EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.
2. their father said, … Go again, buy us a little food—It was no easy matter to bring Jacob to agree to the only conditions on which his sons could return to Egypt (Ge 42:15). The necessity of immediately procuring fresh supplies for the maintenance of themselves and their families overcame every other consideration and extorted his consent to Benjamin joining in a journey, which his sons entered on with mingled feelings of hope and anxiety—of hope, because having now complied with the governor's demand to bring down their youngest brother, they flattered themselves that the alleged ground of suspecting them would be removed; and of apprehension that some ill designs were meditated against them.
He saith a
either to show that he took no thought to satisfy his or their curiosity or luxury, but only their necessity, for which a little would suffice, and that they must all moderate their appetites, especially in a time of such scarcity; or to encourage them to the journey, by suggesting to them that they needed not bring great stores, but only what was sufficient for that year, and that God would provide better for them hereafter, so as they should not need to go so far for corn any more.
And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt,.... Which, in so numerous a family as Jacob's was, having so many children, grandchildren, and servants, what nine men on so many asses could bring with them must be consumed in a short time, how long cannot be said; no doubt they lived sparingly on it in such a time of scarcity, to make it last as long as they could, and perhaps only he, his children and grandchildren, might eat of it; the servants, as Calvin observes, might live on meaner food, as acorns, herbs, and roots; and it must not be thought that all this corn was eaten up entirely, and none left, but the far greater part of it, and but very little remaining; or otherwise, how should Jacob, and his sons' wives and children be supported until the return of his sons from Egypt with fresh provisions? indeed it may be supposed, that the land of Canaan produced some corn, though but little; and it is certain there were other fruits which were serviceable for food, as appears from Genesis 43:11
their father said, go again, buy us a little food; just enough for him, and them, and theirs, for the present; hoping that the famine would be over quickly, and therefore orders them to go once more to Egypt, and buy some provisions: they made no motion themselves to go, as it is highly probable they determined they would not, since Jacob had resolved Benjamin should not go, but waited for their father's motion, and which he did not make until necessity obliged him. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.