Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Genesis 43:15-34 comments: Joseph's feast with his brothers

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.

The brothers take the amount of money they intended to spend on the last trip that was returned to them and the same amount of money again, to buy more food. They were then greeted at Joseph’s house in a manner that probably surprised them somewhat. Joseph’s steward, whom we would call a butler today, calms their fears and gives them the story about the money being in their sacks on the last trip being a miracle. This is the steward’s story, perhaps ordered by Joseph. The reader is under no requirement to view this as from God Himself. Joseph had their money put back in their sacks. A great lesson is learned here. Just because a character in the Bible says something that does not mean that it is true or necessarily a doctrine. Read the text and the background, the context, before picking a verse and preaching on it.

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

Joseph is now overwhelmed at the presence of his beloved brother, Benjamin. The brothers are amazed at the feast set before them. The Egyptians not eating side by side with the Hebrews reveals the hostility and disgust these civilized people of one of the ancient world’s superpowers feel toward these herders from the area we today call Palestine. The arrangements are revealed with Joseph seated separately, appropriately for his rank it can be presumed, the Egyptians separately, and the brothers seated by eldest to youngest. Benjamin gets five times as much food as the brothers did but it apparently doesn’t affect them. They drank and were merry with Joseph.

A mess from which we get “mess-kit” and “mess hall” in old military terms also means a portion of food or a dish as in a mess of meat. Just think of it as a meal or as a specific dish in a meal as Nicholas Culpeper in his 1652 work ‘The English Physician’ wrote a “mess of warm broth.”

2Samuel 11:8  And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.

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