Genesis 43:1
And the famine was sore in the land.
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(7) The man asked us straitly.—In Genesis 42:13 they appear rather as volunteering a statement of their family relations than as having it wrung from them by cross-examination. But really this history must be taken as explaining and supplementing the former. Accused of being spies, they would naturally give an account of themselves, and Joseph, anxious to know about his father and brother, would certainly put numerous questions to them concerning their home and family. And they would answer them fully and frankly, little suspecting who was the questioner, and what was his real reason for exacting Benjamin’s presence in proof of their trustworthiness:

Of our state and of our kindred.—Heb., concerning ourselves and our birthplace (see Genesis 12:1; Genesis 24:4; Genesis 24:7; Genesis 31:3), that is, our home. Questions about ourselves would be such as those given: “Is your father yet alive? Have ye a brother?” And besides these, Joseph would interrogate them closely concerning the place whence they came, and the state of things there.

43:1-14 Jacob urges his sons to go and buy a little food; now, in time of dearth, a little must suffice. Judah urges that Benjamin should go with them. It is not against the honour and duty children owe their parents, humbly to advise them, and when needful, to reason with them. Jacob saw the necessity of the case, and yielded. His prudence and justice appeared in three things. 1. He sent back the money they had found in the sack. Honesty obliges us to restore not only that which comes to us by our own fault, but that which comes to us by the mistakes of others. Though we get it by oversight, if we keep it when the oversight is discovered, it is kept by deceit. 2. He sent as much again as they took the time before; the price of corn might be risen, or they might have to pay a ransom for Simeon. 3. He sent a present of such things as the land afforded, and as were scarce in Egypt, balm, and honey, &c. Providence dispenses not its gifts to all alike. But honey and spice will never make up the want of bread-corn. The famine was sore in Canaan, yet they had balm and myrrh, &c. We may live well enough upon plain food, without dainties; but we cannot live upon dainties without plain food. Let us thank God that what is most needful and useful, generally is most cheap and common. Though men value very highly their gold and silver, and the luxuries which are counted the best fruits of every land, yet in a time of famine they willingly barter them for bread. And how little will earthly good things stand us in stead in the day of wrath! How ready should we be to renounce them all, as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ! Our way to prevail with man is by first prevailing with the Lord in fervent prayer. But, Thy will be done, should close every petition for the mercies of this life, or against the afflictions of this life.The famine was severe. The pressure began to be felt more and more. The twelve households had at length consumed all the corn they had purchased, and the famine still pressed heavily upon them. Jacob directs them to return. "And Judah said." Reuben had offended, and could not come forward. Simon and Levi had also grieved their father by the treacherous slaughter of the Shekemites. Judah therefore, speaks. "Is your father yet alive?" "Have ye a brother?" These questions do not come out in the previous narrative, on account of its brevity. But how pointed they are, and how true to Joseph's yearnings! They explain how it was that these particulars came out in the replies of the brothers to Joseph. For the charge of being spies did not call for them in exculpation. Judah now uses all the arguments the case would admit of, to persuade his father to allow Benjamin to go with them. He closes with the emphatic sentence, If I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me have sinned against thee all my days; that is, let me bear the blame, and of course the penalty of having sinned against thee in so tender a point. Both Judah and his father knew that this was a matter that touched the interest of the former very deeply. Reuben was bearing the blame of a grievous sin, and had no hope of the birthright. Simon and Levi were also bearing blame, and, besides, had not the natural right, which belonged only to Reuben. Judah came next, and a failure in securing the safe return of Benjamin might set him also aside. He undertakes to run this risk.CHAPTER 43

Ge 43:1-14. Preparations for a Second Journey to Egypt.The famine continuing, and their provision being spent, Jacob commands them to go again to Egypt, Genesis 43:1,2. They prevail with their father to send Benjamin: Judah undertakes for him, Genesis 43:3-10. He gives them presents, double money, and his blessing, Genesis 43:11-14. They go to Egypt; stand before Joseph, Genesis 43:15. He seeing Benjamin with them, causeth them to be brought to his house, and entertained, Genesis 43:16,17; whereat they are afraid, and make an apology to the steward about their money, Genesis 43:18-22. He bids them good cheer, useth them courteously, brings Simeon to them, Genesis 43:23,24. They prepare to bring their presents to Joseph, who speaks kindly to them, (and asks them of their father,) especially to Benjamin, with whom he is so moved that he must retire to weep, Genesis 43:25-30. He feasts them, but Benjamin in an especial manner, Genesis 43:31-34.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the famine was sore in the land. In the land of Canaan; it increased yet more and more: this is observed for the sake of what follows, showing the reason and necessity of Jacob's sons taking a second journey into Egypt. And the {a} famine was sore in the land.

(a) This was a great temptation to Jacob to suffer such a great famine in the land where God had promised to bless him.

1–14. The Return to Egypt

2. Go again] That Jacob seems to forget about Simeon, is due to the change from the E to the J narrative.Verses 1, 2. - And the famine was sore (literally, was heavy) in the land (sc. of Canaan). And it came to pass (how long after the return of Joseph's brethren cannot be determined, as the quantity of grain they brought or the number that partook of it cannot possibly be estimated; but it may be reasonably inferred that several months had elapsed since their arrival at Hebron), when they had eaten up - literally, had finished to eat up, i.e. not nearly (Mercerus, Bush), but entirely consumed - the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, - it is probable that only Jacob's family partook of the Egyptian corn, the slaves supporting themselves on roots, vegetables, and milk (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Gerlach) - their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. What they could buy would be little in proportion to their needs. On their arrival at home, they told their father all that had occurred.
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