|<< Gen 42|
Genesis 43-45 Listen
1 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 spake 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.
6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?
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?
8 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 for ever:
10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
11 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:
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.
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.
Actually, Simeon's not even mentioned in these verses. You remember Simeon; they left him in an Egyptian prison awaiting their return with Benjamin back in Genesis 42 (see notes). Jacob didn't want them to go back with Benjamin, so they just let Simeon stay in jail...and may have never gone back had they not run low on food again. Jacob commissions them to make the 300-mile journey again for food, but there's a problem...or should we say...problems. First problem: can't go back without Benjamin; second problem: there may be an all-points bulletin out on them in Egypt because of the money that was returned in their bags back in chapter 42. Jacob blames the brothers in verse 6 for even mentioning that they had a brother back home. You don't suppose Jacob would have wanted them to lie about that, do you? Judah pledges to Jacob Benjamin's safety and points out that the trip could be a little more treacherous because they have delayed returning as they were commanded by Joseph to do. So they pack up to go - extra money, a nice gift basket and Benjamin in tow. Here we see that it is Judah, not the oldest son Reuben, who takes charge.
Incidentally, whoever the spokesman is in verse 7, he tells Jacob a lie about Joseph's interrogation back in Genesis 42:9-13 (see notes). He states that Joseph had asked, "have ye another brother?" In fact, we see that the brothers actually volunteered the information about Benjamin without being directly asked by Joseph. Oh, well...when you've got a closet full of lies already, I guess another lie might just seem harmless.
Could this be a death-row last meal? (Genesis 43:16-34)
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.
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.
27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? 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 spake 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.
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.
33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled 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.
They immediately get a bit of a shock upon their arrival in Egypt; they are escorted to Joseph's house and reunited with Simeon. I'm guessing Simeon had some questions for them...like, "Hey! Where have you guys been?" The brothers fear that this special treatment is a bad thing - must have something to do with being fugitives from justice in Egypt for thievery. The house steward reassures them. Then Joseph arrives home and sees his half brothers along with his only full-blooded brother Benjamin. Joseph is overcome with emotion. Okay, okay, it's time to stop this charade and tell them who he is, right? Wrong! A big meal is prepared, and Joseph treats them as honored guests, but does not reveal his identity. The seating arrangement seems a little awkward in verse 32, but that was the Egyptian way; Egyptians did not sit at the same table with Hebrews. Nonetheless, verse 34 indicates that the night was enjoyed by all - especially Benjamin who received special-honor status.
Two questions here: Why did Joseph continue to hide his identity, and why did Benjamin get such preferential treatment at the meal? Could it be that Joseph was testing his half brothers to see if they were jealous of Rachel's only other son?
Hey guys; this time look in your sacks before you leave! (Genesis 44:1-17)
1 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.
2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
4 And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
5 Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
6 And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?
9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.
10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.
17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
Do these brothers seem a little...I mean...slow to catch on? After the last fiasco, wouldn't you take a look into your sacks of grain before you leave Egypt? Well, they didn't. Has Joseph finished having a little fun with his brothers yet? Not yet! He has his steward put their money back into their sacks, and the royal cup into Benjamin's sack. Then he sends the steward after them to check their bags. The accusations of theft of the royal cup are just outrageous. They declare their innocence and challenge the steward to search their bags for the cup and put the man to death in whose bag the cup is discovered. Oh! No! Not Benjamin's bag! We see in verse 13 that they are grief stricken over the discovery. It's back to town where Joseph awaits their arrival. They confess their guilt and pledge themselves as Joseph's servants as reparation for their evil deed. He doesn't want them - only Benjamin. Joseph's rebuke to them in verse 15 is a bit amusing when he says in essence, "What were you guys thinking, trying to fool a fortune teller?" You will remember that Joseph's reputation as a prognosticator is what landed him this job in the first place.
Notice particularly Joseph's offer in verse 17 when he tells them that only the thief must stay in Egypt; all others may go back to their father. This appears to be another test of loyalty. Will they use this opportunity to rid themselves of the preferred child of Jacob, Rachel's only remaining son? Hey guys! You'd better be careful how you react to this offer.
Judah does his best plea bargain (Genesis 44:18-34)
18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.
19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.
26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us.
27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;
31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.
32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.
33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.
Recognizing the impact this is going to have on his father if Benjamin does not return with them, Judah (remember his pledge to Jacob in 43:9 - see above) makes an impassioned plea to Joseph for Benjamin's release: "This is going to kill our father; let me stay as your servant instead of Benjamin." Judah has come a long way hasn't he? This selfless act of sacrifice might just do the trick. Judah has passed the test! Now don't miss the BIG picture here. Though innocent, Judah offers to pay the penalty for his brother Benjamin. Isn't that exactly what Judah's descendant, Jesus Christ, would one day do on the cross?
The passage doesn't say whether or not Judah believed that Benjamin was innocent of that for which he was being accused. That's really a moot issue at this point. To proclaim Benjamin's innocence before Joseph would implicate Joseph or his servants. That doesn't sound like a competent defense. Naaaa...just throw yourself on the mercy of the court (so to speak).
Incidentally, it was Judah back in Genesis 37:26-27 (see notes) who had persuaded his brothers not to kill Joseph, but sell him as a slave to the Midianite traders instead. Although, he was in on the conspiracy, along with the other brothers, to fabricate Joseph's death when they returned to Jacob.
1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.
2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:
10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:
11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.
13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.
14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.
15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.
16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.
17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;
18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.
21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.
22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.
23 And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.
24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.
25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.
27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.
You must admit that the brothers (except for Benjamin) had all of this coming after what they had done to Joseph back when he was 17 years old. However, when Judah talks about the adverse impact all of this is going to have on dear father, Joseph just breaks down with emotion. This is the chapter that perhaps makes this the most touching story in the Bible. It's good to know that Joseph is not bitter. He identifies himself to his brothers. Talk about speechless - notice verse 3, "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence." Joseph takes them off the hook in verse 5, "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life." What a declaration! He indicates that God had orchestrated their evil deed for the purpose of the future preservation of their lives. He goes on to say in verse 8, "So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God:" I'm certain they are happy to hear Joseph justify their actions as he did. It's a big ol' family reunion; bring Dad, and it's complete.
I wonder if any one of the brothers is remembering at this point their angry words to the 17-year old dreamer Joseph back in Genesis 37:8 (see notes), "And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words." I'm quite certain, if they did, that nobody dares bring that up.
It should be noted, however, that the brothers remain skeptical of Joseph's forgiveness all the way down to the death of their father, Jacob. Let's look ahead for a moment to Genesis 50:15 (see notes) after Jacob had passed away, "And when Josephs brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him."
Note: We can calculate Joseph's age here based upon Genesis 41:46 (see notes) and Genesis 45:11. He was 30 when he took charge followed by seven years of prosperity. Here we see that they are two years into the famine. That makes Joseph around 39 years old here. They had not seen him since he was 17. It's no wonder they did not recognize him, especially as the second most powerful man in Egypt.
Joseph emphasizes in verse 13, "Hey, be sure to tell Dad how well I've done!" I guess there was something to those teenage dreams he had which seemed to irritate his brothers as well as his father back then. When word gets to Pharaoh of the reunion, he's tickled as well. He instructs Joseph to provide for all their needs and bring the family back to live off of Egypt's prosperity. They load up an extravagant caravan and return to Canaan to fetch Jacob. Joseph's parting instructions to them in verse 24 are interesting when he says, "See that ye fall not out by the way." In other words, "Don't y'all bicker and argue on the way back." That's like telling a dog not to bark or a bird not to chirp, isn't it?
I'll admit; I'm a little disappointed that the next scene is just three verses long. I mean, there's a lot of explaining that has to take place before Jacob; the 22-year cover up is over. I wonder which brother was designated to tell Jacob the whole story. How do you even introduce a story like that? "Hey Dad, we've been meaning to tell you that we faked Joseph's death 22 years ago, and he's really alive...and he's not bitter." Obviously, Jacob's initial reaction is one of disbelief. It takes the royal caravan parked outside his door to convince him that Joseph, his favorite son, is the big man in Egypt. It's off to Egypt we go!
We should give some attention to Genesis 45:10, "And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy childrens children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast." Joseph has a multi-generational plan that significantly deviates from that which had been given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He fully intends for them to stay in Egypt rather than return to the land that God had promised. Of course, God had told Abraham back in Genesis 15:13-14 (see notes) that his descendants would spend 400 years in captivity; Joseph becomes the tool of that prophecy which brings it to pass.
In Genesis 46 (see notes), the whole family of Jacob packs up and heads for Egypt.