King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 43

Jacob is persuaded to send Benjamin into Egypt. (1-14) Joseph’s reception of his brethren, their fears. (15-25) Joseph makes a feast for his brethren. (26-34)

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Jacob is persuaded to send Benjamin into Egypt

1 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.

3 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.

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

7 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?

8 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.

11 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.

Joseph’s reception of his brethren, their fears

15 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.

16 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.

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

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.

19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,

20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:

21 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.

22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.

23 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.

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.

25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

Joseph makes a feast for his brethren

26 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.

27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?

28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of their’s. And they drank, and were merry with him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 5. My face, in peace. Joseph had told them they should be considered as spies, if they did not produce their youngest brother. M.

Ver. 7. Asked us. This is perfectly consonant with what they say. C. xlii. 13. and C. xliv. 19. They mentioned their having a brother at home, without the smallest suspicion of doing wrong.

Ver. 8. The boy; now 24 years old, (C.) and the father of a family. C. xlvi. 21. H.

Ver. 9. For ever. Always lay the blame on me, and punish me as you think fit. M.

Ver. 11. Best fruits: Heb. lit. “of the praise, or song of the earth;” or of those things for which the country is most renowned, and which are not found in Egypt. Origen. — Balm. Literally, rosin, resinæ; but here by that name is meant balm. Ch. See C. xxxvii. 25. — Honey, or all sorts of sweet fruit. — Storax: Sept. “incense,” or perfumes. It is like balm; thick, odoriferous, and medicinal. — Myrrh, (stactes); Heb. Lot. A liquor stamped from fresh myrrh pilled, with a little water. C. — Sometimes it is translated Gutta, a drop. Ps. xliv. 9. M. — Turpentine. S. Jer. and the Sept. seem to have read Bothmin instead of the present Heb. Batenim, which some translate, “nuts of the pistacium,” (Bochart); which hand in clusters, and are of an oblong shape. Vitellius first brought them out of Syria. Plin. xv. 22. — Almonds; Sept. nuts, of which almonds are one species. M.

Ver. 14. Desolate. Heb. and Sept. “Since I am deprived of my children, I am deprived of my children:” I must submit.

Ver. 16. Victims: the blood of which was first offered to God, as he had appointed, (C. xviii. 1. Lev. xvii. 5.) and the flesh brought upon the table. If idolatry was then common in Egypt, as Calmet supposes, in opposition to Grotius, Joseph did not participate at least in that impiety. — At noon. This was the time for the chief meal in Egypt. The Hebrews generally took something at this time, and again in the evening. To eat before noon was esteemed a mark of intemperance. Eccles. x. 16. Acts ii. 15. Plato thought the people of Italy, who eat two full meals in the day, would never be eminent for wisdom or for prudence. Athen. iv. 10. C.

Ver. 21. We opened. C. xlii. 35. They seem to have discovered the whole of their money only when they were in the presence of Jacob; though they had already, perhaps, seen part of it at the inn, and left it in their sacks for the satisfaction of their father. H.

Ver. 23. Your God. To Him we must always refer what advantage we derive from men. He inspired Joseph to give such orders to his steward. — I have for good. I received it, and was satisfied that it was good: you need not be uneasy; you are not suspected of any fraud. H. — Heb. “Your money came into my hands.” M.

Ver. 28. Living. The Sam. and Sept. add, “Joseph replied, Blessed be he of God: and bowing themselves,” &c. Thus all Joseph’s brethren adore him. C. xxxvii. 7. H.

Ver. 32. Hebrews. “They had the same aversion for all who did not adopt their superstition.” Porphyr. Abstin. iv. Herod. ii. 41. says, that would not use a knife which had been in the hands of a Greek, nor kiss him. This aversion arose, from their custom of abstaining from various meats which other nations eat. Chald. &c. They disliked the Hebrews, because they were also shepherds, C. xlvi. 34 (C.); and because they knew they were accustomed to eat goats, oxen, and sheep, the objects of adoration in Egypt, (Exod. viii. 26.): though they were not, probably, served upon Joseph’s table. T. — They who dwelt in the towns could not bear even the Egyptian shepherds, because they were of a more stirring and warlike temper. C. Cunæus.

Ver. 33. They sat. This posture is more ancient than that of lying down at table. The Hebrews adopted the latter, from the Persians, during the captivity. Est. i. 6. and vii. 8. — We have at least no earlier vestige of this custom in Scripture. C. — Very much: as they were placed in that order by the steward. They knew not how he could so exactly discover who was born first, as there was so short an interval between the births of many of them. H.

Ver. 34. Of him. Joseph, the master of the feast, sends a portion to each of his guests, according to the ancient custom. Plut. Sympos. ii. — Five parts: in order to distinguish Benjamin the more. So Hector reproaches Diomed for fleeing before him, though he was placed in the highest place at table among the Greeks, and had the largest portion both of meat and drink. — Merry. Inebriati sunt, sometimes means intoxicated: but it is not at all probably that Joseph’s brethren would indulge in any such excess, while they knew him not, (C.) and were under the impressions of fear and wonder. They took what was sufficient, and even decently abundant, with thankfulness for so unexpected an honour. H. — The word is often taken in this sense, as at the feast of Cana, where Jesus would never have furnished such an abundance of wine for people already drunk. Jo. ii. 10. Prov. xi. 24. Homer’s feasts consist in every man taking what he pleased. C.