Ge 43:1-14. Preparations
for a Second Journey to Egypt.
2. their father said, … Go again, buy us a
little food—It was no easy matter to bring Jacob to agree to
the only conditions on which his sons could return to Egypt (Ge 42:15). The necessity of immediately
procuring fresh supplies for the maintenance of themselves and their
families overcame every other consideration and extorted his consent to
Benjamin joining in a journey, which his sons entered on with mingled
feelings of hope and anxiety—of hope, because having now complied
with the governor's demand to bring down their youngest brother, they
flattered themselves that the alleged ground of suspecting them would
be removed; and of apprehension that some ill designs were meditated
11. take of the best fruits … a
present—It is an Oriental practice never to approach a man of
power without a present, and Jacob might remember how he pacified his
and myrrh (see on Ge 37:25),
honey—which some think was
dibs, a syrup made from ripe dates [Bochart]; but others, the honey of Hebron, which is
still valued as far superior to that of Egypt;
nuts—pistachio nuts, of which Syria
grows the best in the world;
almonds—which were most abundant in
12. take double money—the first sum to
be returned, and another sum for a new supply. The restored money in
the sacks' mouth was a perplexing circumstance. But it might have been
done inadvertently by one of the servants—so Jacob persuaded
himself—and happy it was for his own peace and the encouragement
of the travellers that he took this view. Besides the duty of restoring
it, honesty in their case was clearly the best, the safest policy.
14. God Almighty give you mercy before the
man—Jacob is here committing them all to the care of God and,
resigned to what appears a heavy trial, prays that it may be overruled
Ge 43:15-30. Arrival in
15. stood before Joseph—We may easily
imagine the delight with which, amid the crowd of other applicants, the
eye of Joseph would fix on his brethren and Benjamin. But occupied with
his public duties, he consigned them to the care of a confidential
servant till he should have finished the business of the day.
16. ruler of his house—In the houses of
wealthy Egyptians one upper man servant was intrusted with the
management of the house (compare Ge 39:5).
slay, and make ready—Hebrew,
"kill a killing"—implying preparations for a grand entertainment
(compare Ge 31:54; 1Sa 25:11; Pr 9:2; Mt 22:4). The animals have to be killed as well
as prepared at home. The heat of the climate requires that the cook
should take the joints directly from the hands of the flesher, and the
Oriental taste is, from habit, fond of newly killed meat. A great
profusion of viands, with an inexhaustible supply of vegetables, was
provided for the repasts, to which strangers were invited, the pride of
Egyptian people consisting rather in the quantity and variety than in
the choice or delicacy of the dishes at their table.
dine … at noon—The hour of
dinner was at midday.
18. the men were afraid—Their feelings
of awe on entering the stately mansion, unaccustomed as they were to
houses at all, their anxiety at the reasons of their being taken there,
their solicitude about the restored money, their honest simplicity in
communicating their distress to the steward and his assurances of
having received their money in "full weight," the offering of their
fruit present, which would, as usual, be done with some parade, and the
Oriental salutations that passed between their host and them—are
all described in a graphic and animated manner.
Ge 43:31-34. The
31. Joseph said, Set on bread—equivalent
to having dinner served, "bread" being a term inclusive of all
victuals. The table was a small stool, most probably the usual round
form, "since persons might even then be seated according to their rank
or seniority, and the modern Egyptian table is not without its post of
honor and a fixed gradation of place" [Wilkinson]. Two or at most three persons were seated
at one table. But the host being the highest in rank of the company had
a table to himself; while it was so arranged that an Egyptian was not
placed nor obliged to eat from the same dish as a Hebrew.
32. Egyptians might not eat bread with the
Hebrews; for that is an abomination—The prejudice probably
arose from the detestation in which, from the oppressions of the
shepherd-kings, the nation held all of that occupation.
34. took and sent messes … Benjamin's mess
was five times—In Egypt, as in other Oriental countries,
there were, and are, two modes of paying attention to a guest whom the
host wishes to honor—either by giving a choice piece from his own
hand, or ordering it to be taken to the stranger. The degree of respect
shown consists in the quantity, and while the ordinary rule of
distinction is a double mess, it must have appeared a very
distinguished mark of favor bestowed on Benjamin to have no less than
five times any of his brethren.
they drank, and were merry with
him—Hebrew, "drank freely" (same as So 5:1; Joh
2:10). In all these cases the
idea of intemperance is excluded. The painful anxieties and cares of
Joseph's brethren were dispelled, and they were at ease.