And they sent a messenger unto Joseph
Not Bilhah, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, nor her sons, Dan and Naphtali, as Jarchi, grounding it on ( Genesis 37:1-36 ) though it is not improbable that some from among themselves were deputed, who were most interested in Joseph; since it is not very likely they would commit such an affair to a stranger or to a servant; and the most proper persons to be sent on such an errand seem to be Judah and Benjamin, the latter as having had no concern in the affair of selling him, and was his own brother by father and mother's side, and very dear to him; and the former, because he saved his life, when the rest, excepting Reuben, were for shedding his blood, and had endeared himself also to Joseph, by his tender concern both for his father and his brother Benjamin; however, they thought fit first to sound Joseph by a messenger, how he stood affected to them, before they appeared in a body in person, to whom they gave a charge, as the words may be rendered, "they commanded unto Joseph" F20; that is, they commanded those that were deputed by them to him:
saying, thy father did command before he died;
some think, this was no better than a lie, which their fear prompted them to; and that they framed the following story, the more to work upon the mind of Joseph, and dispose it in their favour; seeing it is a question whether Jacob ever knew anything of the affair of their ill usage to Joseph; since otherwise it would have been, in all likelihood, taken notice of in his last dying words, as well as the affair of Reuben, and that of Simeon and Levi; and besides, had he been apprised of it, he knew such was the clemency and generosity of Joseph, that he had nothing to fear from him, nor could he entertain any suspicion of a malevolent disposition in him towards his brethren, or that he would ever use them ill for former offences:
F20 (Powy-la wwuyw) "et mandaverunt ad Joseph", Montanus; "nuntio misso", Pagninus; "aliquos ad Josephum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.