there was no harm done, nor any designed, on either side. Observe,

I. How the pretended criminals were pursued and arrested, on suspicion of having stolen a silver cup. The steward charged them with ingratitude–rewarding evil for good and with folly, in taking away a cup of daily use, and which therefore would soon be missed, and diligent search made for it for so it may be read: Is not this it in which my lord drinketh (as having a particular fondness for it), and for which he would search thoroughly? Genesis 44:5. Or, “By which, leaving it carelessly at your table, he would make trial whether you were honest men or no.”

II. How they pleaded for themselves. They solemnly protested their innocence, and detestation of so base a thing (Genesis 44:7), urged it as an instance of their honesty that they had brought their money back (Genesis 44:8), and offered to submit to the severest punishment if they should be found guilty,Genesis 44:9,10.

III. How the theft was fastened upon Benjamin. In his sack the cup was found to whom Joseph had been particularly kind. Benjamin, no doubt, was ready to deny, upon oath, the taking of the cup, and we may suppose him as little liable to suspicion as any of them but it is in vain to confront such notorious evidence: the cup is found in his custody they dare not arraign Joseph’s justice, nor so much as suggest that perhaps he that had put their money in their sacks’ mouths had put the cup there but they throw themselves upon Joseph’s mercy. And,

IV. Here is their humble submission, Genesis 44:16. 1. They acknowledge the righteousness of God: God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants, perhaps referring to the injury they had formerly done to Joseph, for which they thought God was now reckoning with them. Note, Even in those afflictions wherein we apprehend ourselves wronged by men yet we must own that God is righteous, and finds out our iniquity. 2. They surrender themselves prisoners to Joseph: We are my lord’s servants. Now Joseph’s dreams were accomplished to the utmost. Their bowing so often, and doing homage, might be looked upon but as a compliment, and no more than what other strangers did but the construction they themselves, in their pride, had put upon his dreams was, Shalt though have dominion over us? (Genesis 37:8), and in this sense it is now at length fulfilled, they own themselves his vassals. Since they did invidiously so understand it, so it shall be fulfilled in them.

V. Joseph, with an air of justice, gives sentence that Benjamin only should be kept in bondage, and the rest should be dismissed for why should any suffer but the guilty? Perhaps Joseph intended hereby to try Benjamin’s temper, whether he could bear such a hardship as this with the calmness and composure of mind that became a wise and good man: in short, whether he was indeed his own brother, in spirit as well as blood for Joseph himself had been falsely accused, and had suffered hard things in consequence, and yet kept possession of his own soul. However, it is plain he intended hereby to try the affection of his brethren to Benjamin and to their father. If they had gone away contentedly, and left Benjamin in bonds, no doubt Joseph would soon have released and promoted him, and sent notice to Jacob, and would have left the rest of his brethren justly to suffer for their hard-heartedness but they proved to be better affected to Benjamin than he feared. Note, We cannot judge what men are by what they have been formerly, nor what they will do by what they have done: age and experience may make men wiser and better. Those that had sold Joseph would not now abandon Benjamin. The worst may mend in time.



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Genesis 43:26-34


26-31. Then Joseph came home, and they presented to him the gift which was in their hand, bringing it into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. And he inquired after their well-being, and he said: Is your father well? the old man of whom ye told me; is he yet alive? And they said: Thy servant, our father, is well; he is yet alive. And they did obeisance and bowed down. And he raised his eyes and saw Benjamin, his brother, the son of his mother, and he said: is this your youngest brother of whom ye told me? And he said: God be gracious to thee, my son. And Joseph hurriedly sought a place to weep, for his feelings were stirred at the sight of his brother; and he went into an inner room and wept there. Then he washed his face and came back and kept himself under control, and said: Serve the meal.

Joseph, the busy food administrator, cannot be home before noon. When he arrives, they present their gift first. Nothing is said as to how Joseph received it. Apparently, Joseph knew that he had to take care to keep himself well in hand. To take too much note even of so small a thing as this gift might have caused him to lose his cool reserve. The expression in reference to the gift which was “in their hand” we have translated previously where it occurred in the chapter (v. 12 and v. 15) merely as “along” or “along with them,” for the idea certainly was not that the money was to be carried all the way “in their hand” (beyedhkhem). But here (v. 26) the expression could be translated literally. The pregnant construction “to the house” (habbayethah) means “bringing it into the house.” Again the dream of chapter 37 is manifestly fulfilled as “they bowed down before him to the ground;” the customary gesture of oriental respect. Joseph, no doubt, made his inquiries as casual as 2.1074possible. First he inquires after their own “wellbeing” —Hebrew: “peace,” shalôm. So as not to make the inquiry concerning the father appear too pointed he adds, “the old man of whom ye told me.” Deep attachment dictated the solicitude of the question, “is he well; is he yet alive?” The sons reply with the courteous idiom of their day, designating their father, as they do themselves, as Joseph’s “servant”; and they acknowledge the courtesy of the inquiry by “doing obeisance” (yiqqedhû from qadhad) and by “bowing down” (yishtachawû) —a pair of words often appearing together.

29. The next step comes naturally. Next to his father, Benjamin is the object of Joseph’s concern. The greater length at which the meeting with Benjamin is dwelt upon shows the importance of this meeting to Joseph; for Benjamin is in a stronger sense “his brother,” for he is “the son of his mother.” All this must have run strongly through Joseph’s feelings at the sight of his brother, who was perhaps a year old when Joseph last saw him and now was a young man of twenty-two years. Joseph dare not admit that he really knows him, and so he inquires as a stranger might. Throughout the interview thus far Joseph has very correctly played the part of the high-standing Egyptian lord: he has not troubled to acknowledge their gift; now he does not wait for an answer to his question. But his deeper feelings at this point break into utterance in the brief but touching: “God be gracious to thee, my son.” “Son” is quite permissible because of the prominent difference in age. Besides, it is a part of Joseph’s disguise. Yechonkha, imperfect optative from chanan, the “o” having receded into the first syllable before the suffix. Till now Joseph’s self-control has been admirable. We do not at all wonder that he now “hurriedly (yema (h) her —translated as an adverb, being auxiliary to ‘sought’) sought a 2.1075place to weep.” Nikhmerû literally means “to grow warm,” here “were stirred.” The final shammah apparently gets its “ah locative” by attraction to the ah of hachchadhrah (K. S. 330 h). The interruption dare not be long if Joseph is to play his role successfully. He washes his face, indicating that he must have wept rather freely, returns, keeps himself under control, and bids the meal be served—Hebrew: “set on bread.” The dagesh in ’aleph of yabhî’ûv. 26 marks the ’aleph as not having lost its natural Hebrew character of a smooth breathing and as not having become like double “y” between two vowels as is the case in the Aramaic.

32-34. And they served him alone and them alone, and the Egyptians eating with him alone; for the Egyptians cannot eat a meal together with Hebrews; for that would be an abomination to the Egyptians. And they were seated before him according to age, the eldest first, the youngest last; and the men looked at one another in astonishment. And he provided portions for them from his own table, and Benjamin’s portion was five times as great as the portion of all the rest of them. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

The exclusiveness of the Egyptians over against foreigners is well known, especially the exclusiveness of the priests. It would hardly have done for Joseph to incur Egyptian displeasure by flagrant disregard of custom. So everything proceeds in approved fashion. He, who belongs to the priestly cast, is served alone. So are his brothers. So are his Egyptian guests. All caste distinctions are thus faithfully upheld. Egyptians regarded eating together with foreigners as tô’ebhah, “an abomination” —(Meek good: “abhorrent”). Here Joseph again introduces a touch of mystery which, as Keil says, “necessarily impressed them with the idea that this great man had 2.1076been supernaturally enlightened as to their family affairs.” How could they think otherwise? They had never revealed a thing about the matter to anyone in Egypt, and here they sit, accurately arranged according to age. They cannot, but “look at one another in astonishment” —Hebrew: “they were astonished, a man toward his fellow” —pregnant construction of ’el. The phrase lephanay can hardly mean “according to his judgment,” as K. C. strangely translates. They actually sat before Joseph—”before him” —so that he could in a measure feast his eyes upon them, but perhaps primarily for the purpose of keeping their unusual Egyptian patron distinctly before their eyes.

34. Now Joseph does something that provides a further test of the brethren. He purposely shows preference for Benjamin. Had the same feeling prevailed over against Benjamin that had once animated them over against Joseph, such preference would have stirred resentment that could hardly have been kept under cover. But they meet the test successfully. Even when the more generous use of wine has removed the restraint from their tongues, the men still ring true. The distinction conferred on Benjamin was “portions” of honor from Joseph’s table, five “portions” to the one received by every other brother. Mas’ah is a noun derived from the root nasa’, “to lift up,” by prefixing an “m.” Such gifts, not required to be eaten but to be regarded as honorary distinctions, have their parallels in antiquity, as Dillmann shows, quoting Knobel. Spartan kings always received a double portion; Cretan archons a quadruple portion. However, among the Egyptians five was a number enjoying a special distinction. Shakhar, the last verb, sometimes means to become drunk, but apparently the milder meaning prevails here: they “drank freely.”

2.1077The chapter is assigned by critics to J with the possible exception of about v. 12-15, or 16 and 23b. But the arbitrary distinctions made offer no new problem here and have been answered by us above.


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Genesis 43:15-25

interactive-worldmap Verses 15-25

Joseph Entertains His Brethren. B. C. 1707.

15 And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph. 16 And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready for these men shall dine with me at noon. 17 And the man did as Joseph bade and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house. 18 And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses. 19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house, 20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food: 21And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand. 22And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks. 23And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them. 24And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave themwater, and they washed their feet and he gave their asses provender. 25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

Jacob’s sons, having got leave to take Benjamin with them, were observant of the orders their father had given them, and went down the second time into Egypt to buy corn. If we should ever know what a famine of the word means, let us not think it much to travel as far for spiritual food as they did for corporal food. Now here we have an account of what passed between them and Joseph’s steward, who, some conjecture, was in the secret, and knew them to be Joseph’s brethren, and helped to humour the thing I rather think not, because no man was permitted to be present when Joseph afterwards made himself known to them, Genesis 45:1. Observe, 1. Joseph’s steward has orders from his master (who was busy selling corn, and receiving money) to take them to his house, and make ready for their entertainment. Though Joseph saw Benjamin there, he would not leave his work at working-time, nor trust another with it. Note, Business must take place of civility in its season. Our needful employments must not be neglected, no, not to pay respect to our friends. 2. Even this frightened them: They were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house, Genesis 43:18. The just challenges of their own consciences, and Joseph’s violent suspicions of them, forbade them to expect any favour, and suggested to them that this was done with a bad design upon them. Note, Those that are guilty and timorous are apt to make the worst of every thing. Now they thought they should be reckoned with about the money in the sacks’ mouths, and should be charged as cheats, and men not fit to be dealt with, who had taken advantage of the hurry of the market to carry off their corn unpaid for. They therefore laid the case before the steward, that he, being apprized of it, might stand between them and danger and, as a substantial proof of their honesty, before they were charged with taking back their money they produced it. Note, Integrity and uprightness will preserve us, and will clear themselves as the light of the morning. 3. The steward encouraged them (Genesis 43:23): Peace be to you, fear not though he knew not what his master drove at, yet he was aware these were men whom he meant no harm to, while he thus amused them and therefore he directs them to look at the divine Providence in the return of their money: Your God, and the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks. Observe, (1.) Hereby he shows that he had no suspicion at all of dishonesty in them: for of what we get by deceit we cannot say, “God gives it to us.” (2.) Hereby he silences their further enquiry about it. “Ask not how it came thither Providence brought it to you, and let that satisfy you.” (3.) It appears by what he said that, by his good master’s instructions, he was brought to the knowledge of the true God, the God of the Hebrews. It may justly be expected that those who are servants in religious families should take all fit occasions to speak of God and his providence with reverence and seriousness. (4.) He directs them to look up to God, and acknowledge his providence in the good bargain they had. We must own ourselves indebted to God, asour God and the God of our fathers (a God in covenant with us and them) for all our successes and advantages, and the kindnesses of our friends for every creature is that to us, and no more, which God makes it to be. The steward encouraged them, not only in words but in deeds for he made very much of them till his master came, Genesis 43:24.


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Genesis 43:11-14

interactive-worldmap Verses 11-14

Joseph’s Brethren Again Sent to Egypt. B. C. 1707.

11And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds: 12And take double money in your hand and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand peradventure it was an oversight: 13Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man: 14And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

Observe here, I. Jacob’s persuasibleness. He would be ruled by reason, though they were his inferiors that urged it. He saw the necessity of the case and, since there was no remedy, he consented to yield to the necessity (Genesis 43:11): “If it must be so now, take your brother. If no corn can be had but upon those terms, we may as well expose him to the perils of the journey as suffer ourselves and families, and Benjamin amongst the rest, to perish for want of bread.” Skin for skin, and all that a man has, even a Benjamin, the dearest of all, will he give for his life. No death so dreadful as that by famine, Lamentations 4:9. Jacob had said (Genesis 42:38), My son shall not go down but now he is over-persuaded to consent. Note, It is no fault, but our wisdom and duty, to alter our purposes and resolutions when there is a good reason for our so doing. Constancy is a virtue, but obstinacy is not. It is God’s prerogative not to repent, and to make unchangeable resolves.

II. Jacob’s prudence and justice, which appeared in three things:–1. He sent back the money which they had found in the sacks’ mouths, with this discreet construction of it, Peradventure it was an oversight.Note, Honesty obliges us to make restitution, not only of that which comes to us by our own fault, but of that which comes to us by the mistakes of others. Though we get it by oversight, if we keep it when the oversight is discovered, it is kept by deceit. In the stating of accounts, errors must be excepted, even those that make for us as well as those that make against us. Jacob’s words furnish us with a favourable construction to put upon that which we are tempted to resent as an injury and affront pass it by, and say,Peradventure it was an oversight. 2. He sent double money, as much again as they took the time before, upon supposition that the price of corn might have risen,–or that if it should be insisted upon they might pay a ransom for Simeon, or his prison-fees,–or to show a generous spirit, that they might be the more likely to find generous treatment with the man, the lord of the land. 3. He sent a present of such things as the land afforded, and as were scarce in Egypt–balm and honey, &c. (Genesis 43:11), the commodities that Canaan exported, Genesis 37:25. Note, (1.) Providence dispenses its gifts variously. Some countries produce one commodity, others another, that commerce may be preserved. (2.) Honey and spice will never make up the want of bread-corn. The famine was sore in Canaan, and yet they had balm and myrrh, &c. We may live well enough upon plain food without dainties but we cannot live upon dainties without plain food. Let us thank God that that which is most needful and useful is generally most cheap and common. (3.) A gift in secret pacifies wrath, Proverbs 21:14. Jacob’s sons were unjustly accused as spies, yet Jacob was willing to be at the expense of a present, to pacify the accuser. Sometimes we must not think it too much to buy peace even where we may justly demand it, and insist upon it as our right.

III. Jacob’s piety appearing in his prayer: God Almighty give you mercy before the man! Genesis 43:14. Jacob had formerly turned an angry brother into a kind one with a present and a prayer and here he betakes himself to the same tried method, and it sped well. Note, Those that would find mercy with men must seek it of God, who has all hearts in his hands, and turns them as he pleases.

IV. Jacob’s patience. He concludes all with this: “If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved If I must part with them thus one after another, I must acquiesce, and say, The will of the Lord be done.” Note, It is our wisdom to reconcile ourselves to the sorest afflictions, and make the best of them for there is nothing got by striving with our Maker, 2 Samuel 15:25,26.


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Genesis 43:1-10

interactive-worldmap Verses 1-10

Jacob Unwilling to Part with Benjamin. B. C. 1707.

1And the famine was sore in the land. 2And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. 3And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. 4If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: 5 But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. 6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother? 7 And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down? 8 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. 9 I will be surety for him of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever: 10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

Here, 1. Jacob urges his sons to go and buy more corn in Egypt,Genesis 43:1,2. The famine continued and the corn they had bought was all spent, for it is meat that perisheth. Jacob, as a good master of a family, is in care to provide for those of his own house food convenient and shall not God provide for his children, for the household of faith?Jacob bids them go again and buy a little food now, in time of scarcity, a little must suffice, for nature is content with a little. 2. Judah urges him to consent that Benjamin should go down with them, how much soever it went against his feelings and previous determination. Note, It is not at all inconsistent with the honour and duty which children owe their parents humbly and modestly to advise them, and, as occasion is, to reason with them. Plead with your mother, plead, Hosea 2:2. (1.) He insists upon the absolute necessity they were under of bringing Benjamin with them, of which he, who was a witness to all that had passed in Egypt, was a more competent judge than Jacob could be. Joseph’s protestation (Genesis 43:3) may be alluded to to show upon what terms we must draw nigh to God unless we bring Christ along with us in the arms of our faith, we cannot see the face of God with comfort. (2.) He engages to take all possible care of him, and to do his utmost for his safety, Genesis 43:8,9. Judah’s conscience had lately smitten him for what he had done a great while ago against Joseph (Genesis 42:21) and, as an evidence of the truth of his repentance, he is ready to undertake, as far as a man could do it, for Benjamin’s security. He will not only not wrong him, but will do all he can to protect him. This is restitution, as far as the case will admit when he knew not how he could restore Joseph, he would make some amends for the irreparable injury he had done him by doubling his care concerning Benjamin.


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Genesis 42:29-38

interactive-worldmap Verses 29-38

The Report Made to Jacob. B. C. 1706.

29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them saying, 30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. 31And we said unto him, We are true men we are no spies: 32We be twelve brethren, sons of our father one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan. 33And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: 34And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffic in the land. 35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. 36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children:Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. 37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. 38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befal him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

Here is, 1. The report which Jacob’s sons made to their father of the great distress they had been in in Egypt how they had been suspected, and threatened, and obliged to leave Simeon a prisoner there, till they should bring Benjamin with them thither. Who would have thought of this when they left home? When we go abroad we should consider how many sad accidents, that we little think of, may befal us before we return home. We know not what a day may bring forth we ought therefore to be always ready for the worst. 2. The deep impression this made upon the good man. The very bundles of money which Joseph returned, in kindness to his father, frightened him (Genesis 42:35) for he concluded it was done with some mischievous design, or perhaps suspected his own sons to have committed some offence, and so to have run themselves into a præ munire–a penalty, which is intimated in what he says (Genesis 42:36):Me have you bereaved. He seems to lay the fault upon them knowing their characters, he feared they had provoked the Egyptians, and perhaps forcibly, or fraudulently, brought home their money. Jacob is here much out of temper. (1.) He has very melancholy apprehensions concerning the present state of his family: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not whereas Joseph was in honour and Simeon in the way to it. Note, We often perplex ourselves with our own mistakes, even in matters of fact. True griefs may arise from false intelligence and suppositions, 2 Samuel 13:31. Jacob gives up Joseph for gone, and Simeon and Benjamin as being in danger and he concludes, All these things are against me. It proved otherwise, that all these were for him, were working together for his good and the good of his family: yet here he thinks them all against him. Note, Through our ignorance and mistake, and the weakness of our faith, we often apprehend that to be against us which is really for us. We are afflicted in body, estate, name, and relations and we think all these things are against us, whereas these are really working for us the weight of glory. (2.) He is at present resolved that Benjamin shall not go down. Reuben will undertake to bring him back in safety (Genesis 42:37), not so much as putting in, If the Lord will, nor expecting the common disasters of travellers but he foolishly bids Jacob slay his two sons (which, it is likely, he was very proud of) if he brought him not back as if the death of two grandsons could satisfy Jacob for the death of a son. No, Jacob’s present thoughts are, My son shall not go down with you. He plainly intimates a distrust of them, remembering that he never saw Joseph since he had been with them therefore, “Benjamin shall not go with you, by the way in which you go, for you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” Note, It is bad with a family when children conduct themselves so ill that their parents know not how to trust them.

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Genesis 42:21-28

interactive-worldmap Verses 21-28

Reflections of Joseph’s Brethren. B. C. 1706.

21And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear therefore is this distress come upon us. 22And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. 23And they knew not that Joseph understood themfor he spake unto them by an interpreter. 24And he turned himself about from them, and wept and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes. 25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them. 26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence. 27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth. 28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

Here is, I. The penitent reflection Joseph’s brethren made upon the wrong they had formerly done to him,Genesis 42:21. They talked the matter over in the Hebrew tongue, not suspecting that Joseph, whom they took for a native of Egypt, understood them, much less that he was the person they spoke of.

1. They remembered with regret the barbarous cruelty wherewith they persecuted him: We are verily guilty concerning our brother. We do not read that they said this during their three days’ imprisonment but now, when the matter had come to some issue and they saw themselves still embarrassed, now they began to relent. Perhaps Joseph’s mention of the fear of God (Genesis 42:18) put them upon consideration and extorted this reflection. Now see here, (1.) The office of conscience it is a remembrancer, to bring to mind things long since said and done, to show us wherein we have erred, though it was long ago, as the reflection here mentioned was above twenty years after the sin was committed. As time will not wear out the guilt of sin, so it will not blot out the records of conscience when the guilt of this sin of Joseph’s brethren was fresh they made light of it, and sat down to eat bread but now, long afterwards, their consciences reminded them of it. (2.) The benefit of affliction they often prove the happy and effectual means of awakening conscience, and bringing sin to our remembrance, Job 13:26. (3.) The evil of guilt concerning our brethren of all their sins, it was this that conscience now reproached them for. Whenever we think we have wrong done us, we ought to remember the wrong we have done to others, Ecclesiastes 7:21,22.

2. Reuben alone remembered, with comfort, that he had been an advocate for his brother, and had done what he could to prevent the mischief they did him (Genesis 42:22): Spoke I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child? Note, (1.) It is an aggravation of any sin that it was committed against admonitions. (2.) When we come to share with others in their calamities, it will be a comfort to us if we have the testimony of our consciences for us that we did not share with them in their iniquities, but, in our places, witnessed against them. This shall be our rejoicing in the day of evil, and shall take out the sting.

II. Joseph’s tenderness towards them upon this occasion. He retired from them to weep, Genesis 42:24. Though his reason directed that he should still carry himself as a stranger to them, because they were not as yet humbled enough, yet natural affection could not but work, for he was a man of a tender spirit. This represents the tender mercies of our God towards repenting sinners. See Jeremiah 31:20, Since I spoke against him I do earnestly remember him still. See Judges 10:16.

III. The imprisonment of Simeon, Genesis 42:24. He chose him for the hostage probably because he remembered him to have been his most bitter enemy, or because he observed him now to be least humbled and concerned he bound him before their eyes to affect them all or perhaps it is intimated that, though he bound him with some severity before them, yet afterwards, when they were gone, he took off his bonds.

IV. The dismission of the rest of them. They came for corn, and corn they had and not only so, but every man had his money restored in his sack’s mouth. Thus Christ, our Joseph, gives out supplies without money and without price. Therefore the poor are invited to buy, Revelation 3:17,18. This put them into great consternation (Genesis 42:28): Their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done to us?

1. It was really a merciful event for I hope they had no wrong done to them when they had their money given them back, but a kindness yet they were thus terrified by it. Note, (1.) Guilty consciences are apt to take good providences in a bad sense, and to put wrong constructions even upon those things that make for them. They flee when none pursues. (2.) Wealth sometimes brings as much care along with it as want does, and more too. If they had been robbed of their money, they could not have been worse frightened than they were now when they found their money in their sacks. Thus he whose ground brought forth plentifully said, What shall I do? Luke 12:17.

2. Yet in their circumstances it was very amazing. They knew that the Egyptians abhorred a Hebrew (Genesis 43:32), and therefore, since they could not expect to receive any kindness from them, they concluded that this was done with a design to pick a quarrel with them, and the rather because the man, the lord of the land, had charged them as spies. Their own consciences also were awake, and their sins set in order before them and this put them into confusion. Note, (1.) When men’s spirits are sinking every thing helps to sink them. (2.) When the events of Providence concerning us are surprising it is good to enquire what it is that God has done and is doing with us, and to consider the operation of his hands.


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