Genesis 42:1
Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
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(1) When Jacob saw.—That is, learned, understood, that there was corn in Egypt. As we have seen (Genesis 37:25), there was a large caravan trade between Palestine and Egypt, and the report would gradually get abroad that food might be purchased there.

Why do ye look . . . —In the second rainless season not only would the flocks and herds begin to languish, but the numerous retainers of Jacob and his sons would also become enfeebled from insufficient nourishment, and begin to die of low fever and those other diseases which follow in the train of famine. Jacob’s words, therefore, mean, Why are you irresolute, and uncertain what to do? And then he encourages them to take this journey as a possible means of providing for the wants of their households.

Genesis 42:1-2. When Jacob saw — That is, heard, as the word is used, Exodus 20:18; or saw the corn which his neighbours had bought there and brought home. Why look ye one upon another? — As careless and helpless persons, each one expecting relief from the other; but none offering either counsel or help for the subsistence of all. Go down thither — Masters of families must not only pray for daily bread for their families, but must, with care and industry, endeavour to provide it.

42:1-6 Jacob saw the corn his neighbours had bought in Egypt, and brought home. It is a spur to exertion to see others supplied. Shall others get food for their souls, and shall we starve while it is to be had? Having discovered where help is to be had, we should apply for it without delay, without shrinking from labour, or grudging expense, especially as regards our never-dying souls. There is provision in Christ; but we must come to him, and seek it from him.The aged Jacob is the only man of counsel. "Behold, I have heard there is grain in Mizraim:" go down and buy. The ten brothers are sent, and Benjamin, the youngest, is retained, not merely because of his youth, for he was now twenty-four years of age, but because he was the son of his father's old age, the only son of Rachel now with him, and the only full brother of the lost Joseph. "Lest mischief befall him," and so no child of Rachel would be left. "Among those that went." The dearth was widespread in the land of Kenaan.CHAPTER 42

Ge 42:1-38. Journey into Egypt.

1. Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt—learned from common rumor. It is evident from Jacob's language that his own and his sons' families had suffered greatly from the scarcity; and through the increasing severity of the scourge, those men, who had formerly shown both activity and spirit, were sinking into despondency. God would not interpose miraculously when natural means of preservation were within reach.Jacob hearing there was corn in Egypt, sends all his sons thither but Benjamin, Genesis 42:1-5. They bow before Joseph, who knew them, but not they him; he treats them roughly, Genesis 42:6-8; remembers his dreams; charges them for spies, Genesis 42:9-12. They, to vindicate themselves, declare that they were all sons of one father, and had a younger brother at home, Genesis 42:13. Joseph imprisons them, but releases all but Simeon, and sends the rest to fetch their brother, and so prove their words true, Genesis 42:14-20. Their consciences are awakened, and charge them with their sin against Joseph; they accuse one another, Genesis 42:21,22. Joseph hears them; weeps; binds Simeon, Genesis 42:23,24. Joseph orders their sacks to be filled with corn, and to return their money, Genesis 42:25,26. In the way one finds his money in his sack; they are the more afraid, Genesis 42:27,28. At home they relate to Jacob what happened to them, so far as to persuade Jacob to let Benjamin go, Genesis 42:29-35. He complains; Reuben undertakes for him; he cannot consent to let him go, Genesis 42:36-38.

1707 When Jacob saw, i.e. heard, as the word is used, Exodus 20:18; as seeing is put for smelling, Exodus 5:21; and for tasting, Psalm 34:8; and for touching, John 20:29.

Why do ye look one upon another; like lazy, careless, and helpless persons, each one expecting relief from the other, but none offering either counsel or help for all our subsistence?

Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt,.... That is, to be sold there, or otherwise it being there, unless it could be bought, would have been of no avail to foreigners; wherefore the Septuagint version is, that there was a sale (w) there, a sale of corn; the word has the signification of "breaking" (x) in it, because that bread corn is broke in the mill, or is broken from the heap when sold or distributed, or because when eaten it breaks the fast. Now Jacob had either seen persons passing by with corn, of whom he inquired from whence they had it, who replied, from Egypt; or he understood by the report of others that corn was to be bought there; though some of the Jewish writers would have it, as Jarchi observes, that he saw it by the revelation of the Holy Spirit:

Jacob said unto, his sons, why do ye look one upon another? like persons in surprise, distress and despair, at their wits' end, not knowing what to do, what course to take, and which way to turn themselves, and scarce able to speak to one another, and consult with each other what was proper to be done; for it seems not so agreeable that they should be charged as idle persons, careless and unconcerned, indifferent and inactive; but rather, if the other sense is not acceptable, the meaning may be, "why do ye look?" (y) here and there, in the land of Canaan, where it is to no purpose to look for corn; look where it is to be had.

(w) Sept. "frumentum venale", Schmidt; so Ainsworth, and the Targum of Jonathan. (x) "Fractio", Montanus, Munster, Piscator. (y) "ut quid circumspicitis", Schmidt.

Now when {a} Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye {b} look one upon another?

(a) This story shows plainly that all things are governed by God's providence for the profit of his Church.

(b) As men destitute of counsel.

1–5. The Descent into Egypt

1. look one upon another] In silence, as if desperate. Jacob’s words indicate the energy and resourcefulness of the old man, as compared with the helpless despondency of the sons.

Verse 1. - Now when Jacob saw - literally, and Jacob saw, i.e. perceived by the preparations of others for buying corn in Egypt (Lange), but more probably learnt by the report which others brought from. Egypt (ver. 2) - that there was corn - שֶׁבֶר, either that which is broken, e.g. ground as in a mill, from שָׁבַר, to break in pieces, to shiver (Gesenius), or that which breaks forth, hence sprouts or geminates, from an unused root, שָׁבַר, to press out, to break forth (Furst), is here employed to denote not simply grain, but a supply of it, frumenti cumulus, for sale and purchase. The LXX. render by πρᾶσις, and the Vulgate by quod alimenta venderentur - in Egypt (vide Genesis 41:54), Jacob (literally, and Jacob) said unto his sons, - using verba non, ut multi volunt, in. crepantis, sed excitantis (Rosenmüller) - Why do ye look one upon another? - i.e. in such a helpless and undecided manner (Keil), which, however, there is no need to regard as springing from a consciousness of guilt (Lange), the language fittingly depicting the aspect and attitude of those who are simply consiii inopes (Rosenmüller). Genesis 42:1With the words "Why do ye look at one another!" viz., in such a helpless and undecided manner. Jacob exhorted his sons to fetch corn from Egypt, to preserve his family from starvation. Joseph's ten brothers went, as their aged father would not allow his youngest son Benjamin to go with them, for fear that some calamity might befall him (קרא equals קרה, Genesis 44:29 as in Genesis 42:38 and Genesis 49:1); and they came "in the midst of the comers," i.e., among others who came from the same necessity, and bowed down before Joseph with their faces to the earth. For he was "the ruler over the land," and had the supreme control of the sale of the corn, so that they were obliged to apply to him. השּׁלּיט seems to have been the standing title which the Shemites gave to Joseph as ruler in Egypt; and from this the later legend of Σάλατις the first king of the Hyksos arose (Josephus c. Ap. i. 14). The only other passages in which the word occurs in the Old Testament are in writings of the captivity or a still later date, and there it is taken from the Chaldee; it belongs, however, not merely to the Aramaean thesaurus, but to the Arabic also, from which it was introduced into the passage before us.
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