|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
43:15-25 Jacob's sons went down the second time into Egypt to buy corn. If we should ever know what a famine of the word means, let us not think it much to travel as far for spiritual food, as they did for bodily food. Joseph's steward had orders from his master to take them to his house. Even this frightened them. Those that are guilty make the worst of every thing. But the steward encouraged them. It appears, from what he said, that by his good master he was brought to the knowledge of the true God, the God of the Hebrews. Religious servants should take all fit occasions to speak of God and his providence, with reverence and seriousness.
Verse 16. - And when (literally, and) Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he literally, and he) said to the ruler of his house, - literally, to him who was over his house, i.e. the steward (cf. Genesis 24:2; Genesis 39:4; Genesis 44:1) - Bring these men home (i.e. conduct these men to my house, which was probably at some distance), and slay, - literally, slay a slaughter. The assertion that the narrator is here guilty of an inaccuracy in representing Joseph as having animal food prepared for himself and his guests (Bohlen) is refuted by Herodotus (2:37, 40) and by Wilkinson ('Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. Genesis 7. pp. 22, 23, ed. 1878), who says that "beef and goose constituted the principal part of the animal food throughout Egypt," and that according to the sculptures "a considerable quantity of meat was served up at those repasts to which strangers were invited.' "Though there was scarcely an animal which was not held sacred in some province, there was, perhaps with the only exception of the cow, none which' was not killed and eaten in other parts of the land" (Kalisch) - and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon - literally, at the double lights (צָךהרַים), i.e. at mid-day, the time of greatest splendor.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them,.... Whom he knew, though he had not seen him twenty two years, and though he must be very much altered, being but about ten years of age when Joseph was said into Egypt, yet being with the rest of his brethren, whom he knew very well, concluded it must be him:
he said to the ruler of his house; his steward, as be is after called, not his son Manasseh, as the Targum of Jonathan:
bring these men home; to his own house, for Joseph was now at or near the place where were the granaries of corn, and where that was said and distributed:
and slay, and make ready; or "slay a slaughter" (t), that is, of beasts for food; a sheep, or a lamb, or a calf, very probably, and order it to be dressed, boiled or roasted, or both, that it might be fit for food: wherefore Aben Ezra must be mistaken when Genesis 46:34; he says, that the Egyptians in those times did not eat flesh, nor might any kill a sheep; for it cannot be thought that Joseph could order a dinner for his brethren, to whom as yet he did not choose to make himself known, in direct violation of the customs and laws of Egypt, and who, it is plain by what follows, dined as an Egyptian, and with the Egyptians, and not as an Hebrew, and with his brethren as Hebrews; besides, for what purpose did Pharaoh get and possess such herds and flocks of cattle, if not for food as well as other uses? see Genesis 47:6; though in later times they abstained from eating various animals, as Porphyry (u) from Chaeremon relates, and particularly from sheep and goats, according to Juvenal (x):
for these men shall dine with me at noon; which was the usual time of dining with the eastern people, as it is now with us, though with the Romans at evening.
(t) "macta mactationem", Drusius, Schmidt; "macta animalia", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (u) De abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 6, 7. (x) "-----lanatis animalibus abstinet omnis Mensa, nefas illic foetus jugulare capellae." Satyr 15. ver. 11, 12.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. ruler of his house—In the houses of wealthy Egyptians one upper man servant was intrusted with the management of the house (compare Ge 39:5).
slay, and make ready—Hebrew, "kill a killing"—implying preparations for a grand entertainment (compare Ge 31:54; 1Sa 25:11; Pr 9:2; Mt 22:4). The animals have to be killed as well as prepared at home. The heat of the climate requires that the cook should take the joints directly from the hands of the flesher, and the Oriental taste is, from habit, fond of newly killed meat. A great profusion of viands, with an inexhaustible supply of vegetables, was provided for the repasts, to which strangers were invited, the pride of Egyptian people consisting rather in the quantity and variety than in the choice or delicacy of the dishes at their table.
dine … at noon—The hour of dinner was at midday.
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