Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 42

Jacob sends ten sons to buy Corn. (1-6) Joseph's treatment of
his brethren. (7-20) Their remorse, Simeon detained. (21-24) The
Rest return with Corn. (25-28) Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to
Egypt. (29-38)

1-6 Jacob saw the Corn his neighbours had bought in Egypt, and
brought home. It is a spur to exertion to see others supplied.
Shall others get Food for their souls, and shall we starve while
it is to be had? Having discovered where help is to be had, we
should apply for it without delay, without shrinking from
labour, or grudging expense, especially as regards our
never-dying souls. There is provision in Christ; but we must
come to him, and seek it from him.

7-20 Joseph was hard upon his brethren, not from a Spirit of
revenge, but to bring them to Repentance. Not seeing his Brother
Benjamin, he suspected that they had made away with him, and he
gave them occasion to speak of their Father and Brother. God, in
his Providence, sometimes seems harsh with those he loves, and
speaks roughly to those for whom yet he has great Mercy in
store. Joseph settled at last, that one of them should be left,
and the Rest go home and fetch Benjamin. It was a very
encouraging Word he said to them, "I fear God;" as if he had
said, You may be assured I will do you No wrong; I dare not, for
I know there is one higher than I. With those that fear God, we
may expect fair dealing.

21-24 The office of Conscience is to bring to mind things long
since said and done. When the guilt of this Sin of Joseph's
brethren was fresh, they made Light of it, and sat down to eat
Bread; but now, long afterward, their consciences accused them
of it. See the good of Afflictions; they often prove the happy
means of awakening Conscience, and bringing Sin to our
remembrance. Also, the evil of guilt as to our brethren.
Conscience now reproached them for it. Whenever we think we have
wrong done us, we ought to remember the wrong we have done to
others. Reuben alone remembered with comfort, that he had done
what he could to prevent the mischief. When we share with others
in their sufferings, it will be a comfort if we have the
Testimony of our consciences for us, that we did not share in
their evil deeds, but in our places witnessed against them.
Joseph retired to weep. Though his reason directed that he
should still carry himself as a Stranger, because they were not
as yet humbled enough, yet natural Affection could not but work.

25-28 The brethren came for Corn, and Corn they had: not only
So, but every Man had his Money given back. Thus Christ, like
Joseph, gives out supplies without Money and without price. The
poorest are invited to buy. But guilty consciences are apt to
take good providences in a bad sense; to Put wrong meanings even
upon things that make for them.

29-38 Here is the report Jacob's sons made to their Father. It
troubled the good Man. Even the bundles of Money Joseph
returned, in kindness, to his Father, frightened him. He laid
the fault upon his sons; knowing them, he feared they had
provoked the Egyptians, and wrongfully brought home their Money.
Jacob plainly distrusted his sons, remembering that he never saw
Joseph since he had been with them. It is bad with a family,
when children behave So ill that their parents know not how to
trust them. Jacob gives up Joseph for gone, and Simeon and
Benjamin as in danger; and concludes, All these things are
against me. It proved otherwise, that all these things were for
him, were working together for his good, and the good of his
family. We often think that to be against us, which is really
for us. We are afflicted in body, estate, name, and in our
relations; and think all these things are against us, whereas
they are really working for us a weight of Glory. Thus does the
Lord Jesus conceal himself and his favour, thus he rebukes and
chastens those for whom he has purposes of Love. By sharp
corrections and humbling convictions he will break the stoutness
and mar the pride of the Heart, and bring to true Repentance.
Yet before sinners fully know him, or taste that he is gracious,
he consults their good, and sustains their souls, to wait for
him. May we do thus, never yielding to discouragement,
determining to seek No other Refuge, and humbling ourselves more
and more under his mighty Hand. In due time he will answer our
petitions, and do for us more than we can expect.