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Chapter 43

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The Second Journey To Egypt (ch. 43:1 - 34)


In verses 1 and 2 we note that the famine was still severe and so Jacob told his sons to go back to Egypt and buy more grain.  They had now run out of grain to eat.  We don't know how long it took for them to run out of grain.  It is only a guess, but I would think that months or at least weeks would have passed before they ran out of grain.  Whatever the case, Jacob wanted the sons to return for more grain. 


In verses 3 to 5 we see that Judah took control of the situation and re-explained things to Jacob.  He told Jacob that the man who gave them the food, which was Joseph, would not see them again, and would not give them more grain unless their youngest brother Benjamin came with them.  So Judah refused to return to Egypt without Benjamin.  


We must remember that all along, Simeon is still in an Egyptian prison, waiting for his brothers to return with Benjamin so he would be set free.  He might well be beginning to wonder what was happening.  Could he end up in the same situation as his brother Joseph, just being left to the mercy of the Egyptians?  So we have tension taking place on all sides.  We see the tension from Joseph's standpoint.  He's waiting to see all of his family.  We have the tension of Simeon being in prison.  Jacob is feeling the pressure of the famine.  He is still not over Joseph disappearing years earlier, and now he is worried about Benjamin.  Besides that, Simeon is in prison, and I'm sure Jacob worries about him.  Then concerning the other brothers who remain, they need more grain, but they can't go back without Benjamin.  There's stress all around.


You can see the stress of Jacob in verse 6.  He questioned why the other brothers had to say that they had a younger brother at home.  Once again, he is putting some blame on his sons.  This is often the case, when things get tense, people start to put undue blame on others. 


Verse 7 begins with "they replied".  In the past verses it was Judah who was talking to Jacob.  Now after this accusation they all get into the argument, and an argument it probably was.  They explained that they had no choice but to answer the questions presented to them.  They answered them as honestly as they could.  You would not want to be caught in a lie to the second in command in all of Egypt.


Note in verse 8 that Judah speaks again.  The text says that he spoke to Israel.  That's Jacob.  He said that he would be held responsible for the safe return of Benjamin.    


In verses 8 through 10 Judah sets forth his plan.  In verse 10 we note something that gives us a bit of a time frame here.  Judah states that if they had not delayed, they could have gone to Egypt and back twice by now.  That still doesn't tell me just how much time had elapsed, but some might be able to figure it out, if you know the distance that would have to be traveled. 


The word "delayed" tells me something.  In Judah 's mind the trip back to Egypt was delayed.  They should have left long ago.  The trip should not have been delayed.  My guess is that the delay was in the hands of Jacob.  He delayed the trip because he would not allow Benjamin to leave.  Judah was thus deflecting some blame back to Jacob.  I'm sure their was much stress among the family members at this point.


In verse 11 we finally see that Jacob agrees with Benjamin leaving for Egypt, with certain conditions.  One thing Jacob wanted was that they were to take the silver that they had found in their sacks back with them, plus double that amount.  They were still afraid because of the silver that was found in their sacks, and rightly so.  From their standpoint, it would appear that they were framed, and that had to be dealt with so, repaying the silver with the additional amount was to solve that problem.  Then Jacob wanted the sons to take other things to Egypt such as honey, balm, nut, among other things.  This tells us that there was some food to eat, but not enough food to sustain them. 


Most scholars, but not all,  say that "balm" is a sticky resin from a certain bush.  It was used as medicine and cosmetic purposes. 


In verse 13 Jacob specifically tells the brothers to take Benjamin, and go at once.  This must have been hard on Jacob, but he had little choice in the matter at this point.


We see in verse 14 that Jacob puts this situation in the hand of "God Almighty", "El Shaddai" in Hebrew.  El Shaddai" comes from an somewhat uncertain term to mean "mountain one", suggesting strength, thus the term "Almighty."  It is often used in reference to God looking after His people, as it seems to be the use in this verse. 


Jacob seems resigned to whatever is the outcome of the trip that will be made to Egypt .  He says, "if I am bereaved, I am bereaved."   In other words, "if I am saddened beyond measure, I will be saddened, and there's nothing that can be done about it."  The Hebrew word that "bereaved" is translated from is also used in the Old Testament in terms of wild animals killing children.  So the thought here is severe sadness, but in this context it is sadness that is resigned to on the behalf of Jacob. 


Verse 15 simply states that once the decision was made to go, they left in a hurry and appeared before Joseph.


In verse 16 when Joseph finally sees Benjamin, he tells one of his servants to take the brothers to his house, prepare a meal, so they can all eat at noon.  Remember, Benjamin is Joseph's only brother.  The rest of these men were half brothers.  Both Benjamin and Joseph had the same mother who was Leah.  This is why seeing Benjamin was so important to Joseph.  He has put the brothers through quite an ordeal just to get to see Benjamin.


In verses 17 and 18 we see that the brothers were not impressed.  They thought for sure that this was a trap because of the silver that had been found in their sacks.  They thought Joseph would take them as slaves once they got to his house.  This whole story shows the constant fear that these men were under.   Fear, and the feeling of guilt, often go hand in hand, as it does in this story.  Only true forgiveness based on repentance can rid people of fear and the feeling of guilt.  I use the term "feeling of guilt" because guilt is not a feeling.  It is a position in which you stand.  You are either guilty or not guilty, no matter how you feel.  One can be guilty of a crime and not feel guilt.  One also can not be guilty of a crime and still feel guilty.  That being said, the position in which one stands before God or man, can produce negative feelings, which I call, "the feelings of guilt."


Because of this fear, the brothers, in verses 19 to 22, explain the whole story of the silver in their sacks to the servant in charge of them at the time. 


In verse 23 the servant tries to relieve their fears by telling the brothers that everything is okay.  The servant goes as far to say that "the God of your father has given you treasures in your sacks."   Obviously God did not drop the silver in their sacks.  Joseph's servants put the silver in the  sack's at Joseph's command.  Because Joseph's God was the same God of his father Jacob, that's Elohim, the blessing was seen as from Elohim. 


The Egyptian servant was not acknowledging that he believed in Elohim, he was simply acknowledging that Elohim, their father's God, was the source of the blessing.  This can be so with us today.  Those around us may not acknowledge our God as we do, but at times they do acknowledge the God we believe in.  Such acknowledgment only happens when we trust our God as Joseph did. 


In verses 24 and 25 the brothers were given water to wash their feet.  Their donkeys were looked after, and their gifts were prepared to give to Joseph.  At this point they were told that they would eat with Joseph, the second in command in all of Egypt .  Also at this point, Simeon was released from prison and joined his brothers.  Can you imagine how relieved Simeon finally was.  My guess is that he wondered just when his brothers were going to return for him.  I also guess that he had some doubts if they would actually return since he knew how Jacob felt about Benjamin.  He probably also knew his brothers weren't always the nicest lot of men.  Again, we don't know how long Simeon was in prison. I'm guessing it would have been months.  That would have been a fair amount of time to be waiting, and you can imagine the doubts that would have come to Simeon's mind.


Verse 26 tells us that Joseph came home, the brothers bowed down and gave him gifts.  What a feeling that was for Joseph.  I am sure that the dreams he had when he was only seventeen years old came flooding back into his mind.  As the dreams stated, his brothers would bow before him, and that is what they were doing right then. 


In verse 27 Joseph asks the brothers how they were.  Then he asks "how their aged father was."   He had now seen Benjamin, but there was still his father.  He wanted to know how he was.  He really wanted to see him as well. 


Again in verse 28 the brothers bow as they tell Joseph that their father is well, news that Joseph was glad to hear. 


Verse 28 states that they "bowed low" before Joseph.  This was not just a bow from the waste.  It was most likely a bow right down to the floor.  Again, Joseph's  dreams from his youth of his family bowing to him come true. 


Verse 29 tells us that Joseph saw Benjamin, "his own mother's son."   This clearly shows that among all the brothers, Joseph had only one real son.  The rest were half brothers.  He asked if this was Benjamin.  Joseph told Benjamin that God is gracious to him.  Although Joseph was in the world of Egypt.  Egypt was not in Joseph.  He served the God of his father, and this whole event that was now taking place was due to the graciousness of God.


The idea that Joseph lived in Egypt but Egypt did not live in Joseph is important here.  This is exactly how we are to live as Christians, whether we are in a high place of authority as Joseph was, or just ordinary people. 


In verse 30 we see that Joseph could no longer stand the pressure that had been mounting within him.  He ran out of the room.  He went into his private room and cried.  It only makes you wonder what the brothers were thinking of at this point.  Why would this Egyptian leader be acting so strange?   Now being relieved of their fears, at least for the moment, they now wonder what kind of a man it is who has invited them for a meal. 


Joseph's tears make us believe that he has become a tender hearted man.  How did he get so tender hearted?  I believe the time in prison, and all of the hardships that he had faced purged a lot of self out of Joseph.  Then, when self is purged, our Lord can take self's place.  This is the way it should be with all Christians.  We should not despise hardships.  We should see them as one way in which God produces His life in us.


In verses 31 and 32 we see all those in attendance sit down to eat.  This took place after Joseph composed himself and gave the command to eat.  Notice the way in which they ate.  Joseph ate alone since he was second in command in all of Egypt.  The other Egyptians who were joining them ate at a separate table, and the brothers ate at yet another table.  The text states that Egyptians found eating with Hebrews detestable.  They were a second class culture to them.  The ironic thing here is that Joseph himself was a Hebrew, and from the same family as those Hebrews who were not allowed to eat with him.  Still, Joseph did not give in.  He upheld the culture in which he found himself in.  He believed that God had put him there, so he had to be obedient to the culture in which he ruled.


Verse 33 tells us that the brothers were seated in order of their ages and that they were astonished.  The only reason that I can think of for this astonishment is that the brothers weren't asked their ages.  If they were asked their ages, there would be no reason for their astonishment.  Joseph knew their ages.  He could sit them in the order in which the brothers were born.   The brothers heads must be really shaking by now.  This was some strange situation that they found themselves in. You might even wonder if Joseph was playing with his brothers mind's at this point.


Verse 34 closes this chapter.  It states that all the brothers got equal portions of food except for Benjamin who got five times more food.  Once again, this had to have gotten the brothers thinking.  They had to have been wondering what was going on here.


Note the food that the brothers got came from Joseph's table.  He would have been fed first.  All the food would have been set at his table.  He would have taken what he wanted first, and then distributed to the others in the room. 


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