Genesis Chapter 43: Joseph sees Brethren Again and Benjamin

Mar 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 43: Joseph sees Brethren Again and Benjamin

Gen. 43:1 And the famine was sore in the land.

Gen. 43:2 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.

The famine continued for another (second) year, and the brothers remained in Israel until all of their grain was depleted. During the past year, the brothers had not returned for Simeon because Joseph had said they would not see his face unless they brought Benjamin, and Jacob would not permit Benjamin to leave. Now Jacob told his nine sons to return to Egypt to buy more grain. (Simeon was in prison in Egypt, Benjamin was to remain at home, and Joseph was in Egypt.)

Gen. 43:3 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.

Gen. 43:4 If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:

Gen. 43:5 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.

Judah reminded Jacob that they could not see Joseph’s face unless they brought Benjamin.

Jacob was being pressured to relinquish Benjamin. In fact, the brothers refused to obey their father and go without Benjamin, for in their minds, to do so would be to commit suicide.

Because their money had been found in their sacks, they were afraid of being accused not only as spies but also as thieves, and at least taking Benjamin would provide credibility.

Joseph had shown great wisdom in handling his brothers. In warning them, he had alerted their consciences in regard to what they had done to him years earlier. His questions led them to confess they had done wrong, and they recognized their problems as retribution.

For the following reasons, it was apropos that Simeon was the one to be imprisoned. (1) He was probably the ringleader in selling Joseph as a slave. (2) As the second oldest brother (after Reuben), he had more responsibility. (3) His slaughter of the men of Shechem when they were circumcised displayed a meanness of character.

Gen. 43:6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

Jacob is called “Israel” here and in succeeding verses to alert us that Israel would go into Egypt.

And later God would call Israel, His “son,” out of Egypt (Exod. 4:22). While in Egypt and dying, Jacob pronounced a blessing on each of his sons, and this act marked the beginning of Israel as a nation.

It is kind of humorous that Jacob asked, “Why did you have to tell the man that you have another brother?” Jacob’s state of mind was thus revealed. He was looking for any excuse, for anyone to blame. His reasoning was not quite straight.

Gen. 43:7 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?

The brothers replied, “The man sprang this upon us with his questions. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”

Gen. 43:8 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.

Gen. 43:9 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:

Gen. 43:10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

Judah spoke up again, taking a leading role. His offer was a little different from Reuben’s (Gen. 42:37). Reuben had offered to slay two of his own sons if Benjamin was not brought back, whereas Judah offered his own life. The two sons would be for Benjamin and Simeon. Judah offered his own personal life as a ransom. It is interesting that Jesus is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah(Rev. 5:5).

“Except we had lingered….” Jacob had delayed sending his sons to Egypt for more grain until it was an absolute necessity.

Gen. 43:11 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:

Jacob was again called “Israel,” which called attention to Israel’s entering Egypt and 215 years later Israel’s exit from Egypt. Jacob instructed his sons to take a present to Joseph as a pacifier.

They were to “take of the best fruits in the land” balm, honey, spices, myrrh, nuts, and almonds. These items were not necessities, for one could not live on them. And they had only a little balm and honey to give. Their basic need for survival was the grain. Despite the famine, Israel was a land of milk and honey at this time in history in normal years. The balm came from Gilead (Gen. 37:25).

Gen. 43:12 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:

“Take double money … and the money that was … in the mouth of your sacks.” “Double” can mean twice as much or an equal amount. We do not know with certainty which meaning was intended here, but verses 15, 21, and 22 seem to indicate it was an equal amount to what they had taken to Egypt the last time.

Gen. 43:13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

Gen. 43:14 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.

Now Jacob was submissive. This decision was a providential test on Jacob: to sacrifice, if need be, his nearest and dearest son (that is, “possession”). Jacob’s attitude also let Judah off the hook; namely, “Whatever happens will be.”

Among the brothers, Judah and Reuben were often the leading spirits who spoke out. In the high priest’s breastplate, Judah was listed first, and Reuben was second. The apostles Paul and Peter were the corresponding leaders, respectively.

Gen. 43:15 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.

The brothers left with the present, the money, and Benjamin. They stood before Joseph.

Gen. 43:16 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.

When Joseph saw Benjamin and the others, he told the ruler of his house to take them to his home and prepare a meal, for they would all dine together at noon. We know from this statement that the brothers had a morning audience. Joseph would not have known Benjamin by sight, but he spotted the others and could see that there was an eleventh brother.

Gen. 43:17 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.

Gen. 43:18 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.

The brothers were brought to Joseph’s house, and they were all the more afraid because they were singled out. They thought that they were being apprehended because of the money found in their sacks and that they would be accused and taken as servants.

Gen. 43:19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,

Gen. 43:20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:

Gen. 43:21 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.

Gen. 43:22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.

The brothers talked to the steward of Joseph’s house and related, hurriedly, what had happened. They gave a condensed account under emotional stress and ended with, “We cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.”

Gen. 43:23 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.

The steward said, “Peace be to you, fear not. Your God has given you the money in your sacks.

I had your money.” The steward’s statement indicates that he respected Joseph and had accepted the Hebrew God. It also suggests that Joseph had previously communed with him about the returning of the money and the releasing of Simeon. Notice that although Joseph had not yet returned, the steward brought Simeon out of prison unto them. Therefore, prior to the return of the brothers to Egypt, Joseph had probably told his steward his intentions regarding them so that the steward would know what to do when they brought Benjamin.

Gen. 43:24 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.

Gen. 43:25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

The steward supplied water for the brothers to wash their feet and gave food to the animals. The brothers had been told they would eat at Joseph’s house, so they got the present ready for him when he would arrive at noon.

Gen. 43:26 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.

When Joseph arrived, the brothers gave him the present and bowed to the earth before him.

Now 11 brothers bowed to him in fulfillment of the dream that 11 sheaves of wheat would bow to Joseph’s sheaf. Previously, only 10 brothers had bowed, at which time Joseph remembered the dream. Later, when Jacob and Leah came to Egypt, the second dream regarding the sun, moon, and stars was also fulfilled. In other words, there was a progressive fulfillment of the dreams, as is often the case with prophecy.

Gen. 43:27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?

Gen. 43:28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.

Joseph inquired about the health of their father. The brothers replied that he was in good health and bowed again.

Comment: The brothers would have been concerned now in regard to any question they were asked. When Joseph inquired about their father, they must have been afraid that Joseph would next ask to have him brought to Egypt. They were afraid to answer, and they were afraid not to answer.

It seemed that something mysterious was going on, but they could not figure it out. They still did not know the ruler was Joseph, and Joseph continued to speak through an interpreter. It was like God’s providence, and their consciences certainly were troubling them.

Gen. 43:29 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.

When Joseph saw Benjamin, he said, “God be gracious unto thee, my son.” The interpreter would have simulated the emotion, tone, and emphasis that Joseph used.

Gen. 43:30 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.

Gen. 43:31 And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.

Joseph ran out of the room to weep. When composed, he returned. The emotion shows that Joseph had a tender as well as a stern side, as evidenced in his harsh questioning of his brothers. He had schooled himself to ask questions he knew would hurt them. The questions were like a rapier, awakening their consciences.

Now Joseph acted businesslike and said, “Start the meal. Let us eat.” Even though the table was all set, the brothers had to wait until Joseph gave the order.

Notice that Joseph yearned for his “brother” singular, that is, Benjamin. This detail shows the other ten were half brothers from a different mother. Hence it was like two families, although Joseph had wept for the other brothers earlier. His bowels now yearned for Benjamin. Strong emotions affect even the stomach muscles and the diaphragm, as well as the bowels.

Gen. 43:32 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.

Three tables were set: one table for Joseph alone, another for the brothers, and a third for the Egyptians. Joseph ate by himself because of his office—he was second in authority in Egypt and the “savior” of the nation, as it were. The Egyptians did not eat with the Hebrews because shepherds were an abomination to them (Exod. 8:26). As worshippers of the bull, the Egyptians were appalled at the practice of raising bulls for food.

Gen. 43:33 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.

The brothers looked with amazement to see that they were all arranged at the table according to birth or birthright. What was happening?

Gen. 43:34 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.

But when the brothers started to eat, they forgot and just enjoyed the food. In time of famine, a lavish meal would be most appreciated. Joseph’s table must have had an abundant supply of food on it, for he sent food to the 11 brothers from there. Joseph dished out the food. There is a spiritual picture here. Joseph was acting paternal towards them.

Q: Does Benjamin picture the Little Flock here because he got five times as much food?

A: Yes, and Joseph pictures Jesus.

Joseph had a divining cup that enabled him to prophesy and see the future. The Egyptians probably regarded him much as the Israelites later considered Ruth the Moabitess.

(1987–1989 Study)

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  1. praise god,it is very interesting story.the same way i also faced lot of problems in my life like Joseph,once up on a time my heart was crushed by the people i loved more .but my lord risked me and saved me from the dirty pit. he re build me.he has given in me new breath , new life, new spirit and he is using me right now as his own weapon in his hand.i was alone with my two children past 20 years ,no one was there to support me except Jesus.he blessed my daughter she is working in kingfisher airlines and my son is working in omega pt company.his desire is to be glorify his name through our life like Joseph. now i am doing his ministry work in women especially for widows.i am so proud my loving Jesus.i will live and die for my praying god to bless my 1000 of generations and bless my children to grand an anointed life partners.glory be to my god almighty the great god of my savior.god may bless the testy money the people those who are struggles in their life.amen and amen.

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