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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 43

 

 

Verses 1-34

THE BROTHERS RETURN TO EGYPT

The famine continued until Jacob and his family had eaten up all the provision they had gotten from Egypt. Then Jacob urged his sons to go again and bring more food from Egypt (v.2).

This time Judah (the one who had taken the lead in selling Joseph) protest to his father that the governor of Egypt had absolutely decreed that if they returned without Benjamin they would be refused. Therefore he said they would not go unless they could take Benjamin. He offered to be surety for Benjamin (v.9), saying that if he did not bring Benjamin safely back again he (Judah) would bear the blame forever. He adds also that if they had delayed so long they could have made the second journey and returned by this time.

All of this does not allay Jacob's apprehensions, but the pressure of hard circumstances finally decided him to allow Benjamin to go. Yet he wanted to do all he could to dispose the governor of Egypt favorably toward his sons. He would send a present to him of balm, honey, spices, myrrh, nuts and almonds (v.11). These things would not be so quickly affected by the famine as would the grain crops, yet it would no doubt demand some sacrifice to send these. Besides this Jacob instructs his sons to both take back the money that was returned in their sacks and to add to this double the amount of money that was required for the food they wanted to buy (v.12). In sending Benjamin also, he invokes the name of God Almighty, desiring His compassion in the sight of Egypt's governor, that Simeon might be released and Benjamin also be returned safely. As to himself, Jacob bows to the possibility of his being bereaved of Benjamin also (v.14).

The brothers then go down the second time to Egypt and were brought before Joseph. Before Joseph even speaks to them, seeing that Benjamin was with them, he orders his house steward to bring all those men into his own house, and have an animal killed to provide food for them, for they were to dine with Joseph at noon (v.16). Not only did they see Joseph's face, but were made his favored guests. But this only awakened their fear and suspicion. Grace does this in those who want matters on legal bases. They were afraid that Joseph was showing such kindness with the motive of finding a pretext for which to steal all they had. How little they knew Joseph's heart! Many there are also who remain unsaved only because they are suspicious of God's grace in Christ Jesus.

Before eating in Joseph's house, the brothers speak to the steward, telling him of their coming the first time and on departing some distance had found in their sacks the money they had brought to buy food. Not knowing how the money had been put there, they tell him they have brought it back, together with money to buy further provisions (vs.20-22).

The steward responded kindly to them to set them at rest about this matter. "Peace be to you." he says, "fear not." They ought only to thank their God, the God of their father, for the money, for he tells them, "I had your money." This was true: he had it, but had restored it, though he does not tell them this. Then he brought Simeon out to them.

Every kindness was shown them for their comfort, even to the feeding of their donkeys. Hearing that Joseph was to eat with them, they prepare to give him the present they had brought. When he came in they gave it to him, bowing themselves before him to the ground (v.26).

Of course Joseph was vitally interested in knowing about their father: was he still alive? Yes, they tell him, their father was both alive and in good health. Typically this tells us that in the tribulation period the Jewish remnant will have their thoughts exercised as to their relationship to the living God. Men may say that God is dead, but is only because they themselves are dead toward God. This has been true for years in communist countries, but now many are awakened to have to deal with a living God. Again the brothers bowed their heads in homage to Joseph, not realizing he was the brother whom they had rejected. The living Son of God will be dealing with Israel during their tribulation, though they will not realize that is the same One whom they rejected who is exercising their souls.

But Bemjamin, the younger son of Rachel is of vital interest to Joseph too, far more so than the brothers could guess (v.29). We have seen that he is a type of Christ the Messiah of Israel reigning in power and glory. Israel must learn to connect a reigning Messiah with a suffering Messiah, as they have never done before. Of course both are one and the same person, the blessed Lord Jesus, but it takes more than one man to form any adequate picture of that which is perfectly seen in Christ. Joseph asks, "Is this your youngest brother of whom you spoke to me?" To Benjamin he said, "My God be gracious to you, my son."

But the sight of his brother moved him with such a surge of emotion that he had to immediately leave them and go to his bedroom to weep (v.30). We can well understand this, for he had not seen Benjamin for well over 20 years. After weeping he returned to his normal self-control, washed his face and came out to eat with his brothers.

Yet even in the house there was a division carefully maintained between them. Joseph ate by himself, the Egyptian servants by themselves, and Joseph's brothers by themselves (v.32). Here is a reminder that the Lord Jesus is alone in authority over all, while Israel and Gentiles are distinct companies. This will be true in the millennium. The church of God stands in great contrast to this, for all believers (Jewish and Gentile) are fully united in one body: there is no division between them; and Christ is in their midst as Head, not only as Lord. The Egyptians considered it loathsome to eat with Hebrews. Later, Peter said it was unlawful for a Jew to have company with Gentiles (Acts 10:28). Peter had to learn then that God had intervened in marvelous grace, to make all believers in this present dispensation of time members of one body, whether Jews or Gentiles. This unity stands therefore in wonderful contrast to the divisions in the Old Testament between Jew and Gentile, and also in contrast to the distinct companies of Jews and Gentiles in the millennial earth.

The brothers were astonished when they found they were seated in order of their ages (v.33). Israel will be astonished when they find that the Lord Jesus knows them as well as they know themselves -- in fact better than they know themselves.

But as they were served, Benjamin was given five times as much as any of the others. One wonders if he did not have difficulty eating it! However, in this the brothers were taught that a younger brother was given greater recognition than those older. They had before rejected a younger brother, and both younger brothers (Joseph and Benjamin) are types of the Lord Jesus in distinct ways, as we have seen. This was the first time all the sons of Jacob had eaten together for well over twenty years, yet only Joseph realized this! The special favor Joseph showed to Benjamin was intended to emphasize to the brothers that God, for from despising a younger brother, gives him a place of honor. Too often the older look down on one younger, but according to natural birth, the Lord Jesus was a younger brother in Israel, and the pride of the older must be brought down.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 43:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-43.html. 1897-1910.

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