Notes & 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. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. Asked us. This is perfectly consonant with what they say, chap. xlii. 13, and chap. 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, (Calmet) and the father of a family, chap. xlvi. 21. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. For ever. Always lay the blame on me, and punish me as you think fit. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Best fruits: Hebrew literally, “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, resinĉ; but here by that name is meant balm. (Challoner) See chap. xxxvii. 25. — Honey, or all sorts of sweet fruit. — Storax: Septuagint, “incense,” or perfumes. It is like balm; thick, odoriferous, and medicinal. — Myrrh, (stactes); Hebrew Lot. A liquor stamped from fresh myrrh pilled, with a little water. (Calmet) — Sometimes it is translated Gutta, a drop. (Psalm xliv. 9.) (Menochius) — Turpentine. St. Jerome and the Septuagint seem to have read Bothmin instead of the present Hebrew 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. (Pliny, Natural History xv. 22.) — Almonds; Septuagint nuts, of which almonds are one species. (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Desolate. Hebrew and Septuagint, “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, (chap. xviii. 1[Leviticus xvii. 11?]; Leviticus 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. (Ecclesiastes 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.) (Calmet)
Ver. 21. We opened. Chap. 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. (Haydock)
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 stewards. — 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. (Haydock) — Hebrew, “Your money came into my hands.” (Menochius)
Ver. 28. Living. The Samaritan and Septuagint add, “Joseph replied, Blessed be he of God: and bowing themselves,” &c. Thus all Joseph’s brethren adore him, chap. xxxvii. 7. (Haydock)
Ver. 32. Hebrews. “They had the same aversion for all who did not adopt their superstition.” (Porphyrius, Abstin. iv.) Herodotus, ii. 41, says, they 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. (Chaldean; &c.) They disliked the Hebrews, because they were also shepherds, chap. xlvi. 34 (Calmet); and because they knew they were accustomed to eat goats, oxen, and sheep, the objects of adoration in Egypt, (Exodus viii. 26): though they were not, probably, served upon Joseph’s table. (Tirinus) — They who dwelt in the towns could not bear even the Egyptian shepherds, because they were of a more stirring and warlike temper. (Calmet) (Cunĉus)
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, Esther i. 6, and vii. 8. — We have at least no earlier vestige of this custom in Scripture. (Calmet) — 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. (Haydock)
Ver. 34. Of him. Joseph, the master of the feast, sends a portion to each of his guests, according to the ancient custom. (Plutarch, 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, (Calmet) 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. (Haydock) — 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. (John ii. 10; Proverbs xi. 24[25?].) Homer’s feasts consist in every man taking what he pleased. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The sons of Jacob go again into Egypt with Benjamin. They are entertained by Joseph.
1 In the mean time *the famine was heavy upon all the land.
2 And when they had eaten up all the corn, which they had brought out of Egypt, Jacob said to his sons: Go again, and buy us a little food.
3 Juda answered: The man declared unto us with the attestation of an oath, saying: You shall not see my face, unless you bring your youngest brother with you.
4 If therefore thou wilt send him with us, we will set out together, and will buy necessaries for thee.
5 But if thou wilt not, we will not go: for the man, as we have often said, declared unto us, saying:* You shall not see my face without your youngest brother.
6 Israel said to them: You have done this for my misery, in that you told him you had also another brother.
7 But they answered: The man asked us in order concerning our kindred: if our father lived: if we had a brother: and we answered him regularly, according to what he demanded: could we know that he would say: Bring hither your brother with you?
8 And Juda said to his father: Send the boy with me, that we may set forward, and may live: lest both we and our children perish.
9 *I take the boy upon me, require him at my hand: unless I bring him again, and restore him to thee, I will be guilty of sin against thee for ever.
10 If delay had not been made, we had been here again the second time.
11 Then Israel said to them: If it must needs be so, do what you will: take of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry down presents to the man, a little balm, and honey, and storax, myrrh, turpentine, and almonds.
12 And take with you double money, and carry back what you found in your sacks, lest perhaps it was done by mistake.
13 And take also your brother, and go to the man.
14 And may my almighty God make him favourable to you: and send back with you your brother, whom he keepeth, and this Benjamin: and as for me I shall be desolate without children.
15 So the men took the presents, and double money, and Benjamin: and went down into Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
16 And when he had seen them, and Benjamin with them, he commanded the steward of his house, saying: Bring in the men into the house, and kill victims, and prepare a feast: because they shall eat with me at noon.
17 He did as he was commanded, and brought the men into the house.
18 And they being much afraid, said there one to another: Because of the money, which we carried back the first time in our sacks, we are brought in: that he may bring upon us a false accusation, and by violence make slaves of us and our asses.
19 Wherefore, going up to the steward of the house, at the door,
20 They said: Sir, we desire thee to hear us. *We came down once before to buy food:
21 And when we had bought, and were come to the inn, we opened our sacks, and found our money in the mouths of the sacks: which we have now brought again in the same weight.
22 And we have brought other money besides, to buy what we want: we cannot tell who put it in our bags.
23 But he answered: Peace be with you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks. For the money, which you gave me, I have for good. And he brought Simeon out to them.
24 And having brought them into the house, he fetched water, and they washed their feet, and he gave provender to their asses.
25 But they made ready the presents, against Joseph came at noon: for they had heard that they should eat bread there.
26 Then Joseph came in to his house, and they offered him the presents, holding them in their hands; and they bowed down with their face to the ground.
27 But he courteously saluting them again, asked them, saying: Is the old man your father in health, of whom you told me? Is he yet living?
28 And they answered: Thy servant our father, is in health; he is yet living. And bowing themselves, they made obeisance to him.
29 And Joseph lifting up his eyes, saw Benjamin, his brother by the same mother, and said: Is this your young brother, of whom you told me? And he said: God be gracious to thee, my son.
30 And he made haste, because his heart was moved upon his brother, and tears gushed out: and going into his chamber, he wept.
31 And when he had washed his face, coming out again, he refrained himself, and said: Set bread on the table.
32 And when it was set on, for Joseph apart, and for his brethren apart, for the Egyptians also that ate with him apart, (for it is unlawful for the Egyptians to eat with the Hebrews, and they think such a feast profane):
33 They sat before him, the first-born according to his birth-right, and the youngest according to his age. And they wondered very much;
34 Taking the messes which they received of him: and the greater mess came to Benjamin, so that it exceeded by five parts. And they drank, and were merry with him.
1: Year of the World 2298, Year before Christ 1706.
5: Genesis xlii. 20.
9: Genesis xliv. 32.
20: Genesis xlii. 3.