|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 18-20. - And Joseph (whose bowels of mercy were already yearning towards them) said unto them the third day, This do, and live; - i.e. this do that ye may live (vide Gesenius, 'Grammar,' 130, 2; Ewald's 'Hebrew Syntax,' 348b) - for I fear God - literally, the Elohim I fear; the term Elohim being employed, since to have said Jehovah would have been to divulge, if not his Hebrew origin, at least his acquaintance with the Hebrew faith (Hengstenberg). At the same time its use would arrest them more than the preceding adjuration, By the life of Pharaoh! and, whether or not it implied that the true God was not yet unknown in Egypt (Murphy), was clearly designed to show that he was a religious and conscientious person, who would on no account condemn them on mere suspicion (Lange). If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison. Joseph's first proposal, that one should go for Benjamin while nine remained as hostages for their good faith, is now reversed, and only one is required to be detained while the other nine return. If the severity of the first proposal filled them with consternation, the singular clemency of the second could not fail to impress them. Not only were the nine to be released, but their original demand for grain to carry home to Palestine was to be complied with, the grand vizier adding, to their undoubted amazement, As for the rest of you, go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses. "How differently had they acted towards their brother, whom they had intended to leave in the pit to starve" (Keil). The Egyptian governor feels compassion for their famishing households, only he will not abandon his proposition that they must return with Benjamin. But bring your youngest brother unto me - or, more emphatically, and your brother, the little one, ye shall cause to come to me. That Joseph should have insisted on this stipulation, which he must have known would cause his aged father much anxiety and deep distress, is not to be explained as "almost designed" by Joseph as a chastisement on Jacob for his undue predilection in favor of Benjamin (Kalisch), but must be ascribed either to the intensity of his longing to see his brother (Murphy), or to a desire on his part to ascertain how his brethren were affected towards Benjamin (Lawson), or to a secret belief that the best mode of persuading his father to go down to him in Egypt was to bring Benjamin thither ('Speaker's Commentary'), or to an inward conviction that the temporary concern which Benjamin's absence might inflict on Jacob would be more than compensated for by the ultimate good which would thereby be secured to the whole family (Kurtz), or to the fact that God, under whose guidance throughout he acted, was unconsciously leading him in such a way as to secure the fulfillment of his dreams, which required the presence of both Benjamin and Jacob in Egypt (Wordsworth, ' Speaker's Commentary). The reason which Joseph himself gave to his brethren was that Benjamin's presence was indispensable as a corroboration of their veracity. So (literally, and) shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die (the death due to spies): And they did so - i.e. they consented to Joseph's proposal.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Joseph said unto them the third day,.... His heart yearning towards them, though he put on such an appearance; finding they could not come to an agreement among themselves who should go on the errand, he thought fit to recede from his former order, and to give them another:
this do, and live: meaning what he was about to say to them, which if they punctually observed and performed, it would be the means of saving their lives:
for I fear God; and therefore would not do either an unjust or cruel thing. This might have given them an him who he was: but there being among the Gentiles, in all nations, some few that feared God, they took no further notice of it than this, that they might expect just and equitable dealings by him; since, though he was in such an high place, he knew and owned there was one higher than he, to whom he was accountable.
Genesis 42:18 Parallel Commentaries
Genesis 42:18 NIV
Genesis 42:18 NLT
Genesis 42:18 ESV
Genesis 42:18 NASB
Genesis 42:18 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible