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Genesis 43:7. The man asked us straitly.] Heb., “Asking, asked.” He earnestly enquired about us and our kindred.—
Genesis 43:9. Let me bear the blame for ever.] Heb., “I shall be a sinner to thee all the days.” He would consent to be reputed guilty of violating his plighted faith. Thus in 1 Kings 1:21, shall be counted offenders is literally, “shall be sinners.”
Genesis 43:11. The best fruits in the land.] Heb, “The song, music, or melody of the land.” The idea is, that for which the land is celebrated, those productions which are the pride of the land and which have given rise to songs of praise. A little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds. “These are the same (excepting in two cases) with the articles conveyed to Egypt by the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:25). These are articles that grow best in a drought.”—(Jacobus). None of these would be necessarily affected by the failure of wheat.—
Genesis 43:12. Take double money in your hand.] “The meaning is not, as would appear from the A.V., that they were to take three payments,—double money besides that which was in their sacks—but that they were to take money of a second, i.e., the same amount. And so they describe what they had done, though not with the same Hebrew word, Genesis 43:22.”—(Alford).—
Genesis 43:14. God Almighty.] Heb. El Shaddai. (Genesis 17:1; Genesis 35:2.)—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 43:1-14
JACOB UNDER THE PRESSURE OF WANT
I. His change of resolution. He had refused, at first, to part with Benjamin. Even Reuben’s desperate proposal was rejected. (Genesis 42:37.) But Judah’s proposal is accepted (Genesis 43:9), for the father had confidence in the honesty, frankness, and persevering energy of this son. Judah makes a practical appeal to his father, and puts the case before him in all its stern reality. His argument was unanswerable. (Genesis 43:8.) Jacob now sees the dire necessity of the situation. His sons must go to Egypt without their younger brother. The affection of the father now struggles with the dread of famine, and after one more feeble objection, Jacob submits. (Genesis 43:6.) He who once said, “My son shall not go down with you,” makes up his mind at last to say, “Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man.” (Genesis 43:13.) Thus we learn gradually to submit to what we plainly see is the will of God. How great is power of want, in the hands of Providence; how inexorable its demands!
II. His piety throughout.
1. His faith in God. “God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin.” (Genesis 43:14.) This was that name of God under which Abraham was blessed: “I am God Almighty,” and also that which Isaac invoked in blessing Jacob, “God Almighty bless thee, and give thee the blessing of Abraham.” Jacob must now have thought of the covenant promises and blessings. Now he is forced by hard necessity most entirely to cast himself upon God, for now nothing else is left to which he can cling. It is the property of faith to make ventures; and we do not know what great faith is until we are called upon to give up something that we hold most dear, and cast ourselves upon the eternal love of God alone. When all is gone, our faith must still look to God, who is our soul’s true portion.
2. His honest principle. Jacob commands his sons to take back the money which they found in their sacks, saying, “Peradventure it was an oversight.” (Genesis 43:12.) It is true religious honesty to return that which comes to us by the mistake of others.
3. His resignation. Jacob does not behave as one who is forced to yield to fate, while his heart rebels against it. His is not the stoical acceptance of destiny. It is the resignation of a religious mind. He yields in a manner worthy of a man of God, “If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14.) He is willing to resign all entirely into the hands of God. It is as if he had said, “I commit the event unreservedly to God. If it seems good to him to bereave me of my children, the will of the Lord be done; I have nothing to say. The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away.”
4. It is no reflection on his piety that he changed his purpose. The fact that Jacob in consenting to give up Benjamin changed his purpose, lays him open to the charge of inconsistency. But the circumstances are all changed now. The famine continues, want stares them all in the face, and he has to choose between the dreadful alternative of starvation and the risking of the life of one son. We may be too careful about keeping up what we call our own consistency. For, after all, if a man is under no circumstances to change his conduct, then would conversion be impossible. Consistent with the unchanging truth of God, with the eternal law of righteousness, we must and ought to be; but not invariably consistent with ourselves; for our goodness is imperfect, and we are liable to mistake and error. Instead of adjusting our present conduct to our former habits and thoughts, we should act upon our present convictions, leaving the present and the past to reconcile themselves as they may. It is only by looking continually to God, and not to ourselves, that we can walk sure-footedly in the present life.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 43:1-2. They had, indeed, met with difficulties and dangers on their former journey, but greater difficulties and dangers must be encountered to prevent worse. Let it not be thought a hard matter that the service of Christ often requires peculiar hardships and hazards. The world requires as great sacrifices as Christ, and is far less able to recompense them. In labouring for the meat that endureth to everlasting life, we seldom meet with such difficulties and perils as are often encountered in labouring for the meat that perisheth.—(Bush.)
Genesis 43:3-9. The duties of parents and children.
1. Children should obey their parents in the Lord. But,
2. Parents should not enjoin upon their children that which is unreasonable, or impracticable.
3. Children should consider the infirmities of aged parents, should bear with them, and especially should not interpret unkindly or severely what they may say under the pressure of extraordinary affliction. The sons of Jacob set an example here. They did not blame their father for bringing this groundless charge against them, but are content calmly to justify their conduct by pointing out the necessity of the case
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.—(Delitzsah).
The end, however, is attained, not more by his touching eloquence than by his heroic deed, when he offers himself as surety for Benjamin, and is willing to sacrifice himself by taking his place.—(Lange).
Genesis 43:10. Men blinded by affection too often disappoint themselves, and by needless and unwise delays cut themselves off from the enjoyment of much happiness that they might otherwise have secured to themselves.—(Bush).
Genesis 43:11. 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 speaks for him, that most powerful orator.—(Trapp).
A rash man will, at all hazards, obstinately persist in a course once determined upon, but a wise man will yield to reason. The manner in which the patriarch acquiesces is worthy of remark. It is not the sullen consent of one who yields to fate while his heart rebels against it. He yields in a manner worthy of a man of God, proposing first that every possible means should be used to conciliate the man, the lord of the land, and then committing the issue of the whole to God. He recollected the effect of a present in appeasing his brother Esau’s anger when coming against him with an armed host.—(Bush).
Take of the best fruits. Of the verse or melody, saith the original; 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.—(Trapp).
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. It consists of 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 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.—(Lange.)
Genesis 43:12. Jacob, who at first thought that the money was put into the sacks with a malicious purpose, is now disposed to put a milder interpretation upon the matter. In things doubtful, men are disposed to come to that conclusion which makes most for their peace of mind. They make an effort to think that to be true which they wish to be true.
No man of integrity will take an unrighteous advantage of the mistakes of those with whom he deals. Nothing is more palpably inconsistent with the great rule of doing to other men as you would that they should do unto you. Besides, it would have been very unsafe for Jacob’s sons to have taken advantage of an oversight in the present case. It might have confirmed the suspicions of the lord of Egypt. But it is never safe to do any injustice while God reigns in heaven.—(Bush.)
Genesis 43:13. We learn gradually to submit to the greatest trial of all when it becomes a necessity.
Genesis 43:14. 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.” Jacob prays for Benjamin’s safety, but will be content that 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).—(Trapp.)
It is too much in the desponding spirit of his former complaint. (Genesis 42:36). He looked too much at the secular, human side of the matter, and too little at the spiritual and divine side. When we are in the dark, why should we not rather expect deliverance than yield to despondence?—(Jacobus).
Genesis 43:16. Slay, and make ready.] “The objection which has been here found, that the higher castes of the Egyptians ate no animal food, only shows the ignorance of the objectors. We know abundantly from Herodotus and other authorities, that it was only from certain animals that the royal and priestly castes abstained, and only certain among them that abstained altogether; and the eating of birds was general.—(Alford.)—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 43:15-18
JOSEPH’S BRETHREN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A GUILTY FEAR
I. They dread some great misfortune. They are driven to Egypt by a dire necessity. A presentiment of disaster weighs upon their hearts. They expect no favourable solution of their mysterious treatment.
II. They are possessed by an inveterate spirit of mistrust. They interpret adversely even the most favourable appearances. The generous reception which was given them only serves to raise their worst suspicions and to alarm their fears. They cannot get rid of the belief that Joseph meant to entrap them by a cunning device.
III. They are haunted by the memory of an old crime. They are innocent respecting this money in their sacks, and yet they feel themselves to be guilty men. Conscience makes cowards of them everywhere. They dread that some mischievous plot is all the while preparing for their destruction. And why all this fear, since they knew that they were innocent of the only offence that could be charged against them? The true answer is, that they felt that they themselves were capable of a similar act of treachery. We dread the effects of that sin in others which has taken such a strong hold upon ourselves. The sense of having committed wrong makes us distrust even goodness itself, and we find fear where no fear is. The memory of sin depresses and spreads a gloom over our souls, so that we often misunderstand the gracious designs of Providence; and those things which in another state of mind would afford us relief and hope only bring us alarm and sorrow.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 43:15-16. Joseph, looking upon them, beholds his brother Benjamin. It is likely his eyes would here be in some danger of betraying his heart; and that being conscious of this, he instantly gives orders to his steward to take these men home to his house, and prepare a dinner, for that they must dine with him at noon. By thi means he would be able to compose himself, and to form a plan how to conduct, and in what, manner to discover himself to them. See how fruitful love is of kind contrivance; seeking, and finding opportunities to gratify itself by closer and closer interviews. Thus when two of John’s disciples were kindly asked, “What seek ye?” they answered, “Master, where dwellest thou?” as if they should say, “We want to be better acquainted with thee, and to say more than could be said in this public place.” And thus when Jesus himself would commune with his disciples, He saith unto them, “Children, come and dine.”—(Fuller.)
Genesis 43:17. Had he not known the deference due from servants to their masters, he would probably have desired to know the reason for so strange a proceeding; why the governor made such a difference between those men and the many thousands of strangers who came to the country to buy corn.—(Bush).
Genesis 43:18. It was incredible that such a man as the Governor of Egypt, whose character for probity was very high, should invite men to his house with the intention of taking advantage of them and of robbing them of their asses, or of making them slaves. But in their present state of mind they scarcely knew what other construction to put upon it; so unhappy a thing it is to have guilt lying on the conscience, it deadens the enjoyments of life and embitters its sorrows; it raises fearful apprehensions on the slightest occasions; and continually arrays the Most High in an aspect of wrath. If we wish to be happy let us seek the removal of that never-failing source of misery.—(Bush).
When sinners refuse to be comforted, then they are forced to remember God and be troubled. (Psalms 77:2-3).
As every body hath its shadow, so hath every sin its fear; and fear torment. (1 John 4:18).—(Trapp).
Genesis 43:23. I had your money.] Heb. “Your money came to me.” He means to tell them, “You cannot be called to account for the money, for I had it. Whatever became of it afterwards, I hereby acknowledge the receipt of it for the corn. You are credited with payment in full; therefore give yourselves no uneasiness on that score.”—(Bush.)—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 43:19-25
This incident shows how the spirit of Joseph’s character had been imparted to his subordinate. This steward was influenced by his master for good, and some traces of that influence are here manifest:
I. He listens patiently to the explanation of their conduct, offered by Joseph’s brethren. In all Joseph’s treatment of his brethren in Egypt up to this point, there was nothing arbitrary or unkind. It was throughout justified by the circumstances, as they appeared. Joseph was always ready to listen to reason, and to give due consideration to any explanation that might be offered. He was considerate and patient towards these suspicious men in giving them time to clear themselves. This steward reflected so much of his master’s character that he was also considerate and patient in his treatment of these men. The circumstances were suspicious, and they felt that their conduct needed an explanation. He listened to them in the spirit of a just and merciful man. Most men of his class are full of the insolence of office; but here was a man of a better sort, and chiefly made such, as we have reason to believe, through the good influence of his master.
II. He treats them with a wise kindness, and with piety.
1. With a wise kindness. He does not seek further to increase their fears, but hastens to relieve them. He was more merciful than to stretch them any longer on the rack of suspense, and too wise to inflict pain when no good end could be served thereby. To give them hope and confidence he brings Simeon out unto them, who being released, as they must well know, by Joseph’s order, would be a proof to them that all was well.
2. With piety. He assures them that all the strange things which had lately happened to them were ordered and guided by God’s providence. (Genesis 43:23.) He had the acknowledgment of their money, and they must regard it as the gift of God. No charge could now be brought against them, and this relief to their anxiety they must regard also as the gift of God. In this steward we have an instance of a man whose character had been moulded by another. We have no doubt that Joseph had spoken to him concerning the God of his fathers, and thus he learnt the sentiments and language of his pious master. Many have received religious truths and convictions from those placed over them, from those who used their influence and authority to spread the knowledge and the fear of God. Such a strong character as Joseph’s would be sure to impress itself upon all who came under its gracious influence.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 43:19-20. They were afraid of sharing the fate of Simeon, or of being made slaves. They lost no time, therefore, in explaining their own behaviour and notifying misapprehension, if any existed, in the minds of Joseph and his servants. The richest feast will afford little gratification to a troubled mind.—(Bush).
Genesis 43:22. “We cannot tell.” It was a wise discretion to speak thus, for it might have exposed them to great risk to utter the suspicion which lurked in their minds. Besides, they did not know, and it was better, therefore, to acknowledge their ignorance at once. They had a theory, but it was neither safe nor expedient to make it known.
Often circumstances may be such as to throw grave suspicion upon good men. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to have a well-established character which shall avail for a man’s defence when unjust suspicion has fixed upon him. Here also appears the disadvantage of a bad character, that such an one is suspected of wrong doing even when he is not guilty. Besides, these men feel that they have a bad record with their own conscience, and “a guilty conscience needs no accuser.” Trust in God is the chief confidence in such a dark hour. (Psalms 37:0)—(Jacobus).
Genesis 43:23. How perfectly comforting that this officer of Egypt’s dreaded lord acknowledges the God of the Hebrews, and recognises Him as the God of these brothers and of their fathers. What a rebuke to their lack of faith. Why should they have been so slow to see His hand in thus supplying them with corn without money and without price? Here again is our New Testament Joseph, who will have no money for what He has to give, but gives it all freely and of grace, and on no other terms, to whosoever will.—(Jacobus).
“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 “persecuteth 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.—(Trapp).
Genesis 43:24-25. Joseph would be at home at the dining hour of noon, from his public and official duties, and they will be prepared to meet him with a gift especially because of the glad tidings that they were to eat bread there. Jesus has spread a table for us, and anointed our head with generous oil, and made our cup run over, and chiefly He has spread His own sacramental table, and will sup with us, and we with Him. Well may we bring presents. He will take as purchase-money for His provisions of grace no pay for the Bread of Life. But He will receive our grateful offerings of praise, and with such sacrifices God is well pleased.—(Jacobus.)
Genesis 43:27. Is your father well?] Heb. “Is there peace to your father?”—
Genesis 43:28. Thy servant, our father, is in good health, he is yet alive?] Heb., “Peace to thy servant our father—he yet lives.”—
Genesis 43:29. God be gracious to thee, my son.] “Benjamin was only about a year old when Joseph was sold, as he was sixteen years the younger.”—(Jacobus.)—
Genesis 43:32. And they set on for himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians which did eat with him, by themselves; because the Egyptians might not eat with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.] “The law of caste separated different ranks of Egyptians to different tables. And Herodotus mentions the unwillingness of the Egyptians to have any familiar intercourse with foreigners. The Egyptians were prevented from eating with the Hebrews because the latter slew and ate animals which the former regarded as sacred—the cow, the ox, etc. Besides, the Hebrews did not practise the same religious ceremonies at meals as the Egyptians.”—(Jacobus.)—
Genesis 43:34. And he sent messes unto them from before him.] It was the practice in the East to honour guests in this manner. (1 Samuel 9:23.) Five times as much as any of theirs. “The number five seems to have been in especial regard in Egypt. (Genesis 41:34; Genesis 45:22; Genesis 47:2; Genesis 47:24; Isaiah 19:18.) The reason is stated to have been, that the Egyptians recognized only five planets.”—(Alford.)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 43:26-34
JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN AT THE BANQUET
Consider this incident:—
I. As it illustrates some useful principles of social life.
1. That we should not set up the pretence of loving all alike. When Joseph thus liberally provided for these men he intended it to be a feast of brotherhood, and yet he made a marked difference between them. His brother Benjamin was specially honoured (Genesis 43:34), and greeted with loving words. (Genesis 43:29). All were not treated alike. The possession of an universal love—a love which does not discriminate is an unreality, a mere sentiment, and nothing more. We should not say that Benjamin, who has offended little and loved much should only receive the same as the rest. Surely those who are most like Christ are the most dear to God, and, therefore, these should be held the most dear to all who are the children of God.
2. That it is wise to observe the established customs of society when they are not morally wrong. In this feast differences of rank were respected, established social customs were not broken through. The Hebrews sat at a table by themselves, the Egyptians also by themselves. Joseph occupied a separate table by himself, for he was governor, and, therefore, of superior rank to the other Egyptians. (Genesis 43:32.) Egyptian customs demanded such an arrangement. The equality of Christian brotherhood is quite consistent with this state of things. Christianity teaches principles that tend to make man equal, but in the meantime it does not rudely attack established customs which have a natural propriety in their favour. The pure and elevated principles of Christ’s religion are under present disadvantage in contending with the imperfections of human nature. But they shall prevail in the end, not by declaring a war of extermination against social customs which are not perfect, but by raising and ennobling the idea and the true purpose of life. It was thus that slavery was uprooted in the early ages of the Christian Church; not by declaiming directly against it, but by teaching those principles, which, if they prevailed, would render slavery impossible.
II. As it illustrates the secret and the outward life.
1. In the case of the brethren. Everything outwardly now tended to make them happy. The suspicious circumstances had been cleared up. They had the assurance that those with whom they were dealing feared God. They were treated with a generous hospitality. Joseph sustains throughout the character of an Egyptian nobleman. But he is more than this, he is a tender and considerate man. He remembers what they had said about a venerable old man, and not satisfied with asking in general of their welfare, he adds, “Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?” (Genesis 43:27.) He is moved to tenderness at the sight of Benjamin’s youth. (Genesis 43:29.) Thus they were received with kindness, indulged with feasting, and their outward circumstances were such as would render them happy. Yet with all this they had no peace, for the deep foundations of it had not yet been laid in the reconciliation of enmities, and in the complete healing of the past. In the midst of outward enjoyment, they must have felt a conflict of painful emotions within. The conduct of Joseph was, after all, strange and perplexing. They could not help wondering what it all meant. They had their fears. The secret and the outward life are also illustrated.
2. In the case of Joseph. In this conference with his brethren Joseph was getting on tender ground, and could only with difficulty control his feelings. (Genesis 43:30). Think of the scene in his chamber, and how he tries to obliterate the traces of it afterwards. (Genesis 43:31). He was one man in that chamber, and quite another man in the banqueting room. How great is the difference between the man whom God sees and the man whom the world sees! In human life we have sometimes this double part to play, weeping in the chamber and refraining ourselves below. Joseph had secretly indulged in a sorrow which he could not reveal. There are occasions of sorrow in which we have no need to disguise our feelings, and for these we can find comfort in the sympathy of others. But there are secret sorrows which we must disguise. Such are often the sorrows of the affections. Joseph could not yet declare himself to his brethren, and yet all the while his heart was consuming itself with love. How much anguish in families is often felt on account of love unreturned or unregarded. There are also secret sorrows arising from our anxiety concerning the souls of others. A parent’s anxiety about the spiritual state of a favourite son, wilful disobedience in children, signs of incipient intemperance in husband or wife; and yet, in the midst of all, the face is constrained to wear a smile, and may not tell the tale. There are also spiritual sorrows which are personal. They arise from a sense of imperfection, from the thought of blessings yet unattained. These are the sorrows of the purest and holiest of men, and may not be made known to the stranger. Joseph’s conduct was mysterious to his brethren, but his secret life, had they known it, would explain all. And so many strange characteristics and habits in others might be thus explained. That irritability of temper, that irregularity of spirits, that heaviness, that sullen silence—these might be well accounted for if we only knew all. This fact of human nature should teach us to judge tenderly and considerately of others. Some consuming care, or inward trouble, or self-reproach, some sorrow of the mind we know not of, may account for all that which seems to us so strange. Even where there is outward cheerfulness the chamber may have a sad tale to tell of weeping, watching, doubt, and fear. Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; and we should learn to bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 43:26. This was an exact fulfilment of one of his early dreams, when the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down before him. But Joseph was now changed; he had been too much saddened by misfortune, and was far too much accustomed to Egyptian homage to find any real pleasure in this, from which he had formerly expected so much. For us this is a pregnant example of the illusiveness of human life. Now that his dream was fulfilled to the very letter, he could not enjoy it. That thing which he had seen before in the prophetic visions of youth, that thing he had got; and now the joy of it was not in that, in the superiority, but in quite other circumstances. So it is we live, looking to an horizon which we reach but cannot enjoy, in which we find not what we expected. And yet observe here the merciful arrangement of God, who thus leaders on. Could we now count the cost of the things we hope for, would it be possible to live?—(Robertson).
Genesis 43:27-29. Observe Joseph’s relief in the indirect utterance of his feelings. He asked, “Is your father yet alive, and your youngest brother?” etc. Here is a strange principle of our nature, the necessity of utterance, either by a direct or by an indirect channel. Thus, criminal feeling must find for itself either direct expression in confession, or in speaking of the deed as committed by another.—(Robertson.)
They answer very properly, and call their father his servant, and again make obeisance. Thus, in them, Jacob himself bowed down to Joseph; and thereby that part of his dream was also fulfilled.—(Fuller).
Genesis 43:30. After uttering a benediction which, under the disguise of a good wish from a stranger, was in reality the effusion of a bursting heart, he was obliged to retire in order to throw a veil over those feelings which must otherwise have betrayed the secret that for the present he designs to keep. He withdraws, therefore, to give vent to his tears in a private place; and however bitter were the tears which he had formerly shed when exiled from all that was dear to him on earth, he now sheds tears of joy of proportionable sweetness; his grief for what was past was now swallowed up in the ecstacy of what was present and what was to come.—(Bush).
Genesis 43:31. We love Joseph for the warm sensibility of his heart, and we respect him as one who knows both when and where to weep, and who could refrain himself and appear cheerful when it was fit. While tears shed on proper occasions throw a grace over the manliest character, yet there is not only “a time to weep, but also a time to laugh; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing,” and that he whose tears are not in some measure under the control of his judgment, is rather a child than a man.—(Bush).
Genesis 43:32-34. It was now Joseph’s wish to discover himself to his brethren, or rather to enable them to discover him. While they were at dinner, three things tend to this end, and were designed for it.
(1) The order of the tables. The design of this was to set them a thinking of him, and who he was, or could be? That the Egyptians and Hebrews should eat apart, they could easily account for: but who, or what is this man? Is he not an Egyptian? Yet, why eat by himself? Surely he must be a foreigner.
(2) The order in which they themselves were seated. Every man was placed “according to his age.” But who can this be that is acquainted with their ages, so as to be able to adjust things in this order? Surely it must be some one who knows us though we know not him. Or is he a diviner? They are said to have “marvelled one at another,” and well they might.
(3) The peculiar favour which he expressed to Benjamin, in sending him a mess five times more than the rest. This was a manner of showing special favour in those times. It was therefore saying in effect, “I not only know all your ages, but towards that young man I have more than a common regard. Look at all this, and look at me. Look at me, my brother Benjamin. Dost thou not know me?” But all was hid from them. Their eyes, like those of the disciples towards their Lord, seem to have been holden that they should not know him.—(Fuller).
And now he feasts with them whom he formerly threatened, and turns their fear into wonder. All unequal love is not partial; all the brethren are entertained bountifully, but Benjamin hath a five-fold portion.—(Bp. Hall.)
Our New Testament Joseph bids us sit at the table which He has richly furnished in His house. He anoints our head with oil in token of honourable reception, and our cup runneth over. (Psalms 23:5).—(Jacobus).
1. The banquet of Joseph’s joy, of his hope, of his trying watch.
2. The feast of reviving hope in Joseph’s brethren.
3. Their participation without envy in the honouring of Benjamin.
4. An introduction to the last trial, and a preparation for it.
5. The successful issue in the fearful proving of Israel’s sons.—(Lange.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 43". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter