February 23, 2016

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART IV: JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN (Gen. 37:1-50:26)

 

 

Topic # D: VISITS OF JOSEPH'S BROTHERS. Gen. 42:1-45:28                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

Lesson IV.D.5: They Are Brought to Joseph's House, and Simeon Is Released. (Gen. 43:15-25)                                      

 

 

Genesis 43:15-25 (KJV)

 

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.

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. 

17 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. 

19 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. 

23 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.

 

 

 

Commentary

 

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.

“And the men took that present,”...

Their father directed them to “…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” (Genesis 43:11). He employs all available means of securing a favorable result; and we should expect nothing less from crafty old Jacob.

 

“and they took double money in their hand;”…

They took with them what they found in their sacks mouths and what was to pay for a second supply of corn, which is called here, “double money” “Double money” for a double quantity, or because the price of corn was now doubled; and their bringing this besides the other showed their honest and upright intentions.

 

“and Benjamin;”…

They took him with their father's permission; they had to, because Joseph told them they could not return to Egypt without him. Besides, their brother Simeon was being held in Egypt, until they returned with Benjamin in tow.

 

“and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph;”…

The story of their return trip is condensed. We’re told here that they presented themselves to Joseph, and it is obvious from the conversation with Joseph’s servant that they still don’t recognize their brother. The first thing they did upon arriving in Egypt was to go to the office where Joseph sold corn to foreign customers. There they made a formal request to buy more corn, but first they must answer any questions that should be asked them.

 

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. 

 

“And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them”,...

He knew Benjamin, though he had not seen him in twenty-two years, and though his features must have appeared very different, seeing that he was about ten years of age when Joseph was sold into Egypt, but upon seeing him standing with the rest of his brethren, whom he knew very well, he concluded it must be him.

 

We may easily imagine the delight with which, amid the crowd of other applicants, the eye of Joseph would fasten on his brethren and Benjamin.

 

“he said to the ruler of his house”;…

Joseph being occupied with his public duties, ordered his steward (ruler of his house) to care for them until he could finish that day’s business. The steward of Joseph’s house (Genesis 43:19; 44:1; 44:4) was the “major domo” of the residence. Joseph himself had occupied that position (Genesis 39:5)

 

“bring these men home”;…

Joseph was now at or near the place where there were granaries for storing corn, and where corn was sold. He was probably too busy to leave, until he had concluded that day’s business. Until then, they would be cared for by his steward.

 

“and slay, and make ready”;…

The slaying of animals--a sheep, or a lamb, or a calf--indicated a banquet or great feast. It was a sign of special honor. Meat food was not the usual food for the Bedouin. But it was probably regularly eaten by kings and their officials, and by dwellers in towns in Egypt.

 

The phrase “and make ready,” means to dress the animal and cook it by boiling or roasting, or both, so that it might be fit for food.

 

“for these men shall dine with me at noon”;…

“Noon” seems to be an unusual time for dining, though we eat a noon meal, but we have our main meal in the evening. I believe they ate at noon because Joseph wanted to make himself known to them as soon as possible.

 

17 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph's house. 

 

The man obeyed his master, and brought the men into Joseph's house; he showed them the way to it, and when they arrived he showed them around, and led them to a room where they could await Joseph’s arrival. He then ordered everything to be made ready for dinner as his master had told him, for he is a diligent and faithful servant. But there is a problem, which appears in the next verse that must be resolved before the brothers will go inside.

 

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. 

 

“And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph's house;”

This kind of interest and kindness toward non-Egyptians by an Egyptian official was unusual; that is, for those that came to buy corn to lodge in the home of such a high official, instead of an inn in the city. The brothers must have wondered why the powerful Egyptian official took such an interest in them. Perhaps they feared that the kindness from the Egyptian leader was just the prelude to an execution. A guilty conscience needs no accuser. Everything alarms them; they may feel that God is exacting retribution, and they do not know what the scale shall be, or where it will stop.

 

“and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in;

Their first thought was that they were brought to the official’s house to be examined as to how they came to leave without paying for their corn; pick up their money again after they had laid it down, and take it away with them, and so were guilty of tricking and defrauding, if not of theft.

 

“that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.” 

Joseph’s brethren suspect that this act of kindness is part of a trap to put them off their guard, and then suddenly seize them on a false charge (“seek occasion against us”). The phrase “Fall upon us”--with hard words, and severe threats, if not with blows--comes from a word that means “roll himself upon us,” a metaphor taken from wrestlers; when a man has overthrown his antagonist, he rolls himself upon him, in order to keep him down. [“They come at me from all directions. They jump on me when I am down” (Job 30:14).]

 

The phrase “take us for bondmen” means imprison them, which was the *punishment for fraud and theft.

 

“And our asses,” which they probably had with them in great number; and which, if taken as forfeiture, would have been a great loss to the family of Jacob, since such animals must have constituted a principal part of its riches.

 

* According to the old Hebrew law, a thief who failed to make restitution might be seized and sold for a slave (Exodus 22:3).

 

19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they communed with him at the door of the house, 

 

In verses 19-23 the brothers explain about the money, and are treated well in Joseph’s house.

 

“And they came near to the steward of Joseph's house,”...

He is the same person who was previously called “the ruler of Joseph’s house,” and they are currently in his care. In the following verses, the brothers tell their side of the matter of the unpaid debt, while they curry favor with the steward.

 

“and they communed with him at the door of the house;”…

Alarmed at so unexpectedly being taken to the house of the governor, they can see nothing but danger, and will not enter until they receive the assurance of safety from the steward “who was over Joseph’s house.” The brothers thought it was wise to explain their innocence about the money to the steward before they had to explain it to the Egyptian official himself, so they spoke with him at the door of the house. [This was, of course, before they entered.]

 

20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food: 


There is frankness now in the conduct of Joseph's brethren that did not exist before; they simply and honestly relate the whole circumstance of the money being found in their sacks on their return from their last journey. Afflictions from the hand of God, and under His direction, have a wonderful tendency to humble the soul. If men knew how gracious His intentions are in sending misfortune of any type, no murmur would ever be heard against the provision of Divine Providence.

 

“And said, O sir,”... Or, “on me, my lord”; one said in the name of the rest, perhaps Judah, “on me let the blame lie, if guilty of being untruthful in making our appeal to thee. “We pray, sir that thou wouldest hear us”; the phrase is expressive of beseeching, entreating, and supplicating.

 

“we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:”…There was no other motive for coming to Egypt other than to buy food to save their families from starving.

 

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.

 

“And it came to pass when we came to the inn,...”

The inn was located on the road that would take them back to Canaan. On the first day of the journey they stopped at an inn (lodging-place) to refresh themselves and their cattle.

 

“that we opened our sacks,”…

The “sacks” (Heb., our travelling or forage bags.) contained personal items, such as clothing. Today, we would place our tooth brush, medication, gifts for wife and children in our bags along with a change of clothing.

 

“and, behold, every man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight;”…

It was all there--and they didn’t know what to think about it. The term “full weight” indicates the usual practice of paying money by weight,--probably metal bars, rings, or ingots, which had to be weighed--and not by coins. It appears that they all did this, though it is only said about one of them at the inn, and of all of them when they came home (Genesis 42.35). They may have opened one of the bags of corn in order to feed their cattle, which were brought along to carry the corn home.

 

So immediately after arriving at the inn the silver was found “in the mouth of a travelling-bag” (Genesis 43:22-23). This is accurate, as the silver was placed in the private bag of each one, and not in the corn sacks; but as we have seen in Genesis 42:27 and Genesis 42:35, only one of them found his money at the lodging-place. This, however, was a matter of no importance, while it was necessary to show that they were a full day’s journey on the route homewards before the mistake was discovered.

 

“and we have brought it again in our hand;”…

They would return the money in order to pay for the corn they got the first trip, having no intention to defraud.

 

22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks. 

 

“And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food,”...

Double money for a double quantity, or because the price of corn was now doubled; and their bringing this besides the other showed their honest and upright intentions.

 

“We cannot tell who put our money in our sacks”… we are quite ignorant of it, and can by no means account for it, and therefore hope no blame will be laid on us.

 

23 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.

 

“And he said, Peace be to you”…--Do not be uneasy and disturbed, you have nothing to fear, you are in no danger. Peace be to you is a form of encouragement and reassurance, as in Judges 6:23; Daniel 10:19. It is probable that the steward himself was a Hebrew, and that Joseph had given him an inkling of the whole affair; and though he was not at liberty to reveal it, yet he gives them assurances that the whole business would end happily. The response of the steward in this verse plainly proves that the knowledge of the true God was in Egypt.

 

“your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks;”…

Either Joseph had instructed his steward what to say, or he had taught his household the truths of his religion.  The word for “treasure means hidden treasure, or as we call it a “windfall.” The hidden treasure found in their sacks, was there by the providence of God, for He so inclined the heart of Joseph to order it to be put there, which is how the steward interpreted it.By this statement the steward meant to show that he had no suspicion of them being dishonest: for what we get by deceit we cannot say God gives it to us.

 

“I had your money”;…

This was not a lie, because he really did have it, and he gave it back. This acknowledgment was sufficient to absolve them from suspicion of deceit and thievery, though he does not say that he put the money into their sacks, or by whose order it was done. It really was because of God’s goodness that they got the money back. The conduct of the steward, as well as his words, had a great tendency to relieve their burdened minds.

 

“and he brought Simeon out unto them”;…

“He brought Simeon out”; either out of prison, or out of some other room, which was, no doubt, done by the direction of Joseph. By bringing out Simeon he would remove their worst fears, and so at last they consent to go in.


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. 

 

“And the man brought the men into Joseph's house,”... after the above discourse had passed between them, and he had made their minds rest easy, both with respect to the money and by bringing Simeon to them uninhibited; a free man.

 

The brothers expected to be seized as slaves and have everything taken from them (Genesis 43:18). Yet Joseph treated them with kindness. This love and goodness from Joseph would win them over and bring them to full repentance.

 

“and gave them water, and they washed their feet”;…

 This was usually done in the eastern countries after travelling, and when about to take a meal, and was both for refreshment and cleanliness. Jesus complained to Simon, “…I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet…” (Luke 7:44: see also 1 Timothy 5:10)

 

“and he gave their asses  *provender”;…The brothers received the blessings of love and kindness from Joseph without knowing who he was. In the same way, God showers love and blessing upon man even when man doesn’t know from whom the blessings come.


*Provender is dry food, such as hay or oats, for livestock or other domestic animals; fodder: also food; provisions.

 

25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.


“And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon,”...

They took it out of the vessels or bags in which they brought it, and prepared it in a proper manner to present it to him when he came home at noon to dine. The present included more than the money they planned to return, for we were told, “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” (Genesis 43:11).

 

“for they heard that they should eat bread there”;… that is, dine in Joseph’s home, “bread” being put for all the food served to them: this was told them, very probably, by the steward, or by some of the servants in the house.

 

 

 

 

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