Genesis 42:28
And he said to his brothers, My money is restored; and, see, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God has done to us?
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(28) Their heart failed them.—This verse is far more poetical in the Hebrew, where, literally it is And their heart went forth, and they trembled each to his brother. Their courage left them, and they stood looking at one another in terror.

Genesis 42:28. Their heart failed them, and they were afraid — Their awakened consciences set their sins in order before them, made them afraid of every thing, and threw them into the utmost dismay and consternation. Saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us? — They knew that the Egyptians abhorred a Hebrew, (Genesis 43:32,) and therefore, since they could not expect to receive any kindness from them, they concluded that their money was put into their sacks with a design to pick a quarrel with them, and the rather, because the man, the lord of the land, had charged them as spies. Thus they construed every circumstance in this affair as the purpose of God to bring evil upon them, for their unnatural and cruel usage of their brother. When the events of Providence concerning us are surprising, it is good to inquire what it is that God has done, and is doing with us.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.

They were afraid, lest this should be a design to entrap, and so destroy them. Whoever were the instruments, they knew that God was the chief author of this occurrent, and wisely reflect upon his providence in it, and their own guilt which provoked him against them. And he said unto his brethren, my money is restored,.... The money paid for the corn is returned:

and, lo, it is even in my sack; this put them all upon opening their sacks, where every man found his money, though not expressed, see Genesis 43:21,

and their heart failed them; through surprise and fear; or "went out" (c) front them, as it were, they were ready to faint and swoon away:

and they were afraid; their consciences being awakened, and loaded with the guilt of their former sins, they were afraid that more evil was coming upon them for them; and that this was a scheme laid to entrap them, and that they should be pursued and seized, and fetched back, and charged with a fraud and trick, as going off with their corn without paying for it:

saying one to another, what is this that God hath done unto us? for whoever was the instrument, they concluded the overruling hand of divine Providence was in it, for the further chastisement and correction of them for their iniquity: instead of being thus frightened and distressed, it is very much it did not give them suspicion of Joseph, that he was the person they had been conversing with, and that he had done this in kindness to them; but their minds were so pressed with the guilt of their sin, that they were possessed of nothing but fears and dreadful apprehensions of things, and put the worst construction upon them they could, as men in such circumstances usually do, even fear where no fear is, or no occasion for it.

(c) "et exiit cor eorum", Montanus, Drusius, Piscator, Schmidt.

And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were {i} afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

(i) Because their conscience accused them of their sin, they thought God had brought them trouble through the money.

28. their heart failed them] J’s account, as we see in Genesis 43:21, must originally have represented the opening of all the sacks, and the finding of all the money, at the “lodging place.” As, however, in E this general discovery is not made until their return to their father, J’s narrative is here restricted to the experience of one of the brethren, and to the consternation it produced amongst them.

God hath done] They are conscious (1) that the thing is mysterious; (2) that they might be accused of robbery; (3) that their secret guiltiness is somehow being visited by a Power which knew all.Verse 28. - And he (i.e. the one who had opened his sack) said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack (amtachath): and their heart failed them (literally, went forth; as it were, leapt into their mouths through sudden apprehension), and they were afraid, saying one to another (literally, they trembled each one to his brother, a constructio pregnans for they turned trembling towards one another, saying), What is this that God hath done unto us? Elohim is used, and not Jehovah, because the speakers simply desire to characterize the circumstance as supernatural. 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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