Genesis 43:7
And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
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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. We told him according to the tenor of these words; we gave answers suitable to his questions, or such as his words required.

And Israel said,.... In answer to the speech of Judah:

wherefore dealt ye so ill with me; had done that which brought so much evil upon him, gave him so much grief and trouble, and threw him into such perplexity and distress, that he knew not what to do, or course to take:

as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother? which he thought was done imprudently and unadvisedly, and that there was no need of it; which, had it not been done, would have prevented this anxiety of mind he was now in, and the mischief he feared would follow.1

And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
7. The man asked straitly] The word “straitly” (i.e. “strictly, closely,” cf. Joshua 6:1), like “solemnly” in Genesis 43:3, simply emphasizes the force of the verb in Heb. Shakespeare, Rich. III, i. 3:

“His majesty hath straitly given in charge

That no man shall have private conference

… with his brother.”

This verse is evidently independent of Genesis 42:13 (E), where the information was voluntarily given by the brethren in proof of their sincerity.

Verse 7. - And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? Though not appearing in the preceding narrative of the historian (Genesis 42:13, 32), it must yet be held as accurate that the information given to Joseph about Jacob and Benjamin was supplied in answer to direct inquiries, since Judah afterwards gives the same account of it (Genesis 44:19) when pleading before Joseph in behalf of Benjamin. And we told him according to the tenor of these words - literally, according to these words, i.e. either in conformity to his questions (Ainsworth, Rosenmüller, Keil), κατὰ τὴν ἐπερώτησιν ταύτην (LXX.), juxta id quod fuerat sciscitatus (Vulgate), or like those words we have told thee (Kalisch). Could we certainly know (literally, knowing could we know) that he would say, Bring your brother down? Genesis 43:7To the father's reproachful question, why they had dealt so ill with him, as to tell the man that they had a brother, Judah replied: "The man asked after us and our kinsmen: Is your father yet alive? have ye a brother? And we answered him in conformity (פּי על as in Exodus 34:27, etc.) with these words (i.e., with his questions). Could we know, then, that he would say, Bring your brother down?" Joseph had not made direct inquiries, indeed, about their father and their brother; but by his accusation that they were spies, he had compelled them to give an exact account of their family relationships. So that Judah, when repeating the main points of the interview, could very justly give them in the form just mentioned.
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