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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 43

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-34


The second journey. Benjamin accompanying. Joseph maketh himself known to his brethren. Their return. Jacob’s joy.

Genesis 43-45

A. The trial of the brethren. Their repentance and Joseph’s reconcilableness. Joseph and Benjamin.

Genesis 43:1 to Genesis 44:17

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; 5But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down; for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face [again], except your brother be with you. 6And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother? 7And 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? 8And 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. 9I 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; 10For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time. 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 1:14 And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin.1 If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved. 15And 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. 16And 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. 17And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house. 18And 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,2 and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses. 19And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house. 20And 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 brought3 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 them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender. 25And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon; for they heard that they should eat bread there. 26And 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. 27And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive? 28And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their 29heads, and made obeisance. And he lift 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 farther [without waiting for an answer] God be gracious unto thee, my Song of Solomon 3:0; Song of Solomon 3:00And 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. 31And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread. 32And they set en 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. 33And they sat before him, the first born according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth; and the men marvelled one at another. 34And he took and sent messes unto them from before him; but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of their’s. And they drank, and were merry with him.

Genesis 44:1 :And Joseph 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, 3and his corn-money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. As 4soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses. 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 5have ye rewarded evil for good? Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? Ye have done evil in so doing. 6And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words. 7And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing; 8Behold, 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? 9With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen. 10And 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. 15And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? Wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine? 16And 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. 17And 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.

B. The narrative of the reconciliation and the recognition. Judah and Joseph.

Chap. Genesis 44:18 to Genesis 45:28

18Then Judah came near unto him, and said, O my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Pharaoh. 19My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother? 20And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him. 21And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. 22And we said unto my lord, The lad can not leave his father; for if he should leave his father, his father would die. 23And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. 24And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. 25And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food. 26And we said, We can not go down; if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down; for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us. 27And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons; 28And the one went out from me [and did not return], and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since; 29And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye 30shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave [sheol]. Now, therefore, when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us, seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life; 31It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die; and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 32For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to 33my father for ever. Now, therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad, a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. 34For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Genesis 45:1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. 2And he wept aloud; and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. 3And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. 4And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye 5sold into Egypt. Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me thither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. 6For these two years hath the famine been in the land; and yet there are five years in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 7And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity 8in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God; and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. 9Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not; 10And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen [East district of Egypt; the name is of Koptic origin. Uncertain: district of Hercules], and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast; 11And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. 12And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. 13And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. 14And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them; and after that his brethren talked with him.

C. The glad tidings to Jacob, Genesis 44:16-28.

16And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come; and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. 17And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; 18And take your father, and your households, and come unto me; and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. 19Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. 20Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours. 21And the children of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. 22To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment. 23And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she-asses laden with corn, and bread, and meat for his father by the way. 24So he sent his brethren away, and they departed; and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way. 25And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father. 26And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. 27And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. 28And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive I will go and see him before I die.


Contents: a. The trial of the brethren. Their repentance and Joseph’s forgiveness. Joseph and Benjamin. Genesis 43:1 to Genesis 44:17 : 1. Judah as surety for Benjamin unto his father, Genesis 43:1-14; Genesis 2:0. Joseph and Benjamin, Genesis 43:15-30; Genesis 3:0. the feast in honor of Benjamin, Genesis 43:31-34; Genesis 4:0. the proving of the brethren in respect to their disposition towards Benjamin, especially after the great distinction shown to him, Genesis 44:1-17 b. The story of the reconciliation, and of the recognition, as presented under the antithesis of Judah and Joseph, Genesis 44:18; Genesis 45:13. Genesis 45:1. Judah as surety and substitute for Benjamin, Genesis 44:18-34; Genesis 2:0. Joseph’s reconciliation and making himself known to them, Genesis 45:1-5; Genesis 3:0. Joseph’s divine peace and divine mission, Genesis 43:5-13; Genesis 4:0. the solemnity of the salutation, Genesis 43:14-15. c. The glad tidings to Jacob, Genesis 43:16 to Genesis 28:1. Pharaoh’s message to Jacob, Genesis 43:16-20; Genesis 2:0. Joseph’s presents to Jacob, Genesis 43:21-24; Genesis 3:0. the return of Joseph’s brethren; Pharaoh’s wagons and Jacob’s revivification, Genesis 43:25-28.


a. The proving of the brothers. Their repentance and Joseph’s forgiveness. Joseph and Benjamin, Genesis 43:1; Genesis 44:17. Genesis 44:1.Genesis 43:1-14; Judah as surety for Benjamin unto the father.—Buy us a little bread.—In death and famine a rich supply is but little; so it was especially in Jacob’s numerous family, in regard to what they had brought the first time.—And Judah spake.—Judah now stands forth as a principal personage, appearing more and more glorious in his dignity, his firmness, his noble disposition, and his unselfish heroism. He, like Reuben, could speak to his father, and with even more freedom, because he had a freer conscience than the rest, and regarded the danger, therefore, in a milder light. Judah does not act rashly, but as one who has a grand and significant purpose. His explanation to the wounded father is as forbearing as it is firm. If they did not bring Benjamin, Simeon was lost, and they themselves, according to Joseph’s threatening, would have no admittance to him—yea, they might even incur death, because they had not removed from themselves the suspicion of their being spies.—Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me?—Knobel: “His grief and affliction urge him on to reproach them without reason.” Unreasonable, however, as it appears, it becomes significant on the supposition that he begins to read their guilty consciences, and, especially, when, with the one preceding, we connect the expression that follows: Me have ye bereaved of my children.—The man asked us straitly.—[Lange translates the Hebrew שָׁאוֹל שָׁאַל הָאִישׁ literally, or nearly so: er fragte und fragte uns aus; or, as it might be rendered, still closer to the letter, he asked to ask; or, if we take the infinitive in such cases as an adverb, he asked inquisitively, and then proceeds to remark]: This expressive connection of the infinitive with the indicative in Hebrew must not be effaced by grammatical rules; we hold fast to its literalness here. They did not speak forwardly of their family relations, but only after the closest questioning. By this passage and Judah’s speech (Genesis 44:0), the account in the preceding chapter (Genesis 43:32) is to be supplemented. They owed him an answer, since the question was to remove his suspicion; and, moreover, they had no presentiment of what he wanted.—Send the lad with me.—אִתִּי (with me) says the brave Judah. He presents himself as surety; he will take the guilt and bear the blame forever. The strong man promises all he can. To offer to the grandfather his own grandchildren, as Reuben offered his sons, that he might put them to death, was too unreal and hyperbolical to occur to him. We become acquainted with him here as a man full of feeling, and of most energetic speech, as Genesis 43:3, and Genesis 33:0 had before exemplified. He eloquently shows how they are all threatened with starvation. The expression, too: Surely now we had returned the second time, promises a happy issue.—If it must be so now.—Jacob had once experienced, in the case of Esau, that presents had an appeasing effect on hostile dispositions. From this universal human experience there is explained the ancient custom, especially in the East, of rendering rulers favorably disposed by gifts (see 1 Kings 10:25; Matthew 2:11; Proverbs 18:16; Proverbs 19:6).—Of the first fruits of the land.—(Lange translates: Of that which is most praiseworthy.) Literally, of the song; i.e., that which was celebrated in song. The noblest products of nature are, for the most part, celebrated and symbolized in poetry. In presents to distinguished persons, however, the simple money-value of the things avails but little; it is the peculiar quality, or some poetic fragrance attached to them, that makes them effective. Delitzsch doubts this explanation, but without sufficient reason. They are especially to take balm, the pride of Canaan, but in particular of Gilead. Then honey. Knobel and Delitzsch suppose it to be the honey of grapes, Arab., dibs. “Grape syrup; i.e., must boiled down to one third, an article, of which, even at the present day, there are sent yearly three hundred camel-loads from Hebron’s vicinity to Egypt.” Delitzsch. But this very abundance of the syrup of grapes would lead us to decide rather for the honey of bees, were it not for the consideration, that in the Egypt of to-day great attention is given to the raising of bees, and that it is no wine country, although not wholly without the culture of the vine (Genesis 40:10).—Spices.—(Lange, tragacanth-gum.) A kind of white resinous medicament (see Winer, Tragacanth).—Myrrh.–Frankincense, salve medicament (see Winer, Ladanum).—Nuts.—The Hebrew word בָּטְבִים occurs here only, but by the Samaritan translation it is interpreted of the fruit of the Pistacia vera, “a tree similar to the terebinth—oblong and angular nuts of the size of a hazel-nut, containing an oily but very palatable kernel, which do not, however, grow any more in Palestine (as is stated in Schubert’s ‘Travels in the East,’ ii. p. 478; iii. 114), but are obtained from Aleppo (comp. Rosen., in the ‘German Orient. Magazine,’ xii. p. 502).” Keil.—Almonds.—(See Winer, Almond-tree.) On the productions of Palestine in general, see CalwerBibl. “Natural History,” etc.—And take double money.—(Lit. second money. They are not to take advantage of the mistake, even though no unfavorable construction should be put upon it, or it should occasion them no harm.—And God Almighty.—Here, when some strong miraculous help is needed, he is again most properly designated by the name El Shadai.—If I be bereaved of my children.—Be it so. An expression of resignation (Esther 4:16). As his blessing here is not a prayer full of confidence, so the resignation has not the full expression of sacrifice; for Jacob’s soul is unconsciously restrained by a sense of the ban resting upon his sons. He is bowed down by the spiritual burden of his house.

2.Genesis 43:15-30. Joseph and Benjamin.—And stood before Joseph.—Knobel justly states that the audience they had with Joseph did not take place until afterwards. The meaning here is that they took their place in front of Joseph’s house, together with Benjamin and the presents, and so announced to him their arrival.—Bring these men home.—With joy had Joseph observed Benjamin with them, and concludes from thence that they had practised no treachery upon him, through hatred to the children of Rachel, the darlings of their father. Benjamin’s appearance sheds a reconciling light upon the whole group. He intends, therefore, to receive them in a friendly and hospitable manner. His staying away, however, until noon, characterizes not only the great and industrious statesman, but also the man of sage discretion, who takes time to consult with himself about his future proceeding.—And stay.—Bohlen’s assertion that the higher castes in Egypt ate no meat at all, is refuted by Knobel, p. 326.—At noon.—The time when they partook of their principal meal (Genesis 18:1).—And the men were afraid.—Judging from their former treatment they know not what to make of their being thus led into his house. If a distinction, it is an incomprehensibly great one; they, therefore, apprehended a plan for their destruction. Some monstrous intrigue they, perhaps, anticipate, having its introduction in the reappearance of the money in their sacks, whilst the fearful imagination of an evil conscience begins to paint the consequences (see Genesis 43:18). “A thief, if unable to make restitution, was sold as a slave (Exodus 22:3).” Therefore they are not willing to enter until they have justified themselves about the money returned in their sacks. They address themselves, on this account, to Joseph’s steward, with an explanatory vindication.—When we came to the inn.—In a summary way they here state both facts (Genesis 42:27; Genesis 42:35) together. For afterwards they might have concluded that the money found in the sack of one of them was a sign that that money had been returned in all the sacks.—In full weight.—There was, as yet, no coined money, only rings or pieces of metal, which were reckoned by weight.—Peace be to you.—It can hardly be supposed that the steward was let into Joseph’s plan. He knew, however, that Joseph himself had ordered the return of the money, and might have supposed that Joseph’s course toward them, as his countrymen, had in view a happy issue. In this sense it is that he encourages them.—Your God and the God of your father.—The shrewd steward is acquainted with Joseph’s religiousness, and, perhaps, has adopted it himself. He undoubtedly regards them as confessors of the same faith with Joseph. Knobel: “His own good fortune each man deduces from the God he worships (Hosea 2:7).”—Has given you treasure.—Thus intimating some secret means by which God had given it to them; but for all this they still remain uneasy, though sufficiently calmed by his verbal acknowledgment of receipt: I had your money, but more so by the releasing of Simeon. It is not until now that they enter the house which they had before regarded as a snare. Now follow the hospitable reception, the disposition of the presents, Joseph’s greeting, and their obeisance.—And he asked them of their welfare.—This was his greeting. See the contrast, Genesis 37:4. For the inquiry after their father’s welfare they thank him by the most respectful obeisance, an expression of their courtesy and of their filial piety. They represent their father, just as Benjamin represents the mother, and so it is that his dream of the sun and moon fulfils itself (Genesis 37:9). If we suppose Benjamin born about a year before Joseph’s sale, he would be now twenty-three years of age. Knobel does not know how to understand the repeated expressions of his youth (נַעַר, etc.). But they are explained from the tender care exercised towards him, and from the great difference between his age and that of his brothers.—And he said.—It is very significant that Joseph does not wait for an answer. He recognizes him immediately, and his heart yearns.—My son.—An expression of inner tenderness, and an indication, at the same time, of near relationship.—And Joseph made haste.—His overwhelming emotion, the moment he saw his brethren, like Jacob’s love of Rachel, has a gleam of the New-Testament life.4 It is not, however, to be regarded as a simple feeling; it is also an emotion of joy at the prospect of that reconciliation which he had, for some time, feared their hatred towards Rachel’s children might prevent, and so bring ruin upon Benjamin, upon Jacob’s house, and upon themselves. No emotions are stronger than those arising from the dissolution of a ban, with which there is, at the same time, taken away the danger of a dark impending doom, and the old hardening of impaired affection.

3.Genesis 43:31-34. The banquet in honor of Benjamin.—And he washed his face.—A proof of the depth of his emotion. It was still hard for him to maintain a calm and composed countenance.—And they set on for him by himself.—Three tables, from two different causes. Joseph’s caste as priest, and in which he stood next to the king, did not allow him to eat with laymen. And, moreover, neither Joseph’s domestics, nor his guests, could, as Egyptians, eat with Hebrews. Concerning the rigidness of the Egyptian seclusion, see Knobel, p. 328. Besides, the Hebrews were nomads (Genesis 46:34). On the Egyptian castes, see Von Raumer, Vorlesungen über die alte Gesch, i. p. 133.—And they set.—They were surprised to see themselves arranged according to their age. But the enigma becomes more and more transparent; whilst strange presentiments are more and more excited. The transaction betrays the fact that they are known to the spirit of the house, and that it can distinguish between their ages. The Egyptians sat at table, instead of reclining; as appears from their pictures.—And he took and sent messes.—They were thus distinguished by having portions sent to them; whilst, as yet, they were hindered by no laws from eating of Joseph’s meat.—But Benjamin’s mess.—This is a point not to be overlooked in the proving of the brethren; it is an imitation, so to say, of the coat of many colors. It would determine whether Benjamin was to become an object of their jealousy, just as his father’s present had before been to him the cause of their hatred (so also Keil, p. 264). His mess is five times larger than the rest. “Such abundance was an especial proof of respect. To the guest who was to be distinguished there were given, at a meal, the largest and best pieces (1 Samuel 9:23; Hom.Il. vii. 321, etc.). Among the Spartans the king received a double portion (Herod, vi. 57, etc.); among the Cretans the Archon received four times as much (Heraclid. Polit. 3). Five was a favorite number among the Egyptians (Genesis 41:34; Genesis 45:22; Genesis 47:2; Genesis 47:24; Isaiah 19:18). It may be explained, perhaps, from the supposed five planets.—And they drank and were merry with him.—Intoxication is not meant here (see Haggai 1:6), but a state of exhilaration, in which they first lose their fear of the Egyptian ruler. Benjamin was sitting as a guardian angel between them, and it was already a favorable sign, that the distinction showed to him did not embitter their joy. Nevertheless, whether Joseph had reached the zenith of an inexpressible rapture, as Delitzsch says, may be questioned. In all this happy, anticipation, we may suppose him still a careful observer of his brethren, according to the proverb invino veritas. At all events, the effect of the present to Benjamin was to be tested, and their disposition towards him was to undergo a severe probing.

4.Genesis 44:1-17. The trial of the brothers’ disposition towards Benjamin, especially after his great distinction.—And he commanded the steward of his house.—The return of money does not belong to this trial, but only the cup in Benjamin’s sack. Knobel is incorrect in calling this also a chastisement. So also is Delitzsch, in holding that a surrender of Benjamin by his brethren loses all authentic support, in the fact that in all the sacks something was found that did not belong to them. Rather is Benjamin the only one who must appear as guilty, and as having incurred the doom of slavery (Genesis 44:17).—Up, follow after the men.—The haste is in order that they may not anticipate him in the discovery, and so defeat the accusation by their voluntary return. The steward is to inquire only for the silver cup.—And whereby indeed he divineth.—“In Egypt, the country of oracles (Isaiah 19:3), hydromancy also was practised, i. e., to predict events from appearances presented by the liquid contents of a cup, either as standing or as thrown. This mode of divination is still practised.5 It was called נִחֵשׁ, lit., whispering (in magic formulas or oracles), divinare.” Delitzsch. Compare also Knobel, p. 329. The indicating signs were either the refraction of the rays of light, or the formation of circles on the water, or of figures, or of small bubbles, whenever something was thrown in. According to Bunsen, however, the aim was, by fixing the eyes of the diviner upon a particular point in the cup, to put him into a dream-like or clairvoyant state. Concerning this kulikomancy, or cup-divination, see Schröder. The cup is, therefore, marked, not only as a festive, but also as a most sacred, utensil of Joseph; and, on this account, to take it away was considered as a heinous crime. Knobel, in his peculiar way, here tries to start a contradiction. “According to the Elohist (he says), Joseph gets his knowledge of the future from God (Genesis 40:8); whilst here he derives it from hydromancy, as practised by one received into the caste of the priests.” So, too, did he swear, in all earnestness, by the life of Pharaoh; and the older exegetes would relieve us from the apprehension that in so doing he might have taken a false oath! In a vigorous denial, and with eloquent speech, do the accused repel the charges of the steward and give strong expression to the consciousness of their innocence.—With whomsoever it be found, let him die.—Whilst consenting to their proposal, the steward moderates it in accordance with the aim of the prosecution. The possessor of the cup alone is demanded, and he, not to die, but to become Joseph’s slave. He presents this forthwith, so that the discovery again of the money may not be taken into consideration, and that temporary fear of death may not harm Benjamin. Benjamin only is to appear as the culprit, and this is in order to find out whether or not his brethren would abandon him. For these reasons the money found in the sacks is not noticed at all.—And began at the eldest.—This was in order to mask the deception.—They rent their clothes.—This was already a favorable sign; another, that they would not let Benjamin go alone, but returned with him to the city; third, that they put themselves under the direction of Judah, who had become surety for Benjamin; and fourth, that they, together with Benjamin, prostrated themselves as penitents before Joseph.—Wot ye not?—Joseph’s reproach was not so much for the vileness, as for the imprudence, of the act; since he intends to conduct the severe trial as sparingly as possible. The Hebrew נַחֵשׁ, etc., denotes here a divinely-derived or supernatural knowledge, to which Joseph lays claim, not only as a member of the caste of priests, but as the well-known interpreter of the dreams, owing his reception into this caste to his remarkable clear-sightedness.—That such a man as I.—He puts on the appearance of boasting, not to represent them as mean persons, but only as inferior to himself in a contest of craftiness. Thus he meets the supposed improbability that he could still divine although the cup was taken from him.—And Judah said, What shall we say?—Judah considers Benjamin as lost, and without inquiring how the cup came into his sack, he recognizes in this dark transaction the judgment of God upon their former guilt. This appears from his declaration: We are my lord’s servants.—Benjamin, it is true, had no part in that old guilt; neither had Reuben and Judah directly, but concerning this no explanation could be given in the court of the Egyptian ruler. In a masterly manner, therefore, he so shapes his speech ambiguously that the brethren are reminded of their old guilt, and admonished to resign themselves to the divine judgment, whilst Joseph can understand it only that they are all interested in the taking of the cup, and he especially, as the one confessing for them. I, above all, am guilty, says the innocent one, in order that he might share the doom of slavery with the apparent criminal. In this disguised speech the reservatio mentalis appears in its most favorable aspect. For his brethren he utters a truth: Jacob’s sons have incurred the divine judgment. For Joseph his words are a seeming subterfuge, and yet a most magnanimous one. Thus the two noble sons of Jacob wrestle with each other in the emulation of generosity, one in the false appearance of a despot and boaster, the other forced to a falsity of self-accusation that seems bordering on despair.—And he said, God forbid that I should do so.—Here is the culmination of the trial. Benjamin is to be a slave; the others may return home without him. Will they not be really glad to have got rid of the preferred and favorite child of Rachel, in such an easy way? But now is the time when it comes true: “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise” (see Genesis 49:8).

b. History of the reconciliation, of the recognition, and of their meeting each other again under the antithesis of Judah and Joseph, Genesis 44:18 to Genesis 45:15.—1.Genesis 44:18-34. Judah as surety and substitute for Benjamin before Joseph. Judah’s speech is not only one of the grandest and fairest to be found in the Old Testament (connecting itself, as it does, with an increased significance, to those of Eliezer and Jacob), but, at the same time, one of the most lofty examples of self-sacrifice contained therein.—Then Judah came near unto him and said.—Peclus facit disertum, the heart makes eloquent. Necessity, and the spirit of self-sacrifice, give the inspiring confidence (παῤῥησία).—In my lord’s ears.—He presses towards him, that he may speak the more impressively to his ear and to his heart (Genesis 50:4; 1 Samuel 18:23). And yet, with all his boldness, he neglects not the courteous and prudent attitude.—For thou art as Pharaoh.—In this Judah intends to recognize the sovereignty which could not be affronted with impunity. For Joseph, however, there must have been in it the stinging reminder that the acme of severity was now reached. The vivid, passionate style of narration, as the ground of treatment in the cases presented, is ever the basis of all Bible speeches.—And his brother is dead.—Joseph has here a new unfolding of the destiny to which God had appointed him; especially does he begin to perceive its meaning in relation to his father Jacob (Genesis 44:28). This language strengthens what is said about Benjamin, as the one favorite child of an aged father—doubly dear because his brother is dead.—And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father.—From this it appears why Joseph confined them three days in prison. They had refused to bring Benjamin. It appears, too, that they had consented to bring him only because Joseph had especially desired it, and had intimated a favorable reception (“that I may set mine eyes upon him,” see Jeremiah 39:12). Judah gently calls his attention to this as though it were a promise. And, finally, they are brought to this determination on account of the pressure of the famine. It had cost them, too, a hard struggle with the father. The quotation of Jacob’s words (Genesis 44:27-29) shows how easily they now reconcile themselves to the preference of Rachel and her sons in the heart of Jacob.—That my wife.—Rachel was his wife in the dearest sense of the word, the chosen of his heart. Therefore, also, are her two sons near to him.—And the one went out from me.—Here Joseph learns his father’s distress on his own account. His mourning and longing for him shows how dear Benjamin must be, now the only child of his old age.—When he seeth that the lad is not is with us.—With the utmost tenderness Benjamin is sometimes called the youngest child, sometimes the lad. Out of this a frigid criticism, that has no heart to feel or understand it, would make contradictions. If Joseph has his way, Jacob will die of sorrow. And now Judah speaks the decisive word,—one which the mere thread of the narration would not have led us to anticipate, but which springs eloquently from the rhetoric of the heart.—For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father.—Therefore the passionate entreaty that Joseph would receive him as a substitute of the one who had incurred the sentence of slavery. In all this he makes no parade of his self-sacrifice. He cannot, and will not, return home without Benjamin. He would even regard it as a favor that he should be received in his place. He would rather die as a slave in Egypt, than that his eyes should behold the sorrows of his father. So stands he before us in his self-humiliation, in his self-sacrifice, equal in both with Joseph, and of as true nobility of soul.

2.Genesis 45:1-5. Joseph’s reconciliation and making himself known.—Then Joseph could not refrain.—The brethren had not merely stood the trial; Judah’s eloquence had overpowered him. Reconciliation never measures itself by mere right; it is not only full but running over. Thus is it said of Israel: “he wrestled with God and prevailed.” We must distinguish, therefore, between two elements in Joseph’s emotion: first, his satisfied reconciliation, and, secondly, his inability to restrain any longer, though in presence of all the beholders, the strong agitation of his swelling heart. See a full representation of this as given by Delitzsch (p. 558). When, however, he says, that Benjamin’s brothers, do not press him (Benjamin) with reproaches, notwithstanding they had reason to regard him as guilty, and as having, by his theft, plunged them into misfortunes, there must be borne in mind their earlier suspicions as expressed Genesis 43:18. Doubtless they now conjectured that they were the victims of some Egyptian intrigue; still they recognized it as a divine judgment, and this was the means of their salvation. In their resignation to suffering for Benjamin’s sake, in their sorrow for their father’s distress, Joseph saw fruits for repentance that satisfied him. He beheld in them the transition from the terror of judgment to a cheerful courage of self-sacrifice, in which Judah offers himself as a victim for him, inasmuch as he does it for his image. This draws him as with an irresistible power to sympathize with their distress, and so the common lot becomes the common reconciliation.—Cause every man to go out from me.—He wished to be alone with his brethren at the moment when he made himself known to them. The Egyptians must not see the emotion of their exalted lord, the deep abasement of the brethren, and the act of holy reconciliation which they could not understand. Neither was the theocratic conception of the famine, and of his own mission, for Egyptian ears.—And he wept aloud.—With loud cryings he began to address them; so that his weeping was heard by all who were without, and even by the people in the house of Pharaoh. It follows that Joseph’s dwelling must have been near the palace; “his residence was at Memphis.” (Knobel.)—I am Joseph.—This agitating announcement, for which, however, their despair may have prepared them, he knows not better how to mitigate than by the question: Doth my father yet live?—He had already heard this several times, yet he must ask again, not because he doubted, but that, in the assurance of this most joyful news he may show them his true Israelitish heart, and inspire them with courage. Nor are we to forget that Judah’s words had vividly pictured to him the danger that the old man might die on account of Benjamin’s absence, and that it now began painfully to suggest itself to him, how much he might have imperilled his father’s life by the trial of his brethren.—For they were troubled.—In their terror they seem to draw back.—Come near to me, I pray you.—I am Joseph your brother whom ye sold into Egypt.—It seems as if he had to confess for them the thing they most dreaded.—Now therefore be not grieved.—Seeing their sorrow and repentance, he would now raise them to faith. The one portion of them, namely, those who were conscious of the greater guilt, must not mar this favorable state of soul, and render faith more difficult by their excessive mourning, nor should the guiltless (Reuben, Judah, Benjamin) produce the same effect by angry recriminations.—To preserve life.—To this they are now to direct their attention.

3.Genesis 45:5-13. Joseph’s divine peace, and divine mission.—To preserve life did God send me.—What they had done for evil God had turned to good. And now, having repented and been forgiven, as God had shown to them in his dealings, they are now in a state to understand his gracious purposes. A closer explanation of these words, which would require the giving of his whole history, he, for the present, discreetly waives.—And yet there are five years.—This shows already the point towards which his mind is aiming—to draw them down to Egypt.—Neither earing nor harvest.—A vivid representation of the years of famine.—Before you to preserve you.—The preservation of Jacob’s house seems now of more importance than that of the Egyptians, and the surrounding peoples.—By a great deliverance.—The question was not one of assistance merely, however great, but of deliverance from death and famine. It may, however, be so called in reference to the great future, and as containing in it the final deliverance of the world.—So now it was not you,—but God.—Here he makes a pointed contrast: not you; in this is contained: first, his forgiveness; secondly, his declaration of the nullity of their project, and its disappearance before the great decree of God. Thrice does he make these comforting declarations. But in what respects was it God? He made him, first, a father unto Pharaoh, that is, a paternal counsellor (2 Chronicles 2:12; 2 Chronicles 4:16). “It was an honorary distinction of the first minister, and which also existed among the Persians (Appendix to Esther 2:6; Esther 6:10), and the Syrians (1 Maccab. Genesis 11:32).” Knobel. These words also refer to the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, and the advice connected with it. The consequence was, that he obtained this high position which he can now use for the preservation of his father’s house.—Come down unto me.—The immediate invitation given without any conference with Pharaoh shows his firm position; but it was, nevertheless, a hazardous undertaking of his agitated, yet confident heart.—In the land of Goshen.—(Genesis 47:11).—Raamses.—A district of Lower Egypt, north of the Nile, and very fruitful (Genesis 47:6; Genesis 47:11), especially in grass (Genesis 46:34). “Even at this day the province of Scharkijah is considered the best part of Egypt (Robinson. ‘Palæst.,’ 1:96).” Knobel. See The same, p. 333, and the Biblical Dictionaries. See also Bunsen.—And there will I nourish thee.—The expression פֶּן תִּוָּרֵשׁ may mean, that thou mayest not become a possession, that is, fall into slavery through poverty, and thus Knobel interprets it with reference to Genesis 47:19, etc.; but it may also mean, that thou mayest not be deprived of thy possessions, so as to suffer want,—an interpretation which is to be preferred.—And behold your eyes.—If their father in his distrust (see Genesis 45:25) should not credit their testimony, he will undoubtedly believe the eyes of Benjamin.—All my glory.—He perceives that his aged father, oppressed by sorrows, can only be revived again through vivid representations (see Genesis 45:27).

4.Genesis 45:14-15. The solemnity of the salutation.—And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck.—Benjamin is the central point whence leads out the way to reconciliation.—Kissed all his brethren.—The seal of recognition, of reconciliation, and of salutation.—And wept upon them.—Delitzsch: “While he embraced them.” But of Benjamin it is said, he wept upon his neck. Benjamin would seem to remain standing whilst the brothers bow themselves; so that Joseph, as he embraced, wept upon them.—And after that his brethren talked with him.—Not until now can they speak with him,—now that they have been called, and been forgiven, in so solemn and brotherly a manner. The joy is gradually brought out by an assurance, thrice repeated, that he did not impute their deed to them, but recognized in it the decree and hand of God.

c. The joyful message to Jacob. Genesis 45:16-28.—Pharaoh’s commission to Jacob.—And the fame thereof was heard.—At the recognition Joseph was alone with his brethren; now that he has made known their arrival, he avows himself as belonging to them.—And it pleased Pharaoh well.—Recognitions of separated members of the same family have an extraordinary power to move the human heart, and we already know that Pharaoh was a prince of sound discernment, and of a benevolent disposition. But what was pleasing to Pharaoh was also pleasing to his courtiers, and his servants. Besides, Joseph had rendered great service, and had, therefore, a claim to Egyptian sympathy. Thus far a dark shadow had rested on his descent; for he had come to Egypt as a slave. Now he appears as a member of a free and noble nomadic family.—And Pharaoh said unto Joseph.—First, he extends an invitation to the brethren agreeing with Joseph’s previous invitation. Then follows a commission to Joseph, the terms of which bear evidence of the most delicate courtliness.—The good of the land.—This is generally taken as meaning the best part of the land, that is, Goshen (Raschi, Gesenius, and others). Knobel, according to Genesis 45:20; Genesis 45:23, interprets it, of the good things of Egypt: whatever good it possesses shall be theirs. The connection with the following: the fat of the land, would seem to point to a leasing of possession, but, of course, not in the sense of territorial dominion. It is not an argument against this that the leasing of places is afterwards asked for (Genesis 46:34; Genesis 47:4). On the contrary, the petition there made rather rests on a previous general promise.—Now thou art commanded.—Pharaoh had refrained from using the form of command towards Joseph, but now in adopting it, in a case of his own personal interest, it must be regarded as, in fact, a refined courtesy. It is the very strongest language of authorization.—This do ye.—He regards the cause of Joseph, and his brethren, as one and inseparable. The sense, therefore, is not: cause thy brethren so to do (Knobel); for they, of themselves, could not take wagons from Egypt.—For your little ones.—“Egypt was rich in wagons and horses; they are not mentioned among the nomadic Hebrews.” The small two-wheeled wagons of the Egyptians “could be also used on the roadless wastes of the desert.” Keil.—Also regard not your stuff.—They should not grieve over the articles of furniture they would have to leave behind; since they would have everything abundantly in Egypt.—The children of Israel.—A decisive step for the house of Israel.—Joseph gave them wagons—and provision for the way.—Changes of raiment.—Lange: Lit., festival habits (holiday clothing) as a change for the usual dress.—But to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.—He makes amends to this guiltless brother after the well-meant alarm which he had given him.—And to his father.—In these presents love seems to surpass the measure of its aim, since Jacob had been invited to come speedily to Egypt; but there might possibly be hindrances to the journey. Besides the ten asses were for the common transportation, and the occasion of their dismission is employed to send along with them costly things of various kinds from the land.—See that ye fall not out by the way.—The old explanation: do not quarrel by the way, is held by Knobel, Delitzsch and Keil, in opposition to Michaelis, Gesenius, and others, who make it an admonition: fear not. But the language, and the situation, both favor the first interpretation.6 The less guilty ones among them might easily be tempted to reproach the others, as Reuben had done already.—Joseph is yet alive.—In this message his heart lost its warmth7 and joy. He had not full trust in them. It was by no means the incredulity of joy (Luke 24:44), because the news seemed too strangely good to be true; rather had his suspicion, in its reciprocal working with their long consciousness of guilt, made him fundamentally mistrustful. And now that dreadful shalit of Egypt turns out to be his son Joseph! Even Benjamin’s witness fails to clear up his amazement.—And when he saw the wagons.—Not until they had told him all the words of Joseph, and added, perhaps, their own confession—how they had sold him, how Joseph had forgiven them, how he had referred them to the divine guidance—is Jacob able to believe fully their report; and, now, in connection with all this, there come the Egyptian wagons, as a seal of the story’s truth, as a symbol of Joseph’s glory, a sign, in fact, from God, that the dark enigma of his old years is about to be solved in the light of a “golden sunset.”—It is enough.—His longing is appeased, he has as good as reached the goal.—I will go.—The old man is again young in spirit. He is for going immediately; he could leap, yes, fly.

“Now purified at last, with hope revived,
For life’s new goal he starts.”
(See the close of the Œdipus Coloneus.) Delitzsch: “Thus Jacob’s spirit lives again.—And Israel said.—It is Israel now that speaks. How significant this change of name.”


(Genesis 43:1 to Genesis 44:17)

The great trial: 1. Its inevitableness; 2. its need; 3. its apparent end (the banquet); 4. its acme; 5. its glorious issue.
1. The pressure of want, and its power in the hand of providence: 1) How inexorable in its demands. Jacob is to deliver up Benjamin. 2) How full of grace in its designs. By it alone can Jacob’s house be delivered from the burden of deadly guilt.

2. Judah’s confidence. “A lion’s whelp” (Genesis 49:9). This confidence he would not have had, if he had not formerly proposed to sell Joseph in order to save him, or had be not been willing to sacrifice himself for Benjamin’s safe return: The spirit of self-sacrifice is the great source of courage.

3. It is in the name of Israel that Jacob treats with his sons in the giving up of Benjamin. His reproach, too (Genesis 43:6), is in the name of Israel. It seems to come, indeed, from Jacob’s weakness, and to be, therefore, wrongly used; but behind the mere sound there lies the hidden announcement of a suspicion that they were dealing unfairly with the sons of Rachel. We now recognize Israel’s character, especially in the following traits: 1) Not to his other sons does he entrust Benjamin, not even to Reuben, whose weakness he knows, but only to Judah, whose frankness, honesty, and strength seem to inspire him with confidence. 2) He again employs the old weapon, the giving of presents to a threatening antagonist; yet well knowing that the Egyptian would not, like Esau, look to the quantity so much as the quality of the things offered, and so he sends him the most highly prized or celebrated products of the land. 3) With a severe uprightness does he require his sons to return the money found in their sacks, and thus disarm the suspicion of the Egyptian. 4) He entrusts to them Benjamin as their brother. 5) He commits himself to the protection of Almighty God, i. e., the delivering and protecting God of the patriarchs, who wrought miracles on their behalf. 6) He resigns himself to God’s providence, even at the risk of becoming entirely childless.

4. The prized fruits of the land of Canaan. In Jacob’s words there appears an objective poetry, or the poetry of the lands, as it may be called. First of all, it consists in their noblest products, not as they serve the common wants of life, but rather its healing, adornment, and festivity. When he selected them, however, Jacob could have had but little thought how mighty the influence these noble gifts of Canaan’s soil would have upon the great Egyptian ruler,—how they would impress him as the wonders of his youth, the glories of his native land.

5. Joseph’s state of soul at the appearance of Benjamin: 1) His joy; 2) his deep emotion; 3) his doubt, and the modes of testing it: a. the feast; b. the cup; c. the claim to Benjamin. If at the first meeting with his brethren Joseph had to struggle with his ill-humor, he now has to contend with the emotions of fraternal love.

6. The agitating changes in the trial of Joseph’s brethren: 1) From fear to joy: 2) from joy to sorrow; 3) and again from sorrow to joy.
7. Their negotiation with the steward, or the delusions of fear. They are innocent (respecting the money), and yet guilty (in respect to their old crime). Having once murdered confidence, there lies upon them the penalty of mistrust, compelling them to regard even Joseph’s house as a place of treachery. They could have no trust whilst remaining unreconciled.
8. The steward. Joseph’s spirit had been imparted to his subordinates.
9. Good fortune abounding (the money given to them; Simeon set free; the honorable reception; the banquet; the messes); and yet they had no peace, because the pure foundation for it was not yet laid.
10. Joseph’s deep emotion, a sign of reconciliation.
11. The banquet, and Egyptian division of castes. (The distinction of caste is here recognized as custom interpenetrated by dogma, and this gives the method of the struggle. Joseph sends messes from his table. The true tendency of the caste doctrine is to absorb everything into that of the priesthood.) Egyptian forms (honorary dishes; the number five). An Israelitish meal. As the banquet of Joseph’s joy, of his hope, of his trying watch. As the feast of reviving hope in Joseph’s brethren; their participation without envy in the honoring of Benjamin. As an introduction to the last trial, and a preparation for it.
12. The successful issue in the fearful proving of Israel’s sons.

(Genesis 44:18 to Genesis 45:16. Joseph and Judah.)

1. Judah’s speech. Delitzsch: “Judah is the eloquent one among his brethren. His eloquence had carried the measure of Joseph’s sale; it had prevailed on Jacob to send Benjamin with them; and here, finally, it makes Joseph unable to endure the restraint which he wished to put upon himself.” The end, however, is attained, not more by his touching eloquence than by his heroic deed, when lie offers himself as surety for Benjamin, and is willing to sacrifice himself by taking his place.

2. And I said. This citing of Jacob’s language, in Judah’s speech, must have had something especially agitating for Joseph,—all the more so because the speaker is not aware of the deep impression it must have made upon him. In this citation of Jacob’s last words in respect to that old event, there is reflected, as Schröder rightly remarks, Jacob’s doubt. I said, that is, I thought at that time.

3. The moral requisites of reconciliation, whether human or divine, are quite obvious in our narrative. Reuben represents the better element in the moral struggle, Benjamin the innocent party, Judah the surety, who takes upon himself the real guilt of his brethren and the factitious guilt of Benjamin. Repentance, faith, and the spirit of sacrifice, severally appear in these representatives. Through three stages do these elements prepare the reconciliation to Joseph’s heart and to the brethren as opposed to him. It has for its foundation a religious ground, though only in an Old-Testament measure. The thrice-repeated declaration of Joseph: Ye have not sent me, but God has done it, is the strongest expression of restored peace and forgiveness. As Benjamin, so to speak, had taken his place, the conclusion avails: Whatever ye have done to him, ye have done it even unto me.
4. It is an especial New-Testament trait in Joseph’s mode of thinking, that he so fully recognizes how the sin of his brethren, after having been atoned for, is entirely taken away; the divine providence having turned it to good. This truth, which he so promptly read in his mission, many Christians, and even many theologians, are yet spelling out in the letter. Joseph, however, recognizes, as the central point of the divine guidance, his mission to save Israel’s house from starvation, and to preserve it for a great deliverance. In this thought there lies enclosed the anticipation of a future and an endless salvation. For this end the treachery of the brethren is first turned away, as guilt expiated, and then, under the divine guidance, turned to good. Thus Joseph’s mission becomes a type of the cross of Christ; though the expiating points, which are found separated in Joseph’s history, are wholly concentrated in the person of Jesus. Here they appear in divers persons: It is Reuben the admonisher, Benjamin the innocent, Judah the surety, Joseph the betrayed and the forgiving, Jacob the father of a family pressed down by the guilt of his house.

5. Joseph’s kiss of peace reminds us of Christ’s greeting to his disciples and to the world.
6. Benjamin, by the way, became in after times, a wild and haughty tribe, then deeply humbled (in the days of the Judges), then Judah’s rival, in the opposition of Saul and David, then Judah’s faithful confederate and protegée; in the New-Testament time, Paul again, its great descendant, connects himself in faithful devotion, with “the lion of the tribe of Judah.”

7. The recognitions of relatives, friends, lovers, long lost to each other, are among the most important occurrences in human life, especially as they appear in their reality, and in the poetry of antiquity8 (see Lange’s “History of the Apostolic Times,” i. p. 42). In the most conspicuous points, however, of outward recognitions, are reflected the spiritual (Luke 15:20), and, in both, those of the world to come.

8. The ambiguous forms that present themselves in the history of Joseph, and in which, at last, Judah and Joseph stand opposed to each other, lose themselves entirely in the service of truth, righteousness, and love. At the same time they appear as imperfections of the Old-Testament life in comparison with the joy of confession that appears in the New Testament. What they represent, of the things that last forever, is the caution and the prudence of the New-Testament wisdom. “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

(Genesis 45:18-27. Joseph and Jacob.)

1. The joyful news: 1) The announcers: Joseph, Pharaoh, Egyptians, the sons of Jacob. 2) Their contents: Joseph lives; his glory in Egypt; come down. 3) Jacob’s incredulity; the chill of his heart at the words of his sons, whom he does not credit. 4) The evidences and the tokens: Joseph’s words, Pharaoh’s wagons. 5. Jacob becomes again Israel in the anticipation of the serene clearing up of his dark destiny, in the discharging his house of an old ban. Joseph’s life restores to him the hope of a happy death.
2. Delitzsch: “In Joseph’s history the sacred record maintains all its greatness; here, in this scene of recognition, it celebrates one of its triumphs. It is all nature, all spirit, all art. These three here become one; each word is bathed in tears of sympathy, in the blood of love, in the wine of happiness. The foil, however, of this history, so beautiful in itself, is the δόξα, the glory, of Jesus Christ, which, in all directions, pours its heavenly light upon it. For as Judah (?) delivered up Joseph, so the Jewish people delivered Jesus into the hands of the heathen, and so, also, does the antitypal history of this betrayal lose itself in an adorable depth of wisdom and divine knowledge.” The same: This Jacob, over whom comes again the spirit of his youth, is Israel. It is the name of the twelve-tribed people, whose migration to Egypt, and new-birth out of it, is decided by the אֵלְכָה, I will go, of the hoary patriarch.


See Doctrinal and Ethical. Forms of character. Forms of reconciliation. The types in our history. Taube: Joseph’s revelation to his brethren—a type of. Him who rose to his disciples.

(Genesis 43:10 to Genesis 44:17.)

Starke: Genesis 43:10. Bibl. Tub.: A less evil should justly be preferred to a greater.—The same: A Christian must bear with resignation the troubles that God ordains.—At the door of the house. Perhaps that they might leave in time. The guilty conscience interprets everything in the worst way (Luther). [Sitting at a meal is more ancient than lying (Exodus 32:6); the latter mode came much later into use, among the delicate and effeminate Persians.]—Osiander: Let every land keep its own customs, unless they are in themselves indecent and godless. [Genesis 44:15; Joseph is said to have learned magic in Egypt; but this is hardly credible.]—[Genesis 43:9; that was said very rashly (?).]—Genesis 44:16. Cramer: God knows how to reveal secret sins in a wonderful manner (Psalms 50:21).—Calwer Handbuch: In suffering for Benjamin, they were to atone for their sins toward Joseph.—Schröder: Conscience is greater than heaven and earth. If this did not exist hell would have no fire and no torment.

(Genesis 44:18 to Genesis 45:18.)

Starke: When God has sufficiently humbled his faithful children, he makes a way for their escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).—Genesis 45:5. Luther: A poor weak conscience, in the acknowledgment of its guilt, is filled with anguish. We must hold up and counsel, open heaven, shut hell, whoever can, in order that the poor soul may not sink into despair. When a Christian has been exalted by God to high worldly state, he must not be ashamed of his poor parents, brothers, sisters, and other relations, nor despise them (Romans 8:28).—The same: I wonder how Joseph must have felt when he came to kiss Simeon, the ringleader in the crimes committed against him; and yet he must have kissed him, too.—Comparison of Christ and Joseph, according to Luther and Rambach.—Matthew 5:24. Calwer Handbuch: That is the most rational view in all cases, especially in the dark dispensations of human life, not to halt at human causes, or stay there, but to look at God’s ways, as Joseph does here; and to trace his leading, like a golden thread drawn through all the follies and errors of men.—Schröder: Here (at the close of Judah’s speech) is the time that the cord breaks (Luther).—The thoughts and feelings of Jacob’s sons are all directed intently to this one thing: Benjamin must not be abandoned; everything else ceases to trouble them.—Judah is bold because he speaks from the strong impulse of his heart.—Luther, on Judah’s speech: Would to God that I might call upon God with equal ardor.—Judah shows that he is the right one to be surety (Richter).—Judah may have closed with tears, and now Joseph begins with them (Richter).—Joseph shows himself a most affectionate brother, while, as a genuine child of God, he points to him, away from himself and his people.—In God all discords are resolved. Grace not only makes the sin as though it had never been, but throws it into the sea (Micah 7:19); without abolishing sin as sin, that is, as unexpiated, it makes the scarlet dyed as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18)—Heim: Jerem. Risler, is section 40. of his historical extracts from the books of the Old Testament, presents not less than twenty-two points of resemblance between Joseph and Jesus. Such a gathering, however, of separate resemblances may easily divert us from the main features. Each essential homogeneity is always reflected in many resemblances. Yet Risler’s parallel is quite full of meaning (see Heim, p. 540). As yet we have had before us the fulfilment of the type in the course of history; the fulfilment of the other half still lies in the future (namely, that Jesus makes himself known to the Jews, the brethren who rejected him), Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:38-39; Romans 11:25-26.

(Genesis 45:17-28.)

Starke: Egypt’s great honor and glory; its showing hospitality to the whole Church, that is, the house of Jacob. After dark and long-continued storms, God makes again to shine upon his people the sun of gladness. The joy of pious parents and children at seeing each other again in the life to come.—Schröder: (Three hundred pieces of silver, equal to two hundred dollars.) He not only wished to show his love to his brethren, but also, to induce the absent members of the family to undertake the journey (Calvin). On the journey to eternity we must not become angry, either with our companions, or with God (Berl. Bib.). Christians, as brethren, ought not to quarrel with each other on the way of life.—Heim: The first impression that the joyful news made upon the aged and bowed-down Jacob, was to chill his heart. Cases are not unfrequent of apoplexy and sudden death arising from the reception of glad tidings. It was somewhat like the joy of Simeon (Luke 2:29-30).


[1][Genesis 43:14.—וַאֲנִי כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁכלְתִּי שָׁכַלְתִּי. Rendered: “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’ Our translators, by putting in children, would seem to have regarded it as emphatic, thus: If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved of all. It may be taken, however, as a declaration of submission to what appears inevitable, as in Esther 4:16, כַּאֲשֶׁר אָבַדְתִּי אָבַדְתִּי. Or it may be regarded as a passionate exaggeration in view of Joseph’s supposed death, Simeon’s confinement, and the demand for Benjamin: I am bereaved of all my children, one after the other.—T. L.]

[2][Genesis 43:18.—וְלָקַחַת. The ל here is servile. Compare Malachi 2:13 and Genesis 28:6. In Genesis 30:15, we have both forms of the infinitive (לָקַהַת and קַחַת) in immediate connection. See it explained in the Sepher Harikma, or Hebrew Grammar, of Ben Gannach, p. 30, line 30. He regards both alike as infinitives.—T. L.]

[3][Genesis 43:20.—בִּי אֲדנִֹי. Gesenius regards בִּי in this and some similar cases (see Joshua 7:8), as a contraction for בְּעִי, from the root בָּעָה, a very rare word in Hebrew, though very common in the Chaldaic and Syriac. In the sense of entreaty, בעה occurs only Isaiah 21:12, and of inquiry, Obadiah 1:6. Abbreviations are made only of words that are much used, and we cannot, therefore, regard it as a forma precationis (בְּעִי, my prayer), having such an origin. The Targum of Onkelos interprets it in this way, but this is owing to its being written in the Chaldaic language. A much better view is that of Aben Ezra, who regards it as the preposition and pronoun, with an ellipsis of the word עָוֹן, as in 1 Samuel 25:24, חֶעָוֹן בִּי אֵדנִֹי, on me my Lord be the guilt. Or it may be a sort of ejaculatory phrase, with an ellipsis of the precatory verb,—as would seem to be confirmed by Judges 6:13, בִּי אֲדֹנִי וְיֵשׁ יִהוָֹה עִמָּנוּ, come tell me, my lord, if Jehovah is with us, why, etc. See Ben Gannach, Sepher Harikma, 32, 31. The view of Gesenius was suggested, probably, by the Syriac rendering of this passage, Judges 6:13, ܒܠܐ ܐܒܐ ܘܠܦܟ ܗܠܕ̇ܝ. In Joshua 7:8, where the same phrase occurs, the Syriac has left it out entirely.—T. L.]

[4] [A glimpse of the New-Testament life. It is very common to represent the Old Testament as containing the harsher dispensation, and as presenting the sterner attributes both of God and man. This is often done without much thought, or discrimination of the respects in which it may be false or true. The Old Testament is, indeed, a less full revelation of mercy as a doctrine, or a scheme of salvation, but the mercy itself is there in overflowing measure, and expressed in the most pathetic language. It is peculiarly the emotional part of Holy Scripture, presenting everything in the strongest manner, and in strongest contrast, whether it be wrath or tenderness, indignation against apostasy or love for the oft-times apostate and rebellious people. It may even be maintained that the New Testament, though more didactic, is less tender in its language, less abounding in pictures of melting compassion on the part of God, and of devoted affection of one human heart to another. What more moving, in this respect, than the language of the prophets (compare Isaiah 49:15; Isaiah 54:8-10; Isaiah 57:15-16; Psalms 103:13-15; Genesis 8:21; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 10:19; Deuteronomy 24:14-22; Ezekiel 16:60-63; Hosea 11:8-9; Micah 6:8; Micah 7:18-19), so full of God’s pathetic yearning, we might style it, towards humanity! On the other hand, what more exquisite pictures can there be found of human tenderness, than those of David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, the pathetic meeting of Joseph and his brethren as here described, David’s forgiving tenderness towards Saul, and even Esau’s reception of Jacob (Genesis 33:4-15) after all the wrong he had apparently, or in reality, received from him. In this latter case, we may regard Esau as one who had but little if any grace, and yet the feeling here, viewed as growing out of the patriarchal life and religious ideas, may well be compared with any general influence of our nominal Christianity in arousing men to deeds of tenderness and heroism. This false view of the Old Testament, which ignorance of the Bible is causing more and more to prevail, is a great wrong to the whole cause and doctrine of revelation. Even the most tender dialect of the New Testament, is drawn from the Old. Its Hebraisms are its most pathetic parts. Of this there is a good example in the very style of language here employed. The expression נִכְמְרוּ רַחֲמָיו, rendered, his bowels did yearn (rather, warmed), has been naturalized in the New-Testament Greek, where σπλάγχνα is used for רחֲמִים. It may be said, however, that both the Hebrew and the Greek are marred for the English reader by the rendering bowels, especially if taken in the sense of intestina, instead of the larger meaning that belongs to the Latin viscera. It may be doubted whether רַחֲמִים does ever, of itself, denote any part of the body, either more or less interior. When the singular is used for the womb, it is rather to be regarded as a metaphorical use of its primary sense of cherishing, or as that which loves and cherishes. The Greek counterpart, σπλάγχνα, denotes the most vital parts, such as the heart, the lungs, and the liver, the parts which, in the case of animals slain, were regarded as the choicest eating, and were given as an honorary portion to the guest. See Homer everywhere. They included the καρδία, with the φρένες, or præcordia, and the ἧπαρ, or liver. Another word was ἧτορ, which was used exactly as רַחֲמִים is used here, and with a similar verb signifying to be warm, or burn; as Odyss. i. Genesis 48 :

ἀλλά μοι�, ’Οδυσῆϊ δαΐφρονι ΔΑΙ ìΕΤΑΙ ἦτορ.

My heart is burning for the brave Ulysses; with an evident paronomasia in δαΐφρονι and δαίεται. Compare Psalms 39:4 הַם לִבִּי בְּקִרְבִּי, my heart grows hot within me, תִבְעַר אֵשׁ, the fire is burning; also Luke 24:32, οὐχὶ ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν καιομένη ἦν ἐν ἡμῖν, “was not our heart burning within us?” Instead of bowels, it would be more in accordance with the spirit of the Hebrew word to render it here, his heart yearned, or warmed. Rosenmüller, on this passage, makes one of his wise remarks about “the ancient men” (prisci homines), and their great simplicity in regarding these parts of the body as the seat of the affections. It has, however, always been so, more or less, in all languages. In the ancient tongues even intellect is generally assigned to these middle regions, and but rarely, or comparatively so, to the head. With us it seems almost a matter of consciousness that we think with our heads, but this is an effect rather than a cause of the change of language. In the Latin, cor is used for wisdom, prudence, and cordatus is equivalent to ἔμφρων, a wise and prudent man. The Greek popular language placed thought in the φρένες, not in the ἐγκέφαλος, or brain, although the latter is sometimes referred to in this light, especially by Aristotle. Demosthenes once makes a popular allusion to some such notion in the oration De Haloneso; but the poetical language, the best representative of the popular feeling, is all the other way. So in the Hebrew, the seat of thought, is in the reins, כְּלָיוֹת, Latin renes, Greek (with digamma) φρένες: “try the hearts and the reins,” Psalms 7:10; “in the night season my reins instruct me,” Psalms 16:7. Only once in the Bible is the head so referred to; and that is in the Chaldaic of Daniel 4:7, where Nebuchadnezzar says: “the visions of my head upon my bed,” חֶזְוֵי רֵאשִׁי. Everywhere else it is the heart, לֵב, or the reins כְּלָיוֹת, or the inward part קֶרֶב, or sometimes expressions denoting something still more interior, as טֻחוֹת and סָתֻם, rendered the hidden part, Psalms 51:8 : “In the hidden part make me to know wisdom.” The practice of divination, by the inspection of these parts in sacrifice shows the same mode of thinking, and a similar verbal consciousness.—T.L.]

[5][See in the text notes, p. 323 (5, Genesis 9:6), another interpretation of this by that acute Jewish grammarian, Ben Gannach. The בּ in בעבוריו he renders concerning it, instead of by it,—that is, as a means of divination. “Could not such a man find out by divination who had his cup?”—T. L.]

[6][The old rendering is supported by the fact that the primary sense of רגז is not fear, but excitement of mind in any way, like Greek ὀργὴ, ὀργίζομαι, by which the LXX translate it, Psalms 4:5 (see, also, Ephesians 4:26, Be ye angry, yet sin not), and which is one of the places referred to by Rosenmüller for the sense of fear. In the other places cited by him the sense of anger, or excitement, suits the context best; as Exodus 15:14; Deuteronomy 2:25. In all other places the sense of rage or anger (ὀργή) is beyond doubt. There is no intimation of anything on the way which should cause fear (in the sense of terror, commotion) any more than in any of their previous goings and comings. The fear of apprehension, or anxiety, such as might be felt on account of the mishap of the money found in the sacks, would be expressed by a very different word. “Whereas everything in the context renders this advice of Joseph, that they should get into no disputes with one another, very probable. LXX, μὴ ὀργίζεσθε, Syriac, ܐܐܬܐܨܘܢ ܒܐܘܪܚܐ, do not quarrel on the road. So the Targum.—T. L].

[7] [Hebrew, וַיָּפָג לִבּוּ and his heart grew chill. It is the same idea as the Greek πηγ, παγ, πήγνυμι, an onomatopic word of the second class, denoting some resemblance between the sound and the effect produced—hardness, solidness, compactness; hence solidity, coldness. The heart stopping in chill and amazement. It is interesting, too, to note how common in language is this metaphor, or secondary sense, expressing hope and joy by warmth, distrust and despair by a chill. As in the Odyssey, i. 167—

ον̓δέ τις ὴμιν

θαλπωρή, εἴπερ τις ἐπιχθονίων�

φησὶν ἐλεύσεσθαι · τοῦ δ̓ ώ̓λετο νόδτιμον ἦμαρ.

“No warmth to us,—that is, no warming hope, should any one on earth declare that he would come again,—forever gone, the day of his return.” This is very much as old Jacob felt. Compare, also, the Iliad, vi. 412, where θαλπωρη, warmth, in this sense, is opposed to chilling grief. Κρύος, cold, is used in the opposite way.—T. L.]

[8][The dramatic power of such recognitions appears in their having been made the effective points in some of the noblest Greek tragedies. Aristotle has a special section upon the ἀναγώρισις, as it is technically named, in his Ars Poetica, ch. xi., defining it as ἐξ�, ἢ εἰς φιλίαν ἐξ ἔχθρας. He cites as examples the recognitions in the Odyssey, and especially that of Orestes and Iphigenia, from Euripides. He might have cited, as a still more striking example, that of Orestes and Electra, in Sophocles. This story of Joseph, had it been known to him, would have furnished the great critic with the best illustration of what he calls the pathetic, τὸ πάθος, as the chief clement of power in the dramatic exhibition.—T. L.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 43". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/genesis-43.html. 1857-84.
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