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men ; so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffic in the land. And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that
man’s bundle of money was in his sack : and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money they were afraid.
And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye be.. reaved of my children; Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee : deliver him into
my hand and I will bring him to thee again.
And he said, My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone : if mischief befal him ly the way in which ye go, then shall ye bring down my grey heirs with sorrow to the grave.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
In times of public calamity, the minds of men are frequently struck with a kind of consternation that prevents their making any exertions for their own relief : This seems to have been the case with Jacob's sons, 66 The famine was so re in the land,” the labours of the husband. man were ineffectual, the Lord had withdrawn his blessing, and the wretched inhabitants of Canaan were in danger of perishing, for want of sustenance. Utterly at a loss for expedients in this dreadful emergency, Joseph's brethren “looked on each other” with fearful expectation, not knowing which of them would first feel the dire effects of this afflicting evil.
It appears that Jacob indulged the same kind of par. tiality for Benjamin, as he formerly did for Joseph ;
but there is this excuse to be made for him, that his other sons were in a manner separated from him, having tami. lies of their own, while Benjamin was his constant companion.
The land of Egypt was extremely well fortified by nature, and in danger of incursions only in that quarter which lay nearest to Canaan. Joseph had therefore a very good pretence for challenging his brethren as spies. His words may be construed as a sort of interrogation, Are ye not
The answer which they made, furnished a very good reason why they should not be regarded as such ; for it was scarcely probable, that a man would send so many
of his own sons on so dangerous an expedition ; or that the brethren of one family should undertake it, without other associates.
Joseph's expression, By the life of Pharaoh, is not to be considered as an oath, but as a vehement asseveration, signifying, As surely as Pharaoh lives. We should reflect that the occasion was sudden ; and that his mind was violently agitated.
As the governor of Egypt, Joseph was in a very cri. tical situation. He had great reason
to suspect that his brethren had not told him the truth in regard to Benjamin ; and supposing that they had murdered him, it would have been a flagrant act of injustice had he let them escape unpunished; but though Joseph committed his brethren to prison, there is no account of any cruelties inflicted on them during their confine
It would have been very wrong had he owned them at once ; for had they prored as wickedly inclined as formerly, he could not, for his reputation's sake, have continued his protection to them, or lived on the terms of brotherly love.
It was very natural that Joseph should feel a particu. dar affection for Benjamin, as he was the son of his
owh mother, and therefore more nearly related to him than the rest of his brethren; besides, most of the others were much older than himself, and they had, all the time he lived among them, regarded him with a jealous eye, and treated him unkindly; so that he must have had uncommon goodness of heart to have felt so much tenderness for them, as his subsequent behaviour displays.
We have reason to suppose that, after mature deliberation, Joseph resolved to keep one only of his brothers as an hostage, and leave the event to Providence. Had his brethren been at liberty, three days at least would have been necessary to rest themselves, and their cattle, and transact their business; so that Jacob, and that part of his family who remained with him in Canaan, did not suffer by their detention.
In the confession which they made to each other, we may perceive the natural effects of wicked actions, those reproaches of conscience which are ever ready to torment the guilty. It must have been a great consolation to Reuben, at this time, to think, that he had endeavoured to prevent what the others now so justly deplored.
It is evident, from Joseph's emotion, that he did not take these measures from motives of cruelty or revenge. We may suppose, from his choice of Simeon, that he regarded him as the chief instigator to the cruelties which had been exercised on himself; therefore most likely to be guilty in respect to Benjamin. The Jews have a tradition, that as soon as the others were gone, Simeon was released from his fetters, and treated with the utmost lenity.
Joseph's returning the purchase-money may be imputed to two reasons ; 'a desire of proving the integrity of his brethren ; and a willingness to relieve gratui
tously the necessities of his relations. What is in this Section called an inn, signifies a tent, which they carried about to pitch occasionally; for there were no public inns in those days in the eastern countries.
By this section, we are instructed, that in times of dearth and scarcity, the inhabitants of a country should not sit down in supine dejection, " looking at one an, other;" but make diligent inquiry, whether it be not possible to procure a supply from some foreign land. It also contains a powerful warning to all persons against the perpetration of wicked actions; since, how. ever secretly committed, they leave a sting in the con. science; and, when known, bring suspicion upon the authors of them, in cases in which they are perfectly blameless.
JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN.
From Genesis, Chap. xliii.
AND the famine was in the land. And it
to pass when Jacob's family had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go ' again, buy us a little food.
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.
If 'thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: 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.
And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?
And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your
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?
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.
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. For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
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 inan a presènt, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds ; 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 also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man; 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,
And the men took that present, and they took double money
in their hand, and Benjamin ; and rose up, and went down down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph,
And when Joseph saw Benjainin with them, he said