Genesis Chapter Forty-Three

 

Read Genesis 43:1-10 – The Famine Continues

 

v.1-2And 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.”

 

            The famine continues, in Egypt as Joseph predicted and in Canaan and the surrounding countries.  The family of Israel has eaten up all of the provisions that they brought back from Egypt and their crisis has returned.  Consequently Jacob prevails upon his sons to return to Egypt to buy more food.

 

v.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.”

 

            At this point Judah appears to have taken the lead over his brothers and is the one to speak to Jacob about his commandment.  He reminds Jacob that the man who ruled Egypt and sold them the food had told them:

 

If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: 20But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.” Genesis 42:19-20

 

In addition Simeon had been kept in prison in Egypt to seal their bargain.  This man that they are dealing with is the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth, consequently they dare not return to Egypt without meeting the requirements that had been laid upon them.

 

v.4-54If 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, except your brother be with you.”

 

            So Judah reminds Jacob again of Joseph’s requirements.  We remember that Joseph was the only one who had authority to sell food to those who came to buy.  He had promised the Israelite brothers that they would not see his face unless they brought Benjamin with them.  Consequently without Benjamin they would not be able to gain an audience with Joseph or purchase the food that was needed.

 

v.6And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?”

 

            The reaction of Jacob to Judah’s admonition is perfectly human isn’t it?  Why did you even tell this man that you had a younger brother?  This couldn’t have been necessary in order just to buy food.

 

v.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?”

 

            When some folks are put into a position of being pushed or forced into a decision they don’t want to make they become emotional and unreasonable and Jacob isn’t being reasonable is he?  This ruler of Egypt had asked his sons “STRAITLY”, or specifically if their father was still alive and whether or not there was another brother.  They simply answered him honestly, as they should; they had no idea what Joseph would require of them.  They certainly couldn’t imagine that he would demand that the other brother be brought to Egypt.

 

v.8-9And 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:”

 

            Judah argues correctly that they cannot continue in their present state.  Their food has run out, they have to return to Egypt or they, Jacob and their wives and children will all perish in the famine from starvation.  Judah also makes a pledge that he will be completely responsible for Benjamin being a “SURETY” or guarantee that he will return and that when he returns he will place him before his father as always before.

 

v.10  For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.”

 

            It appears from this verse that Judah is saying that if they hadn’t lingered, if they hadn’t procrastinated, they would already have returned to Egypt before now.  The food that they had purchased would last for just so long, and that time has passed.

 

Read Genesis 43:11-14 – Jacob Agrees to Send Benjamin

 

v.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:”

 

            Jacob finally agrees to allow Benjamin to travel to Egypt with his brothers.  Since they are going and since they will be having an audience with the man who is second in the Egyptian kingdom Jacob instructs them to take him a gift.  Evidently, even with the famine of grain, there were other things that were available or perhaps that had been stored and therefore available for this purpose.  The balm, nuts, almonds, myrrh and spices will keep for a long time and but honey turns to sugar after the passing of enough time so we know that even in famine that it was available.  But Jacob has more direction regarding their payment for the goods they intend to buy.

 

v.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:”

 

            He instructs them to take double the amount of money that they had taken before to pay for the grain they were to buy.  In addition they are to also take the money that they had paid for food on their last trip but appeared back in their sacks.  Jacob is of the mind that this must have been an oversight or failing on the part of someone.  He views it’s return as the correction of an oversight and the payment of a just debt.

 

v.13-14Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man: 14And 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.”

 

            Lastly, he tells them to take Benjamin, prays that God will be with them, much as we would today and that the ruler of Egypt would show them mercy.  If something happens to them on the way or Benjamin is lost and he is bereaved then so be it.  At this time Jacob understands his choices and while he doesn’t like either one of them, he knows what he must do.

 

Read Genesis 43:15-25 – Jacob’s Sons Before Joseph

 

v.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.”

 

Jacob’s sons follow his instructions.  They travel to Egypt and are presented before Joseph as they had been before.  They still don’t know who he is.

 

v.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.”

 

            When Joseph saw that they had followed his instructions to bring their younger brother with them he is satisfied but he has more in store for them.  He give the steward of his household instructions to prepare what was needed and to invite them to share his noon meal.  This is very strange behavior for the number two man of such a powerful nation and it causes doubt and consternation among Israel’s sons.  Common shepherds just don’t normally get invited to this kind of a gathering.

 

v.17-18And 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, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.”

 

            Again as in common to mankind, we do it today as well, when Israel’s sons encounter this situation that they don’t understand they fret, worry, speculate about why this is being done and they’re afraid.  They think that Joseph is now going to punish them for the money being returned in their grain sacks.  They worry and borrow trouble that hasn’t happened yet.  That is no different than what you and I would probably do under the same circumstances.  But as people of God should be take counsel of our fears?  No, because we are people of God we should fear only what might separate us from him.  As the scripture tells us:

 

Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

v.19And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,”

 

            When they go to Joseph’s house they don’t go in right away.  They are still afraid and they stay outside and “COMMUNE” or talk to the steward of his household.

 

v.20-22And 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 brought 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.”

 

            They explain their fears to the steward of Joseph; how that when they returned to their homeland they found the money that they had paid for their grain in the grain sacks.  They don’t know how it got there and they have brought it back to give to Joseph.  In addition they have brought more funds to purchase what they need to buy on this trip.

 

v.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.”

 

            The steward tries to reassure them.  He tells them not to worry that God was instrumental in them receiving the money paid for their grain back in their grain sacks.  He tells them that he had their money – it is as though he is trying to tell them that he returned their money.  Then the steward brings their brother Simeon out to them.

 

v.24-25And 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.”

 

            Joseph’s steward continues to treat them as guests in Joseph’s home.  He brings water for them to wash their feet, a blessing in a dry hot land where the basic form of travel was on foot.  He provides fodder for their animals as well and during this process Israel’s sons determine that they are to join Joseph for the noon meal.  Consequently they prepare the gift that their father had sent so that they may use this occasion to give it to him.

 

Read Genesis 43:26-34Israel in Joseph’s House

 

v.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.”

 

            Joseph comes home for the noon meal as planned.  The sons of Israel give their present to him and pay homage to him as they would any ruler and the dream that Joseph dreamed in Canaan is realized again.

 

Genesis 27:7 “For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.”

 

v.27-28And 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 heads, and made obeisance.”

 

            Again we have what would be a strange conversation to be conducted between the ruler of all Egypt and a few shepherds from Canaan.  Joseph inquires about his father, his health and whether he is still alive.  Israel’s sons answer the questions and again pay homage to Joseph, not understanding the reason behind his questions.

 

v.29And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.”

 

            When Joseph sees Benjamin again for the first time in several years he asks if this is indeed Israel’s youngest son.  Assured that it is, he addresses him as one might a younger brother.  In wishing God’s blessings upon him we find words that are very similar to a hymn that we sing occasionally and whose words we find in scripture:

 

Numbers 6:22-26And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, 24The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

 

Psalms 67:1 “GOD BE MERCIFUL UNTO US, AND BLESS US, and CAUSE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON US; Selah.”

 

v.30-31And 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.

 

            Joseph is deeply affected by his conversation with his brothers and his meeting with Benjamin.  He has to leave the assembly and compose himself once again.  He does so and then directs that the meal be served.

 

v.32And 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.”

 

            The seating arrangements for the meal are somewhat different than we would perhaps expect as well.  Joseph and his Egyptian entourage sat by themselves to eat their meal because of the prejudice that existed among the Egyptians toward the Hebrews.  It reminds us of the attitude of Jews toward the Gentiles as is recorded in the first century.  Jesus uses it while speaking to the woman of Canaan who sought his healing power for her daughter:

 

Matthew 15:26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”

 

v.33-34And they sat before him, the firstborn 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 theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.”

 

            They engage in what today would be considered an state dinner; an affair conducted between the leaders or princes of one nation and the leaders or princes of another nation.  Joseph sends food to their table from his, apparently sharing as was the custom of the day with the larger portion going to his brother Benjamin.