|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
42:21-24 The office of conscience is to bring to mind things long since said and done. When the guilt of this sin of Joseph's brethren was fresh, they made light of it, and sat down to eat bread; but now, long afterward, their consciences accused them of it. See the good of afflictions; they often prove the happy means of awakening conscience, and bringing sin to our remembrance. Also, the evil of guilt as to our brethren. Conscience now reproached them for it. Whenever we think we have wrong done us, we ought to remember the wrong we have done to others. Reuben alone remembered with comfort, that he had done what he could to prevent the mischief. When we share with others in their sufferings, it will be a comfort if we have the testimony of our consciences for us, that we did not share in their evil deeds, but in our places witnessed against them. Joseph retired to weep. Though his reason directed that he should still carry himself as a stranger, because they were not as yet humbled enough, yet natural affection could not but work.
Verse 23. - And they knew not (while they talked in what they imagined to be a foreign dialect to the Egyptian viceroy) that Joseph understood them; - literally, heard (so as to understand what was said) - for he spake unto them by an interpreter - literally, for the interpreter. (חַמְּלִיצ, the hiph. part., with the art., of לוּצ, to speak barbarously, in the hiph. to act as an interpreter), i.e. the official Court interpreter, ἑρμηνευτής (LXX.), was between them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they knew not that Joseph understood them,.... For what is above related they spoke in his presence and hearing; but speaking to one another in the Hebrew language, and he being an Egyptian, as they took him to be, they did not imagine that he could understand them, and therefore were not at all upon their guard in what they said: and what confirmed them in this was:
for he spake unto them by an interpreter; which he the rather chose to do, that they might have no suspicion of him; and which shows, that though there was a likeness between the Hebrew language and the Egyptian in many things, yet in some they differed, and the difference was such that there was need of an interpreter, where the parties did not understand both languages: this interpreter between Joseph and his brethren, according to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, was Manasseh, the eldest son of Joseph, and so Jarchi; which is very improbable, he being but a child at this time, if not an infant; see Genesis 41:50.
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