Joseph having entertained his brethren, dismissed them: but here we
have them brought back in a greater fright than any they had been in
What method he took, both to humble them farther, and to try their
affections to his brother Benjamin, by which he would be able to
judge the sincerity of their repentance for what they had done
against him. This he contrived to do by bringing Benjamin into
distress, ver. 1 - 17.
The good success of the experiment: he found them all heartily
concerned, and Judah particularly, both for the safety of
Benjamin, and for the comfort of their aged father, ver. 18 - 34.
5: Is not this it in which my lord drinketh? And for which he
would search thoroughly - So it may be rendered.
16: God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants - Referring to
the injury they had formerly done to Joseph, for which they thought God
was now reckoning with them. Even in those afflictions wherein we apprehend
ourselves wronged by men, yet we must own that God is righteous, and finds
out our iniquity. We cannot judge what men are, by what they have been
formerly, not what they will do, by what they have done. Age and experience
may make men wiser and better, They that had sold Joseph, yet would not
18: And Judah said - We have here a most pathetic speech which
Judah made to Joseph on Benjamin's behalf. Either Judah was
a better friend to Benjamin than the rest, and more solicitous to bring
him off; or he thought himself under greater obligations to endeavour it
than the rest, because he had passed his word to his father for his safe
return. His address, as it is here recorded, is so very natural, and so
expressive of his present passion, that we cannot but suppose Moses, who
wrote it so long after, to have written it under the special direction of
him that made man's mouth. A great deal of unaffected art, and
unstudied rhetoric there is in this speech.
He addressed himself to Joseph with a great deal of respect calls
him his lord, himself and his brethren his servants, begs his patient
hearing, and passeth a mighty compliment upon him, Thou art even as
Pharaoh, whose favour we desire, and whose wrath we dread as we do
He represented Benjamin as one well worthy of his compassionate
consideration, he was a little one, compared with the rest; the
youngest, not acquainted with the world, nor inured to hardship, having been
always brought up tenderly with his father. It made the case the more
piteous that he alone was left of his mother, and his brother was
dead, viz. Joseph; little did Judah think what a tender point he
touched upon now. Judah knew that Joseph was sold, and therefore
had reason enough to think that he was not alive.
He urged it closely that Joseph had himself constrained them to
bring Benjamin with them, had expressed a desire to see him, had
forbidden them his presence, unless they brought Benjamin with them, all
which intimated, that he designed him some kindness. And must he be brought
with so much difficulty to the preferment of a perpetual slavery? Was he
not brought to Egypt in obedience, purely in obedience to the command of
Joseph, and would not he shew him some mercy?
The great argument he insists upon was the insupportable grief it would
be to his aged father, if Benjamin should be left behind in servitude.
His father loves him, (Ge 44:20). Thus they had pleaded against
Joseph's insisting on his coming down (Ge 44:22).
If he should leave his father, his father would die, much more if he now
be left behind, never to return. This the old man of whom they spake, had
pleaded against his going down. If mischief befall him, ye shall bring
down my grey hairs, that crown of glory, with sorrow to the grave.
This therefore Judah presseth with a great deal of earnestness, his
life is bound up in the lad's life, when he sees that the lad is not
with us, he will faint away and die immediately, or will abandon himself to
such a degree of sorrow, as will, in a few days, make an end of him, And
(lastly) Judah pleads, that, for his part, he could not bear to see
this. Let me not see the evil that shall come on my father.
Judah, in honour to the justice of Joseph's sentence, and to
shew his sincerity in this plea, offers himself to become a bond - man instead
of Benjamin. Thus the law would be satisfied; Joseph would be no
loser, for we may suppose Judah a more able bodied man than
Benjamin; Jacob would better bear that than the loss of
Benjamin. Now, so far was he from grieving at his father's particular
fondness for Benjamin, than he is himself willing to be a bond - man to
Now, had Joseph been, as Judah supposed, an utter stranger to the
family, yet even common humanity could not but be wrought upon by such
powerful reasonings as these; for nothing could be said more moving, more
tender; it was enough to melt a heart of stone: but to Joseph, who was
nearer a - kin to Benjamin than Judah himself, and who, at this time,
felt a greater passion for him and his aged father, than Judah did,
nothing could be more pleasingly nor more happily said. Neither Jacob
nor Benjamin needed an intercessor with Joseph, for he himself
loved them. Upon the whole, let us take notice,
How prudently Judah suppressed all mention of the crime that was
charged upon Benjamin. Had he said any thing by way of acknowledgment
of it, he had reflected on Benjamin's honesty. Had he said any thing
by way of denial of it, he had reflected on Joseph's justice; therefore
he wholly waves that head, and appeals to Joseph's pity.
What good reason dying Jacob had to say, Judah, thou art he
whom thy brethren shall praise, (Ge 49:8), for he excelled them all
in boldness, wisdom, eloquence, and especially tenderness for their father
Judah's faithful adherence to Benjamin now in his distress was
recompensed long after, by the constant adherence of the tribe of
Benjamin to the tribe of Judah, when all the other ten tribes