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succeed in persuading themselves, that sin is in its nature indifferent, or was not seen, or will remain unpunished. Their fears may be removed sometimes by the patience and silence of their judge, or the number of their accomplices; but when vengeance comes to shew itself, they shall be the first to own that they have deserved it, and their accomplices will then seem to them but as so many witnesses, who are ready to accuse and confound them.
III. The second descent of Jacob's children into Egypt. Josephi made known to his brethren. Gen. xliji, xliv, xlv.
When Jacob's children, upon their return, had told him all that had befallen them, the imprisonment of Simeon, and the express order they had received to carry Benjamin down into Egypt, the sorrowful news filled him with grief, and renewed his former concern for the loss of Joseph. He long refused to let his dear Benjamin go, in whom he placed his sole consolation. But at last, seeing there was a necessity for it, and that otherwise both must perish by famine, he consented to his departure upon the repeated assurances his other children gave him, that they would bring him back again. They all then set out together with presents for Joseph, and double the money they had found in their sacks.
Being come into Egypt, they presented themselves before Joseph. As soon as he saw them, and Ben
. jamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready, for these men shall eat with me at noon. The stew. ard executed Joseph's order, and brought them into his house. Surprised at this treatment, they imagined he had sought for an occasion against them, because of the money they had found in their sacks. They then began to justify themselves to the steward, by saying, they knew not how it came to pass, but as a proof of their honesty, they had brought back the money. The steward encouraged them, bidding
them not be afraid ; that their God, and the God of their fathers, had given them treasure in their sacks; but that for his part, he had their money. And straitway he brought out Simeon unto them. They had water then given them, and when they had washed their feet, they waited for the coming in of Joseph.
When Joseph came home, they bowed theinselves to him to the earth, and offered him their presents. Joseph having graciously asked them of their welfare, said to them, Your father, the old man of whom you spake, is he yet alive ? And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And at the same time they bowed themselves down to the earth again. Joseph casting his eyes upon Benjamin, And is this, says he, your younger brother, of whom ye spake to me? God be gracious, adds he to him, unto thee, my son. And Joseph made haste to go out; for the sight of his brother had affected him so much, that he could no longer refrain from tears. Presently after he returned to his brethren, and having ordered victuals to be brought in, he sat down to eat with them.
When Joseph had eaten with his brethren, he gave a secret order to his steward, to fill their sacks with corn, and to put every man's money in his sack's mouth; and put my silver cup, says he, in the sack of the youngest. His steward obeyed, and the next morning they departed with their asses loaden with
But they were scarce got out of the town, before Joseph sent his steward after them, to charge them with stealing his cup. They were much surprised to find themselves accused of so base an action, which they had never so much as thought of.. We brought back, said they, the money we found in our sacks' mouths, how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold? With whomsoever of thy servants it is found, let them die; and also we will be my lord's bondmen. The steward took them at their words; and searching their sacks, beginning with the eldest, the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.
They returned to the city in great affliction, and went to throw themselves at Joseph's feet. After some reproaches, he told them, that he, in whose sack the cup was found, should continue his slave. Then Judah, having asked leave to speak, represented to Joseph, that if they returned to their father without bringing back with them the son he so tenderly loved, they should kill him with sorrow. 1, adds be, became a surety for him with my father ; let me therefore, I pray thee, abide in his stead a bondman to my lord : for I cannot return without him, lest I see the evil that shall come upon my father.
At these words Joseph could refrain himself no longer. He commanded all that were present to go out
from him. Then the tears falling from his eyes, he cried aloud, and said to his brethren, I am Joseph. Does my father yet
live? And they could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence. He then spoke gently to them, and said, Come near to me. And as they came near, I am Joseph, says he, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved and angry with
yourselves, that you sold me hither; for God sent me before you to preserve life. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God. Go, tell my father, that God hath made me lord of all Egypt. Let him make haste to come down, and he shall dwell near me: and I will nourish him and all his family, for there are yet five years more of famine. You see with your eyes, that it is I who am talking to you. Tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen, and make haste to bring him down hither. And when he had said thus, he fell upon Benjamin's neck, and embraced him with tears. And he kissed all his brethren, and after that they were encouraged to talk with him.
The news was soon spread through the whole court. Pharaoh expressed his satisfaction in it to Joseph, and bade him presently bring down all his family into Egypt. Joseph disinissed his brethren with provisions for their journey, and waggons to bring down their
father, father, their wives and children. When they were come into the land of Canaan, they said to Jacob, Joseph your son is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not. But at last, when he had heard all that had past, and had seen the waggons, and the other presents his son had sent, he said.it is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die. Ile soon after took his journey with all his family, and went down into Egypt. And when he had paid his respects to the king, Joseph placed him in the land of Goshen, the most fruitful part of Egypt, where Jacob lived seventy years.
REFLECTIONS. Qui. Joseph's discovering himself to his brethren is the most affecting and tender part of his story, but is preceded by strange circumstances. In short, how can we reconcile his forgetfulness and indifference towards his father and brethren, whom he leaves exposed to the fatal consequences of a cruel famine, and the extreme severity he uses them with in calumniating and imprisoning them; how, I say, can we reconcile all this with that goodness and tenderness, which cannot help shewing itself at the very time that he is using them thus severely ?
A1s. It is this seeming contradiction, which should let us see, that there is soine mystery concealed under the outside of an action, which otherways might offend reason, and appear opposite to the sentiments which nature has implanted in the hearts of all mankind.
Joseph, sold by his brethren to the Egyptians, considered by Jacob as dead, forgotten by all his family, honoured in the mean time and ruling in Egypt, is incontestably the figure of Jesus Christ, delivered into the hands of the Gentiles by the Jews, generally renounced by his own nation, put to death by their cruel envy, owned and adored by the Gentiles as their Saviour and their King.
In the first journey the children of Jacob made into Egypt, it is said, [c] that Joseph knew his brethren, but was not known by them. This is the condition of the Jews. By refusing to submit to Jesus Christ, they ceased to see him, but could not free themselves from his dominion. They read the scriptures, and there they find their Lord without knowing him. They saw him, and did not receive him. He spoke to them in parables, because they were unworthy to hear the mysteries which they refused to believe. But the veil will not always remain over their heart.
During the long interval their blindness lasts, they suffer a cruel famine, not of material bread, but as the prophet had foretold, of the word of God, which they are not allowed to understand. [d] I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. The land of Canaan is condemned to a total sterility. The true bread of life is found only in Egypt. Whoever would live must necessarily go down thither; and till Benjamin, the last of Jacob's children, and the figure of the latter Jews, appears there in person, the famine will sorely affict that wretched nation.
Hitherto Joseph shall appear to be hard-hearted towards his brethren. lle shall speak to them as though he knew them not, with an angry voice and a rigid countenance. [e] He made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly to them. It is thus that Christ has long behaved towards an ungrateful and blind people. He appears not to know his brethren according to the flesh. He seems to have forgotten the fathers of a faithless and bloody generation.
Yet Joseph offered violence to himself in concealing his affection. He could not refrain from weeping; he was obliged to turn aside, to hide his face, and withdraw from time to time to vent his tears. The pains he took to conceal them, was the figure of that secret mercy hid in the bosom of God, and reserved till the time appointed in his eternal counsel. The [C] Gen. xlii. 8. (0) Amos viii. 11. (2) Gen. xlii. 7. Y 4