Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 43

By Joseph Benson


Verse 8
Genesis 43:8. Judah said unto his father — He, on account of his age, prudence, and penitent carriage for his youthful follies, was much beloved and regarded by his father, and, on this occasion, was likely to have the greatest influence in persuading him. Send the lad with me — So he terms him, because he was the youngest of all, though he was now thirty years old, and a father of divers children.

Verse 9
Genesis 43:9. Let me bear the blame for ever — Hebrew, Be an offender to thee: let me bear the guilt, and shame, and punishment due to so great an offender — Judah’s conscience had lately smitten him for what he had done a great while ago against Joseph; and as an evidence of the truth of his repentance, he is ready to undertake, as far as a man could do it, for Benjamin’s security. He will not only not wrong him, but will do all he can to protect him. This is such restitution as the case will admit: when he knew not how he could retrieve Joseph, he would make some amends for the irreparable injury he had done him, by doubling his care concerning Benjamin.

Verse 11
Genesis 43:11. If it must be so now, take your brother — If no corn can be had but upon those terms, as good expose him to the perils of the journey, as suffer ourselves and families, and Benjamin among the rest, to perish for want of bread: it is no fault, but our wisdom and duty, to alter our resolutions, when there is a good reason for so doing: constancy is a virtue, but obstinacy is not: it is God’s prerogative to make unchangeable resolves.

Verse 12
Genesis 43:12. Take double money — As much again as they took the time before, upon supposition that the price of corn might be risen, or that, if it should be insisted upon, they might pay a ransom for Simeon: And he sent a present of such things as the land afforded, and were scarce in Egypt, the commodities that Canaan exported.

Verse 14
Genesis 43:14. God Almighty give you mercy before the man! — Jacob had formerly turned an angry brother into a kind one with a present and a prayer, and here he betakes himself to the same tried method. Those that would find mercy with men must seek it of God. He concludes all with this, If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved — If I must part with them thus, one after another, I acquiesce, and say, The will of the Lord be done.

Verse 23
Genesis 43:23. And he said, Peace be to you — No harm shall come to you for that matter. God hath given you treasure in your sacks — By his power and providence secretly putting it there. He speaks thus, because Joseph had instructed him, as well as others of his family, in the knowledge and worship of the true God. By this he meant to show that he had no suspicion of dishonesty in them: for what we get by deceit we cannot say God gives it us. He silences their further inquiry about it: ask not how it came thither; Providence brought it you, and let that satisfy you. We must own ourselves indebted to God as our God, and the God of our fathers, (a God in covenant with us and them,) for all our successes and advantages, and the kindnesses of our friends; for every creature is that to us, and no more, than God makes it to be.

Verse 28
Genesis 43:28. When they brought him the present, they bowed themselves before him, and again, when they gave him an account of their father’s health, they made obeisance, and called him, Thy servant, our father — Thus were Joseph’s dreams fulfilled more and more; and even the father, by the sons, bowed before him. Probably Jacob had directed them, if they had occasion to speak of him to the man, the lord of the land, to call him his servant.

Verse 29-30
Genesis 43:29-30. God be gracious to thee, my son — So he terms him, not from special affection, which he did not yet intend to discover; but because it is a courteous appellation, whereby superiors were wont to salute those below them. Joseph’s favour, although he was the lord of the land, would do Benjamin little good, unless God were gracious to him. His bowels did yearn — His heart and inward parts were vehemently moved, as they commonly are upon occasion of any excessive passion of love, pity, grief, or joy.

Verse 32
Genesis 43:32. That is an abomination to the Egyptians — The most generally received opinion has been, according to the paraphrases of Onkelos and Jonathan, that the reason of this was the Hebrews eating the animals which the Egyptians held sacred. To this must be added, however, that the Egyptians were addicted to such superstitious ceremonies in dressing and eating their victuals, that they could not endure to sit at table with persons of other nations. According to Herodotus, it was not only to the Hebrews that they had such an aversion, for he assures us they would not use the pots or knives of the Grecians about their food, lest these utensils should have been defiled with cutting or containing the flesh of those animals which they accounted sacred. There is some reason, notwithstanding, to think that these superstitions had not begun to prevail in Joseph’s days, and that the cause of this abhorrence must be sought for in the difference of the civil rather than the religious manners of the two nations.

Verse 33
Genesis 43:33. The men marvelled one at another — They were greatly surprised how he should know their respective ages, so as to place them, or cause them to sit down, exactly according to their seniority, as if he could certainly divine. Some, indeed, think they placed themselves so, according to their custom; but if so, why should particular notice be taken of it? And why should they marvel at it? This was, as it were, a preparative to the discovery of himself.