Genesis 43:16
And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
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(16) Slay.—The charge of inaccuracy brought against the narrator, upon the supposition that the higher classes in Egypt, especially the priests, did not eat flesh, has been abundantly disproved, as the representations of feasts belonging to this period show that an abundance of animal food was consumed. Animals, moreover, sacred in one district were freely eaten in another. Generally the priests might eat the flesh of oxen and geese, but not mutton, pork or fish. (Rawlinson’s Egypt, i. 438.)

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.The invitation into Joseph's house fills the brothers with alarm. "Saw with them Benjamin." This was an unspeakable relief to Joseph, who was afraid that his full brother, also the favorite of his father, might have incurred the envy and persecution of the brothers. "Brought the men to Joseph's house." This he eventually did, but not until after the conference between him and them took place. The men were afraid of a plot to rob them of their liberty and property.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.

The usual time for the more solemn meal in the east countries, as the evening was the time, and the supper the great meal, among the Romans.

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.

And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
16. the steward of his house] See Genesis 43:19 and Genesis 44:1; Genesis 44:4. The steward of Joseph’s house was the “major domo” of the establishment. Joseph himself had occupied that position. Cf. Genesis 39:5.

slay] The slaying of animals indicated a banquet. It was a sign of special honour. Meat food was not usual for the Bedouin. But it was probably regularly eaten by kings and their officials, and by dwellers in towns in Egypt.

at noon] Observe the hour for a banquet. In Palestine the chief meal was in the evening. Cf. Genesis 31:54; 1 Samuel 9:19.

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. Genesis 43:16When the brethren appeared before Joseph, he ordered his steward to take them into the house, and prepare a dinner for them and for him. טבה the original form of the imperative for טבח. But the brethren were alarmed, thinking that they were taken into the house because of the money which returned the first time (השּׁב which came back, they could not imagine how), that he might take them unawares (lit., roll upon them), and fall upon them, and keep them as salves, along with their asses. For the purpose of averting what they dreaded, they approached (Genesis 43:19) the steward and told him, "at the door of the house," before they entered therefore, how, at the first purchase of corn, on opening their sacks, they found the money that had been paid, "every one's money in the mouth of his sack, our money according to its weight," i.e., in full, and had now brought it back, together with some more money to buy corn, and they did not know who had put their money in their sacks (Genesis 43:20-22). The steward, who was initiated into Joseph's plans, replied in a pacifying tone, "Peace be to you (לכם שׁלום is not a form of salutation here, but of encouragement, as in Judges 6:23): fear not; your God and the God of your father has given you a treasure in your sacks; your money came to me;" and at the same time, to banish all their fear, he brought Simeon out to them. He then conducted them into Joseph's house, and received them in Oriental fashion as the guests of his lord. But, previous to Joseph's arrival, they arranged the present which they had brought with them, as they heard that they were to dine with him.
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