Genesis 43
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And the famine was sore in the land.
Genesis 43:2

What a deeply interesting life was that of Jacob the supplanter! It is a life full of incident. And in that life the story of Joseph is perhaps the most illuminative. The dreaming days are over. The house of Potiphar, with its subtle temptation, and the prison with its dark despair are for ever gone, and Joseph sits a ruler, the ruler of Egypt. Famine drives his brothers, at their father's request, to seek his face, known only to them as the great Egyptian governor. They bow themselves before the brother whom they had wronged and he recognizes them. They knew him not, but he knew them, and was moved towards them. He would have them all before him, and in the presence of them all he desired to make himself known to them. But Benjamin, the son of his own mother, was not with them. He must be brought, and so they are sent back for him, with the instruction that they should see his face no more unless he were with them. When the brothers begin preparations for their return to Egypt, having obtained a very reluctant permission for Benjamin to accompany them, Jacob suggests that in addition to taking double money they 'should carry down the man a present' to propitiate him, and thereby gain his favour. That was the old Jacob of a former day who would rely upon his own resources, his own cunning, his own artfulness.

I. Notice, then, this characteristic relapse. It is generally the presence of untoward circumstances which causes this relapse. We are thrown back upon our own resources, as it were, and the first question we ask is this, 'What shall we do'? And the answer is almost invariably a relapse to a former type, to the embracing of a former stratagem. We have all yet to learn the philosophy of inactivity. 'What shall we do' seems to be the first question uppermost in all minds when confronted with difficulty and danger. When in the straight betwixt two, in the difficult place, contending with circumstances and events over which we have no control, for the existence of which we cannot be responsible, our salvation rests in the Divine revealing, and not in our own plans and schemes. 'Carry down the man a present' if you like, but remember it will have no effect upon the issue of the day.

II. Having regard then to this important truth that God determines the issue and that none of our plans and schemes are at all necessary, that God is first and must always be first, it may become a gracious and courteous act to 'carry down the man a present'. It may be well for us to consider this. A little sympathy, a little attention, a little consideration, these are the things which sweeten life for us all. God is so often wounded in the house of His friends by the utter neglect of those little presents, the little courtesies, the little tokens of love. Every man, woman, and child has something they can give. Society is enriched or impoverished by the individual gifts or negligences of its members. The home is made happy, or dull and miserable, upon the same principle. Give! Don't think so much about what you can get, but more about what you can give. Remember that your salvation is the free gift of God, 'Without money and without price'.

—J. Gay, Common Truths from Queer Texts, p. 137.

References.—XLIII. 27.—S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. i. p. 350. XLIII. 30, 31.—C. J. Vaughan, Lessons of Life and Godliness, p. 98. XLIII.—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 156.

And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.
And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:
But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?
And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.
I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:
For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:
And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:
Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:
And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.
And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph's house.
And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.
And they came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,
And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:
And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand.
And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.
And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.
And the man brought the men into Joseph's house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.
And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.
And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.
And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?
And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.
And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.
And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.
And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.
And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.
And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin's mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

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