And their father said unto them
Being in some measure convinced by their reasonings, and in part at least reconciled to let Benjamin go with them, there being nothing to be done, he perceived, unless he consented to it: if [it must be] so now, do this;
if nothing else will do but Benjamin must go, which after all he was reluctant to, then he advises them to do as follows: take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels;
such as were the peculiar produce of the land of Canaan, and the best of it; for which it was most famous, and praised, as the word used signifies; these Jacob advises to take and put into their sacks they carried to bring back their corn in: and carry down the man a present;
the great man and governor of Egypt, whose name was not known, little thinking it was his son Joseph; this he proposed to be done, in order to procure his friendship, that he might carry it kindly and respectfully to them, release Simeon, and send back Benjamin with them. The present consisted of the following things, a little balm:
or rosin, of which there was great quantity in and about Gilead; (See Gill on Jeremiah 8:22): and a little honey;
the land of Canaan in general is called a land flowing with milk and honey; and some parts of it were famous for it, as the, parts about Ziph, called from thence the honey of Ziphim F9: this is the first time mention is made of "honey" in Scripture. Some say F11 Bacchus was the inventor of it. Justin F12 makes a very ancient king of a people in the country, now called Spain, to whom he gives the name of Gorgoris, to be the first that found out the way of gathering honey; but by this it appears to be of a more early date. Dr. Shaw F13 thinks, that not honey, properly so called, is meant, but a kind of "rob" made of the juice of grapes, called by the Arabs "dibsa", a word near in sound with, and from the same root as this. And who further observes, that Hebron alone (the place were Jacob now was) sends every year to Egypt three hundred camel loads, i.e. near two thousand quintals of this rob: and Leo Africanus says F14, there is but little honey to be found in Egypt, wherefore it made this part of the present the more acceptable: spices;
of various sorts, a collection of them; though it is thought, by Bochart and others, that the "storax" is particularly meant; the best of that sort being, as Pliny F15 says in Judea. The Targum and Jarchi take it to be "wax", as do also other Jewish writers: and myrrh;
the liquor called "stacte", that drops from the myrrh tree. Some will have this "lot", as the word is, the same with "ladanum"; one should rather think that it should be the lotus or lote tree, the fruit of which, Pliny F16 says, is the size of a bean, and of a saffron colour, and Herodotus F17 says, it is sweet like a date; but that it was frequent in Egypt, and needed not be carried there. The Targum renders it "chestnuts", and so Ben Melech, as it does what follows, nuts, and almonds,
the oil of nuts, and the oil of almonds: the former design not common, but the pistachio nuts, as Jarchi observes from R. Machir; and these, as Pliny F18 says, were well known in Syria, and were good for food and drink, and against the bites of serpents; and, as Bochart F19 observes, are frequently mentioned by naturalists along with almonds, and as like unto them.
F9 Misn. Machshirin, c. 5. sect. 9.
F11 "Et a Baccho mella reperta ferunt", Ovid. Fast. l. 3.
F12 E Trogo, l. 44. c. 4.
F13 Travels, p. 339. No. 6. Ed. 2.
F14 Descriptio Africae, l. 8. p. 682.
F15 Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 25.
F16 Ib. l. 13. c. 17.
F17 Melpomene, sive, l. 4. c. 177. Vid. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 92.
F18 Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 5.
F19 Canaan, l. 1. c. 10. col. 389.