Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
Verse 1. - Now when Jacob saw - literally, and Jacob saw, i.e. perceived by the preparations of others for buying corn in Egypt (Lange), but more probably learnt by the report which others brought from. Egypt (ver. 2) - that there was corn - שֶׁבֶר, either that which is broken, e.g. ground as in a mill, from שָׁבַר, to break in pieces, to shiver (Gesenius), or that which breaks forth, hence sprouts or geminates, from an unused root, שָׁבַר, to press out, to break forth (Furst), is here employed to denote not simply grain, but a supply of it, frumenti cumulus, for sale and purchase. The LXX. render by πρᾶσις, and the Vulgate by quod alimenta venderentur - in Egypt (vide Genesis 41:54), Jacob (literally, and Jacob) said unto his sons, - using verba non, ut multi volunt, in. crepantis, sed excitantis (Rosenmüller) - Why do ye look one upon another? - i.e. in such a helpless and undecided manner (Keil), which, however, there is no need to regard as springing from a consciousness of guilt (Lange), the language fittingly depicting the aspect and attitude of those who are simply consiii inopes (Rosenmüller).
And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
Verse 2. - And he said, Behold, I have heard (this does not imply that the rumor had not also reached Jacob's sons, but only that the proposal to visit Egypt did not originate with them) that there is corn - שֶׁבֶר ut supra, σῖτος ( LXX.), triticum (Vulgate) - in Egypt: get you down thither. That Jacob did not, like Abraham (Genesis 12:10)and Isaac (Genesis 26:2), propose to remove his family to Egypt, may be explained either by the length of the journey, which was too great for so large a household, or by the circumstance that the famine prevailed in Egypt as well as Canaan (Gerlach). That he entrusted his sons, and not his servants, with the mission, though perhaps dictated by a sense of its importance (Lawson), was clearly of Divine arrangement for the further accomplishment of the Divine plan concerning Joseph and his brethren. And buy (i.e. buy corn, the verb being a denominative from שֶׁבֶר, corn) for us from thence. From this it is apparent that the hitherto abundant flocks and herds of the patriarchal family had been greatly reduced by the long-continued and severe drought, thus requiring them to obtain food from Egypt, if either any portion of their flocks were to be saved, or themselves to escape starvation, as the patriarch explained to his sons. That we may (literally, and we shall) live, and not die.
And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
Verse 3. - And Joseph's ten brethren went down - either it was for safety that all the ten went, or because, the corn being sold to individuals, the quantity received would depend on their numbers (Lange) - to buy corn - the word for corn, בָּר, if not a primitive, like the Latin far (Furst), may be derived from בָּרַר, to separate, sever, choose out, hence purify (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Gesenius), and may describe grain as that which has been cleaned from chaff, as in Jeremiah 4:11 - in (literally, from, i.e. corn to be brought from) Egypt.
But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
Verse 4. - But (literally, and) Benjamin, Joseph's brother (vide Genesis 35:18), Jacob sent not with his brethren. Not because of his youth (Patrick, Lange), since he was now upwards of twenty years of age, but because he was Joseph's brother, and had taken Joseph's place in his father's affections (Lawson, Lange, Murphy, &c.), causing the old man to cherish him with tender solicitude. For he said (to, or within, himself, perhaps recalling the fate of Joseph), Lest peradventure mischief befall him. אָסון, from אָסַה, to hurt (Gesenius, Furst), and occurring only elsewhere in ver. 38, Genesis 44:29, and Exodus 21:22, 23, denotes any sort of personal injury in general, and in particular here such mischance as might happen to a traveler.
And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
Verse 5. - And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came - literally, in the midst of the comers; not as being desirous to lose themselves in the multitudes, as if troubled by an alarming presentiment (Lange), which is forced and unnatural; but either as forming a part of a caravan of Canaanites (Lawson), or simply as arriving among ethers who came from the same necessity (Keil). For the famine was in the land of Canaan. The statements in this verse concerning the descent of Joseph's brethren to Egypt, and the prevalence of the famine in the land of Canaan, both of which have already been sufficiently announced (vide ver. 3; Genesis 41:57; Genesis 42:2), are neither useless repetitions nor proofs of different authorship, but simply the customary recapitulations which mark the commencement of a new paragraph or section of the history, viz., that in which Joseph's first interview with his brethren is described (cf. 'Quarry on Genesis,' pp. 556, 557).
And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
Verse 6. - And Joseph was the governor over the land. The word שָׁלִּיט from שָׁלַט, to rule, describes one invested with despotic authority, or a sultan (Gesenius), in which character the early Shemites appear to have regarded Joseph (Keil). It is probably the same idea which recurs in the name Salatis, which, according to Manetho, belonged to the first of the shepherd kings (Josephus, 'Contra Apionem,' 1:14). Occurring nowhere else in the Pentateuch, it reappears in the later writings of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 7:10; 10:5), Ezra (Ezra 4:20; 7:24), Daniel (Daniel 2:15; 5:29), which, however, need not suggest an exilian or post-exilian authorship, but may be explained by the fact that the root is found equally in the Arabic and Aramaean dialects (Keil). And he it was that sold to all the people of the land. Not conducted the retail corn trade (Tuch, Oort, Kuenen), which was assigned to subordinates (ver. 25; Genesis 44:1), but presided over the general market of the kingdom (Murphy), probably fixing the price at which the grain should be sold, determining the quantities to be allowed to purchasers, and examining the companies of foreigners who came to buy (Rosenmüller, Havernick, Lange, Gerlach). And Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. And so fulfilled his early dream in Shechem (Genesis 37:7, 8).
And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
Verse 7. - And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but (literally, and) made himself strange unto them. The root נָכַר, to be marked, signed, by indentation, hence to be foreign (Furst), or simply to be strange (Gesenius), in the Hiphil signifies to press strongly into a thing (Furst), to look at a thing as strange (Gesenius), or to recognize, and in the Hithpael has the sense of representing one's self as strange, i.e. of feigning one's self to be a foreigner. And spake roughly unto them - literally, spake hard things unto them; not from a feeling of revenge which still struggled in his breast with his brotherly affection (Kurtz), or in a spirit of duplicity (Kaliseh), but in order to get at their hearts, and discover the exact state of mind in which they then were with regard to himself and Benjamin, whose absence it is apparent had arrested his attention, and perhaps roused his suspicions (Keil, Murphy, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary' And he said unto them, - speaking through an interpreter (ver. 23) - Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan (adding, as if they feared Joseph's suspicions, and wished to deprecate his anger) to buy food (i.e. corn for food).
And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
Verse 8. - And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. The lapse of time since the tragedy of Dothan, twenty years before, the high position occupied by Joseph, the Egyptian manners he had by this time assumed, and the strange tongue m which he conversed with them, all conspired to prevent Jacob's sons from recognizing their younger brother; while the facts that Joseph's brethren were all grown men when he had last looked upon them, that he was quite familiar with their appearances, and that he perfectly understood their speech, would account for his almost instantaneous detection of them.
And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
Verse 9. - And Joseph remembered (i.e. the sight of his brethren prostrating themselves before him recalled to his mind) the dreams which he dreamed (or had dreamed) of them (vide Genesis 37:5) and said unto them, Ye are spies (literally, ye are spying, or going about, so as to find out, the verb רָגַל signifying to move the feet); to see the nakedness of the land - not its present impoverishment from the famine (Murphy), but is unprotected and unfortified state (Keil). Cf. urbs nuda praesidio (Cic., 'Att.,' 7:13); taurus nudatus defensoribus (Caes., 'Bell. Gall.,' 2:6); τεῖχος ἐυμνώθη (Homer, 'Iliad,' 12:399) - ye are come. The Egyptians were characteristically distrustful of strangers, - AEgyptii prae aliis gentibus diffi-dere solebant peregrinis (Rosenmüller), - whom they prevented, when possible, from penetrating into the interior of their country (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol 1.p. 328, ed. 1878). In particular Joseph's suspicion of his Canaanitish brethren was perfectly natural, since Egypt was peculiarly open to attacks from Palestine (Herodotus, 3:5). Verss. 10-12. - And they said unto him. Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. "They were not filled with resentment at the imputation" cast upon them by Joseph; "or, ff they were angry, their pride was swallowed up by fear" (Lawson). We are all one man's sons; we are true men, i.e. upright, honest, viri bonae fidei (Rosenmüller), rather than εἰρηνικοὶ (LXX.), pacifici (Vulgate) - thy servants are no spies. It was altogether improbable that one man should send ten sons at the same time and to the same place on the perilous business of a spy, hence the simple mention of the fact that they were ten brethren was sufficient to establish their sincerity. Yet Joseph affected still to doubt them. And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come - assuming a harsh and almost violent demeanor hot out of heartless cruelty (Kalisch), but in order to hide the growing weakness of his heart (Candlish).
And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
Verse 13. - And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest - literally, the little one (cf. Genesis 9:24) - is this day with our father, and one - literally, the one, i.e. the other one, ὁ δὲ ἕτερος (LXX.) - is not - i.e. is dead (cf. Genesis 5:24; Genesis 37:30) - in which statement have been seen a sufficient proof that Joseph's brethren had not yet truly repented of their cruelty towards him (Keil); an evidence that time had assuaged all their bitter feelings, both of exasperation against Joseph and of remorse for their unbrotherly conduct (Murphy); a suppression of the truth (Words. worth), if not a direct falsehood (Lawson), since they wished it to be understood that their younger brother was dead, while of that they had no evidence beyond their own cunningly-invented lie (Genesis 37:20) and their own probable surmisings. But in point of fact the inference was natural and reasonable that Joseph was no more, since twenty years had elapsed without any tidings of his welfare, and there was no absolute necessity requiring them to explain to the Egyptian governor all the particulars of their early life. Yet the circumstance that their assertion regarding himself was incorrect may have tended to awaken his suspicions concerning Benjamin.
And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
Verses 14-16. - And Joseph said unto them (betraying his excitement in his language), That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies. But Joseph knew by this time that they were not spies. Hence his persistent accusation of them, which to the brothers must have seemed despotic and tyrannical, and which cannot be referred to malevolence or revenge, must be explained by a desire on the part of Joseph to bring his brothers to a right state of mind. Hereby (or in this) ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh - literally, life of Pharaoh An Egyptian oath (LXX., Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Lange), in using which Joseph was not without blame, aliquid esse fateor quod merito culpetur (Calvin) though by some (Ainsworth, Wordsworth, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary') the expression is regarded simply as a strong asseveration (cf. 1 Samuel 1:26; 1 Samuel 17:55) - ye shall not go forth hence (literally, life of Pharaoh! if ye go from this. The language is elliptical, meaning either, May Pharaoh perish if ye escape from punishment as spies, unless, &c.; or, As surely as Pharaoh lives, may retribution fall on me if ye go from this place) except your youngest brother come hither. The condition, which must have appeared extremely frivolous to Joseph's brethren, was clearly designed to ascertain the truth about Benjamin. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye (i.e. the rest of you) shall be kept in prison (literally, shall be put in bonds), that your words may be proved (literally, and your words shall be proved), whether there be any truth in you; or else (literally, and if not) by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies - literally (sc. I swear), that ye are spies.
Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.
Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
And he put them all together into ward three days.
Verse 17. - And he put them all together into ward (literally, and he assembled them into prison) three days. Ostensibly in consequence of their unwillingness to agree to his proposal, but in reality to give them an experience of the suffering which they had inflicted on him, their brother, and so to awaken in their hearts a feeling of repentance. Yet the clemency of Joseph appears in this, that whereas he had lain three long years in prison as the result of their inhumanity towards him, he only inflicts on them a confinement of three days.
And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
Verses 18-20. - And Joseph (whose bowels of mercy were already yearning towards them) said unto them the third day, This do, and live; - i.e. this do that ye may live (vide Gesenius, 'Grammar,' 130, 2; Ewald's 'Hebrew Syntax,' 348b) - for I fear God - literally, the Elohim I fear; the term Elohim being employed, since to have said Jehovah would have been to divulge, if not his Hebrew origin, at least his acquaintance with the Hebrew faith (Hengstenberg). At the same time its use would arrest them more than the preceding adjuration, By the life of Pharaoh! and, whether or not it implied that the true God was not yet unknown in Egypt (Murphy), was clearly designed to show that he was a religious and conscientious person, who would on no account condemn them on mere suspicion (Lange). If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison. Joseph's first proposal, that one should go for Benjamin while nine remained as hostages for their good faith, is now reversed, and only one is required to be detained while the other nine return. If the severity of the first proposal filled them with consternation, the singular clemency of the second could not fail to impress them. Not only were the nine to be released, but their original demand for grain to carry home to Palestine was to be complied with, the grand vizier adding, to their undoubted amazement, As for the rest of you, go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses. "How differently had they acted towards their brother, whom they had intended to leave in the pit to starve" (Keil). The Egyptian governor feels compassion for their famishing households, only he will not abandon his proposition that they must return with Benjamin. But bring your youngest brother unto me - or, more emphatically, and your brother, the little one, ye shall cause to come to me. That Joseph should have insisted on this stipulation, which he must have known would cause his aged father much anxiety and deep distress, is not to be explained as "almost designed" by Joseph as a chastisement on Jacob for his undue predilection in favor of Benjamin (Kalisch), but must be ascribed either to the intensity of his longing to see his brother (Murphy), or to a desire on his part to ascertain how his brethren were affected towards Benjamin (Lawson), or to a secret belief that the best mode of persuading his father to go down to him in Egypt was to bring Benjamin thither ('Speaker's Commentary'), or to an inward conviction that the temporary concern which Benjamin's absence might inflict on Jacob would be more than compensated for by the ultimate good which would thereby be secured to the whole family (Kurtz), or to the fact that God, under whose guidance throughout he acted, was unconsciously leading him in such a way as to secure the fulfillment of his dreams, which required the presence of both Benjamin and Jacob in Egypt (Wordsworth, ' Speaker's Commentary). The reason which Joseph himself gave to his brethren was that Benjamin's presence was indispensable as a corroboration of their veracity. So (literally, and) shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die (the death due to spies): And they did so - i.e. they consented to Joseph's proposal.
If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
Verse 21. - And they said one to another (Joseph's treatment of them beginning by this time to produce its appropriate and designed result by recalling them to a sense of their former guilt), We are verily guilty - "this is the only acknowledgment of sin in the Book of Genesis" (Inglis) - concerning our brother. They had been guilty of many sins, but the special iniquity of which their reception by the Egyptian governor had reminded them was that which some twenty years before they had perpetrated against their own brother. Indeed the accusation preferred against them that they were spies, the apparent unwillingness of the viceroy to listen to their request for food, and their subsequent incarceration, though innocent of any offence, were all calculated to recall to their recollection successive steps in their inhuman treatment of Joseph. In that (or because) we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us (literally, in his beseeching of us, an incident which the narrator omits to mention; but which the guilty consciences of the brethren remember), and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. The retributive character of their sufferings, which they cannot fail to perceive, they endeavor to express by employing the same word, עָרַח, to describe Joseph's anguish and their distress.
And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
Verse 22. - And Reuben - who had not consented to, but had been altogether unable to prevent, the wickedness of his brethren (Genesis 37:22, 29) - answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child (or lad); and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required - literally, and also his blood, behold it is required. This was in accordance with the Noachic law against bloodshed (Genesis 9:5), with which it is apparent that Jacob's sons were acquainted.
And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
Verse 23. - And they knew not (while they talked in what they imagined to be a foreign dialect to the Egyptian viceroy) that Joseph understood them; - literally, heard (so as to understand what was said) - for he spake unto them by an interpreter - literally, for the interpreter. (חַמְּלִיצ, the hiph. part., with the art., of לוּצ, to speak barbarously, in the hiph. to act as an interpreter), i.e. the official Court interpreter, ἑρμηνευτής (LXX.), was between them.
And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
Verse 24. - And he turned himself about from them (in order to hide his emotion), and wept (as he reflected on the wonderful leadings of Divine providence, and beheld the pitiful distress of his brethren); and returned to them again (having previously withdrawn from them a space), and communed with them (probably about the one of them that should remain behind), and took from them - by a rough act of authority, since they either could not or would not settle among themselves who should be the prisoner (Candlish) - Simeon, - passing by Reuben not because he was the firstborn (Tuch, Lengerke), but because he was comparatively guiltless (Keil, Kalisch, Lange, Candlish, and expositors generally), and selecting Simeon either as the eldest of the guilty ones (Aben Ezra, Keil, Lange, Murphy, Wordsworth, Alford, and others), or as the chief instigator of the sale of Joseph (Philo, Rosenmüller, Furst, Kalisch, Gerlach, Lawson, et alii) - and bound him before their eyes - thus forcibly recalling to their minds what they had done to him (Wordsworth), and perhaps hoping to incite them, through pity for Simeon, to return the more speedily with Benjamin (Lawson).
Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.
Verse 25. - Then (literally, and) Joseph commanded to fill - literally, commanded, and they (i.e. Joseph's men) filled - their sacks (rather, vessels or receptacles, כְּלִי) with corn, and to restore every man's money (literally, the. dr pieces of silver, each) into his sack, - שַׂק, saccus, σάκος, σάκκος, sack (vide Genesis 37:34). Joseph "feels it impossible to bargain, with his father and his brethren for bread" (Baumgarten) - and to give them prevision for the way: and thus did he (literally, it was done) unto them.
And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
Verse 26. - And they laded their asses with the corn (literally, put their grain upon their asses), and departed (or went) thence.
And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth.
Verse 27. - And as one of them opened his sack - literally, and the one opened his sack, i.e. they did not all open their sacks on the homeward journey, although afterwards, in reporting the circumstance to Joseph, they represent themselves as having done so (Genesis 43:21); but only one at the wayside inn, and the rest on reaching home (ver. 35; vide infra, Genesis 43:21) - to give his ass provender in the inn (the מָלון, from לוּן, an inn to pass the night, was not in the modern sense of the term, but simply a halting-place or camping station where travelers were wont to lodge, without finding for themselves or animals any other food than they carried with them), he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth - literally, in the opening, of his amtachath, אַמְתַּחַת, from מָתַח, to spread out, an old word for a sack (Genesis 43:18, 21, 22), here used synonymously with שַׂק, from which it would seem that the travelers carried two sorts of bags, one for the corn כְּלִי (ver. 25), and another for the called asses' provender called אַמְתַּחַת. It was in the latter that the money had been placed.
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 afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?
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.
And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
Verses 29-34. - And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them (literally, all the things happening to them, the participle being construed with the accusative); saying, The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us (literally, spake the man, lord of the country, with us harsh things, the order and arrangement of the words indicating the strong feeling which their treatment in Egypt had excited), and took us for spies of the country. And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies: we be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan (vide vers. 11, 13). And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of Our brethren here with me, and take food r the famine of your households, and be gone. It is observable that they do not mention Joseph's first proposal, probably because of Joseph's subsequent kindness; neither do they intimate the fact that Simeon was bound, perhaps through a desire to soften the blow as much as possible for their venerable parent. And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffic in the land (cf. Genesis 34:10).
The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.
And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:
And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
Verse 35. - And it came to pass as they emptied (literally, they emptying) their sacks, that (literally, and), behold, every man's bundle of money (or silver) was in his sack: and when (literally, and) both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they (literally, and they) were afraid.
And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
Verse 36. - And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved (or are ye bereaving) of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not (Jacob appears to suspect that in some way or another his sons had been responsible for Joseph's disappearance as well as Simeon's), and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me - literally, upon me, as an heavy burden, which I must bear alone.
And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
Verse 37. - And Reuben spake unto his father, saying (Reuben was probably actuated by an ardent brotherly affection, which prompted him to endeavor to recover Simeon, as formerly he had sought to deliver Joseph), Slay my two sons - as Reuben had four sons (Genesis 46:9), he first be understood as meaning two of my sons (Ainsworth, Murphy), either the two then present (Junius) or the two oldest (Mercerus) - if I bring him (i.e. Benjamin) not to thee. Reuben's proposal, though in one sense "the greatest and dearest offer that a son could make to a father" (Keil), was either only a sample of strong rhetoric (like Joseph's "By the life of Pharaoh!") designed to assure his father of the impossibility of failure (Lawson, Candlish, Inglis), and of the fact that neither he nor his brethren entertained any injurious designs against Benjamin (Calvin); or, if seriously made, was not only inconsiderate and rash, spoken in the heat of the moment (Kurtz), but sinful and unnatural (Ainsworth), plusquam barbarura (Calvin), and absolutely worthless besides, as what consolation would it be to Jacob to add to the loss of a son the murder of his grandchildren? (Calvin, Willet). Deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. Reuben might have learned to avoid strong asseverations on this point. "It was his wish to bring Joseph home to his father, and yet he could not persuade his brethren to comply with his intentions. It was his desire to bring Simeon safe to his father, and yet he was compelled to leave him in Egypt" (Lawson).
And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
Verse 38. - And he (i.e. Jacob) said, My son shall not go down with you; - not because he could not trust Reuben after the sin described in Genesis 35:22 (Wordsworth), or because he could not assent to Reuben's proposal (Ainsworth), but because of what is next stated - for his brother (i.e. by the same mother, viz., Joseph) is dead (cf. ver. 13; 37:33; 44:28), and he is left alone: - i.e. he alone (of Rachel's children) is left as a survivor - if mischief befall him (literally, and mischief shall befall him) by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye (literally, and ye shall) bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave - Sheol (cf. Genesis 37:35).