|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
42:7-20 Joseph was hard upon his brethren, not from a spirit of revenge, but to bring them to repentance. Not seeing his brother Benjamin, he suspected that they had made away with him, and he gave them occasion to speak of their father and brother. God, in his providence, sometimes seems harsh with those he loves, and speaks roughly to those for whom yet he has great mercy in store. Joseph settled at last, that one of them should be left, and the rest go home and fetch Benjamin. It was a very encouraging word he said to them, I fear God; as if he had said, You may be assured I will do you no wrong; I dare not, for I know there is one higher than I. With those that fear God, we may expect fair dealing.
Verses 14-16. - And Joseph said unto them (betraying his excitement in his language), That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies. But Joseph knew by this time that they were not spies. Hence his persistent accusation of them, which to the brothers must have seemed despotic and tyrannical, and which cannot be referred to malevolence or revenge, must be explained by a desire on the part of Joseph to bring his brothers to a right state of mind. Hereby (or in this) ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh - literally, life of Pharaoh An Egyptian oath (LXX., Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Lange), in using which Joseph was not without blame, aliquid esse fateor quod merito culpetur (Calvin) though by some (Ainsworth, Wordsworth, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary') the expression is regarded simply as a strong asseveration (cf. 1 Samuel 1:26; 1 Samuel 17:55) - ye shall not go forth hence (literally, life of Pharaoh! if ye go from this. The language is elliptical, meaning either, May Pharaoh perish if ye escape from punishment as spies, unless, &c.; or, As surely as Pharaoh lives, may retribution fall on me if ye go from this place) except your youngest brother come hither. The condition, which must have appeared extremely frivolous to Joseph's brethren, was clearly designed to ascertain the truth about Benjamin. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye (i.e. the rest of you) shall be kept in prison (literally, shall be put in bonds), that your words may be proved (literally, and your words shall be proved), whether there be any truth in you; or else (literally, and if not) by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies - literally (sc. I swear), that ye are spies.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Joseph said unto them, that is it that I spake unto you, saying, ye are spies. This proves it, at least gives strong suspicion of it; since at first they seemed to speak of themselves, as if they were the only sons of one man and there were no more, now they speak of twelve, and make mention of one being at home with his father; but seeing he sent so many of them, why not all? why should one only be left at home?
Genesis 42:14 Parallel Commentaries
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