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which if you
age to ensure your return; and all the rest of you shall go to your families with what provision you can carry, and when ye come again be sure you bring your younger brother along with you; do, your hostage shall be delivered up to you, and ye shall all go in peace again to your father. But if you return not, he who I shall secure as an hostage, shall
unfaithfulness with his life.” "O,” said Judah,“ how does one sin bring a lasting train of evils after it! Er and Onan are fallen vic. tims to that justice which avengeth Joseph's afflictions. Another is now demanded, and who knows what the issue will be? The guilt of our brother's blood pursues us, and embitters every Providence. Our God leaves us to intreat in vain, because when we saw the anguish of his afflicted soul, we would shew him no mercy, although he besought us with tears. Lord, thy conduct is just, we alone are guilty."
« Did not I," said Reuben, “ do what I could to dissuade you from a deed so vile and barbarous? I used every argument I was master of, to prevail with you to save the child's life, but all in vain. And with a view to be able to restore him to his father's embrace I proposed his being let down into the pit, and had performed my purpose the ensuing night, had I not been prevented by your untimely sale of him to strangers, who have carried him I know not whither. But all-seeing and ever-watchful Provi. dence, I doubt not, shelters him from injury in some country more hospitable, and affords him that peace and pleasure which he was denied in the house of his brethren, whilst we, his persecutors, are justly pure sued by the avenging hand of Joseph's God.”
“I freely confess," said Simeon," that I never felt a proper remorse for that sin against my brother, till five nights ago, when I realized the anguish of his soul in what I myself felt in my dream. And from what I then felt, I have reason to fear that something of a very afflicting nature is before me; for I found myself exactly in Joseph's circumstances when he
was last in the pit; since then, my mind has never been free from either the distressing idea of the boy's anxiety, or the overwhelming grief of our poor father, when Levi and I presented the bloody coat to him at Mamre. But let what will come, I find I deserve it. I should wish to be as submissive in my afflic . tion, as I was resolute in perpetrating the guilty deed.”
Little did the sons of Jacob imagine, that the lord high-chancellor understood their discourse, for the better to conceal his relation to them, he had spoke all along by an interpreter, whom he caused to withdraw as soon as his brethren began to confer among themselves. With all the distance that Joseph affected, with all the resolution he could summons up, he found that he could not suppress the rising tide of fraternal sympathy, ready to burst from his eyes upon hearing his brethren's penitent conference; therefore he turned him into a private apartment, and gave free vent to the emotions of his manly heart. And as soon as he had composed himself he returned to them into the hall, and communed with them about the affairs of their native country, till their sacks were filled and their camels and asses loaded with corn. But never was there such a struggle between sound policy and brotherly tenderness, as Joseph felt in his disturbed mind. Brotherly love urged him to fly to the embraces of his brethren, but sound policy advised to stay his caresses, till he proved their regard to Benjamin his brother. Sound policy will prevail over passion, where wisdom presides.
It was just as Simeon's forboding heart had presaged, for Joseph selected him from amongst his bre, thren, to detain him as hostage for the return of the rest; although it went now against the tenderness of his inclination to give pain even to Simeon, since he had some proof of his penitence. But be found himself under the necessity of either detaining one, or discovering himself to them; the latter of which he chose not to do for the present. Simeon therefore was bound in the presence of his brethren, and conveyed to prison; whilst the rest were dismissed
from the presence of Joseph, and began their journey towards Canaan.
Not without much reflection upon the calamity to which they were reduced, and their cruelty to Joseph as the procuring cause of all.
Arrived at the inn, how great was their surprize, when Issachar, opening his sack to give his ass provender, found all the money he had given for his corn, returned in the mouth of it; astonished at the event, he tells his brethren. Equally astonished, they fly every man to his sack to examine, and lo! in the mouth of every man's sack is found his money in full tale. In silent amazement they look at one another. Every one knows himself to have been clear; but no one man could be certain about his fellows. All alledged that the hand of their God was upon them for evil: but no one could so much as conjecture how their money should come to be returned. Sleep departed from the eyes of the patriarchs that night, for they expected every moment to hear the voice of the pursuers, coming to carry them back to the governor. In short, at last they considered the matter as a fraud put upon them, to find a pretext to enslave them. And well knowing that their detention in Egypt would prove the destruction of the house of Jacob, they resolved not to submit tamely to their betrayers, but to perish on the spot rather than be slaves to such perfidy, and to sell their lives as dear as possible. Now they lament the absence of Simeon, the strength of whose brawney arm they had heretofore amply proved. But all in vain their fears, and vain their desperate purposes. For Joseph had secretly commanded his chief factor to return all their money into their several sacks, in the same order in which it was found; so that when morning came, none appeared in pursuit of them. They laded their cattle and proceeded on their journey, every now and then looking behind them to see if any danger appeared; and thus they proceeded from day to day, till they arrived at their own habitations.
The good old patriarch looking out, saw them at a distance moving on heavily, because of their loads
of provision. And how did his aged heart beat thick with joy, to see them safely returned with food for their families! But how soon did his joy abate, when he discovered that Simeon was missing! They found themselves under a necessity of declaring all that had passed between the governor of Egypt and them, in their absence, and that Benjamin was demanded. Upon hearing of which the good man's heart failed him, and he could not forbear thus chiding them for their conduct. “ Could not you, men of your years, never remarkable for ignorance, have gone and bought provision for us, without revealing the circumstances, of your family? What need was there for you to have mentioned that you had another brother at all? That could be nothing to a foreigner, nor would it have been at all enquired into, if you had not incautiously mentioned it. I cannot agree that Benjamin should go. On your account I am bereaved of my Joseph. You have no mercy on my feeble age, than to take Benjamin away also. All these things are against me.
Reuben, the elder-born, approached and respectfully answered his father. « Were we insensible of the grief and affliction of a parent so venerable, we should debase ourselves below brutality itself. Let not Israel charge us with want of tender regard, if we have, through the necessity of circumstances, been induced to declare what he could wish to have been concealed. For my own part, I am of opinion that the governor's countenance must greatly belie his heart, if any evil is to be apprehended at his hand. There is something so amiable and attractive in him, that I think I could without hesitation entrust my life in his hand, And as a proof of my sincerity, I offer, that if my father will permit Benjamin to go along with his brethren as we have engaged, to leave my two sons, Hanoch and Pallu as pledges for his return; and if any harm befal him, let them be slain.”
" Ah Reuben!” replied the aged man,” thou talkest in a simple stile. Should Benjamin be lost, the death of my grand-sons would but make the wound deeper and more painful, Joseph is already dead, ,
Benjamin is all that is now left of Rachel, for whom I served your grandfather fourteen years; and should he go with you, and evil befal him as it did Joseph, this hoary head would come down with an insupportable load of sorrow to the grave. My son Benjamin shall not go down with you."
Aged Jacob soon perceiving that their late purchase was three fourths expended, apprized his sons of the necessity of returning into Egypt to renew their stock of provisions, to prevent the devastations which meagre famine would otherwise make in their dwellings. « Go,” said he,“ my sons, return into Egypt and buy us a little more food for the house. hold."
“We go. Sir," replied Judah, “if Benjamin go with us; but if he is not with us, we cannot go: for the lord-chancellor solemnly protested to us, that unless we brought our youngest brother with us, we should not see his face; and that if we did bring him, we should, under the shadow of his protection, have full liberty to traffic in any part of Egypt. Think, therefore, my father, what we are to do, for want will speedily be here."
The holy man, with an heart wrung with sorrow, replied, “ Wherefore, Judah, dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the lord of the land that you had another brother, for I understand that you was speaker for your brethren?"
“ Alas, Sir! the man was very strict in examining of us concerning our state, our kindred, the number of our father's children; and we told him the truth in every thing. Could we certainly know that he would demand our brother of us? And had we known that he would say bring your brother down to me; we durst not have dissembled and uttered falsehood, for then we should have offended our God; and you yourself would have grieved for our transgression. Allow me to say that my worthy father errs in his over.carefulness for Benjemin, We are all your sons as well as he; therefore equally intitled to your tender regard. But Simeon lies in chains in a foreign land, pale famine stares you and all of us, our wives and little ones in the face. Nothing can save