And they said one to another, We are truly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he sought us…
It would be good for us if we could entertain the same views of sin in the time of temptation, that we are likely to have after it is committed, or at the time when trouble brings it home to our consciences. When Joseph cried piteously to his brethren out of the pit, they thought only of the pleasure of gratifying their envy. They then wilfully overlooked the guilt they were contracting, and the sorrows they were preparing for their father, and for them, selves; but when they were in trouble, they remembered their guilt in all its aggravating circumstances, and they would have given all they had in the world to recover that degree of innocence to which they might have pretended before Joseph came into their hands. They were chargeable with many other sins. Simeon and Levi, in particular, were chargeable with a crime not less heinous than the murder of Joseph. Yet the affliction which they endured in prison brought to remembrance in a special manner this sin against their brother. This was an atrocious iniquity, of which the most of them were equally guilty. We are naturally averse to suffering of every kind, and yet nothing is more necessary than suffering when we have sinned. It is necessary for us to know and feel the bitterness of sin, that we may confess and forsake it. And the sufferings which our flesh endures, are often necessary and useful to bring our sins to our remembrance. No doubt Joseph's brethren had often formerly thought with regret of the hatefulness of their conduct. If they were not hardened to a very uncommon degree, their hearts must have smitten them soon after the fact was committed. The sight of their father's anguish must have melted their stubborn spirits. But they needed their afflictions in Egypt likewise to awaken a new and more affecting sense of their wickedness. Joseph, and God by Joseph, did them a kindness in giving them an experimental knowledge of the bitter sufferings of an oppressed man, when he pours out tears, but finds no comforter.
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
WEB: They said one to another, "We are certainly guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us, and we wouldn't listen. Therefore this distress has come upon us."