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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 43

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the famine was sore in the land. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Father said ... Go again, buy us a little food. This seems to have been after the lapse of a year (Genesis 45:6). It was no easy matter to bring Jacob to agree to the only condition on which his sons could return to Egypt (Genesis 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 against them.

Verses 3-10

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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:

Take of the best fruits ... a present, [ mizimrat (H2173) haa'aarets (H776)] - literally, of the song of the land. It is an Oriental practice never to approach a man of power without a present, and Jacob might remember how he pacified his brother (Proverbs 21:14). Balm ... spices, and myrrh - (Genesis 37:25.)

Honey, [ dªbash (H1706)] - which some think was dibs, a syrup made from ripe dates (Bochart); but others, the honey of Hebron (Leviticus 2:11), which is still valued as far superior to that of Egypt, and of which three hundred camel loads are still yearly sent to that country.

Nuts, [ baaTªniym (H992)] - pistachio nuts, of which Syria grows the best in the world.

Almonds, [ uwshqeediym (H8247)] - which were most abundant in Palestine.

Verse 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 - the first sum to be returned, and another sum for a new supply. The restored money in the sack's 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 travelers that he took this view. Besides the duty of restoring it, honesty in their case was clearly the best, the safest policy.

Verse 13

Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

God Almighty give you mercy. Jacob is here committing them all to the care of God, and, resigned to what God Almighty give you mercy. 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 for good.

Verses 15-17

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.

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 until he should have finished the business of the day.

Ruler of his house. In the houses of wealthy Egyptians one upper man-servant was entrusted with the management of the house (cf. Genesis 39:5).

Slay and make ready. (Heb., 'kill a killing') - implying preparations for a grand entertainment (cf. Genesis 31:54; 1 Samuel 25:11; Proverbs 9:2; Matthew 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 deficacy of the dishes at their table.

Dine with me at noon, [ batsaahªraayim (H6672)] - at the two noons (Deuteronomy 28:29): the hour of dinner was at midday.

Verse 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 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 assurance 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.

Verses 19-28

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

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Benjamin, his mother's son, [ ben (H1121) 'imow (H517)] - his uterine brother.

Verses 30-34

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.

Joseph said, Set on bread - equivalent to-have dinner served, bread being a term inclusive of all food. The table was a small stool, most probably in 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 honour 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; whilst it was so arranged that an Egyptian was not placed nor obliged to eat from the same dish as a Hebrew.

For that is an abomination. The Hebrews used for food male kine which the Egyptians universally sacrificed, and even female cows, which in Egypt were sacred to Isis. That is the reason says Herodotus, 'why no native of Egypt, whether man or woman, will use the knife of a Greek, or his spit, or his caldron, or taste the flesh of an ox, known to be pure, if it has been cut with a Greek knife.' The Hebrews, at an earlier period, for the same reason, were in this respect equally obnoxious as the Greeks; 'and the same prejudice,' remarks Wilkinson, 'is continued by the Hindus, and by many of the Moslems, to the present day. But the last have gradations, like the ancient Egyptians, who looked with greater horror on those who did not cut the throat from ear to ear of all animals used for food' (Rawlinson's 'Herod.,' b. 2:, chapter 41).

Verse 33. And they sat before him. This is a minute but striking feature of Egyptian manners. The Hebrews Verse 33. And they sat before him. This is a minute but striking feature of Egyptian manners. The Hebrews used to recline sometimes (cf. Genesis 18:4), as well as sit (Genesis 27:19), at meals. But the ancient Egyptians were in the habit of sitting at table, as is proved abundantly by festive scenes depicted on the monuments. They sat, as the people of Western Europe do, with the legs perpendicular, not cross-legged nor squatted on their heels.

Verse 34. Took ... messes ... Benjamin's ... 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 honour-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 portion, it must have appeared to be a very distinguished mark of favour bestowed on Benjamin to have no less than five times any of his brothers. Like seven elsewhere, five was a sacred round number in Egypt (Isaiah 19:18). This social usage was probably derived from the religious rites of Egypt, India, and other Oriental nations: among whom five minor planets, and five elementary powers were accounted sacred (Gesenius).

Drank, and were merry - Hebrew, 'drank freely,' same as Song of Solomon 5:1: cf. John 2:10. In these cases the idea of intemperance is excluded. The painful anxieties and cares of Joseph's brethren were dispelled, and they were at ease.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 43". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-43.html. 1871-8.
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