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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 43

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And the famine [was] sore in the land.

And the famine was sore in the land. — In the Promised Land. Hold out faith and patience. Os quod in sorte tua cecidit, rodas: Bear thy cross, and be content. Drus., in Adag.

Verse 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.

Buy us a little food. — They had learned to live with a little, which is a great skill; nature is content with a little, grace with less. Epicurus himself was wont to say, if he might have but aquam et offam, a draught of water, and a morsel of meat, he could live happily. Paratum se esse cum Iove de faelicitate contendere, si aquam haberet et offam. - Aelian.

Verse 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.

Ye shall not see my face, … — No acceptation without Benjamin, that son of sorrow: so, neither with God, without sound repentance. This is the rainbow, which if God sees shining in our hearts, he will never drown our souls.

Verse 4

If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:

And buy thee food, — q.d., Thou art as much concerned as any of us, and more; because thou art master of the family.

Verse 6

And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye [so] ill with me, [as] to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

And Israel said, … — Here he begins to outwrestle his fears, by resting upon God; and is therefore called Israel.

Verse 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?

Could we certainly know, … — Inferences many times axe made upon what we say or do, such as we never thought of, Arbitror nonnullos in quibusdam locis librorum meorum opinaturos, me sensisse quod non sensi, aut non sensisse quod sensi, saith Augustine. Aug., lib. i., De Trin., cap. 3, ad finem. And it fell out accordingly. For, as Baronius witnesseth, after St Austin’s death, there arose up divisions, who, out of his writings, wrested and misconstrued, brought in many errors; which they endeavoured to maintain by the name and authority of St Augustine. Qui ex eius scriptis male perceptis complures invexerunt errores. - Annal, tom. vi., ad Ann. 450. And the like may be said of Luther.

Verse 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.

Send the lad. — A large lad, that was thirty years old, and had ten children. But he is so called, because the youngest son of them, and the father’s darling.

Verse 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:

I will be surety for him. — Herein he was a type of Christ, that came of him, who is both our surety to God, for the discharge of our debt and duty, and God’s surety to us, for the performance of his promises. Hebrews 7:22

Verse 10

For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

For except we had lingered, … — In the words of God there is not any hyperbole to be found. In the words of men, related by the Scripture, if we meet with such kind of expressions as this and that in John 21:25 , it nothing derogates from the authority of the Scripture, as Pareus here noteth.

Verse 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:

If it must be so now, … — Perplexity is blind and untractable. Let the mind but settle, and it will soon yield to a reasonable motion, if seasonable, especially, as this of Judah was: for, besides the weightiness of his words, necessity now spake for him, that most powerful orator.

Take of the best fruits.De laudatissimis rebus, saith Juulus. Of the verse or melody, saith the original; Ex carmine, vel melodia, vel modulatione, vel denique Psalmo. - Isa. lxv. 8. that is, of the most praiseworthy fruits; such as deserve to be commended in verse, and sung of, to the praise of God the giver.

A little balm, and a little honey. — Great men regard not the worth of the gift, but the will of the giver. If I had had more, I would have given more, said that Greek to Augustus, Eι πλεον ειχον, πλεον εδιδουν . - Aelian. and it was accepted. The poor Persian that met Artaxerxes with a handful of water, out of the river Cyprus, went away well rewarded. So did the gardener that presented the Duke of Burgundy with a rape root; which, when the master of his house observed, he presented his lord with a brave small saddle horse, looking for like liberality, but was disappointed.

Verse 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:

And take double money.Invaluerat enim fames, Genesis 43:1 ideoque annonae pretium auctum erat, saith Junius. It went hard with the inhabitants of Samaria, when an ass’s head was worth four pounds.

Peradventure it was an oversight. — Which called for restitution; we must buy and sell by that standard, Matthew 7:12 "Whatever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye the same to them." Now no man would be cheated. Woe be to him that cries Caveat emptor; He that cannot lie, cannot live, Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit vivere. … "God is the avenger of all such." 1 Thessalonians 4:6

Verse 13

Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

Take also your brother. — Since there is no other remedy. But if I could otherwise do, he should never go. God doeth us good sometimes against our wills, and crosseth us with a blessing. The heathens could pray thus -

“Great God, the good thou hast to give,

Whether we will’t or no,

Let’s still receive: no mischief thrive

To work our overthrow.”

Verse 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.

And God Almighty give you mercy. — Heb., Give you bowels, the seat of mercy. Here God not only grants Jacob’s prayer, but fulfils his counsel, gives him the very particular he prays for. Genesis 43:30 Joseph’s "bowels yearned upon Benjamin."

If I be bereaved, I am bereaved. — This is like that of Esther, committing herself and her attempt to God, "If I perish, I perish"; Esther 4:16 and like that of those saints in the Acts, "The will of the Lord be done"; which is, saith one, Vox vere Christianorum. Jacob prays for Benjamin’s safety, but will be content his own will be crossed, so that God’s will may be accomplished. This is the right way of praying; this is to "draw near with a true heart." Hebrews 10:22 Hypocrites seek God only out of self-love; which is as little pleasing to him, as if a woman should strive to content her husband, not out of love to him, but to another.

Verse 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.

Double money in their hand. — Both that they met with in their sacks’ mouths, and new money to buy more.

Verse 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.

Slay, and make ready. — Heb., Slay a slaughter of beasts, as at feasts is usual. Quaere nunc cur subito moriamur? saith Seneca; quia mortibas vivimus; What wonder we die suddenly, that live by the death of others?

Shall dine with me at noon. — After serious business despatched in the morning. Aristotle disposed of the morning in studying philosophy; of the afternoon in eloquence, or whatever else he made his recreation.

Verse 17

And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.

And the man did as Joseph bade. — Things then go well within doors, when the hands take counsel of the head, the servants of their master, and are active to execute.

Verse 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.

And the men were afraid. — Where no fear was; but that an ill conscience haunted them, and so "the sound of a shaken leaf" Leviticus 26:36 put them into a fright. As every body hath its shadow, so hath every sin its fear; and fear torment. 1 John 4:18

Verse 19

And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,

And they came near.See Trapp on " Genesis 43:20 "

Verse 20

And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:

O sir, we came indeed, … — We must not lie wretchlessly under suspicion of dishonesty; but carefully clear ourselves, as there is opportunity.

Verse 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.

Every man’s money. — This made their hearts even ready to go out of their mouths, as the Heb. hath it. Genesis 42:35

Verse 22

And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.

We cannot tell.

Verse 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.

Peace be to you, fear not. — "The feeble minded" must be "comforted"; 1 Thessalonians 5:14 not crushed, or cashiered, as the wounded deer is by the whole herd. David, in the spirit of prophecy, pronounceth a bitter curse upon those that "persecuted him whom God hath smitten, and talked to the grief of those whom he had wounded." Psalms 69:26 Joseph’s steward had learned better things of his master.

Verse 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.

Washed their feet.See Trapp on " Genesis 18:4 "

Verse 25

And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

And they made ready the present. — For, "a man’s gift makes room for him, and bringeth him before great men." Proverbs 18:16 So it doth also before God, who looks for "a present," Psalms 72:10 and loves to hear from us. "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion, and unto thee shall the vow be performed." Psalms 65:1

Verse 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.

And bowed themselves to him. — In their father’s name, as well as their own. Genesis 43:28 And here Joseph’s dream Genesis 37:9 was accomplished.

Verse 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?

And he asked them of their welfare. — Heb., Of their peace; which is a comprehensive, voluminous mercy.

Verse 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.

See Trapp on " Genesis 43:26 "

Verse 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.

God be gracious unto thee, my son. — Governors should temper clemency with severity, so as to be at once loved and feared. Mercy is the brightest star in the sphere of majesty. Queen Elizabeth, next to the Bible, took special delight in Seneca’s tract, "De Clementia."

Verse 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.

And Joseph made haste, … — He hid his affection, as a wise and valiant man, till he had once more beaten vehemently upon their guilty consciences; and so brought them to a more sound and serious sight of their sin, that they might repent and make sure work for their souls.

Verse 31

And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.

Set on bread. — Which the Latins call panis of παν , either because all covet it, or because whatever else the cheer be, men always set on bread. Isidor., lib. xx.

Verse 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.

Because the Egyptians might not eat, … — Such was their pride and superstition. Such was the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans: as is little less at this day between Papists and Protestants. If a Protestant give thanks at his food, though this chaseth not a Catholic from his dinner, which were to his loss, yet he must forbear to say Amen to it. As on the other side, some Roman Catholics will not say grace, though it be at their own table, when a Protestant is present; thinking it better to leave God unserved, than that a Protestant join in serving him. Sandys’s Relation of West. Relig., sec. 32. They hold us no better than dogs, worse than Turks or Jews, damned heretics, cursed captives, unworthy to live on God’s ground, fit for nothing but fire and fagot. Certain it is, that whosoever in this new faith and service hath ended this life, is in hell most certainly, saith Bristow, in his 36th Motive. It cannot be that a Lutheran so dying can escape the damnation of hell, saith Coster the Jesuit; if I lie, let me be damned with Lucifer. Coster, Resp. ad Enchirid. Osiand., propos. 8. Are not God’s Hebrews an utter abomination now to these Romish Egyptians?

Verse 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.

Ver 33. And they sat before him, … — He marshalled them in their right rank and degree; and this amazed them. He made them an absolute feast, such as Varro describes with these conditions; Si belli conveniant homines, si temporis sit habita ratio, si locus sit non ingratus, si non negligens apparatus. In Veter. Fragm. This feast is of that sort in use among the Romans, that were called χαριστια , to which were invited none but kinsfolks, to continue love and seek reconciliation where had been any breach. Val. Max., lib. ii. cap. 1.

Verse 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.

And he took and sent messes. — So did Cyrus in Xenophon, to such as he favoured.

But Benjamin’s mess, … — Love will creep where it cannot go; and good blood will never belie itself. Ambrose makes it a type and token of St Paul’s excellent parts and gifts above the rest of the apostles, …

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 43". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/genesis-43.html. 1865-1868.
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