Jacob is persuaded to send Benjamin into Egypt. (Verse 1-14.)
Joseph’s reception of his brethren, their fears. (Verse 15-25.)
Joseph makes a feast for his brethren. (Verse 26-34.)
1 And the famine was sore in the land.
[Gen 41:57, 1st Kings 18:2, 2nd Kings 8:1, Jer 52:6, Lam 5:10]
2 And 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.
Why is it that God allowed such an event to take place in the world? God wanted to give Israel a picture of its future. Joseph came unto his own brother’s and they received him not just as the Jesus came unto Israel and they received him not, one day however, all of Israel will submit to their Saviour just as Joseph’s brothers all bowed before him.
3 And 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.
4 If 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.
[Gen 42:20, Gen 44:23]
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.
[Gen 42:2, Psa 33:19]
Judah takes the responsibility for Benjamin – remember that it was Judah that instigated the sale of Joseph into slavery in 37:26.
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:
[Gen 27:13, 1st Sam 25:24, 2nd Sam 14:9]
10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
The reason for Joseph demanding Benjamin to be brought to him is for obvious reasons, his ten half-brothers tried to kill him for being their fathers favorite and he feared they may do the same to his younger brother and completely wipe out the line of Rachel.
If this would have happened there would have been no King Saul or Jonathan, and no Mordecai or Esther to save their people later. Also notice that the children of Israel delayed their return to Joseph even at their brother’s expense. Israel has been delaying turning to Christ at their own expense today.
11 And 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:
12 And 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:
13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:
14 And 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.
Jacob was worried, as I said earlier, that the same mischief would befall Benjamin as befell his older brother. He was not ignorant of what brothers might do to inherit all that their father possessed. Remember that Jacob took away the blessings of the first born from Reuben and was reserving it for Joseph.
Now that Jacob believed that Joseph was dead he was going to give the right of the firstborn unto his new favorite Benjamin which he knew would anger the older brothers.
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:
21 And 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.
22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.
23 And 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.
How honest of these ten brothers, but before we give them too much credit for a change of heart let us remember that these brothers still didn’t care about the welfare of the eleventh brother.
Where was the search party to find their enslaved brother so they may sell all they have to redeem him from a life of slavery? There was none!
I’m sure one of them must have thought that there may be a chance that we run into Joseph while on one of their journey’s to and from Egypt. No one ever said, “Hey, let’s look for Joseph.” That would have been a true sign of repentance.
24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.
[Gen 18:4, Gen 24:32, Luke 7:38, John 13:5]
25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.
26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.
[Gen 37:7, Gen 42:6, Gen 44:14]
27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?
28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.
29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.
30 And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.
[1st Kings 3:26, Jer 31:20]
[bowels – intestines; the heart or soul]
31 And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.
32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
[Gen 46:34, Exod 8:26]
“abomination…” – compare Proverbs 29:27
33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.
the brothers were seated in order of their birth which to their eyes would have been an incredible coincidence
For this Egyptian to seat them in accordance to their order of birth must have scared them to death. Either this man knows more about these brothers than he is letting on, or God has given him some sort of revelation about them. Either scenario was not good for them they thought.
34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
by giving Benjamin five times as much as the others, Joseph could have been testing the hearts of his brothers to see if they would get jealous toward Benjamin as they had been toward him 21 years earlier.
Why should Benjamin receive five times the food of his brothers they must have reasoned in their minds? It was as if God had revealed to this supposed Egyptian that Benjamin was the innocent one that would be blessed of God and they would all have to serve him for their earlier sin against Joseph
While the world was experiencing a famine, Israel had an opportunity to dine with a king in the worlds eyes. Israel will be taken care of in the wilderness by the person that Joseph typified in his life, the Messiah.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-14 – Jacob urges his sons to go and buy a little food; now, in time of dearth, a little must suffice. Judah urges that Benjamin should go with them. It is not against the honour and duty children owe their parents, humbly to advise them, and when needful, to reason with them. Jacob saw the necessity of the case, and yielded. His prudence and justice appeared in three things.
1. He sent back the money they had found in the sack. Honesty obliges us to restore not only that which comes to us by our own fault, but 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.
2. He sent as much again as they took the time before; the price of corn might be risen, or they might have to pay a ransom for Simeon.
3. He sent a present of such things as the land afforded, and as were scarce in Egypt, balm, and honey, &c. Providence dispenses not its gifts to all alike. But honey and spice will never make up the want of bread-corn. The famine was sore in Canaan, 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 what is most needful and useful, generally is most cheap and common. Though men value very highly their gold and silver, and the luxuries which are counted the best fruits of every land, yet in a time of famine they willingly barter them for bread. And how little will earthly good things stand us in stead in the day of wrath! How ready should we be to renounce them all, as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ! Our way to prevail with man is by first prevailing with the Lord in fervent prayer. But, Thy will be done, should close every petition for the mercies of this life, or against the afflictions of this life.
Verse 15-25 – Jacob’s sons 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 bodily food. Joseph’s steward had orders from his master to take them to his house. Even this frightened them. Those that are guilty make the worst of every thing. But the steward encouraged them. It appears, from what he said, that by his good master he was brought to the knowledge of the true God, the God of the Hebrews. Religious servants should take all fit occasions to speak of God and his providence, with reverence and seriousness.
Verse 26-34 – Observe the great respect Joseph’s brethren paid to him. Thus were Joseph’s dreams more and more fulfilled. Joseph showed great kindness to them. He treated them nobly; but see here the early distance between Jews and gentiles. In a day of famine, it is enough to be fed; but they were feasted. Their cares and fears were now over, and they ate their bread with joy, reckoning they were upon good terms with the lord of the land. If God accept our works, our present, we have reason to be cheerful. Joseph showed special regard for Benjamin, that he might try whether his brethren would envy him. It must be our rule, to be content with what we have, and not to grieve at what others have. Thus Jesus shows those whom he loves, more and more of their need. He makes them see that he is their only refuge from destruction. He overcomes their unwillingness, and brings them to himself. Then, as he sees good, he gives them some taste of his love, and welcomes them to the provisions of his house, as an earnest of what he further intends for them.