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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Genesis 43

Verses 1-10

GENESIS - CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

Verses 1-10:

The food supplies the nine brothers brought from Egypt were soon exhausted. Israel (Jacob) instructed them to return to Egypt for additional provisions. Judah reminded him of the restrictions imposed by "the man" in Egypt who was in charge of the grain sales. This official was Joseph, but the brothers did not recognize him.

Israel was still reluctant to send Benjamin to Egypt, even though this was the one condition imposed on any future grain sales to his sons. The brothers were convinced that they would be endangering their own lives if they returned to Egypt without Benjamin. They feared they would be arrested and perhaps executed as spies. They steadfastly refused to go without Benjamin.

Judah offered to stand surety for Benjamin’s safety. This pictures the surety of Him who is the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" (Re 5:5; 13:8; 1Pe 1:20). Then he chided his father for not permitting them to take Benjamin with them to Egypt earlier.

Verses 11-14

Verses 11-14:

Israel (Jacob) finally agreed to permit Benjamin to accompany his sons to Egypt. He instructed that they take an array of expensive luxury items to "the man" in Egypt. This included an assortment of fruits, likely dried raisins, figs, and dates. There is no inconsistency in this, with the prevalence of the famine for the past two or three years. A famine of food grain would not necessarily imply a famine of fruit. Neither is it implied that the fruit existed in abundance. The fact that the fruit harvest may have been small would make the gift all the more valuable.

Included in the gifts were aromatic spices and ointments particularly prized in the ancient world. "Balm" is balsam. "Honey" is debash, a condiment prepared by boiling down new wine to a third or half. It was likely not the honey made by bees, because Egypt excels in production of this item. Spices and myrrh were included, because of their rarity and value. "Nuts," botim, the pistacia nut which is very palatable to Orientals. The almond tree appears not to have been indigenous to Egypt, but it flourished in Palestine and Syria.

Israel further directed that they take "double money, literally "money of a second or the same amount." This was not twice the amount, but the same as before. In addition, they were to carry the money found in their sacks and offer to return it, in the event it was given them by oversight.

Israel had evidently been to God in prayer. He was willing to entrust not only Benjamin, his brother Simeon, but all his sons to the protection of Divine Providence. "God Almighty" is "El Shaddadi," the Covenant-God of Abraham (Ge 17:1) and of Jacob himself (Ge 35:11). His parting words indicated his resignation to the will of God.

Verses 15-25

Verse 15-25:

The brothers arrived in Egypt, with Benjamin, and appeared before Joseph, though still unaware of his identity. When Joseph saw Benjamin, he instructed the servant in charge of his household affairs to escort the men to his own house, where he would eat with them that day.

This filled the brothers with apprehension. They feared this was a plot to confiscate their property and to make them slaves. As a token that their intentions were honorable, they offered to return to Joseph’s steward the money which they had found in their grain sacks on their return trip from their first journey. The servant declined to accept this money, and attributed it to some miracle of their God.

Simeon was released from prison, and reunited with the brothers. They then made preparation for the meal which they were informed would be shared with Joseph

Verses 26-34

Verses 26-34:

Joseph arrived home for the noon meal with his brothers. He first inquired of their father, and received assurance of his good health. Then he looked to Benjamin, and inquired if this were the younger brother of whom they spoke. Strong emotion welled up in Joseph’s soul, and he quickly retired to a private chamber where he wept. When his tears had subsided, Joseph returned to the dining room for the meal with his brothers.

The seating arrangement was unique, but was in strict keeping with protocol, Joseph ate alone, as befitted his royal station. The brothers ate at a table to themselves. The Egyptian courtiers and servants ate at a separate table, because of a taboo forbidding them to eat at the same table with an Hebrew. There was a strict caste system in Egypt. Shepherds were at the bottom of the social scale, and were "untouchables," so far as the native Egyptians were concerned.

Joseph prescribed the seating arrangement for his brothers, in a manner startling and mystifying to them. He placed them in the order of their birth, with the eldest at the head of the table, on down to the youngest at the foot. The brothers were mystified by this, having no idea that their host knew the proper order of their birth.

All the events so far were leading to the time that Joseph could be sure of his brothers’ change of heart, so he could reveal himself to them. He was willing to move in God’s own time and trust Him to work out the details according to His perfect plan.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 43". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-43.html. 1985.