Genesis 43:1-34


Verse 1,2, It is necessary to return to Egypt for food.  And the famine was sore in the land. {2} 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.

I.    How much time went by.

A.  The distance to Egypt from Hebron (35:27) is at least 200 miles one way.

1.   If they traveled 20 miles a day, it would take 10 days to travel 200 miles.

2.      Therefore the traveling itself would take at least 20 days.

B.   It would not be unreasonable to take 25 to 30 days for the entire journey, considering some time for business and rest in Egypt.

1.   It seems to me that the time between journeys would be rather lengthy.

2.   It doesn't seem reasonable that they would get enough food for only two or three months.

3.   It seems reasonable to me that they would want to get enough food to last at least six months.


II.   The amount of food they would need.

A.  There were seventy souls that went into Egypt, not counting any females.

B.   If we assume there were seventy males, and seventy females, that makes 140 people, not counting the animals.

C.   It is easy to see that getting that much food is a pretty good job.


Verse 3-10, The Conversation between Jacob and his ten sons.


I.    Verse 3-5, Judah speaks.  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. {4} If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: {5} 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.

A.  Judah is taking the leadership in the nation of Israel.

1.      Judah is the fourth son of Leah.

2.   He had not taken the leadership before.

3.      Judah is the tribe through which Jesus Christ will come.

B.   Reuben doesn't speak even though he is the eldest.

1.   He spoke up in Genesis 37:22 in defense of Joseph.

2.   He spoke up in Genesis 42:37 when they returned from Egypt the first time.

C.   Judah is not being cruel to his father.

1.   He is stating the facts, which Jacob doesn't want to face.

2.   He does stand very firm, but he is not abusive to his father.

D.  A principle of management.

1.   It is easy to send somebody to face danger, as long as we don't personally have to go.  This is what Jacob is doing.

2.   The boys may not be stubborn, but they give they dad an ultimatum, which on the surface seems cruel, but in reality, it helps him make the decision he must make.

3.      They are honest, there is no thought of substituting from the servants.  They are afraid of "the man" and know things must be right.


II.   Verse 6, Jacob speaks.  And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

A.  Jacob blames his sons for his troubles.

1.   It is always easy to blame someone else for our troubles.

2.   It is very common to lash out at others when we are in a position of having to make a decision we don't want to make.

B.   Jacob declares they treated him wrong when they told "the man" they had a younger brother.

1.   The fear of Genesis 42:35 is forgotten.

2.   He has forgotten the story the sons told him when they first got home from Egypt.


III. Verse 7, All the sons speak in an attempt to back Judah.  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?

A.  Judah was not speaking for himself in verse 3-5, but was acting as spokesman for all the sons.

B.   It's good to have others back you up when you are speaking for them, or when you are looking out for their welfare.

1.      Employers ought to back up their employees, as well as the employees back up their employers.

2.      Church members ought to back up their pastor, just like pastors ought to back up their church members.


IV. Verse 8-10, Judah speaks again.  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. {9} 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: {10} For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

A.  Judah forces Jacob to make the only decision there is to make.

B.   He becomes surety for Benjamin.

1.      Genesis 42:37, He is not as radical as Reuben who would allow Jacob to slay his two sons.

2.      Judah will allow no one to share the blame if anything happens to Benjamin, but he will bear it for ever.

C.   We ought to note that Benjamin is the youngest of the sons, yet he has the most children - 10.  Genesis 46:21.


Verse 11-14, Jacob decides to send Benjamin.  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: {12} 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: {13} Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man: {14} 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.

I.    Compare Gen. 32:13-24 - Jacob is doing like he did when he met Esau; sending gifts beforehand and arranging them in an order so they will seem larger and show his good heart.


II.   The four types of gifts Jacob presents to "the man".

A.  Best fruits.

1.      Preserved food - what Egypt and Canaan had.

2.      Quantity is small compared to Egypt.

3.   The gift itself was not great, and is not intended to insult, but to show:

a.   Their good heart,

b.   And the leanness of the land of Canaan.

B.   Double money.

1.      Sending double money shows that they are not poor.

2.   Or it shows that desperate situations require desperate measures.  Sends Benjamin with them.

C.   The money they found in their sacks.

D.            Benjamin.

1.   The most prized possession of Jacob will be presented last.

2.      Jacob is hoping that "the man" will see the preciousness of Benjamin.


III. Verse 14, Jacob now turns everything over to God.

A.  He uses the word, God Almighty.

1.   He doesn't use "Elohim", the creator god.

2.   The word he uses means El Shadday - the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The mighty, or almighty God.

B.   This truth is very evident in verse 11-14.

1.   It is right to think, plan, and do everything we can possibly do.

2.   It is right to trust God with our most prized possessions.

C.   Some people wander if we ought to preach the election of God, or the free will of the sinner to come.

1.   It is wrong to preach only one or the other.

2.      Both are in the Bible, therefore, we ought to preach both of them.

3.      Some people will think we have a mixed up theology, but we don't.

4.   We are simply preaching all of the Bible says about both subjects.


Verse 15, 16, 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.

I.    Joseph knew his brothers had repented somewhat of their wickedness against them.

A.  He knew they hadn't treated Benjamin like they treated him.

B.   Joseph still didn't know to what extent his brothers had repented, therefore, he had some other things to do to find out.


II.   Ruler of his house

A.  Note the chain of command.

1.      Pharaoh didn't rule his house.

2.      Joseph didn't rule his house.

B.   Joseph talked to the ruler of the house before he talked to the brothers.

1.      Joseph made up his mind about the brothers treating Benjamin right before he ever talked to them.

2.      Joseph wasn't really sure it was Benjamin, for it had been 22 years since he had seen him.

3.   He must take the brothers word for it.


Verse 17, And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph's house.

A.  The servant obey the strange requests of Joseph.

1.   It must have seemed odd to invite these strangers into the house to eat a meal.

2.      Nobody else was treated like that.

B.   The fact that the servant obeyed showed how much they respected Joseph.

1.      None of the servants questions why Joseph was doing this.

2.   The servants didn't have the right, because Joseph was over them.

3.      Sometimes the leaders of our country must do things we don't understand.

4.   It is much better if we will turn them over to the Lord, and let Him deal with them while we trust them to do the best toward us.

C.   Slay and make ready for the noon meal.

1.      This is apparently something special.

2.      Some commentators explain that Egyptians don't eat meat because they believe the animals are sacred.

3.      They explain that some animals could be eaten by peoples other than Egyptians.

4.   It is apparent that the animal was raised for slaying and eating.

5.   A good nourishing meal would really taste good after a long journey through the desert.


Verse 18, 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.

I.    The brothers are paranoid.

A.            Because of guilt, or dread or past hurts.

1.      What happened in the past will happen again.

2.      You can't always tell what a person is thinking, even by their looks.

B.   The brothers don't understand why Joseph invited them to his home.

1.      They think to harm them.

2.   As they leave the next day, they might feel the invitation would make up for the way they were treated on the first trip.


II.   Knowledge of greed.

A.            Regardless of how much people have, they are never satisfied.

B.   Paul said he had learned to be content in whatever state he was in.

C.   It would do us well to learn this very valuable lesson.


Verse 19-23, 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.

I.    Door - before they enter the house.

A.  They want to get this thing all straighten out before they go into the house.

1.      They are afraid that once they get into the house, they won't come out again.

2.      They think they have a chance to escape as long as they aren't inside the house.

B.   The brothers rehearse their story to the ruler of Joseph's house. 


II.   The stewards answer.

A.  God - Elohim - speaking of gods in the general sense.

1.      This is what the brothers would expect from an Egyptian.

2.   It may surprise us that others can worship God or even believe in one creator god.

B.   "I".

1.   The steward is the same person that put the money in the sacks.

2.      Genesis 44:1 - It is the steward of Joseph's house that puts the money in the brother's sacks, and the money and the cup in Benjamin's sack.

C.   He wasn't commanded to get Simeon, but brought him anyway.

1.   The steward knew this was what Joseph wanted.

2.   A good steward is more than an unthinking slave.


Verse 24 - 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.

I.    The obedience of the steward.

A.  Brought them into the house.

1.   He obeyed Joseph in spite of the brothers reluctance.

2.   The brothers could have overcome the steward, but they realized there was a power behind him they couldn't overcome.

B.   Gave them water to wash their feet.

1.      This is not hospitality today for we do not travel like they did.

2.   The steward didn't wash their feet, but the brothers washed their own feet.


Verse 25-26, 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.

I.    Made present ready - like Jacob did when he met Esau.

A.  They would hold the present in their hands and present them to Joseph.

1.      Giving and receiving from hand to hand is a closer fellowship than placing on a table, and receiving from a table.

2.   I believe one brother would give Joseph one present, then another brother would give another present, and so forth.

3.      This would make the presents seem bigger and better.

B.            Benjamin, the last presentation, would be last.

C.   They heard they should eat bread there.

1.      They didn't expect this.

2.   But they decided this would be a good time and place to give the presents to Joseph.


II.   Bowing.

A.            Compare Verse 26, bowing to the earth with verse 28 bowing their heads.

1.   In verse 26, the brothers prostrate themselves defenceless on the floor of the house.

a.   This shows their complete defenselessness,

b.   And their total dependence on Joseph.

B.   It should be noted that the brothers are not worshipping Joseph, they are giving obeisance.

1.      They are recognizing their position as a servant.

2.      They are recognizing Joseph's position as one over them.


Verse 27-28, 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.

I.    Asked them of their welfare.

A.  How are you doing?

B.   How was your trip?


II.   The brothers answer.

A.  It's good be in good health, but especially good in old age.


Verse 29, 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.

I.    Evidently hid Benjamin (final present) for last.

A.  Saved the best for last.

B.   The word "God" is Elohim; speaking of gods in the general sense.

1.      This is what the brothers would expect this "Egyptian" to say.

2.      Remember that Joseph would keep up the pretensions for the Egyptians interpreters.


Verse 30, 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.

I.    Matt. 23:37 - Jesus yearns to hold Jerusalem.

A.  Joseph yearns to hold Benjamin.

1.      Compare 42:24 - where Joseph "turned himself about from them, and wept".  There was some urgency upon Joseph, but not a very great urgency.

2.   In this scripture, Joseph makes haste, for his emotions have almost overflowed.

3.   The word "sought" indicates that Joseph's mind was becoming disoriented because of his emotions.   He didn't know where to go, and had to seek a place to be alone.

B.   Jesus yearns to save sinners, if they will come to Him.


Verse 31, And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.

I.    The indications are that Joseph did more than simply shed a few tears.

A.  The tears freely ran down his face.

1.   If he hadn't washed his face, the brothers and the servants would have been able to tell something was going on.

2.   He kept his weeping quite so nobody would know.

B.   Nobody knew Joseph had wept.

1.      There was no sobbing heard through the walls.

2.      Compare with 45:2 - This sobbing was heard through the walls.


II.   Refrained himself.

A.  Held his emotions in check.

B.   Said, "Set on bread."

1.      Taking his mind off his brothers and concentrating on something else would help him keep his emotions in the proper place.


Verse 32, 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.

I.    There were three tables set.

A.  One for the eleven brothers.

B.   One for Joseph.  This was the table he normally ate at.

C.   One for the Egyptians who ate with Joseph.

D.  It is a marvellous thing that Joseph had been in Egypt for 22 years, yet still didn't eat with the Egyptians.

1.      There is a difference between these two people that God has set, and it will continue until god changes it.

2.   The brothers wouldn't know anything about this custom.

E.   Joseph could have commanded the Egyptians to eat with him, for he had the power.

1.      Joseph carefully observed this tradition, even when he was the one set apart.

2.   It is a very difficult thing to observe the traditions of others, but we must do this if that tradition doesn't hinder us worshipping God.

F.   It must also be noted that this abomination is to the Egyptians, not to God.

1.   An abomination is the worse kind of sin there is.

2.      There are a lot of things that are an abomination to certain people.

3.   But only those things that are an abomination before God counts!


II.   Hebrew - are they only referring to Jews?

Refer to my Old Testament Survey Reasons I Believe It Was 64 Years From The Death Of Joseph To The Birth Of Moses


Verse 33, 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.

I.    There is no mention as to the procedure used for the seating.

A.  Joseph probably directed his servants to seat the brothers.

B.   The servants would not think this was unusual.

1.   The master of the house would always seat the guests.

2.   The servants wouldn't hear the brothers marvel at their seating arrangement because they couldn't understand Hebrew.


II.   Order at table - It is a wonder they even noticed.

A.            Marveled openly, Joseph surely heard, but made no open notice of it.

B.   This should have given the brothers a clue about who Joseph was, but it didn't.

1.   It evidently was prove to them that this man was able to supernaturally know something about their family structure.

2.      Genesis 44:15 - The brothers indeed came to the place where they believe Joseph could divine.

a.   The word divine does mean prophesy or prognosticate.

b.   It also means discover, determine, or ascertain.


Verse 34 - 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.

I.    And he took and sent messes unto them from before him.

A.  Note the hospitality shown.

1.   The servants served the brothers from Joseph's table at his direction.

2.      This is as close as Joseph can get to serving his brothers himself.

B.   Please note that a pastor is both the master of his people and their servant!

1.   The picture is that God serves the pastor at his own special, separate table.

2.   The pastor takes that which God has served him, and which he eats and serves his people.

3.   If this procedure is followed, the people will be fed, not flayed.


II.   But Benjamin's mess was five times so much as any of theirs.

A.  Five times greater - grace.

1.      This is an imperfect example of grace, for it is from a human to another human.

2.      Joseph prefers his full blooded brother over his half brothers, which is what the natural man will do.

3.   God gives us grace, but it is perfect grace, for it goes from the perfect one to those who are completely covered in wickedness and rebellion.

B.            Benjamin's preferment.

1.      None of the brothers seemed to think anything was strange about Benjamin receiving so much.

a.   This should have given the brothers a clue about who Joseph was, but it didn't.

b.   There is no mention that the brothers even noticed.

2.   The brothers didn't seem to mind Joseph receiving so much more than they did.

a.   This helped Joseph understand that the brothers didn't feel any animosity toward Benjamin like they did toward him.

b.   This fact, and the things Joseph had overheard his brothers say, help him understand that they were sorry for the way they treated him 22 years ago.


II.   And they drank, and were merry with him.

A.  They all relaxed over a good meal and had a good time.

1.   The brothers are very glad they came.

2.   The word "drank" doesn't mean they got drunk, but that they ate the meal and drank the beverage supplied to them.

3.   It was probably an intoxicating beverage, but they didn't get drunk.

B.   They certainly didn't expect the day to end like this!