Genesis Segment 29 (43:1-34)

Genesis 43:1-5 And the famine was sore in the land. (2) And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. (3) And Judah spoke unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. (4) If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: (5) But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

The day finally came when they needed more grain and Egypt was the only place to get it. The question whether or not to allow Benjamin to go down into Egypt with the brethren was reopened. When Jacob told them to go and buy food, Judah resolutely refused unless Benjamin was allowed to return with them. He was right to do so and he was willing to risk the ire of his father and starvation to stand up for his principles. By defying the patriarch, who, in a patriarchal society was the ruler of the family, Judah risked rejection by his father and possible expatriation from the family. Of course, without grain from Egypt, starvation was a possibility. Yet, Judah stood his ground. Apparently Judah spoke for all the brethren because he used the pronoun ‘we’.

Genesis 43:6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

They had already explained this to him (Gen 42:33-36). Jacob spoke under the influence of his emotions. He actually knew the answer to that question, but asked it anyhow to show his disapproval of the plan to take Benjamin with them.

Genesis 43:7 And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?

Again they explained the situation to their father, this time more forcefully.

Genesis 43:8-10 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. (9) I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame forever: (10) For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

Judah, now seeming to take the lead in this issue, guaranteed the Benjamin would be safe. In fact, if something happened to him, Judah alone would get the blame. Of course, that would not be much comfort if Benjamin were to be lost. Nevertheless, by guaranteeing Benjamin’s safety with his own life, Judah would take very good care of his youngest brother (unlike he did with Joseph).

Genesis 43:11-13 And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds: (12) And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight: (13) Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

Because of the seriousness of the drought and the shortage of grain to feed the livestock and themselves, Jacob understood the futility of his objections, and finally assented to allow Benjamin to accompany them to Egypt. In order to lessen the possibility of the Egyptian Prime Minister keeping Benjamin, Jacob sent gifts of the finest produce available from his area. These would have been things the Egyptians wanted, for they had traded those things in the past. He also told them to pay double what the grain cost in order to make up for money they found in the sacks of grain they had previously brought in from Egypt. Jacob was making doubly sure that Benjamin would return to him.

Genesis 43:14 And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

Jacob had learned in the past to depend upon God. Apparently, his emotional attachment to Benjamin (because of the loss of Joseph) blinded him to his past trust in God. That is understandable. Here we see him finally coming to his senses once again and trusting the Lord. Now come on, you have done the same thing haven’t you? I have. We lose sight of God when we begin to trust ourselves. Jacob had trusted himself for Benjamin’s safety and that trust was misplaced. Had he trusted in God, the problems with the food would have been solved much earlier. However, a crisis is sometimes what it takes to get us back on track with God. Does God arrange circumstances like these to get us back into trusting Him? Absolutely! And thank God He does! Was that what He was doing with Jacob? Yes, certainly.

If you know someone that is out of God’s will or someone that is not saved, pray for God to arrange the circumstances to get that person into a right relationship with Him. The Lord will do it! In essence, Jacob was saying, “What will be, will be, and I trust God with the situation.”

Genesis 43:15 And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.

A journey of several days in one sentence!

Genesis 43:15-16 And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph. (16) And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.

Joseph was relieved to see Benjamin with them. The brethren did not have the murderous attitude toward Benjamin that they had for Joseph. We may assume that the brethren arrived at the government house in the morning at the beginning of the business day because an animal had to be slaughtered and prepared for the noon meal. At the meal, Joseph would provide a test for the brethren.

Genesis 43:17-18 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house. (18) And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.

The brethren did not understand what Joseph said to his servants because he spoke in the Egyptian language. When they were herded (or so they thought) into Joseph’s palace, they figured it was for imprisonment. Their consciences were guilty because of what they had done to Joseph (Gen 42:21). The money in their sacks was the specific reason for their fear, but their consciences were guilty for their treatment of Joseph and that caused them to be fearful about the money.

Genesis 43:19-22 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house, (20) And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food: (21) And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand. (22) And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.

The steward of any house was responsible for the happenings in that house. The steward of Joseph’s house was in a powerful position because his master was the second most powerful man in the known world. He would have control of the daily affairs of the house, including the business of selling grain. He would be in charge of all that occurred in that house, including imprisonment if that became necessary. Therefore it is understandable that the brethren spoke to him. They let him know that they brought the money back to Egypt to settle the debt thus proving that they were not thieves. It is natural that when we feel that we are in trouble we immediately want to explain ourselves to prove our innocence. Defense lawyers say that this is why innocent people get convicted. They do not know when to remain silent.

Genesis 43:23-25 And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them. (24) And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender. (25) And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

The steward was obviously in on the secret. He eased their guilt and set their minds at rest. He also told them that they were to dine with Joseph at the noon meal.

Genesis 43:26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.

Eventually, Joseph came home from his work as vizier for his noon meal. They were certainly in awe of Joseph; they feared him greatly. They made obeisance to Joseph and treated him worshipfully.

Genesis 43:27-31 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spoke? Is he yet alive? (28) And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance. (29) And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spoke unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son. (30) And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there. (31) And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.

Joseph had to maintain his cool for the test he had in mind for the brethren, so when he felt like weeping, he immediately left the room. He did not want them to see him in weakness. He cleaned up so that they would not know he had wept.

Genesis 43:32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Let’s get this in a more understandable format. The Contemporary English Version puts it this way, “Joseph was served at a table by himself, and his brothers were served at another. The Egyptians sat at yet another table, because Egyptians felt it was disgusting to eat with Hebrews.” Joseph sat at his own table, the brethren sat at another table, and the Egyptians sat at a third table. All three tables were placed in separate locations. They were not touching each other.

Genesis 43:33-34 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marveled one at another. (34) And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.

Readers with military experience will recognize what the word mess means in this context. When I was in the Air Force, I would occasionally go to the mess hall to eat. So a mess is (1) a communal eating place, (2) a communal meal, or (3) a portion of food. The word means all three things. Joseph had the servants give Benjamin five times the amount of food that the others received. This was the test.

Joseph was testing to see if they were jealous of Benjamin like they had been jealous of him. He sat Benjamin in the least important seat, at the end of the table away from the head. He then honored Benjamin by giving him more food than he gave the others. Since they ate and drank and were merry with Joseph, they were not an all envious of Benjamin. They passed the test and now Joseph decided to test them one more time.

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