Genesis 42:27
And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth.
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(27) In the inn.—Heb., lodging-place, literally, place to pass the night. It is quite possible that on a route frequented by numerous caravans there were places where a certain amount of protection for the beasts of burden and their attendants had been provided, either by the rulers, or by benevolent people. But Joseph’s brethren would find there at most only walls and water. “The one” who opened his sack is said by tradition to have been Levi. At the end of the verse this sack is called by another name, signifying a travelling-bag, or wallet for forage. The translation of these three different words, vessel, wallet, and sack, indifferently by the last of them, has led to the absurd view, common among commentators, that Joseph’s brethren went down into Egypt, each with one ass and one sack. Hence their astonishment that such an insignificant knot of men should be brought before the governor of Egypt. But the word used in Genesis 42:25 signifies everything into which corn could be put; and the word at the end of this verse is the travelling-bag, which each of the patriarchs carried behind him on his riding ass. Their men would go on foot at the side of the beasts of burden laden with the corn.

It is said here that one only found his money at the lodging-place, and that the rest did not find their money until they emptied their sacks on reaching home. the sacks mentioned here (in Genesis 42:35) were the same as the travelling-bags, for they are expressly so called in Genesis 43:21-23. In Genesis 43:21, however, they tell Joseph’s steward that they all found their money in the mouth of their sacks on opening them at the lodging-place. This was not strictly accurate, but it would have been wearisome and useless to enter into such details. Two things it was necessary to show: the first, that all had found their money; the second, that they had gone too far on their journey homewards to be able to return and give the money back. Probably what is said in Genesis 43:21 was literally true only of one, and he found his money because it had been put in last, and was therefore at the mouth of the wallet. In all the other sacks it had been put in first, under the corn, and so they did not find it until “they had emptied their sacks.”

42:25-28 The brethren came for corn, and corn they had: not only so, but every man had his money given back. Thus Christ, like Joseph, gives out supplies without money and without price. The poorest are invited to buy. But guilty consciences are apt to take good providences in a bad sense; to put wrong meanings even upon things that make for them.The nine brothers return home and record their wonderful adventure. "In the inn;" the lodge or place where they stopped for the night. This place was not yet perhaps provided with even the shelter of a roof. It was merely the usual place of halting. They would probably occupy six or seven days on the journey. Apparently at the first stage one opened his sack to give provender to his ass. The discovery of the silver in its mouth strikes them with terror. In a strange land and with an uneasy conscience they are easily alarmed. It was not convenient or necessary to open all the bags on the way, and so they make no further discovery.27. inn—a mere station for baiting beasts of burden.

he espied his money—The discovery threw them into greater perplexity than ever. If they had been congratulating themselves on escaping from the ruthless governor, they perceived that now he would have a handle against them; and it is observable that they looked upon this as a judgment of heaven. Thus one leading design of Joseph was gained in their consciences being roused to a sense of guilt.

And after him the rest by his example and information did so, as is affirmed Genesis 43:21, and it is not denied here. And as one of them opened his sack,.... According to the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi, this was Levi; but Aben Ezra thinks it is more likely to be Reuben the firstborn, who was one, that is, the first of them:

to give his ass provender in the inn; at which they lay very probably the first night of their journey; a good man regards the life of his beast, and takes care of that as well as of himself, and generally in the first place:

he espied his money; the money which he paid for his corn:

for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth; just as he opened it.

And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth.
27–38. The Return to Canaan

27. one of them] Anticipating Genesis 42:35. Lit. “the one,” i.e. the others followed. This verse and Genesis 42:28 are from J, according to which the money is found in the sacks at their first lodging place; see Genesis 43:21. According to E, the money is found in their sacks, when they reach their home (see Genesis 42:35). A word for “sack,” ’amtâhath, a very unusual one, occurs twice in Genesis 42:27 (end), 28, and thirteen times in chs. 43, 44 (J), but not in Genesis 42:35 or elsewhere in the O.T.

the lodging place] i.e. “the shelter,” or wayside quarters, where they could rest during the night. Cf. Exodus 4:24; Jeremiah 9:2. There is, perhaps, scarcely sufficient warrant for us to assume that this was a khan, or road-side inn. Such places hardly existed. A rough shelter, a meagre encampment of black tents, with a scanty protection of a few sticks, brushwood, and blankets, behind which the men and asses would rest, is perhaps all that is meant.Verse 27. - And as one of them opened his sack - literally, and the one opened his sack, i.e. they did not all open their sacks on the homeward journey, although afterwards, in reporting the circumstance to Joseph, they represent themselves as having done so (Genesis 43:21); but only one at the wayside inn, and the rest on reaching home (ver. 35; vide infra, Genesis 43:21) - to give his ass provender in the inn (the מָלון, from לוּן, an inn to pass the night, was not in the modern sense of the term, but simply a halting-place or camping station where travelers were wont to lodge, without finding for themselves or animals any other food than they carried with them), he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth - literally, in the opening, of his amtachath, אַמְתַּחַת, from מָתַח, to spread out, an old word for a sack (Genesis 43:18, 21, 22), here used synonymously with שַׂק, from which it would seem that the travelers carried two sorts of bags, one for the corn כְּלִי (ver. 25), and another for the called asses' provender called אַמְתַּחַת. It was in the latter that the money had been placed. On the third day Joseph modified his severity. "This do and live," i.e., then ye shall live: "I fear God." One shall remain in prison, but let the rest of you take home "corn for the famine of your families," and fetch your youngest brother, that your words may be verified, and ye may not die, i.e., may not suffer the death that spies deserve. That he might not present the appearance of despotic caprice and tyranny by too great severity, and so render his brethren obdurate, Joseph stated as the reason for his new decision, that he feared God. From the fear of God, he, the lord of Egypt, would not punish or slay these strangers upon mere suspicion, but would judge them justly. How differently had they acted towards their brother! The ruler of all Egypt had compassion on their families who were in Canaan suffering from hunger; but they had intended to leave their brother in the pit to starve! These and similar thoughts could hardly fail to pass involuntarily through their minds at Joseph's words, and to lead them to a penitential acknowledgement of their sin and unrighteousness. The notion that Joseph altered his first intention merely from regard to his much afflicted father, appears improbable, for the simple reason, that he can only have given utterance to the threat that he should keep them all in prison till one of them had gone and fetched Benjamin, for the purpose of giving the greater force to his accusation, that they were spies. But as he was not serious in making this charge, he could not for a moment have thought of actually carrying out the threat. "And they did so:" in these words the writer anticipates the result of the colloquy which ensued, and which is more fully narrated afterwards. Joseph's intention was fulfilled. The brothers now saw in what had happened to them a divine retribution: "Surely we atone because of our brother, whose anguish of soul we saw, when he entreated us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." And Reuben reminded them how he had warned them to no purpose, not to sin against the boy - "and even his blood...behold it is required" (cf. Genesis 9:5); i.e., not merely the sin of casting him into the pit and then selling him, but his death also, of which we have been guilty through that sale. Thus they accused themselves in Joseph's presence, not knowing that he could understand; "for the interpreter was between them." Joseph had conversed with them through an interpreter, as an Egyptian who was ignorant of their language. "The interpreter," viz., the one appointed for that purpose; בּינות like Genesis 26:28. But Joseph understood their words, and "turned away and wept" (Genesis 42:24), with inward emotion at the wonderful leadings of divine grace, and at the change in his brothers' feelings. He then turned to them again, and, continuing the conversation with them, had Simeon bound before their eyes, to be detained as a hostage (not Reuben, who had dissuaded them from killing Joseph, and had taken no part in the sale, but Simeon, the next in age). He then ordered his men to fill their sacks with corn, to give every one (אישׁ as in Genesis 15:10) his money back in his sack, and to provide them with food for the journey.
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