Genesis 43

Genesis 43:1

וְהָרָעָ֖ב כָּבֵ֥ד בָּאָֽרֶץ׃

and the famine was great in the land.

Paraphrase:  Now to everyone’s dismay, the famine which had begun the year before continued for a second year (Genesis 45:6) making a harvest impossible and bringing untold suffering on the people of Canaan.



Genesis 43:2

וַיְהִ֗י כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר כִּלּוּ֙ לֶאֱכֹ֣ל אֶת־הַשֶּׁ֔בֶר אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֵבִ֖יאוּ מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם֙ אֲבִיהֶ֔ם שֻׁ֖בוּ שִׁבְרוּ־לָ֥נוּ מְעַט־אֹֽכֶל׃

and it was when they had finished to eat the grain which they had caused to come from Egypt, that their father said to them, “Return, buy grain for us, a little food.”

Paraphrase:  In the family of Jacob too, the grain supplies were dwindling lower and lower.  The brothers began to look about anxiously.  Clearly, they had to return to Egypt to get more grain.  The only alternative was starvation.  They also dreaded, however, returning and facing the ruler who had so sternly ordered them to bring Benjamin with them the next time they came.  Finally, it was Jacob who spoke up.  Grudgingly, he said, “Boys, get up, take some money, and get down to Egypt so we can have a little food.”



Genesis 43:3

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֵלָ֛יו יְהוּדָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר הָעֵ֣ד הֵעִד֩ בָּ֨נוּ הָאִ֤ישׁ לֵאמֹר֙ לֹֽא־תִרְא֣וּ פָנַ֔י בִּלְתִּ֖י אֲחִיכֶ֥ם אִתְּכֶֽם׃

and Judah said to him, saying, “The man certainly charged on us saying, “You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.”

Paraphrase:  Then Judah replied with great heaviness, “Father, what about Benjamin?  You know that the man in charge warned us sternly that he would not even entertain our request if we did not have our brother with us.” 



Genesis 43:4

אִם־יֶשְׁךָ֛ מְשַׁלֵּ֥חַ אֶת־אָחִ֖ינוּ אִתָּ֑נוּ נֵרְדָ֕ה וְנִשְׁבְּרָ֥ה לְךָ֖ אֹֽכֶל׃

If there is a sending of our brother with us, we will go down and we will purchase grain for you, food.

Paraphrase:  The rest of the brothers agreed that if Jacob would allow Benjamin to go with them, they would immediately go to Egypt to get more grain. 


Joseph was 17 when he was sold (Genesis 37:2) and 30 when made ruler. (Genesis 41:46)  Then there was seven years of plenty followed by 2 years of famine. (Genesis 45:6)  At the very least, Joseph would have been 39.  How old was Benjamin when Joseph was sold into slavery?  8-10?  Then Benjamin would have been in his low 30s.

Note the cohortatives here.  The meaning in this verse appears to be a strong resolve (KHW 41.1) on the part of the brothers that if Jacob would give the green light to Benjamin, they would surely make haste and get to Egypt with all possible speed.  The implication is that without Benjamin, they wouldn’t move a muscle.


Genesis 43:5

וְאִם־אֵינְךָ֥ מְשַׁלֵּ֖חַ לֹ֣א נֵרֵ֑ד כִּֽי־הָאִ֞ישׁ אָמַ֤ר אֵלֵ֙ינוּ֙ לֹֽא־תִרְא֣וּ פָנַ֔י בִּלְתִּ֖י אֲחִיכֶ֥ם אִתְּכֶֽם׃

But if there is not of you a sending, we will not go down because the man said to us, “You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.

Paraphrase:  If not, however, they all agreed that there was no point to going.  It would just be wasted trip.  “The man was crystal clear that if we failed to bring Benjamin, he would not even give us a second look.” said Judah.



Genesis 43:6

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לָמָ֥ה הֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם לִ֑י לְהַגִּ֣יד לָאִ֔ישׁ הַע֥וֹד לָכֶ֖ם אָֽח׃

and Israel said, “Why did you ruin me to reveal to the man still to you a brother?

Paraphrase:  Then Jacob broke down and wept with despair.  “Why did you have to tell him that you had another brother!?” he wailed.  “You already lost one of my sons; are you trying to ruin my life completely?!”



Genesis 43:7

וַיֹּאמְר֡וּ שָׁא֣וֹל שָֽׁאַל־הָ֠אִישׁ לָ֣נוּ וּלְמֽוֹלַדְתֵּ֜נוּ לֵאמֹ֗ר הַע֨וֹד אֲבִיכֶ֥ם חַי֙ הֲיֵ֣שׁ לָכֶ֣ם אָ֔ח וַנַ֨גֶּד־ל֔וֹ עַל־פִּ֖י הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה הֲיָד֣וֹעַ נֵדַ֔ע כִּ֣י יֹאמַ֔ר הוֹרִ֖ידוּ אֶת־אֲחִיכֶֽם׃

and they said, “The man surely asked us and about our circumstances saying, ‘Still your father is living?  and is there to you a brother?’ and we told him according to the mouth of these words.  How could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Cause your brother to come down.”

Paraphrase:  Judah protested.  “How could we possibly have known that he was going to ask us all these questions?  He wanted to know about you; he asked about Benjamin; he even inquired into our situation and how we were managing things on the farm during the famine.  We just answered his questions as best we could; we didn’t want to make any more trouble with him than we had already.



Genesis 43:8

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוּדָ֜ה אֶל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל אָבִ֗יו שִׁלְחָ֥ה הַנַּ֛עַר אִתִּ֖י וְנָק֣וּמָה וְנֵלֵ֑כָה וְנִֽחְיֶה֙ וְלֹ֣א נָמ֔וּת גַּם־אֲנַ֥חְנוּ גַם־אַתָּ֖ה גַּם־טַפֵּֽנוּ׃

and Judah said to Israel, his father, “Send the young man with me, and let him arise, and let him go, and we will live and not die; also we, also you, also our little ones.

Paraphrase:  “Listen,” he said to Jacob.  “Either we go to Egypt and replenish our grain stock or we starve.  There are no other options.  All our best efforts to grow our own food have failed for the second year in a row. (Genesis 45:6)  There’s no way around it; our only hope is to get grain from Egypt.  Please, we beg you, let Benjamin go with us.  We have no hope of getting any grain from Egypt without him.  Let him go with us before we and all our families and children starve.  We don’t have much time left.”


גַּם is often used as a correlative conjunction.


Genesis 43:9

אָֽנֹכִי֙ אֶֽעֶרְבֶ֔נּוּ מִיָּדִ֖י תְּבַקְשֶׁ֑נּוּ אִם־לֹ֨א הֲבִיאֹתִ֤יו אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ וְהִצַּגְתִּ֣יו לְפָנֶ֔יךָ וְחָטָ֥אתִֽי לְךָ֖ כָּל־הַיָּמִֽים׃

I will be surety for him; from my hand you may demand him if I do not cause him to come to you and if I do not present him before you, and I incur guilt before you all the days.

Paraphrase:  I personally guarantee his safe return.  If anything happens to him in Egypt, I will take his place and will send him back safely with the others.  Otherwise, if I return and Benjamin is not with me and I am not able to present him to you safe and sound, you may hold me responsible for his life.  The guilt of this my failure will rest on me for the rest of my life; it will never be forgiven or atoned for.


Recall the foolish promises Reuben had made previously. (Genesis 42:37)  Also recall Genesis 37:26.

Genesis 9:5 uses similar language as Judah’s here.  all the days” implies that Judah was not giving his father warrant to take his life if he failed to bring Benjamin home.


Genesis 43:10

כִּ֖י לוּלֵ֣א הִתְמַהְמָ֑הְנוּ כִּֽי־עַתָּ֥ה שַׁ֖בְנוּ זֶ֥ה פַעֲמָֽיִם׃

For if we had not lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

Paraphrase:  Now how much longer are we going to sit here?  By now, we could have gone to Egypt and back twice.”



Genesis 43:11

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֜ם יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל אֲבִיהֶ֗ם אִם־כֵּ֣ן׀ אֵפוֹא֮ זֹ֣את עֲשׂוּ֒ קְח֞וּ מִזִּמְרַ֤ת הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ בִּכְלֵיכֶ֔ם וְהוֹרִ֥ידוּ לָאִ֖ישׁ מִנְחָ֑ה מְעַ֤ט צֳרִי֙ וּמְעַ֣ט דְּבַ֔שׁ נְכֹ֣את וָלֹ֔ט בָּטְנִ֖ים וּשְׁקֵדִֽים׃

and Israel, their father, said to them, “If thus, then this do; take choice fruits of the land in your sack and cause to go down to the man a gift, a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachios and almonds.

Paraphrase:  Then Jacob sighed in despair.  There was no arguing with the facts.  The brothers would have to go to Egypt, and Benjamin would have to go with them.  “At least, do this,” he said, “Bring a gift to the man and perhaps that will pacify him.  Take some of our best fruits, some balm and honey.  Take some of these spices and myrrh as well and don’t forget to throw in a few pistachios and almonds.  These kind of things don’t grow well in Egypt, and so might be a welcome gift to him in this time of famine.  


The things mentioned here would have been things imported into Egypt from Palestine.  “The highlands of Palestine in Bible times do not seem to have supplied very much material for foreign commerce. Honey, balsam, wheat, and oil were forwarded to Phenicia (1 Kings 5:11; Ezra. 3:7; Ezek. 27:17), while spices, balm, myrrh, honey, pistachio nuts, almonds, and oil were forwarded to Egypt (Gen. 37:25; Hosea 12:1). source  Edersheim writes (p166):

It is touching, as it were, to watch the trembling hands of the old man as he makes feeble attempts to ward off the wrath of the dreaded Egyptian. It was a famine-year, and, naturally, there would be scarcity of the luxuries which were usually exported from the East to Egypt. Let them, then, take a present of such dainties to the Egyptian—a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds.


Genesis 43:12

וְכֶ֥סֶף מִשְׁנֶ֖ה קְח֣וּ בְיֶדְכֶ֑ם וְאֶת־הַכֶּ֜סֶף הַמּוּשָׁ֨ב בְּפִ֤י אַמְתְּחֹֽתֵיכֶם֙ תָּשִׁ֣יבוּ בְיֶדְכֶ֔ם אוּלַ֥י מִשְׁגֶּ֖ה הֽוּא׃

and silver double take in your hand and the silver, being caused to return in mouth of your sacks, return in your hand, perhaps it was a mistake.

Paraphrase:  Then be sure to take enough money with you to cover both your purchase of new grain and to pay for the grain that you didn’t pay for on your first visit since all of you found your money in your sacks.  Perhaps there was a misunderstanding in the grain distribution office, and you can resolve that by explaining what happened and returning the money with our regrets for the mistake.



Genesis 43:13

וְאֶת־אֲחִיכֶ֖ם קָ֑חוּ וְק֖וּמוּ שׁ֥וּבוּ אֶל־הָאִֽישׁ׃

and your brother take and go up, return to the man.

Paraphrase:  and yes, if you must, take Benjamin too.  Go back to Egypt and face this terrible man who will likely remove from me the last vestige of happiness I have left on this earth.



Genesis 43:14

וְאֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֗י יִתֵּ֨ן לָכֶ֤ם רַחֲמִים֙ לִפְנֵ֣י הָאִ֔ישׁ וְשִׁלַּ֥ח לָכֶ֛ם אֶת־אֲחִיכֶ֥ם אַחֵ֖ר וְאֶת־בִּנְיָמִ֑ין וַאֲנִ֕י כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׁכֹ֖לְתִּי שָׁכָֽלְתִּי׃

and God Almighty give to you mercies before the man and send to you your brothers after and Benjamin, and I, when I am bereaved, I am bereaved. 

Paraphrase:  May the Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, who appeared to my father Abraham and Isaac, show His mercies to you so that when you stand before this man, his heart may be a little softer, and he will allow all of you to return with Simeon and Benjamin.  Alas, if not, then whatever will be, will be.  I’ve lost one child already; how could my grief be made any worse.  If I lose another child, then what can I do about it.  My life is over.”



Genesis 43:15

וַיִּקְח֤וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁים֙ אֶת־הַמִּנְחָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את וּמִשְׁנֶה־כֶּ֛סֶף לָקְח֥וּ בְיָדָ֖ם וְאֶת־בִּנְיָמִ֑ן וַיָּקֻ֙מוּ֙ וַיֵּרְד֣וּ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַיַּֽעַמְד֖וּ לִפְנֵ֥י יוֹסֵֽף׃

and the men took this gift and double silver they took in their hand and Benjamin, and they got up and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.  

Paraphrase:  When Jacob finished speaking, he turned and left.  The brothers packed up the gifts and money and began the long trip to Egypt with Benjamin trudging along after them.  After several weeks of travel, they arrived in Egypt and, with great dread, lined up at the grain distribution office with the others to purchase grain.


Assuming the distance between Egypt and Canaan was 300-400 miles and the brothers could cover 15-25 miles in a day, the trip would have taken them 2-4 weeks of steady walking.


Genesis 43:16

וַיַּ֨רְא יוֹסֵ֣ף אִתָּם֮ אֶת־בִּנְיָמִין֒ וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לַֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־בֵּית֔וֹ הָבֵ֥א אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים הַבָּ֑יְתָה וּטְבֹ֤חַ טֶ֙בַח֙ וְהָכֵ֔ן כִּ֥י אִתִּ֛י יֹאכְל֥וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים בַּֽצָּהֳרָֽיִם׃

and Joseph saw them with Benjamin, and he said to the man over his house, “Cause the men to go to the house and slaughter a slaughter and prepare that the men might eat at midday.”

Paraphrase:  “Next!” barked the secretary.  The brothers shuddered when they saw the great Vizier of Egypt staring down at them.  It was their turn.  All eleven men stepped forward and fell on their faces before Joseph.  Joseph immediately recognized his brothers; they had returned.  Quickly, he motioned for his house steward.  When the steward drew near, Joseph whispered, “We’re going to have lunch with these men today.  Quickly get back to the house and have the chefs prepare a first class feast for them.  I’ll be there around noon.”



Genesis 43:17

וַיַּ֣עַשׂ הָאִ֔ישׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֖ר אָמַ֣ר יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיָּבֵ֥א הָאִ֛ישׁ אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים בֵּ֥יתָה יוֹסֵֽף׃

and the man did what Joseph said, and the man caused the men to go to the house of Joseph.

Paraphrase:  “Right away, sir!” whispered the house steward.  Then, he turned and ordered several messengers to bring these orders to Joseph’s chefs.  Then he stepped forward and ordered the brothers to stand up and follow him.  “You’re going to eat with the Vizier today,” he announced.



Genesis 43:18

וַיִּֽירְא֣וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֗ים כִּ֣י הֽוּבְאוּ֮ בֵּ֣ית יוֹסֵף֒ וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ עַל־דְּבַ֤ר הַכֶּ֙סֶף֙ הַשָּׁ֤ב בְּאַמְתְּחֹתֵ֙ינוּ֙ בַּתְּחִלָּ֔ה אֲנַ֖חְנוּ מֽוּבָאִ֑ים לְהִתְגֹּלֵ֤ל עָלֵ֙ינוּ֙ וּלְהִתְנַפֵּ֣ל עָלֵ֔ינוּ וְלָקַ֧חַת אֹתָ֛נוּ לַעֲבָדִ֖ים וְאֶת־חֲמֹרֵֽינוּ׃

and the men saw that they were caused to go to the house of Joseph, and they said, “Because the silver was returned in our sacks at the first time, we are being caused to go, to to roll over on us and to throw himself on us and to take us for slaves and our donkeys.”

Paraphrase:  Now when the brothers saw that they were being brought to Joseph’s house, their hearts sank.  “We’re finished,” said Reuben in despair.  “Surely, he will bring up the fact that we never paid for the grain which we took the last time we were here.”  “He’s going to roll us up like a newspaper and sell us all into slavery.” said Levi under his breath.  “I suspect even our donkeys will become Egyptian slaves.” quipped Benjamin.


For עַל־דְּבַר, see p234(4).


Genesis 43:19

וַֽיִּגְּשׁוּ֙ אֶל־הָאִ֔ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־בֵּ֣ית יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיְדַבְּר֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו פֶּ֥תַח הַבָּֽיִת׃

And they drew near to the man which was over the house of Joseph and spoke to him at the door of the house.

Paraphrase:  As they made their way to Joseph’s palace, Judah finally decided the direct approach was their only alternative.  “Dear sir,” he said as they came up to the door, “May I have a brief word.”  “You may,” said the steward.  “How can I help?”



Genesis 43:20

וַיֹּאמְר֖וּ בִּ֣י אֲדֹנִ֑י יָרֹ֥ד יָרַ֛דְנוּ בַּתְּחִלָּ֖ה לִשְׁבָּר־אֹֽכֶל׃

And they said, “Please lord, we really came down the first time to buy grain for food.”

Paraphrase:  “Sorry to trouble you with this, sir.” said Judah.  “But we brothers came down to Egypt from Canaan some time ago to buy some grain for our families.  As you know, the famine has really hit Canaan hard.



Genesis 43:21

וַֽיְהִ֞י כִּי־בָ֣אנוּ אֶל־הַמָּל֗וֹן וַֽנִּפְתְּחָה֙ אֶת־אַמְתְּחֹתֵ֔ינוּ וְהִנֵּ֤ה כֶֽסֶף־אִישׁ֙ בְּפִ֣י אַמְתַּחְתּ֔וֹ כַּסְפֵּ֖נוּ בְּמִשְׁקָל֑וֹ וַנָּ֥שֶׁב אֹת֖וֹ בְּיָדֵֽנוּ׃

And it was that we came to the khan and opened our sacks; and behold, each man’s silver was in the mouth of his sack, our silver by its weight, and we returned it in our hand.

Paraphrase:  We purchased a large supply of grain and with gratitude to your kindness, made our way back to Canaan.  When we finally agreed to stop for the night, imagine our shock when we discovered that all our money was still in our sacks on top of the grain we had just been given!  The entire amount was there!  



Genesis 43:22

וְכֶ֧סֶף אַחֵ֛ר הוֹרַ֥דְנוּ בְיָדֵ֖נוּ לִשְׁבָּר־אֹ֑כֶל לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְנוּ מִי־שָׂ֥ם כַּסְפֵּ֖נוּ בְּאַמְתְּחֹתֵֽינוּ׃

And more money we have caused to go down in our hand to purchase grain for food; we do not know who is there, our silver in our sacks.

Paraphrase:  Now that we have returned for more grain, we have brought with us the money we owe for the grain we purchased on our first trip as well as additional funds for the purchase of more.  Please forgive us for this error; it was not at all our intent to take the grain without paying.  As for the money, we have no idea how it got back into our sacks.  When we were at the grain distribution office, we gave the money to the clerk.”



Genesis 43:23

וַיֹּאמֶר֩ שָׁל֨וֹם לָכֶ֜ם אַל־תִּירָ֗אוּ אֱלֹ֨הֵיכֶ֜ם וֵֽאלֹהֵ֤י אֲבִיכֶם֙ נָתַ֨ן לָכֶ֤ם מַטְמוֹן֙ בְּאַמְתְּחֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם כַּסְפְּכֶ֖ם בָּ֣א אֵלָ֑י וַיּוֹצֵ֥א אֲלֵהֶ֖ם אֶת־שִׁמְעֽוֹן׃

And he said, “Peace to you; do not fear; your God and the God of your fathers gave to you secret treasure in your sacks; your silver came to me.  Then he caused Simeon to go forth to them.

Paraphrase:  “Don’t worry about that,” said the steward.  “I do remember you giving me the money for the grain.  You are all paid up for that, and no one is charging you with failure to pay.  As for the money that was in your sacks, I think that your God and your father’s God just decided to give this money as a secret gift.  I would suggest you receive it with thanksgiving and say no more about it.”  Judah and the other brothers stood agape at what they had just heard.  Their God? and their father’s God?  What could the steward possibly know about YHWH, the Great King and Creator of heaven and earth who they and their father worshipped?  While the brothers were relieved to hear what the steward said, they were also struck by the utter mystery of it all.  What was happening to them?  Their astonishment increased all the more when a prison guard stepped up to them leading none other than their brother Simeon!  The brothers rushed forward to greet him.



Genesis 43:24

וַיָּבֵ֥א הָאִ֛ישׁ אֶת־הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים בֵּ֣יתָה יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיִּתֶּן־מַ֙יִם֙ וַיִּרְחֲצ֣וּ רַגְלֵיהֶ֔ם וַיִּתֵּ֥ן מִסְפּ֖וֹא לַחֲמֹֽרֵיהֶֽם׃

And the man caused the men to come to the house of Joseph, and he gave water and washed their feet and gave food to their donkeys.

Paraphrase:  “Come on in!” said the steward cheerfully.  “Welcome to the house of the Grand Vizier!”  As the brothers entered, servants appeared with drinks for them all.  Other servants washed their feet while others led away the donkeys and gave them their food.  This only increased the brothers’ astonishment as they had no idea why they were being treated like royalty.  All they could do was look at each other incredulously.



Genesis 43:25

וַיָּכִ֙ינוּ֙ אֶת־הַמִּנְחָ֔ה עַד־בּ֥וֹא יוֹסֵ֖ף בַּֽצָּהֳרָ֑יִם כִּ֣י שָֽׁמְע֔וּ כִּי־שָׁ֖ם יֹ֥אכְלוּ לָֽחֶם׃

And they prepared the gift until the coming of Joseph at noon for they heard that there they would eat bread. 

Paraphrase:  Then the brothers remembered the gifts they had brought for the Vizier.  Quickly, two of them returned to the donkeys, unloaded the gift bags and brought them back into the palace.  The gifts were carefully arranged on a table since the brothers wanted to have everything ready for when Joseph arrived at noon.  They remembered that the steward had told them that they would have lunch with the Vizier at noon.



Genesis 43:26

וַיָּבֹ֤א יוֹסֵף֙ הַבַּ֔יְתָה וַיָּבִ֥יאּוּ ל֛וֹ אֶת־הַמִּנְחָ֥ה אֲשֶׁר־בְּיָדָ֖ם הַבָּ֑יְתָה וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ־ל֖וֹ אָֽרְצָה׃

And Joseph came to the house, and they caused the gift to come to him which was in their hand to the house, and they bowed before him to the ground.

Paraphrase:  Finally, Joseph made his entrance.  “The Grand Vizier!” shouted the steward.  Immediately, all the brothers fell on their faces to the ground trembling with terrible anxiety.  Judah rose only briefly to greet the Vizier and to point him to the table on which their gifts had been arranged.  “Please, your honor, accept these gifts from your servants.” he murmured.



Genesis 43:27

וַיִּשְׁאַ֤ל לָהֶם֙ לְשָׁל֔וֹם וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הֲשָׁל֛וֹם אֲבִיכֶ֥ם הַזָּקֵ֖ן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲמַרְתֶּ֑ם הַעוֹדֶ֖נּוּ חָֽי׃

And he asked them about peace and said, “Is your father, the elderly, in peace, who you spoke?  Is he still living?

Paraphrase:  Joseph ordered them to rise and greeted each of them warmly.  “How are you all doing?  and how is your elderly father doing whom you mentioned the first time you came?  I trust he is well; is he still living?



Genesis 43:28

וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ שָׁל֛וֹם לְעַבְדְּךָ֥ לְאָבִ֖ינוּ עוֹדֶ֣נּוּ חָ֑י וַֽיִּקְּד֖וּ וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ׃

And they said, “It is peace to your servants, to our father.  He is still living, and they bowed and they bowed.

Paraphrase:  “It is kind of you to ask,” said Judah.  “We are all well as is our father.  He is still living and is awaiting our return.”  Then the brothers all bowed again and placed their foreheads on the ground.



Genesis 43:29

וַיִּשָּׂ֣א עֵינָ֗יו וַיַּ֞רְא אֶת־בִּנְיָמִ֣ין אָחִיו֮ בֶּן־אִמּוֹ֒ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הֲזֶה֙ אֲחִיכֶ֣ם הַקָּטֹ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֵלָ֑י וַיֹּאמַ֕ר אֱלֹהִ֥ים יָחְנְךָ֖ בְּנִֽי׃

And he lifted up his eyes and saw Benjamin, his brother, son of his mother.  Then he said, “Is this your little brother whom you said to me?”  And he said, “God show favor to you, my son.”

Paraphrase:  Again Joseph told the brothers to rise.  He looked at them until he came to Benjamin. Joseph looked at youngest brother in the eye.  Here was his brother who he had not seen in over 20 years.  Here was the only other child of his beloved mother, Rachel.  “Is this the younger brother you had told me about the last time you were here?” Joseph asked.  “God bless you, my son.”  Joseph spoke, his voice choking.  



Genesis 43:30

וַיְמַהֵ֣ר יוֹסֵ֗ף כִּֽי־נִכְמְר֤וּ רַחֲמָיו֙ אֶל־אָחִ֔יו וַיְבַקֵּ֖שׁ לִבְכּ֑וֹת וַיָּבֹ֥א הַחַ֖דְרָה וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ שָֽׁמָּה׃

And Joseph rushed out for his bowel was warm towards his brother, and he sought [a place]  for weeping, and he entered to the room and wept there.

Paraphrase:  Then Joseph could contain himself no longer.  The sight of his youngest brother brought waves of emotion over him which he could not restrain.  He turned from his brothers and hurried out of the room.  He knew he had to find a private place where he could weep freely.  Unfortunately, the nearest rooms were occupied leaving Joseph no other option than to flee to his own bedroom.  Here, he shut the door and poured out his heart in a flood of tears.



Genesis 43:31

וַיִּרְחַ֥ץ פָּנָ֖יו וַיֵּצֵ֑א וַיִּ֨תְאַפַּ֔ק וַיֹּ֖אמֶר שִׂ֥ימוּ לָֽחֶם׃

Then he washed his face and went forth and restrained himself and said, “Place the food.”

Paraphrase:  Finally, Joseph regained control of himself.  He washed his face with cool water so as to hide his emotion and returned to the dining hall.  “Let the meal be served.” he ordered.



Genesis 43:32

וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ ל֛וֹ לְבַדּ֖וֹ וְלָהֶ֣ם לְבַדָּ֑ם וְלַמִּצְרִ֞ים הָאֹכְלִ֤ים אִתּוֹ֙ לְבַדָּ֔ם כִּי֩ לֹ֨א יוּכְל֜וּן הַמִּצְרִ֗ים לֶאֱכֹ֤ל אֶת־הָֽעִבְרִים֙ לֶ֔חֶם כִּי־תוֹעֵבָ֥ה הִ֖וא לְמִצְרָֽיִם׃

Then they set for him by himself and to them by themselves and for the Egyptians eating with him by themselves for the Egyptians are not able to eat with the Hebrews bread for it is disgusting to the Egyptians.

Paraphrase:  Immediately the servants swung into action and seated Joseph and his men at a table which was on a raised platform.  Then they led the brothers to a separate table which was on a lower level but still in the same room.  The reason for this was that the Egyptians were a racist people and would never eat at the same table with another ethnic group like the Hebrews.  For them, this was a disgusting thing to do.  



Genesis 43:33

וַיֵּשְׁב֣וּ לְפָנָ֔יו הַבְּכֹר֙ כִּבְכֹ֣רָת֔וֹ וְהַצָּעִ֖יר כִּצְעִרָת֑וֹ וַיִּתְמְה֥וּ הָאֲנָשִׁ֖ים אִ֥ישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵֽהוּ׃

Then they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the younger according to his youth, and the men were stunned each man to his friend.

Paraphrase:  The brothers looked on in astonishment as they were all seated according to their age.  Reuben was the oldest and was thus seated at the head of the table in keeping with his privilege as the firstborn.  Then came Simeon who had just been released from prison.  Then, Levi and Judah, the third and fourth sons of Jacob by Leah.  Dan and Naphtali were next being the fifth and sixth sons of Jacob by Bilhah, Rachel’s maid.  Gad and Asher were next being the seventh and eighth sons of Jacob by Zilpah, Leah’s maid.  Then came Leah’s youngest children, Issachar and Zebulun.  Finally, came the youngest of them all, Benjamin who was the son of Rachel and the light of Jacob’s life.  The brothers looked at each other in bewilderment.  How could the steward have possibly known their birth order?  Was the Vizier of Egypt really a person with some kind of divine power?  What else did this Vizier know about them?  Did he perhaps notice that one of the twelve sons was missing?  Did he know what had happened to him?



Genesis 43:34

וַיִּשָּׂ֨א מַשְׂאֹ֜ת מֵאֵ֣ת פָּנָיו֮ אֲלֵהֶם֒ וַתֵּ֜רֶב מַשְׂאַ֧ת בִּנְיָמִ֛ן מִמַּשְׂאֹ֥ת כֻּלָּ֖ם חָמֵ֣שׁ יָד֑וֹת וַיִּשְׁתּ֥וּ וַֽיִּשְׁכְּר֖וּ עִמּֽוֹ׃

And he carried portions from before him to them, and he increased the portion of Benjamin more than all of theirs by five hands, and they drank and became drunk.

Paraphrase:  Then Joseph ordered that plates of food be brought from his own kitchen to each of the brothers.  “Be sure that the youngest of them receives five times as much as all the others,” he whispered to his steward.  “Yes, sir.” was the quick reply.  The brothers received their food with gratitude and began to eat heartily.  Everyone stopped, however, when Benjamin’s food arrived.  It wouldn’t even fit on one plate; several plates and bowels had to be used to contain it all, and two servants were required to bring it all out.  Benjamin sat dumbfounded and could only stare at the abundance of food which had been placed before him.  No one had even seen this much food since the famine had started two years ago.  For the rest of the meal, not a word was said by any of the brothers.  Each one was at a complete loss for what all this could possibly mean.  



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