Genesis 42:1-38 . JOURNEY INTO EGYPT.
17-24. put them . . . into ward three days--Their confinement had been designed to bring them to salutary reflection. And this object was attained, for they looked upon the retributive justice of God as now pursuing them in that foreign land. The drift of their conversation is one of the most striking instances on record of the power of conscience ( Genesis 42:21 Genesis 42:22 ).
24. took . . . Simeon, and bound him--He had probably been the chief instigator--the most violent actor in the outrage upon Joseph; and if so, his selection to be the imprisoned and fettered hostage for their return would, in the present course of their reflections, have a painful significance.
25-28. Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money--This private generosity was not an infringement of his duty--a defrauding of the revenue. He would have a discretionary power--he was daily enriching the king's exchequer--and he might have paid the sum from his own purse.
27. inn--a mere station for baiting beasts of burden.
he espied his money--The discovery threw them into greater perplexity than ever. If they had been congratulating themselves on escaping from the ruthless governor, they perceived that now he would have a handle against them; and it is observable that they looked upon this as a judgment of heaven. Thus one leading design of Joseph was gained in their consciences being roused to a sense of guilt.
35. as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's . . . money was in his sack--It appears that they had been silent about the money discovery at the resting-place, as their father might have blamed them for not instantly returning. However innocent they knew themselves to be, it was universally felt to be an unhappy circumstance, which might bring them into new and greater perils.
36. Me have ye bereaved--This exclamation indicates a painfully excited state of feeling, and it shows how difficult it is for even a good man to yield implicit submission to the course of Providence. The language does not imply that his missing sons had got foul play from the hands of the rest, but he looks upon Simeon as lost, as well as Joseph, and he insinuates it was by some imprudent statements of theirs that he was exposed to the risk of losing Benjamin also.
37. Reuben spake, . . . Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee--This was a thoughtless and unwarrantable condition--one that he never seriously expected his father would accept. It was designed only to give assurance of the greatest care being taken of Benjamin. But unforeseen circumstances might arise to render it impossible for all of them to preserve that young lad ( James 4:13 ), and Jacob was much pained by the prospect. Little did he know that God was dealing with him severely, but in kindness ( Hebrews 12:7 Hebrews 12:8 ), and that all those things he thought against Him were working together for his good.