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The interesting narrative of the Patriarchal history is still prosecuted through this Chapter. The brethren of Joseph having purchased corn and laden their cattle, take their leave of Joseph to return to their father. But Joseph, wishing to detain them, having ordered his steward secretly to put their money in the mouth of their sacks, and his silver cup in the bag of Benjamin; soon after their departure from the city sends his steward after them to charge them with this breach of honesty. Their sacks are examined, and the cup being found, they all return to Egypt in the greatest sorrow and distress imaginable. In this state when brought before Joseph, Judah becomes the mouth of the rest; and unconscious before whom he spoke, he feelingly represents the history of his family in the several incidents of it: describes the supposed death of Joseph: the distress of his father which was now again renewed in parting with Benjamin; offers himself as a bond-slave forever, rather than that Benjamin should be detained; and concludes with praying Joseph for mercy, that the grey hairs of his father may not be brought down with sorrow to the grave.
Is there not a spiritual lesson here! Are not the ministers and stewards of GOD'S mysteries to fill the hungry and to supply the thirsty: and that without money and without price? See 1 Corinthians 4:1 .
Is not this cup an emblem of the cup of salvation? Doth not JESUS put it himself in the hands and hearts of his people? Psalms 116:13 .
No doubt they were all going home, very happy at their kind reception: But how short lived are our joys? Read that scripture, Revelation 3:19 then Hebrews 12:5 .
And doth not this plan of Joseph to detain his brethren, lead the Reader to remark, how graciously JESUS useth means to detain our hearts, in order to bring them home to himself?
The Egyptians were much given to the use of divination. Perhaps the steward had such ideas of his master.
A mind conscious of innocence useth this language: Hebrews 13:18 .
However innocent, this was a rash proposal.
Renting the garment is an eastern token of great distress. Genesis 37:29 .
He whose name was Zaphnath-paaneah could not but know. Joseph did indeed know well their guilt concerning himself, and therefore the question was pointed: what deed is this for which GOD hath visited you?
It is plain, Judah considered it in this sense by his answer. Numbers 32:23 . He might have said, we had a brother whom we sold for a slave. And though in the instance whereof we are accused we are innocent; yet GOD is now punishing us for that unnatural cruelty.
Reader! attend to every minute circumstance in this intercession of Judah's, for in it there is a representation of a greater than Judah. Observe, before he opened his mouth he came near. Our Almighty Judah, in his glorious character as our intercessor, is said to be in the midst of the throne; Revelation 5:6 . Observe also how suitable a type Judah was of JESUS, for our LORD sprang out of Judah. Hebrews 7:14 . Observe also, how evident the marks of inspiration are in this whole address. Surely he that made man's mouth gave the matter also. Exodus 4:10-11 . And Reader, do not overlook, that, as Joseph became the type of JESUS as our governor and judge: so Judah is a type of JESUS as our surety and intercessor. It is your happiness and mine, that he who is here, after to come to be our judge is also coming as our Saviour: Philippians 3:20 .
Here Judah represents him who made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12 .
Here Judah was typical of him who became our surety. Isaiah 53:4-5 .
Exodus 18:8 .
This Chapter opens to our view very profitable reflections. How soon was the joy of the children of Israel turned into mourning. And yet in the midst of both, their covenant GOD was carrying on one and the same plan of mercy towards them. Learn, my soul, in all the checquered circumstances of life to remember this, and both in prosperity and adversity to live upon an unchangeable GOD.
But chiefly let this Chapter, with all the events of it, lead me to JESUS. Whatever tends to detain me, or to bring me back to him, may I esteem a mercy! Dearest LORD! put thou the cup of salvation in my lot, and may it be my portion to be thy servant forever. I would cry unto thee as one of old; Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims shine forth. Before Ephraim, and Benjamin, and Manasseh, stir up that strength, and come, and save us. Turn us again, O GOD, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 44". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20