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see how he supports the character which he had assumed, that of an Egyptian nobleman, who remembered what they had said about a venerable old man, of whose welfare be very politely inquires. Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?
Ver. 28. They answer very properly, and call their father his servant, and again make obeisance. Thus, in them, Jacob himself bowed down to Joseph ; and thereby that part of his dream was also fulfilled.
Ver. 29. When Joseph first saw his brethren, his eyes, pero baps without bis being aware of it, were fixed on Benjamio, (ver. 16.) But having detected himself in that instance he appears to be more upon his guard in this. He receives the present, and converses with them about their father's welfare, without once turning his eyes towards his brother. But having done this, he thinks he may venture a look at him. He lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said to the others, but still under the same disguise, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? If he could have waited for an answer, they would doubtless have told him it was ; but his heart is too full. No sooner is the question out of his lips, than, it may be with his hand
upon his head, he adds, God be gracious unto thee, my son ! Oh Joseph, on what tender ground dost thou presume to walk ! This benediction, though under the disguise of a good wish from a stranger, was in reality an effusion of a full heart, which in this manner sought for ease. Genuine love longs to express itself.
Ver. 30. This little indulgence of affection, however, had well nigh betrayed him. Ardent desires will always plead hard to go a little way, and presume not to go too far ; but to indulge them a little is like letting air into a room on fire. Joseph is so affected by what has passed, that he is obliged to quit the company, and retire into his chamber to weep there.
Ver. 31. Having recovered himself, and washed his face, that they might not discover his tears, he re-enters, and behaves with much hospitality and attention.
Ver. 32–34. And now I apprehend, it was Joseph's wish to discover himself to his brethren, or rather to enable them to dis
cover him. There are three things in particular, while they were at dinner, each tending to this end, and as I conceive, designed for it. (1.) The order of the tables. One for himself, one for the strangers, and one for the Egyptians. The design of this was to set them a thinking of him, and who he was, or could be. That the Egyptians and Hebrews should eat apart, they could easily account for: but who or what is the man ? Is he not an Egyptian? Yet if he be, why eat by himself? Surely he must be a foreigner. (2.) The order in which they themselves were seated : it was before him, so that they had full opportunity of looking at him; and what was astonishing to them, every man was placed according to his age. But who can this be, that is acquainted with their ages so as to be able to adjust things in this order? Surely it must be some one who knows us, though we know not him. Or is he a diviner? Who or what can he be? They are said to have marvelled one at another, and well they might. It is marvellous that they did not from hence suspect who he was. (3.) The peculiar favour which he expressed to Benjamin, in sending him a mess five times more than the rest. There is no reason to suppose that Benjamin ate more than the rest : but this was the manner of showing special favour in those times. * therefore saying in effect, “I not only know all your ages, but towards that young man I have more than a common regard Look at all this, and look at me. Look at me, my brother Benjamin. Dost thou not know me ? But all was hid from them. Their eyes, like those of the disciples towards their Lord, seem to have been holden, that they should not know him. Their minds however are eased from all apprehensions, and they drank and were cheerful in his company.
* See Chap. xlv. 22, 23.
THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK.
Gen. xliv. 1-17.
VER. 1, 2. As every measure which Joseph had yet taken to lead his brethren to discover who he was, had failed, he must now have recourse to another expedient to detain them. Their sacks are ordered to be filled, and their beasts laden with as much corn as they can carry, their money restored jas before, and a silver cup put into the sack's mouth of the youngest. All this is love : but it is love still working in a mysterious way. The object seems to be to detain Benjamin, and to try the rest.
Ver. 3—6. Having stopped over the night, next morning at break of day they are dismissed, and set off for bome. After the treatment which they had received, we may suppose they were now all very happy. Simeon is restored, Benjamin is safe, and they are well laden with provision for the family. They would now be ready to anticipate the pleasure of seeing their father, and easing his anxious heart. But lo, another dark cloud presently overspreads their sky. They had scarcely got out of the city before the steward overtakes them, and charges them with the heinous crime of having stolen his lord's cup; a crime which would have been highly offensive at any time, but much more so after the generous treatment which they had received. And to perplex them the more, he intimates as if his lord were a diviner, and must needs be able to find out stolen property! Such we see VOL. V.
was heathenism, in those early ages ; and such heathenism is found even in Christian countries to this day.
Ver. 7-9. At this they are all thunderstruck with surprise ; yet, conscious of their innocence, they disown the charge, and express the utmost abhorrence at such a conduct. They appeal also to a fact with which the steward was well acquainted; namely, their having brought again the money which they had found in their sacks. Did this conduct comport with the character of thieves ?
Can it be supposed after this,' say they, that we should steal out of my lord's house either silver or gold ? Search us throughout. On whomsoever it be found, let bim die, and we will all consent to become slaves!' Such was their confidence that the charge was unfounded; and their invoking so severe a penalty would be a presumptive evidence that it was so.
Ver. 10, 11. The steward, who is well aware of some profound design on the part of bis master, though he knew not the whole of it, humours the thing with much address. He accedes to the mode of trial, but softens the penalty, proposing that none but the guilty should suffer, and he nothing more than the loss of his liberty. With this they readily acquiesce ; and being stung with reproach, they, with indignant sensations, hastily unlade every man his beast, in order to disprove the charge. How willing is conscious innocence that things should be searched to the bottom; and how confident of an honourable acquittal! Ver. 12. And now search is made, from the eldest to the
youngest. Ten out of eleven are clear, and enjoy the triumph of a good conscience; but lo, in the sack of the youngest the cup is found! Every thing seems contrived to give an edge to their
It was when they were leaving Egypt, in high spirits, that they were stopped ; and now when they bave disproved the charge, except in one instance, lo, that instance fails them! To have their hopes raised within one step of an acquittal, and then to be at once disappointed, was very affecting. Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
But what a confounding event! Could they really think for a moment that Benjamin had been guilty of the inean and wicked action wbich seems to be proved upon him? I do not suppose