Genesis 43

The Return to Egypt

1 1Now the famine was severe in the land.
2 So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, "Go back, buy us a little food."
3 Judah spoke to him, however, saying, "2The man solemnly warned us, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.'
4 "If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.
5 "But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, 'You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.' "
6 Then Israel said, "Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?"
7 But they said, "The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, '3Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down '?"
8 Judah said to his father Israel, "Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, 4that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones.
9 "5I myself will be surety for him; you may hold * me responsible * for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever *.
10 "For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice."
11 Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man 6as a present, a little 7balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds.
12 "Take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand 8the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake.
13 "Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man;
14 and may 9God Almighty 10grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you 11your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, 12if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."
15 So the men took 13this present, and they took double the money in their hand, and Benjamin; then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.

Joseph Sees Benjamin

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his 14house steward *, "Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon."
17 So the man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph's house.
18 Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph's house; and they said, "It is because * of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys."
19 So they came near to Joseph's house steward * *, and spoke to him at the entrance of the house,
20 and said, "Oh, my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food,
21 and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, 15each man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So 16we have brought it back in our hand.
22 "We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks."
23 He said, "Be at ease, do not be afraid. 17Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money." Then 18he brought Simeon out to them.
24 Then the man brought the men into Joseph's house and 19gave them water, and they 20washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys fodder.
25 So they prepared 21the present for Joseph's coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there.
26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and 22bowed to the ground before him.
27 Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, "23Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?"
28 They said, "Your servant our father is well; he is still alive." 24They bowed down in homage.
29 As he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, he said, "Is this 25your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?" And he said, "26May God be gracious to you, my son."
30 Joseph hurried out for 27he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and 28wept there.
31 Then he washed his face and came out; and he 29controlled himself and said, "Serve the meal."
32 So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is 30loathsome to the Egyptians.
33 Now they were seated before him, 31the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment.
34 He took portions to them from his own table, 32but Benjamin's portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

Genesis 43 Commentary

Chapter 43

Jacob is persuaded to send Benjamin into Egypt. (1-14) Joseph's reception of his brethren, their fears. (15-25) Joseph makes a feast for his brethren. (26-34)

Verses 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.

Verses 15-25 Jacob's sons went down the second time into Egypt to buy corn. If we should ever know what a famine of the word means, let us not think it much to travel as far for spiritual food, as they did for bodily food. Joseph's steward had orders from his master to take them to his house. Even this frightened them. Those that are guilty make the worst of every thing. But the steward encouraged them. It appears, from what he said, that by his good master he was brought to the knowledge of the true God, the God of the Hebrews. Religious servants should take all fit occasions to speak of God and his providence, with reverence and seriousness.

Verses 26-34 Observe the great respect Joseph's brethren paid to him. Thus were Joseph's dreams more and more fulfilled. Joseph showed great kindness to them. He treated them nobly; but see here the early distance between Jews and gentiles. In a day of famine, it is enough to be fed; but they were feasted. Their cares and fears were now over, and they ate their bread with joy, reckoning they were upon good terms with the lord of the land. If God accept our works, our present, we have reason to be cheerful. Joseph showed special regard for Benjamin, that he might try whether his brethren would envy him. It must be our rule, to be content with what we have, and not to grieve at what others have. Thus Jesus shows those whom he loves, more and more of their need. He makes them see that he is their only refuge from destruction. He overcomes their unwillingness, and brings them to himself. Then, as he sees good, he gives them some taste of his love, and welcomes them to the provisions of his house, as an earnest of what he further intends for them.

Cross References 32

  • 1. Genesis 12:10; Genesis 26:1; Genesis 41:56, 57
  • 2. Genesis 43:5; Genesis 44:23
  • 3. Genesis 42:13; Genesis 43:27
  • 4. Genesis 42:2
  • 5. Genesis 42:37; Genesis 44:32; Philem 18, 19
  • 6. Genesis 32:20; Genesis 43:25, 26
  • 7. Genesis 37:25; Jeremiah 8:22; Ezekiel 27:17
  • 8. Genesis 42:25, 35; Genesis 43:21, 22
  • 9. Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11
  • 10. Psalms 106:46
  • 11. Genesis 42:24
  • 12. Genesis 42:36
  • 13. Genesis 43:11
  • 14. Genesis 44:1
  • 15. Genesis 42:27, 35
  • 16. Genesis 43:12, 15
  • 17. Genesis 42:28
  • 18. Genesis 42:24
  • 19. Genesis 18:4; Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:32
  • 20. Luke 7:44; John 13:5; 1 Timothy 5:10
  • 21. Genesis 43:11, 15
  • 22. Genesis 37:7, 10
  • 23. Genesis 43:7; Genesis 45:3
  • 24. Genesis 37:7, 10
  • 25. Genesis 42:13
  • 26. Numbers 6:25; Psalms 67:1
  • 27. 1 Kings 3:26
  • 28. Genesis 42:24; Genesis 45:2, 14, 15; Genesis 46:29
  • 29. Genesis 45:1
  • 30. Genesis 46:34; Exodus 8:26
  • 31. Genesis 42:7
  • 32. Genesis 35:24; Genesis 45:22

Footnotes 23

Chapter Summary


This chapter informs us how that the famine continued in the land of Canaan, and the corn that Jacob's family had from Egypt being consumed, Jacob pressed his sons to go down for more, which they refused to do, unless Benjamin was sent with them, for whose safety Judah offered to become a surety, Ge 43:1-10; Jacob with reluctance was prevailed upon to let him go, and dismissed them with a present to the governor of Egypt, and with double money to buy corn with, and with his blessing upon them, Ge 43:11-14; upon which they set out for Egypt; and when they came into the presence of Joseph, he seeing Benjamin with them, ordered his steward to have them to his house, and get dinner ready, it being his pleasure that they should dine with him that day, Ge 43:15-17; this threw them into a fright, supposing they were going to be called to an account for the money they found in their sacks; wherefore they related to the steward very particularly the whole of that affair, who bid them not be uneasy, for he had had their money; and as a proof that things would go well with them, brought Simeon out to them, and treated them very kindly and gently, Ge 43:18-24; and having got their present ready against Joseph came home, they delivered it to him with great veneration and submission; who asked of the welfare of their father, and whether that was not their younger brother they spoke of, the sight of whom so affected him, that he was obliged in haste to retire to his chamber, and weep, Ge 43:25-30; and having washed his face, and composed himself, he returned and ordered dinner to be brought, which was set on different tables, one for himself and the Egyptians, and the other for his brethren, whom he placed according to their age, to their great surprise; and sent them messes from his table to each, and to Benjamin five times more than the rest, and they were so liberally entertained, that they became cheerful and merry, Ge 43:31-34.

Genesis 43 Commentaries

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