On Genesis, Part 52: Angst and Desperation

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On Genesis, Part 52: Angst and Desperation

As we have illustrated in our discussions of each of the events in the life of Jacob, in only a few years from the time that he had entered Canaan his daughter Dinah had been raped, and Jacob had been angered by the rash manner in which Simeon and Levi had avenged their sister. Then his son Judah had run off and taken residence with a Canaanite woman, where he had stayed in Chezib, a place which is literally named falsehood, while having had his three sons with her. His eldest son Reuben had sinned against him by having slept with one of his wives. His son Joseph was esteemed to have been killed, and he never knew that his other sons had lied to him about what had actually happened. Then in addition to all of these things, his favorite wife, the only one whom he was said to have loved, had died at a relatively young age, shortly after she had given birth to his youngest son, whom he named Benjamin.

So even though Yahweh his God had promised to be with him after he departed from Haran, Jacob had continued to experience both Hope and Despair, as we had titled part 45 of this Genesis commentary, because in spite of the fact that he had inherited the wonderful promises which Yahweh God had made to Abraham, that his seed would inherit the world, and he himself was reassured those promises, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 35, he nevertheless had to suffer the circumstances of the evil world into which he had been brought. Modern Christians should take note of this, and consider what Jacob had suffered when they themselves suffer, because having the promises of God obviously does not make anyone immune to suffering. None of us are better than Jacob, who continued to trust in God regardless of his suffering.

So now, here in Genesis chapter 42, we witness Jacob’s continued angst and desperation as he suffers in the famine prophesied in the dream of pharaoh, and he must risk the sacrifice of his son Benjamin, his dearest living son, if his family is going to be saved out of it. At this point, it is evident that Jacob had most likely still been living in Hebron, although that is not stated explicitly. In the opening verses of Genesis chapter 46, shortly after he finally departs for Egypt, he stops at Beersheba to make sacrifices, so that is consistent with his having dwelt in Hebron. In the opening verses of Genesis chapter 45, Joseph informs his brethren that the famine has already been ongoing for two years. There had already been seven years of plenty since Joseph stood before pharaoh at age thirty. So now Joseph is about thirty-nine years old, or nearly that age.

At this point in Genesis, the year is around 1666 BC, and we would reckon that Jacob went to Egypt around 1665 BC, but of course we could be a year off depending on how long it had actually taken these events to unfold, the sons of Israel having had to travel to Egypt twice, then return to Hebron each time, and finally bring their father to Egypt once again, with all of his belongings. Jacob’s father, Isaac, would have died in 1675 BC, around the same time as the beginning of the seven years of plenty. So that would also have been the last time that Jacob had seen Esau. Since Joseph was 30 years old as the seven years of plenty had begun, then Jacob must have been 120 years old, and Isaac 180, which is how long the Scriptures inform us that he had lived.

With this, at this point in Genesis it would also already have been 214 years since the call of Abraham in Haran which had brought him to Canaan, at the age of seventy-five in 1880 BC. After another year, half the time of the 430 years which Paul had mentioned in Galatians chapter 3 will have elapsed at the point when Jacob goes to Egypt, and the children of Israel will be in Egypt for about another 215 years, until the time of the Exodus and the giving of the law at Sinai, some time around 1450 BC. While our chronology may not be perfect, it is at least consistent with every helpful statement we find in Scripture, since we have sought to base it solely upon the Scriptures.

Now returning to the point in Genesis where we had left off, in the closing verses of chapter 41 the prophesied seven years of famine have already begun, and Joseph continues to govern all of Egypt, dispensing grain to both the Egyptians and to those of the surrounding nations who come to Egypt seeking grain. We have already discussed the international trade of the ancient Egyptians, but for further insight into the period of our interest, we shall cite a 1951 article from the Oriental Institute by one John Wilson, who also happens to have been the translator of most of the inscriptions from ancient Egypt which we have cited throughout this commentary from the pages of Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament:

The Old Kingdom sent commercial and military expeditions into Libya, the Sudan, and Asia. It was not, however, imperialistic in a political or military sense. It did not attempt to conquer and hold foreign territory by resident governors and garrisons. Indeed, its contact with neighboring countries was very attenuated. Except for the commercial colony at Byblos in Phoenicia, there is little Old Kingdom Egyptian material to be discovered on foreign soil. [Any mention using the word Phoenicia here is an anachronistic use of the label - WRF] Pharaoh did send royal gifts to the prince of Byblos, and an Egyptian temple at that port tells us that Egyptians were perhaps resident there. We believe them to have been merchants sent by pharaoh to promote a flow of goods from Phoenicia and other parts of Asia, resident in a city-state which was sovereign and independent of Egypt. Elsewhere in Asia there is extremely little Egyptian material of the period. Only one piece of recognizable Old Kingdom material has been found on Palestinian soil, as against twenty of the Middle Kingdom and more than five hundred of the Empire. To the south of Egypt, Nubia was a stagnant backwater culturally, unmoved by the extraordinary advances made by pharaoh's land. The only imperialism of the time was commercial, and the few military operations known to us were raids undertaken to protect the channels upon which goods moved. As yet, there was no effective challenge to Egypt's security within her borders. As yet, her cultural superiority over her nearest neighbors was sufficient, so that she needed policing rather than conquest, so that trade flowed to her as if by right. As yet, she reclined serenely along the bed of the Nile, assured that the gods had made her superior to other peoples, mistress of all that she could survey.

Commercially and fiscally it was an age of barter, whether in the market place or through the payment of taxes in kind. Biennially and then later annually, there was a fiscal census, a governmental counting of arable land, cattle, and gold. On the basis of this inventory there would be an assessment of taxes, payable in kind – grain, hides, gold, and so on – or in labor. If later evidence is valid, such taxes were rendered by the provinces to the state, so that it is legitimate to suppose that there was a progressive farming-out of taxes. [1]

John Wilson, a noted Egyptologist from the mid-1920’s through the 1960’s, had collected this information from the many Egyptian inscriptions and papyri which he had translated, and we have presented it here so that we may exhibit its agreement with the methods which had been employed by Joseph in order to preserve Egypt through the seven years of famine, as they are described in Genesis. For example, when Joseph made an assessment against twenty percent of the grain during the seven years of plenty, he was apparently not doing anything which was too extraordinary. Where he is said to have set governors over provinces to assure the collection of such assessments, he was acting according to custom. When people from Canaan came to Egypt seeking trade and barter for goods, they were following channels of trade which had already begun to develop.

Although estimates may indeed vary, the period which archaeologists of ancient Egypt refer to as the Old Kingdom is generally dated from 2686 to 2181 BC. As this author has said, there are very few artifacts from this period which have been found abroad. The Middle Kingdom period is generally reckoned from about 1991 to 1649 BC. So it is near the end of this period of time that we esteem the events which are recorded in these chapters of Genesis to have taken place. The Empire to which the author refers is also called the New Kingdom, which begins with the start of the 18th Dynasty around 1549 BC, and which had come to rule over lands outside of Egypt, in Canaan and further south in Nubia and Cush, or Ethiopia. In between these kingdom periods were periods termed the First and Second Intermediate Period, which are generally times of uncertainty and change esteemed to have been accompanied by disorder and competing interests contending for the control of the realm. Therefore, here at this point in Genesis, Egypt is on the verge of entering the so-called Second Intermediate Period, wherein diverse dynasties of kings shall rule over only parts of Egypt, and the Canaanite Hyksos shall evidently rule at least much of the region of the Delta for at least a hundred years.

So it is this time of transformation from the Middle Kingdom to the Second Intermediate Period that Egypt is about to enter here in the time of Joseph, and this is also the same period, according to this same author, during which Egyptian goods seem to have been found in much greater numbers abroad. Therefore it is evidently during this period that Egyptian trade greatly expands, although it had existed in some degree since the early years of the Old Kingdom, and perhaps this event of the famine was at least one catalyst for that expansion of trade. Now, as we commence with Genesis chapter 42, Jacob himself notices that there was grain in Egypt, which the rest of his world was evidently lacking:

1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

The phrase “you look upon one another” seems to correctly render the Hebrew phrase תתראו or ththraah, which is actually the Hebrew word ראו or raah (# 7200) which means to see, prefixed with two occurrences of the letter ת or tav, which as a prefix is said to mean together or shall. This construction of the word, which is actually a phrase, only appears in Scripture in this verse, although it is a very common word. However the Septuagint renders the clause, as Brenton translated it, as “Why are ye indolent?” So in that manner the Hebrew phrase was interpreted as an idiom equated with the Greek word ῥαθυμέω which means to leave off work or to take holiday, according to Liddell & Scott. [2] Therefore we may realize that the Hebrew phrase which literally seems to mean “why do you look at one another”, or as this phrase had been translated in the New American Standard Bible, “why are you staring at one another”, is an idiom for “why do you stand around doing nothing?”

The word corn is from the Hebrew word שבר or sheber (# 7668), which is defined in Strong’s original Concordance as “grain (as if broken into kernels)”. Wherever corn appears in Scripture it actually refers to grain in general, as the word is used in Britain, at least until relatively recent times. So in the Britannica Dictionary on the internet, we read among other definitions of corn:

British, somewhat old-fashioned: a plant (such as wheat or barley) that produces seeds which are used for food

also: the seeds of such a plant: GRAIN [3]

3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

The Septuagint Greek has μαλακία, a word which means sickness or weakness, rather than any word which means mischief, as the Hebrew word אסון or asun (# 611) is translated in the King James Version. Evidently Jacob must have sheltered Benjamin for all of his young life, since he was the only surviving son of his beloved wife, Rachel. It must not be forgotten that Jacob had accounted Joseph for dead throughout this period of his life, and must have sheltered Benjamin for that reason.

5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

Evidently, at this time many Canaanites must have also been attracted to ancient Egypt to buy grain, and, at least in my opinion, this situation is what also may have attracted the attention of Canaanite chieftains to come to Egypt and occupy the Delta region within several decades after the passing of this famine. So if I may further opine, it seems to have been the success of Joseph which had later caused the kings of Canaan to realize the fertility potential of the Delta, and to invade it, but their occupation of the Delta also served to obscure the presence of the children of Israel in the Delta for two hundred years, since from an Egyptian perspective the Israelites would also have been seen as Asiatics, just like the Canaanites. While these things cannot be proven with concrete evidence, I would consider them to be strong possibilities in the context of both Scripture, our chronology of these events, and the context of this period of Egyptian history.

6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Unwittingly, here Joseph’s brothers had on their own accord fulfilled the dream for which they had despised him and sought to leave him in the pit for dead in the first place. But of course, in the verses which follow this is mentioned here Genesis.

The Hebrew word translated as governor here is שׁליט or shalit (# 7989), is defined in the original Strong’s Concordance as a “potent, concretely a prince or warrior” which is appropriate here since the word is prefixed with a definite article. The word appears in Scripture on only three other occasions, all of them in Ecclesiastes, where twice, in chapters 7 and 8, it is mighty and to have power but in chapter 10 it is used as it is here, accompanied with a definite article and translated as ruler in the King James Version.

7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. 8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.

The eldest of Joseph’s brethren, Reuben, must have been about eleven or even twelve years older than Joseph. If Jacob worked seven years for Leah and had Reuben in the eighth or ninth year of his twenty years in Haran, Joseph was born near the end of that twenty years. So when Joseph was left in the pit at age seventeen, Reuben must have been nearly thirty, and most of his other brothers were also fully grown. Now, perhaps about twenty-two years later, they certainly still should have been recognizable to Joseph, but perhaps he also may have had help, or even an assurance, where he could hear them in their conversation as they addressed one another by their names.

9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

As it is recorded in Genesis chapter 37, “5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. 6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. 9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”

So all of his brethren had immediately been able to interpret the obvious meaning of the dreams, for which his brothers despised him, and even Jacob was incredulous, not believing that he should ever worship his son. Perhaps that situation may also be perceived as a type for Christ, as Christ Himself had cited the writings of David where in Mark chapter 12 He is recorded as having addressed a crowd and we read: “36 ‘David himself said by the Holy Spirit: Yahweh said to my Master, sit at My right hand, until when I shall place Your enemies beneath Your feet! 37 David himself declares Him Master, and how is He his son?’ And the large crowd heard Him gladly.”

Here Joseph takes it upon himself to test his brethren, but his actions shall also bring to Egypt his brother Benjamin, and ultimately even his father. Then, as the account unfolds, it shall become apparent that Joseph has no ill will toward his brethren even though they had sinned greatly against him. So in that regard, the life and character of Joseph once again serves as a type for Yahshua Christ, who also has promised to hold nothing against His brethren for all of their past sins against Him. The forgiveness and mercy of Joseph, as well as the fact that only he was in a position to save his brethren from death in the famine, are all types for Yahshua Christ. However in the meantime, Jacob and his sons shall suffer angst and desperation, not knowing the fate that would befall them in the famine.

10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. 11 We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.

Of course Joseph knew that they were not spies, but evidently he wanted something to hold against them, so that he could compel them to bring forth his brother Benjamin. With this, we must bear in mind that Joseph was born shortly before Jacob had departed from Haran, but Benjamin was not born until Jacob had come again to Bethel. However Jacob did not go through Bethel until after Dinah had been raped and he had departed from Salem. So Dinah, who was a year or maybe two years older than Joseph, was probably sixteen or seventeen when she was raped, and within a year Benjamin was born in Bethlehem, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 35. At that time, Joseph was only about fifteen or sixteen years old, and he would soon thereafter be taken from his family. So Benjamin could not have been more than two years old when Joseph had last laid eyes on him, and he was Joseph’s only full brother.

12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

While the facts are sparse and the various archaeologists are in disagreement, earlier in our discussions of the history of Israel in Egypt we had posited the possibility that many of the pharaohs of the so-called 14th Dynasty of Egypt, whom some archaeologists also identify as Canaanites, may have only been tribal chieftains who managed to hold one portion of the Delta or another for some amount of time, since most of them are virtually unknown except for a much later 19th Dynasty papyrus called the Turin King List or Turin Royal Canon, which is esteemed to date from the time of the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II, who did not rule until the 13th century BC. [4] So bearing that in mind, along with the invasions of the Hyksos who formed what is called the 15th Dynasty shortly after this time, it may well be that the Egyptians had already, by the time of Joseph, become accustomed to Canaanite tribes entering into Egypt in order to spy it out for possible invasion. That situation would also make this accusation of Joseph’s sound plausible in the eyes of the Egyptians around him.

In this regard we must mention Manetho, who is believed to have been an Egyptian priest who wrote in Greek in the early 3rd century BC. He is credited with having written a volume called the Aegyptiaca, among other works, which are now known only as they had been quoted by other ancient writers. So in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Manetho, in the introduction, we read in part that “His works in their original form would possess the highest importance and value for us now, if only we could recover them; but until the fortunate discovery of a papyrus, which will transmit the authentic Manetho, we can know his writings only from fragmentary and often distorted quotations preserved chiefly by Josephus and by the Christian chronographers, Africanus and Eusebius, with isolated passages in Plutarch, Theophilus, Aelian, Porphyrius, Diogenes Laertius, Theodoretus, Lydus, Malalas, the Scholia to Plato, and the Etymologicum Magnum.” [5] The latest of those works is the last mentioned here, as the Etymologicum Magnum is dated to the 12th century AD. So apparently, Manetho was widely read by scholars, but poorly preserved by scribes.

In the fragments of his writings, there are descriptions of Hyksos, who are variously described as either Shepherd Kings or Captive Shepherds. In footnotes it is explained that these kings very likely ruled only one portion of the Western Delta, that they were contemporary with other dynasties elsewhere in Egypt, and that they are listed in the Turin Papyrus, as we have mentioned. These Hyksos kings may be associated with the time of the 14th and 15th dynasties in Egypt, at least in part. But the notes also explain that the number of kings who are associated with the 14th Dynasty in Manetho’s writings is seventy-six, while in the Turin Papyrus, which is fragmented, it is only “twenty or thirty”. Likewise, a citation from Africanus says that these kings, who ruled at Xois, reigned for 184 years, and Eusebius agrees but adds the remark “in another copy, 484 years”. [6]

Then, in the same volume and writing of the same period, the version of Manetho’s writing which was employed by Flavius Josephus for his treatise Against Apion is called into question, since it seems to contain elaborations which are purposely intended to support the Biblical accounts of the time of Israel in Egypt. So we find in a footnote pertaining to a section of Josephus’ citations of Manetho from his work Against Apion: “Josephus, in revising this treatise just as he revised his Antiquities, appears to have used a second version of Manetho’s Aegyptiaca. Did Josephus ever have before him Manetho’s original work? Laqueur [evidently the German historian and philologist Richard Laqueur, who is said to have done extensive research in Josephus - WRF] thinks it more probable that Josephus consulted revisions of Manetho made from the philo- or the anti- Semitic point of view… Since the third century B.C. an extensive literature on the origin of the Jews had arisen.” [7] But of course, even the Loeb Library editors must confuse the identities of Israel and Jews. However it does seem that Greeks and others had indeed been revising history in a manner which marginalized the accounts of history as they are recorded in the Old Testament, and as we have noted elsewhere, over a century before Josephus, Diodorus Siculus had cited a version of the Exodus from the 4th century BC historian Hecataeus of Abdera which was friendly to Egypt (Library of History, 40.3.1-3). Even the diverse interpretations of the word Hyksos seems to reveals a politicization of the historical accounts.

Although there certainly is value in his Against Apion, Josephus’ citations of Manetho confound all of the Asiatics in Egypt together, they claim that the so-called Shepherd Kings had ruled in Egypt for 511 years, and also that upon the rest of the Egyptians from Thebes and elsewhere making war against them, they left Egypt en masse and migrated to Judaea where they had built Jerusalem. [8] As I have asserted earlier in our commentary on these chapters, the occupation of the Egyptian Delta seems to have obscured the presence of the children of Israel in the midst of the other Asiatic tribes of the 15th Dynasty and earlier, and that is fully apparent in the citations from Manetho – whatever copy of Manetho it was – which are found in the works of Flavius Josephus. The Canaanite kings were driven out of Egypt by Ahmose I, which ended the 15th Dynasty of Egypt, and the children of Israel did not depart Egypt in the Exodus for another hundred years, disparate events which seem to have been confounded by these later Hellenistic writers.

Now Joseph’s brethren, having been accused by him of being spies, dispute the charge, seemingly in desperation:

13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.

These are circumstantial pleas which seemingly were made to preclude the notion that the men could be part of any military or political initiative. But Joseph persists, evidently because he wants the men to feel as if they are cornered and have no choice but to comply with the demands which he is going to make of them:

14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: 15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.

When he was seventeen, Joseph had suffered the unintended consequences of his honesty, where he had innocently related his dreams to his brethren, and they hated him for it and left him for dead in a pit. Now, his brothers would suffer the unintended consequences of their own honesty, where they admitted to Joseph that they had another brother in defense of his allegation, and he would use that admission against them to force them to bring him to Egypt as a proof that they were innocent of the charge. Later, in the opening verses of chapter 43, Jacob would lament the fact that his sons had told this Egyptian ruler of their brother. But here there is also an apparent lesson in that, as we should not judge men for the unintended, unforeseen and even often unforeseeable consequences of their own honesty, or their own good deeds.

So Joseph makes a rather severe demand:

16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. 17 And he put them all together into ward three days.

Now, at the end of the three days, Joseph’s position was somewhat softened, and that seems to have been a purposeful act of mercy:

18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: 19 If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:

At first, Joseph demanded that only one of them go to retrieve Benjamin, and nine remain in prison. Now he is willing to let the nine go, and hold only one as a hostage. The distance from Hebron to the location of modern Cairo on a straight line is about 250 miles. In ancient times, it would have taken at least five days, and as many as six or seven, to make that journey by land. As we had noted in part 42 of this commentary, in relation to Genesis chapter 31, it had taken Laban and his party seven days to travel from Haran to Mount Gilead in order to catch up to Jacob there, but the same distance had taken Jacob ten days to cover, with wives and children and herds. Those two locations are 345 miles distant by air.

Joseph continues his demand:

20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

If the men produce their younger brother, then Joseph will declare their words to be true, but of course he is only using this circumstance as a device by which he would fulfill his own desire to see his brother, without yet revealing his identity to the rest of them. The words “and they did so” seem to be a retrospective remark, whether it was made by Moses or not, however the clause also appears in the texts of the Septuagint and the Vulgate.

21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

Here, twenty-two years after they had left Joseph for dead in the pit, in their desperation they see their circumstance as a punishment from God for what they had done to him, and suffer angst on account of their predicament. Later, Jacob will express that same angst and desperation before he relents and accommodates Joseph’s demands. But it is only fitting that in the time of their trial, when only Joseph can save them, now they finally begin to think about Joseph. This seems to be a type for the typical behavior of Christians, who generally only think about Christ in times of trial.

22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.

This expression displays Reuben’s own belief that he and his brothers are about to suffer for what they had done to Joseph, and where he said “his blood is required”, they must have also believed that Joseph was dead, even though they had only found that he was missing.

Here Reuben had referred to his reaction to his brothers who had wanted to kill Joseph, where we read in Genesis chapter 37: “22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.” So while Reuben’s plan did not work as he had hoped, because the Midianites had found Joseph and taken him before Reuben could return to the pit, it is evident that he wanted to do him no harm. Later in that chapter, Judah suggested retrieving Joseph from the pit and purposely selling him into slavery, and the other brothers had all agreed, so Reuben’s plan would not have prevailed in any event.

They made these professions within the hearing of Joseph, having perceived that he was an Egyptian and not imagining that he could speak their language:

23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter. 24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept;

The fact that these Hebrew men had accepted the apparent fact that Joseph was an Egyptian is also an indication of the relative racial homogeneity between the Hebrews and the Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom period.

Here, when Joseph had overheard the plight of his brethren, the confession of their sins against him, and their anticipation of punishment for their sins, rather than gloating or making any self-righteous expression of revenge, he wept. This reveals Joseph’s nature and perhaps also the reason why he was such a fitting example to serve as a type for Christ, because he placed mercy for his brethren ahead of any other considerations.

Likewise, Christ, contemplating the coming punishment which was to come upon the people of Jerusalem, had also wept, as we read in Luke chapter 19: “41 And as He approached, seeing the city He wept for it, 42 saying that ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things for peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes! 43 Because the days come upon you and your enemies shall cast a palisade around you and they shall encompass you and enclose you from every side, 44 and they shall level you to the ground and your children with you, and they shall not leave in you a stone upon a stone, because you have not discerned the time of your visitation!’”

Continuing with verse 24:

and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

Joseph would hold Simeon as a hostage rather than Reuben, and while the choice seems to have been arbitrary, perhaps Joseph, knowing the sin of Reuben against his father, understood that Simeon, the second oldest son, may have been more highly esteemed in the eyes of his father than the disgraced Reuben. However that is arguable, since Simeon was also disgraced in Jacob’s eyes, for what he had done in Shechem, and Joseph must also have been aware of that.

Now, holding Simeon, he sends them off once again:

25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them. 26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.

At the end of a day’s travel, the group could camp out for the night, or if they were more fortunate, if they could afford to do so, they could stop at an inn if there was an inn available:

27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth. 28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

Perhaps Joseph’s restoration of the money with which his brethren had paid for their grain also has parallels as a type for the salvation which is of Christ, as the children of Israel cannot do or pay anything by which they themselves may be saved. Joseph gave his brethren their grain freely, as Christ has also redeemed and saved the children of Israel without money.

Of course, many of the children of Israel cannot believe that today, and cling to rituals and other denominational church paradigms of salvation by their own works. So it is with Jacob in subsequent chapters, and with Joseph’s brethren here, that they thought the restoration of the money to have been an oversight. Here they are portrayed as having actually even been afraid, that they had gotten their grain freely.

29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying, 30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. 31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:

On five occasions in this chapter we see the words “true men”, and on each occasion the King James Version has added the word men to the text. The Hebrew word for true is כנים, the plural form of כנ or ken (# 3651) which is an adverb that may be interpreted to mean right, just, honest, or true, but which also serves to express statements such as therefore, wherefore, thus, howbeit, and other similar expressions.

Now continuing with their explanation of the events to their father Jacob:

32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan. 33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: 34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.

The words “and ye shall traffick in the land” are not found in the text where Joseph had given the men their initial instructions, but that does not mean they were not spoken, only that Moses cared not to repeat them earlier.

Now the men are described as unpacking from their journey:

35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.

Here it is evident that while the money of each of them was placed in their respective sacks, it must have been visible to only one of them as he opened his sack on the way home during their journey. So only one of them saw the money as he opened his sack, and the others must have had it placed more deeply within them.

36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

Here Jacob seems to be blaming his sons for what had happened to Joseph, even if the account of his death was attributed the misfortune of an encounter with a wild animal. Now Reuben pleads with his father:

37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.

But in spite of Reuben’s conviction, and in spite of his own desperation in the face of the famine, Jacob refuses to relent, where he must have had great angst that he would also lose Benjamin. Here Jacob seems to have already accounted Simeon as lost, where it is also evident that Simeon, his second oldest son from Leah, was not nearly as dear to him as the sons of Rachel had been. In that manner, Jacob serves as a type for Yahweh God himself, who loves the sons of His chosen wife, above all of the other Adamic nations who also happen to be his children.

38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

Here Jacob seems to have sheltered Benjamin excessively, but the men did bring with them a certain amount of food, so perhaps he is also confident that the famine will somehow be alleviated by some other means before he would need more grain. Later, in chapter 43, he is left no choice as they exhaust their food once again, and can only get more from Egypt.

In this manner, perhaps Jacob serves as a type for Israel, and as a type for Yahweh God Himself, since he must risk his dearest living son if he desires salvation for his people. But risking his son, he shall find that his most-beloved son, Joseph, did not actually die, but lived in Egypt, where he would become the savior of them all. So in that same manner, it is apparent that Joseph is also a type for the resurrected Christ.

The numerous parallels in these accounts of the children of Israel in Egypt with the overall history of Israel and the promises in Christ cannot be mere coincidences, but rather, they inform us over and again that Yahweh God is true.

When we return to Genesis with chapter 43, we shall see that all of these men continue to suffer in their anxiety, but Jacob’s desperation ultimately outweighs his angst, and he relents and allows his sons to bring Benjamin to Egypt.

This concludes our commentary for Genesis chapter 42, however I have a few notes pertaining to our last presentation and Genesis chapter 41:


When I presented part 51 of this commentary on Genesis at Christogenea last Friday evening, I had made the assertion that claims made by certain authors of works on the Dead Sea Scrolls were wrong about the text of Genesis 41:16 as it is found in the Septuagint. But in preparation for the presentation, I had not yet verified my assertions against the text of the Codex Alexandrinus, which is one of the most important ancient witnesses to the text of the Septuagint. That was because the section of the British Library website where facsimiles of the codex are offered for public viewing is closed, and a three-and-a-third gigabyte PDF version took far too long for me to download from Archive.org in order to locate the verse and verify the text in time for my broadcast. So after the podcast was posted at Christogenea, I was able to locate the passage in question, on page 74 of the edition from the British Museum in which the codex is published. I had sought such a publication in the past, but only found it after I discovered the troubles with the museum website.

Therefore, when I read the passage in the Codex Alexandrinus, I discovered that it also refutes the claims of those Dead Sea Scrolls academics, and now I can assert with further confidence that Genesis 41:16 in the Septuagint does not agree with their reading of Genesis 41:16 as it appears in a fragment of the Dead Sea Scroll known as 4QGenj or 4Q9. So I have published an image of the passage in question as a comment below the posting of our presentation, titled Codex Alexandrinus on Genesis 41:15-16. Additionally, I have also published there another comment, which is a reproduction of a note which I sent to Eibert Tigchelaar, one of the authors in question. I do not anticipate a reply. But if and when I can take the time, I hope to also send similar messages to Martin Abegg, Eugene Ulrich and Peter Flint, as they have repeated this same mistake. Furthermore, for my part, I should indeed confront academic scholars more often when they are wrong about things from archaeology or Scripture, which they are, all too frequently wrong.


1 The Culture of Ancient Egypt, first published as The Burden of Egypt, John A. Wilson, University of Chicago Press, 1951, p. 82.

2 A Greek-English Lexicon, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Perseus Digital Library, https://www.perseus.tufts. edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aalphabetic+letter%3D*r%3Aentry+group%3D2%3Aentry%3Dr%28aqume%2Fw, accessed March 28th, 2024.

3 corn, The Britannica Dictionary, https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/corn, accessed March 28th, 2024.

4 Turin King List, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turin_King_List, accessed March 28th, 2024.

5 Manetho, W.G. Waddell, translator, Jeffrey Henderson, ed., Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 1940, p. vii.

6 ibid., pp. 74-75.

7 ibid., p. 85.

8 ibid., pp. 87-89.

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