Chapter 43

  1. Decision to Return to Egypt

    • The famine was so severe that when they had used up all the food that they had brought back from Egypt, Jacob told his sons to go back and buy some more.

    • Judah spoke up and said, “The man in charge specifically told us that he wouldn’t see us at all unless we brought our youngest brother with us. If you’ll let us bring Benjamin we’ll go, but if not we won’t waste our time.”

    • Jacob laments, “You have caused me so much trouble! Why did you even tell him you had another brother to begin with?”

    • Judah responded, “He kept asking all kinds of questions about our family. How could we possibly have known that he would have demanded that we bring Benjamin to Egypt?”

    • Judah continued saying, “Send Benjamin with me; you can hold me responsible for him and if I don’t bring him back to you I’ll bear the blame forever. Let us get going so that we all won’t starve to death. We’ve already wasted so much time we could have made the trip twice by now.”

    • Jacob finally agreed, “If this is the way it has to be then so be it. Take some of the best products our land has to offer with you to give to the man as gifts: balsam, honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take twice the amount of money you would normally take and bring the money back that was put into your sacks- that may have been an accident. Take Benjamin also. May God Almighty cause the man to have mercy on you and release Simeon and Benjamin. If I end up losing all my children, so be it.”

  1. Return to Egypt

    • The brothers loaded up the gifts, the money, and Benjamin and set out for Egypt. When they arrived they came before Joseph.

    • When Joseph saw that his brothers had returned with Benjamin he told the manager of his household that these men would eat with him at noon. He instructed him to prepare a big feast.”

    • His household manager did as he was told, then brought the brothers to Joseph’s house.

    • The brothers were scared that they were being brought to Joseph’s house. They thought they had been brought there because of the money that had been put into their bags on their first trip. They thought that they were going to take their donkeys and make them slaves, so they told Joseph’s household manager, “The first time we came we really only intended to buy food. After we had left Egypt to return home, when we stopped to camp that night, we found that someone had put the money that we paid for our grain back into our sacks. We brought that money back with us this time to return it, as well as more money for the grain that we will buy. We don’t know who put the money in our sacks last time.”

      • “This was unusual interest and kindness. The brothers must have wondered why the powerful Egyptian official took such an interest in them.” (Guzik)

    • Joseph’s manager said, “Relax! Don’t be afraid. I know I received your payment last time you were here, so your God must have put treasure into your sacks.” Then the manager brought Simeon out, brought them water to wash their feet with and fed their donkeys.

      • “The brothers expected to be seized as slaves and have everything taken from them (Genesis 43:18). Yet Joseph treated them with kindness. This love and goodness from Joseph would win them over and bring them to full repentance…The brothers received the blessings of love and kindness from Joseph without knowing who he was. In the same way, God showers love and blessing upon man even when man doesn’t know from whom the blessings come.” (Guzik)

    • The brothers heard that they were going to eat with Joseph at noon, so they got the gifts ready that they had brought for him. When Joseph arrived, they brought him the gifts and bowed to the ground before him.

    • Joseph asked them how they were doing, then he asked how their father was doing.

    • His brothers answered that their father was doing well and they bowed down to Joseph in honor.

    • When Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, (his only full brother since they shared the same mother- Rachel) he asked if he was their youngest brother that they had told him about. Then Joseph said to Benjamin, “May God be gracious to you, my son.”

    • After this, Joseph became so overcome with emotion that he had to hurry out of the room because he was about to cry. Once in his private room, Joseph broke down and cried. Once he regained his composure, he washed his face, then returned to his brothers.

    • When he returned, Joseph told his manager to serve the meal.

    • Since Egyptians refused to eat with Hebrews, Joseph was served at a table by himself, his brothers were served at a separate table, and the Egyptians who were there ate at their own table.

      • Guzik provides some cultural insight, “Joseph did not eat with his brothers because at the time, Egypt was one of the most racially separated societies on earth. The believed that Egyptians came from the gods, and all other peoples came from lesser origins. There was little social mixing with foreigners in the Egypt of Joseph’s day…The Egyptians would not eat with Joseph, much less these strangers from Canaan. Even with all his status and power, Joseph could still not eat with real Egyptians.”

      • Guzik explains the incredible wisdom in God’s plan for bringing His people to Egypt in the first place. As with everything else, it was all a part of His plan, “Herein is the wisdom of God. Before Genesis is finished, God brought the entire family of Jacob into Egypt, where they were isolated from the surrounding people for some 400 years. In that time, they multiplied greatly, increasing to the millions. If God had allowed them to remain in Canaan they would have simply assimilated into the corrupt and godless peoples of Canaan. The rape of Dinah and its aftermath (Genesis 34) and the sin of Judah’s sons and Judah with Tamar (Genesis 38) revealed this danger. God not only had to take the family of Israel out of the corrupt environment of Canaan, but He had to put them among a racially separated people who would not often intermarry or mingle with them. God simply sent Joseph on ahead to make the arrangements.”

    • Joseph told the brothers where to sit, and to their surprise he ordered them from oldest to youngest. Joseph had them served food from his very own table and Benjamin got 5 times as much as the other brothers got.

      • Why would Joseph give Benjamin so much more than he gave his older brothers? Guzik explains, “Joseph wanted to see how the brothers reacted when the younger brother (in this case, Benjamin) was favored, because they resented it so much when Joseph was favored by his father. Joseph wanted to see if there was a change in the heart of his brothers, or if they were the same men who threw him into a pit and were deaf to his cries for help.”

    • They all feasted and got drunk with Joseph.

      • I’ll note here that some Bible versions translate this last verse to say something like, “they drank and were merry with him.” To me this seems like a blatant attempt to remove the fact that apparently Joseph and his brothers had a little too much to drink at this feast. The Hebrew word translated here is “shikkaron” or “shachaar” and they are verbs literally meaning to “be, or become, drunk, drunken”. Taking this type of license to translate something into a more “acceptable” meaning is something I absolutely detest. I mean, the Bible doesn’t whitewash anything, so why is a translator taking this liberty? If the Bible is totally honest about the rape of Dinah and her brothers’ reaction, and the fact that Tamar pretended to be a prostitute in order to sleep with her father-in-law to have children, then a translator should certainly remain true to the text when it comes to Joseph and his brothers having too much to drink.