Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Careless. Hebrew, "gazing at one another," like idle people.
To him. Conformably to the prophetic dreams, chap. xxxvii. 7, 9. (Menochius) --- Joseph was like a prince or sultan, shallit, with sovereign authority. (Calmet)
By them. Years and change of situation, had made such an alteration in him. God was pleased that Jacob should remain so long ignorant of his son's fate, that, by sorrow, he might do penance, and purify himself from every stain; and that he might not attempt to redeem Joseph, whose slavery was to be the source of so much good to his family. (Menochius) --- Joseph did not make himself known at first; in order to bring his brethren to a true sense of their duty, that they might obtain pardon for their sin. Thus pastors must sometimes treat their penitents with a degree of severity. (St. Gregory, hom. 22, Ezec.; St. Augustine, ser. 82, de Tem.) (Worthington)
You are spies. This he said by way of examining them, to see what they would answer. (Challoner) --- Aquila translates "vagrants" going from place to place, as if to discover the weakest parts. Joseph was a person in authority. It was his duty to guard against invasion. He knew how his brethren had treated Sichem, and how they had behaved to himself; and though he might not suppose, that they had any evil design upon Egypt, yet he had a right to make them give an account of themselves. (Haydock) --- He wished also to extort from them a true account respecting Jacob and Benjamin. (Menochius)
Health. This oath implies, that he is willing that even Pharao, whom he so much revered, should perish, if he did not execute what he said: (Haydock) or, as Pharao is now in health, so true it is you should not all depart, till your youngest brother come. (Calmet)
Or else by the health of Pharao you are spies. That is, if these things you say be proved false, you are to be held for spies for your lying, and shall be treated as such. Joseph dealt in this manner with his brethren, to bring them by means of affliction to a sense of their former sin, and a sincere repentance for it.
God. I shall do nothing contrary to justice or good faith, as I know I have a superior in heaven, to whom I must give an account. (Menochius)
We deserve. Conscience upbraids. "Punishment opens the mouth, which sin had shut," St. Gregory. (Menochius) --- They had sold Joseph about 22 years before! (Calmet)
His blood. Ruben supposed his brother was dead, (ver. 13,) and judging that Jacob would not let Benjamin come, he thought they must all perish. (Haydock)
Interpreter, to keep them at a greater distance. It does not appear that the sons of Jacob were ignorant of the language of the country. (Calmet)
Simeon. If he had joined himself to Ruben and Juda, who seemed inclined to protect Joseph, they might easily have prevented the cruel act, by overawing their younger brothers. Hence he was most guilty. (Menochius) --- Presence. That they might learn to condole with an afflicted brother.
And you may, &c. Joseph had said, (ver. 20,) and you may not die, which they thus interpret. (Haydock)
Astonished. One had before made the discovery, ver. 28. Now all find their purses among the corn, which renews their astonishment. (Calmet)
Without. Through excess of grief, Jacob speaks with a degree of exaggeration; or he thought his children were now taken from him so fast, that he would soon have none left.
Kill, &c. By this proposal, he meant to signify his utmost care and zeal to bring back young Benjamin safe to his father.
Alone: the son of my beloved Rachel. (Haydock) --- To hell. That is, to that place where the souls then remained, as above, chap. xxxvii. ver. 35, (Challoner) though with respect to his grey hairs, and body, it may signify the grave. (Haydock)