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GENESIS

SECTION  SIX  - JOSEPH

BENJAMIN
Genesis 43:16 - 45:16

JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN

The famine weighed heavily on the land. The foodstuffs imported from Mizraim (Egypt) were all but gone. Without Benjamin they could not think of returning to Egypt. Yaakov (Jacob), who believe that he had no right to let Benjamin go, now is forced to give his consent. He is somewhat comforted by the thought that Benjamin’s life would have been in danger had he kept him at home. While heretofore, in his depressed state of mind, he appears as "Yaakov", (Jacob) he now acts as "Yisroel" (v. 6): he had done his duty but he is at the end of his strength; he relies entirely on the assistance of G’d (God) whose Will governs his life.   (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Commentary on the Torah Pg. 56,57)

Joseph’s brothers had experienced a measure of repentance during their traumatic experience in Egypt, but there was still much to be accomplished in their hearts by God’s Spirit before they would be truly prepared and unified spiritually to serve as the fathers and founders of the twelve tribes of Israel.

They must yet:

1. Confront Joseph himself.
2. Learn to undergo the utter confusion and helplessness into which sin leads.
3. Finally experience the joy of forgiveness in grace.
4. Together with restoration to fellowship and unity.

They must learn true faith in God and his purpose, as well as obedience to God’s commands.

    43:6     AND  ISRAEL  SAID

It is interesting that, at this point in the narrative, the name Israel begins to be used instead of Jacob, This name had not been used since Genesis 37:13. It seems that, as long as Jacob seemed completely broken and defeated by virtue of Joseph’s apparent death, his old name, Jacob, is used (note Genesis 37:34;42:1,4,29,36). Now, for the first time, he begins to consider the possibility of allowing Benjamin to go. His faith is in process of revival, and so he is called Israel again.

    43:8     AND  JUDAH  SAID

By this time, Judah seems to have taken over as spokesman for the brothers. Evidently no one paid much attention to Reuben any more, Simeon was in prison in Egypt, and Levi was apparently also regarded now with some disfavor because of his association with Simeon, probably in the matter of Joseph’s sale as well as in the case of the Shechemite slaughter. Judah urged Jacob to recognize that they would be quite unable to buy even a little food, and probably would not even be allowed to leave Egypt, unless they took Benjamin with them.

    43:9     I  WILL  BE  SURETY  FOR  HIM

‘Surety = one who has become legally liable for the debt, default, or failure in duty of another’ Little did Judah know that his offspring to come, Jesus the Christ and Son of God of the tribe of Judah would someday be our Surety and take our place, and die on the cross for our sins.

Judah then spoke up again, promising that he himself would be surety for Benjamin. He put the matter kindly, but bluntly. This was really their only possible course of action.

GOD’S PLAN…JOSEPH’S BROTHERS COME AGAIN    (2nd Appearing)    Genesis 43:1-34

    43:11     DO  THIS

Besides these items, Israel reminded them to take back the bundles of money which had been restored in their sacks on the first trip, and which evidently they had left undisturbed since, as well as "double money" to pay for the new purchase of grain. Note the ironical connection between the facts that they had sold their brother for twenty pieces of silver (Genesis 37:28) into Egypt, and that now they were having to pay into the treasuries of Egypt not merely twenty pieces of money but twenty bundles of money. The words "silver" and "money" are the same in the original (Hebrew keseph).

    43:14     GOD  ALMIGHTY  GIVE  YOU  MERCY  BEFORE  THE  MAN

Finally, Israel told them to take their brother Benjamin with them to the man (Evidently they were never informed of his name Zjaphnath-paaneah) down in Egypt, expressing the prayerful hope and confidence that God Almighty (El Shaddai), who had been the God of the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:1), would overrule in the heart of the man and constrain him to return both Benjamin and Simeon to them again. If not, Israel was content to leave the matter with God. If he was to be deprived of his children, then it would have to be that way. Israel’s faith seems to have become strong again, and he spoke at this time with the same spirit as that of Job: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job. 1:21).

    43:15     THAT  PRESENT

The gift included balm, myrrh, and spices (the same articles mentioned in Genesis 37:25 as being carried into Egypt by the Midianite tradesmen, and thus apparently considered by the Egyptians as valuable imports, as well as nuts (probably pistachios) and almonds, neither of which were produced in Egypt, and honey (probably grape "honey," a thick syrup boiled down from fresh grape juice, which also was not produced in Egypt).

    43:16     JOSEPH  SAW  BENJAMIN

One can imagine his emotion as he saw Benjamin, his beloved younger brother, for the first time in over twenty years. He had been only a little child then. Joseph was quickly assured that his brothers had done nothing harmful to Benjamin; he was in quite good health and apparently was well regarded by his brothers. This fact, combined with their previous acknowledgment of guilt concerning their crime against Joseph, convinced Joseph that a full reconciliation with them was indeed a real possibility.

    43:17     THE  MAN BROUGHT  THE  MEN  INTO  JOSEPH’S  HOUSE

He had been so harsh with them, and here he was inviting them to dine with him! Surely, it must be some strange, sadistic device for mocking them.

    43:29     GOD  BE  GRACIOUS  UNTO  THEE,  MY  SON

It was a part of his disguise before them that he affected to be much older than Benjamin (and, indeed, he was quite a bit older, though hardly old enough to be his father).

    43:32     BY  HIMSELF

Herodotus and other ancient writers have commented on the exclusiveness of the Egyptians. In keeping with their segregation practices, three separate tables had to be set: one for the Hebrews, one for the Egyptian guests, and one for Joseph himself-the last table because of his high position. Joseph as far as social customs were concerned had an Egyptian name, an Egyptian wife, and in general lived in the manner of the Egyptian rulers. He therefore could not eat directly with his brothers without giving undue offense to the Egyptian guests who were present. 

Note:  meat was eaten in the house of the upper classes in ancient Egypt at noon.

    43:33     THE  MEN  MARVELED  ONE  AT  ANOTHER

They had been seated in order of age, from the eldest through the youngest. If this were a mere coincidence, it was indeed marvelous. One can easily show (merely by multiplying together all the numbers from one through eleven) that there are no less than 39,917,000 different orders in which eleven individuals could have been seated! Thus, for the servants to select the one correct order by chance was almost impossible. The odds were 40 million to one against it.

    43:34     WAS  FIVE  TIMES  SO  MUCH

The reason for this was to ascertain whether the other brothers would manifest resentment toward Benjamin as they had toward Joseph. Still testing. Apparently it did not bother them, and this was another very good sign to Joseph. So Joseph was now almost fully satisfied with their attitudes.

THE FINAL TEST     Genesis 44:1-34

    44:2     PUT  MY  CUP,  THE  SILVER  CUP,  IN  THE  SACK’S  MOUTH  OF  THE  YOUNGEST

Divining goblets were much used in Egypt. Pieces of gold or silver were thrown into the water or liquid in the goblet and caused movements, which were supposed to represent coming events. This act of course was calculated to make it appear that Benjamin carried away with youthful avarice in such an elegant palace, had actually stolen the cup and was trying to carry it home with him.

    44:4     SAY  UNTO  THEM

His instructions were:

He was to remind them of how well they had been treated, and then he was to accuse them .
He was to point out that it was "this" in which his master drank and practice divination.

Joseph had a well deserved reputation for prophetic insight, and the brothers themselves had noted with wonder how Joseph had been able to have them seated at the table in order of their respective ages.

It may seem strange that a man like Joseph, knowing the true God as he did, would have used such a cup of divination. That it was a very unusual cup is indicated by the fact that the word (Hebrew gabia) has only three usage’s in Scripture: in the sense used her, for the "bowls" on the golden candlestick in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31,33,34; 37:17,19,20), and for the "pots" full of wine used to tempt the Rechabites (Jeremiah 35:5). It is known that the Egyptians used such cups, as did other ancient peoples, for the purpose of predicting, professing to see tokens of future events in the reflections of water in the cup. They believed that the spirits who knew future events would act on the cup’s contents in such a way as to form these messages.

    44:15     WHAT  DEED  IS  THIS  THAT  YE  HAVE  DONE?

Joseph opened the interview with a formal charge and inquiry as to why they had done such a thing. Furthermore, how could they expect to get away with such a foolish crime? Surely they knew by now that he had the ability of divination.

    44:18     THEN  JUDAH  CAME  NEAR  UNTO  HIM

It is significant that, even though Benjamin was the only one charged, Judah acknowledged that all were equally involved. If Benjamin was guilty, so were they all. Furthermore, he confessed their recognition that they all deserved punishment. Even though they were innocent in this particular situation, they were verily guilty sinners, and "God hath found out the iniquity" of them all.

    44:32     THY  SERVANT  BECAME  SURETY  FOR  THE  LAD

Judah assured Joseph that the very life of his gather was so intimately bound up with Benjamin’s life that he (Judah) simply could not bear to go back home without him. He knew that when his father saw them returning without Benjamin, the very shock would kill him.

    44:33     LET  THY  SERVANT  ABIDE  INSTEAD  OF  THE  LAD  A  BONDMAN  TO  MY  LORD

In this willingness to give his own life in place of his brother’s, for the sake of his father, Judah becomes a beautiful type of Christ, more fully and realistically than even Joseph himself. "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (I John 3:16).

In fact, although Scripture does not say this in so many words, the problem as to why Judah, rather than Joseph, was selected to be the ancestor of the Messiah probably has its solution right here. Judah, in his willingness to sacrifice himself, the innocent for the guilty, had become the most Christlike of all his brothers.

JOSEPH REVEALS HIMSELF TO HIS BRETHREN     Genesis 45:1-28

    45:1     JOSEPH  MADE  HIMSELF  KNOWN  UNTO  HIS  BRETHREN

When Joseph was alone with his brothers, he cried out to them that he was their brother Joseph, the one they thought was dead. He was sobbing and crying out so loudly that those whom he had dismissed from the room could not help but overhear, and they in turn soon carried the news to Pharaoh’s house (v. 2,16).

    THE EVENT WHICH ESTABLISHED THE MIRACLE NATION OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Had this scene not occurred, the children of Israel would soon have scattered and merged with the other peoples of the Middle East-the Ishmaelites and Edomites and Canaanites. Now they would live in one place, apart from all others and to establish the nation of Israel.

    45:3     THEY  WERE  TROUBLED

The Hebrew word (bahal) also means "amazed" or "frightened," or even "terrified."

    45:3     DOTH  MY  FATHER  YET  LIVE?

"Is my father still living?" The question seems to ask, ‘Is it really true that our father, so old, so sorely tried, is still alive? The thought of his father is uppermost in his mind. He does not wait for an answer. They had, of course, discussed their father previously; but now the question was different, coming from a loving son instead of a brusque Egyptian official. If their sense of guilt had been strong before, it must now have been literally overpowering, and Joseph wished to set their minds at ease by transforming the interview quickly into a personal council of family members.

    45:5     GOD  DID  SEND  ME  BEFORE  YOU  TO  PRESERVE  LIFE

He had long since learned that God had allowed them to do this for His own good purposes. The Lord had worked all these seemingly unplanned circumstances out in such a way that Joseph had been placed in Egypt to preserve life through the great famine, not only of those in Egypt but especially of those of their own household. He wanted to preserve in Israel "a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance."

Therefore, they need no longer be afraid, or angry with themselves. They had already personally been brought to full repentance, and the whole bitter problem between themselves and Joseph could be forgotten.

    45:8     HATH MADE ME A FATHER TO PHARAOH, AND LORD OF ALL HIS HOUSE

To fulfill His plans for them, He had even made Joseph a "father" to Pharaoh, advising him on all decisions, as well as lord of his household and ruler over the land of Egypt. Joseph, as usual, gave all the glory to God, and he wanted his brothers to do the same.

    45:9     COME  DOWN  TO  ME

Now, however, they must hurry back and share the news with their father. Furthermore, Joseph instructed them to say that he wanted the entire family to move down to Egypt with him (the famine would continue for another five years). He would arrange for them to have adequate room for all their household, as well as their flocks and herds, in the land of Goshen, a fertile region in northeastern Egypt. The district was about nine hundred square miles in area, and would be ideal for their needs.

    45:15     HE  KISSED  ALL  HIS  BRETHREN,  AND  WEPT  UPON  THEM

Finally, there was no longer any remaining doubt as to his identity or his intentions. Joseph and Benjamin embraced each other, weeping. Then, one after the other, Joseph kissed and wept over each of his other brothers. Each was forgiven, and every wall of fear and shame was broken down.

    45:16     IT  PLEASED  PHARAOH  WELL

Pharaoh instructed Joseph to tell his brothers to return to Canaan, and to bring their father and all their households into Egypt, promising that they would receive the good things of Egypt and eat the "fat" (that is, the best food) of the land. As free men they were subsequently entitled to return home at their pleasure.

 

Back to "Joseph & His Brothers"          Forward to "Israel Goes To Egypt"

 


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