GENESIS - CHAPTER 43
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
43:1. “And the famine was sore in the land.”
The increasing severity of the famine in the land of Canaan points to the increasing severity of the Tribulation judgments, particularly as they will affect Israel.
43:2. “And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.”
Their physical need of literal corn is a picture of Israel’s spiritual need for the Christ Who is revealed in the written Word. Their having eaten the corn given by Joseph foreshadows the experience of the remnant of Israel in the Tribulation just prior to their conversion. They, too, will “eat the corn” (read the Scriptures), though, like the brethren who knew not Joseph, they will be ignorant of the fact that the Christ they crucified two thousand years ago is their Messiah.
In Jacob’s words, “Go again, buy us a little food,” we are reminded that as there was no permanent satisfaction of their hunger until they were reconciled to Joseph, neither will there be satisfaction for Israel until she is reconciled to Christ: nor does any man find satisfaction until he knows Christ as his Savior.
The words disclose also, however, the reluctance with which Israel will relinquish the belief that law-keeping is an essential part of salvation. The emphasis continues to be upon their intention to buy.
43:3. “And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did straitly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face except your brother be with you.”
As has been noted in our study of chapter forty- two, a prerequisite of Israel’s conversion is that she must learn that salvation comes through the Christ represented by Joseph rather than Benjamin. It may be that Judah represents that part of the remnant that will first grasp that truth. His words emphasize the imperative that there will be blessing for Israel only when Joseph and Benjamin are seen to represent the same Christ.
It was Judah who proposed the sale of Joseph, chapter 37:26, and it is significant that it is he who now reiterates Joseph’s warning. Zec 12:7 declares that, “The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first.” As he was the first to suggest selling Joseph, so was he also apparently the first to see the need of obeying Joseph’s words, his enlightenment foreshadowing that of Judah in the Tribulation era.
43:4. “If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food.”
It seems that Judah and his brethren represent that part of the remnant that will be the first to recognize the necessity of giving up the expectation of salvation through a Messiah who is only the Lion of Judah and not also the Lamb of Calvary. Jacob, on the other hand, may represent that part of the remnant that will be the last to grasp this truth.
By whatever means God will bring Israel to repentance, one thing seems clear: the last misconception to be relinquished will be that salvation can be “bought.” For all his insistence that Jacob must relinquish Benjamin, Judah still speaks of buying food.
43:5. “But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.”
Inexorably Jacob was being brought to the point where he must give up Benjamin, or die of hunger. The type will be fulfilled when the Tribulation judgments bring the remnant of Israel to relinquish their trust in a Messiah Who is exclusively a mighty King.
43:6. “And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?”
Inasmuch as it is Israel (the name associated with the new nature) rather than Jacob (the name associated with the old) who speaks, the spiritual lesson is that this portrays that stage of the remnant’s Tribulation experience where they will be ready to turn to Christ, not as He is represented by Benjamin, but by Joseph. The reluctance, however, with which they will abandon hope in a mighty, all-conquering Messiah is demonstrated in Israel’s petulant question, “Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?”
43:7. “And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? and have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?”
In Joseph’s case the questions were designed to elicit information, and the only way he could verify the truth of their answers was by having them bring Benjamin. In a soon-coming day God will require confession from Israel, and His omniscience makes verification unnecessary. They will be required to “bring Benjamin” as evidence of their faith in the Christ portrayed by Joseph.
The first question concerned their state. It was one of dire need. That, however, was their state physically, but their spiritual state was no better, for they were, by intent at least, guilty of the blood of Joseph. In their state both physical and spiritual we see in type the state of Israel in the Tribulation.
Joseph had asked also of their country. It was a famine-stricken land, as it will be again under the judgments of God.
He had asked also, Is your father yet alive? It is significant that at that time their father was acting according to his name of Jacob rather than of Israel. The “father” of Israel (the leaders of the nation) will be acting according to the same character in the coming age portrayed by the seven years of famine.
And finally he had asked, Have ye another brother? In their case that other brother was Benjamin, but when God asks the same question of Israel, as He surely will, they will be compelled to admit that they have “another brother” - one whom they sold for thirty pieces of silver, and handed over to the Romans for crucifixion.
The last thing they had expected was that they would have to bring Benjamin, and still less did they expect to find that Benjamin was the full brother of the man they knew only as the ruler of Egypt. Israel has yet to discover that the Christ Who is the Lion of Judah is “full brother” to the Christ Who is the Lamb of God.
43:8. “And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.”
In the light of Zec 12:7, “The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first,” Judah’s insistence that they obey Joseph’s commands indicate that this is the foreshadowing, if not of conversion, at least of the obedience that is the prerequisite of it.
As to why their father should be referred to as Israel rather than Jacob, the only reason that suggests itself is, that since he accepted Judah’s advice, he is being used to represent the Tribulation remnant of Israel in the process of being converted.
That their very lives depended on obeying Joseph is clearly indicated in the words “that we may live, and not die.” The life of the nation they represent is equally dependent on obeying Christ.
43:9. “I will be surety for him, of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever.”
As has been noted already, Judah’s confidence is symbolic of the faith that will mark the believing remnant in the Tribulation. The difference between the Judah who proposed the sale of Joseph, and the one who is now willing to offer himself on behalf of Benjamin, pictures the change of heart that will precede the conversion of the remnant. It is this same selfless spirit that marks the Christlike man always. It was seen in Moses when he interceded on behalf of guilty Israel, “Forgive their sin -, and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book” (Ex 33:32). And it was seen in Paul who declared, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Ro 9:3). It is, in fact, the expression of the Divine nature, of which Christ was the very image. He who has Christ has also His nature. That it is to be also the mark of every believer is declared by the Lord Himself, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:35).
43:10. “For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.”
Clearly Judah had no conception of the magnitude of the blessings that would follow their bringing Benjamin to Joseph, but it is equally clear that he had enough faith to believe that Simeon would be set at liberty, that Benjamin would be allowed to return home with them, and that they would be able to purchase corn. This is the character of the faith of every believer. We expect blessing, but fail to grasp the magnitude of that blessing, for, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (1 Co 2:9). There can be little doubt that Judah’s faith foreshadows that of the remnant.
43:11. “And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this, take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds.”
At this point it is necessary to digress a little and consider some things relative to the conversion of the remnant in the Tribulation. In Isa 66:8 it is written, “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things. Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” This has been taken to mean that the remnant of Israel will not be converted until the moment of Christ’s return. Scripture, however, makes it very clear that after the rapture of the Church, a hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel will be miraculously saved, and will become God’s witnesses to the rest of Israel, and to the nations. Resulting from their testimony will be the conversion of multitudes of other Jews, together with many Gentiles. During the seven years of the Tribulation period, conversions will continue, those believing Jews, as a corporate body, constituting the new nation Israel that will enter the Millennium. It is not that they will be converted at the moment of the Lord’s return, but rather, that as He banishes the unbelieving Jews from the earth, those believing Israelites will be suddenly revealed as the new nation Israel. It is in this sense that the nation will be born in a day. As with a natural birth there is a nine month interval of fetal development between conception and birth, so with regard to Israel. The interval (the seven years of the Tribulation period) between the conversion of the hundred and forty-four thousand, and the presentation of the converted nation, corresponds to the natural gestation period, the increasing number of believing Jews corresponding to the development of the fetus. And, as at birth, the fully developed fetus is separated from the placenta, so will the believing remnant be separated from the unbelieving mass of the rejected nation. It is in this sense that the believing nation will be born in that day when Christ returns to judge the nations and establish His millennial kingdom.
With this in mind, then, it will be appreciated that there is difficulty with regard to Jacob and his sons as to the part of their experience that portrays the exact moment of Israel’s conversion. It seems, in fact, that there is no such moment, since that conversion will be a continuing process in which the number of believing Jews will be increasing daily throughout the Tribulation period.
It may be, then, that the use of the name Israel, rather than Jacob, is to teach us that in every such instance we are to understand the narrative as referring symbolically to the believing Jews of the Tribulation period. If this is correct, then this gift or present represents their worship, and if it is not correct I am unable to read the spiritual message. The items of which the present consisted show in symbol what should constitute worship, for worship is nothing less than the presentation to God of our appreciation of Christ. It should be noted that the decision to send the present came only after Jacob had bowed to Joseph’s will. In this we learn that those who would worship must be obedient to God’s will, and that obedience begins by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, the present was to be made up of the best that the land could provide. This emphasizes the careful selection of the ingredients, requiring time to cull the best from that which was available. This should teach us the necessity of preparation for the Lord’s supper, for it is there that we present our corporate worship. We are deceived if we believe that by just coming to the Lord’s table we will somehow receive some miraculous endowment for worship. If “the present” hasn’t been carefully selected during the preceding week there is little hope that there will be anything to present at all.
What all too often passes for worship advertises very clearly that “the present” instead of being carefully selected, has been instead snatched hastily and indiscriminately at the last moment, as though it weren’t important.
God gave His best for us, He deserves the best from us.
The first item was balm, which is associated with healing, reminding us that no small part of our worship springs from the knowledge that it is with His stripes we are healed, Isa 53:5.
The second item was honey, which has been taken (mistakenly, I believe) to represent “mere natural sweetness,” and therefore, was not to be burned on the altar as part of any of the offerings, as it is written, “... for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire” (Le 2:11).” It is instructive, however, to note that we never find honey in anything but a good connotation in Scripture. Pr 26:13, in fact, declares that honey is good, “My son, eat thou honey, for it is good.” In regard to Christ, it is written in Isa 4:15, “Butter and honey shall He eat.” It was part of the food of John the Baptist, Mk 1:6.
A commentator whose name I regret being unable to remember, was closer to the truth, I believe, when he wrote, “Leaven represents sin, but honey, godliness. Deity doesn’t have to submit to the fire of testing. Christ, as to His humanity, was tested, but not as to His Divinity.”
Honey therefore, seems more correctly to speak of Christ’s godliness, an attribute that ought to evoke worship.
The third item was spices, and though they aren’t individually specified, we know from the part which spices played in connection with Israel’s worship, Ex 30:22-38, that they represent the perfections of Christ. Those perfections are another reason for our worship. Had He been anything less than perfect He would have been unacceptable to God as the One Who alone could make atonement for sin.
The fourth item was myrrh, the spice that speaks of sorrow, suffering, and death. Apart from His death we should have remained “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), incapable of worship. Thanksgiving for that death that has given us life is a part of worship.
The fifth item was nuts. As the meat is available only after removal of the shell - a process requiring work - the nuts may represent those attributes of Christ which are discovered only by diligent study of the Scriptures. Many a believer can testify that study of Scripture has yielded glimpses of Christ discoverable in no other way, glimpses that have added intelligence and depth to his worship.
The last item was almonds, fruit of the tree that is the first to return to life after the winter. It speaks of resurrection, and reminds us that Christ’s resurrection is the assurance of our own. Faith worships as much for the Lord’s resurrection as for His death.
43:12. “And take double money in your hand, and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand, peradventure it was an oversight.”
This continues to emphasize the reluctance of Israel to abandon the quest for salvation through law-keeping. Before her blinded eyes are opened to see the truth of salvation through faith, she will add works to works in a vain attempt to buy what God offers as a gift.
43:13. “Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man.”
Jacob is finally brought to the point of giving up Benjamin. This foreshadows the outcome of the Tribulation judgments. Through those judgments Israel will be led to give up what has been her most cherished hope through all the centuries of her checkered history: redemption through a conquering Messiah represented by Benjamin. She will yet learn, as must all who would be saved, that salvation comes only through faith in a crucified and risen Christ, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Ac 4:12).
“Go again unto the man.” At this point Joseph was known only as “the man.” They had yet to learn that “the man” was their brother, and that reconciliation to him would bring them blessings beyond anything they had ever imagined. It will be the same in regard to Israel and Christ. Through the prophet Isaiah God had declared, “And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest....” (Isa 32:2), yet when God used the Roman governor Pilate to present that man, the Jews refused Him. “And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him” (Jn 19:5,6). The Tribulation judgments, however, will teach them that “the Man” they crucified two thousand years ago was their “brother,” and that His shed blood was the price of their redemption.
43:14. “And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
Jacob’s expectation was small. He had no better hope than that his sons would be returned, and that they would be able to buy corn. His language moreover, was that of necessity rather than faith, but the measure in which fulfillment surpassed expectation reminds us that God’s giving is not according to our small expectation, but according to His limitless grace. The believing remnant, expecting perhaps little more than deliverance from the Tribulation judgments, will discover that their faith, small though it may be, delivers not only from judgment, but brings them into the enjoyment of millennial blessings, and when the Millennium is ended, into heaven itself.
43:15. “And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin, and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.”
How little they knew of the gracious generous spirit of the man whose favor they hoped to buy with their money and presents! Man in his natural state is equally ignorant of the character of Christ. And even as believers, we understand but little of all that His grace has reserved for us. Had they but known, all they needed was to have Benjamin with them so that he and Joseph might be revealed, not only as brothers of each other, but as brothers also of the other ten. This is the lesson Israel has yet to learn in regard to Christ.
43:16. “And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready, for these men shall dine with me at noon.”
It was neither their money nor their present that secured them the privilege of dining with the man they as yet knew only as the ruler of Egypt: it was their obedience - they had brought Benjamin. So will it yet be with Israel, as it must be with all who would be saved. Salvation comes only to those who obey the voice of Christ.
This is the demonstration of an unchanging divine principle. Man can be blessed only when he is willing to yield up all he counts dear, in the realization that to have everything without Christ is to have nothing, and that to have nothing except Christ is to have everything.
The nameless servant who ruled Joseph’s house is a type of the Holy Spirit, and a truth not sufficiently grasped is that the He can work only in the life of the obedient man, and this applies to believer and unbeliever alike. It is not until the men had obeyed Joseph with regard to Benjamin that the servant was told to bring them into the house to dine. The sinner who is willing to obey God’s word in regard to salvation will be helped by the Holy Spirit to come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but the sinner who chooses to remain disobedient will remain without that help. It is an erroneous theology that attributes salvation to the Holy Spirit apart from the will of the individual. And it is an equally erroneous theology that teaches the control of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer apart from the will of that believer. If it were otherwise, it would be impossible for us to grieve or quench Him, yet Eph 4:30, and 1 Th 5:19 assure us that we can do both.
The difficulty of determining the exact event that symbolizes the conversion of the Tribulation remnant may be due to the fact that there is no such exact moment. As we have noted already, that conversion will be a process continuing throughout the whole Tribulation period, rather than a specific event. The event will be the revelation of that believing remnant following the judgment of Israel at the Lord’s return in glory at the end of the Tribulation. That accretion of the remnant therefore, is depicted perhaps, not by a single event, but rather by the series of events beginning with their decision to obey Joseph and bring Benjamin.
One aspect of that conversion process, then, is depicted in the servant’s bringing them into Joseph’s house. In the Old Testament age the house represented Israel as a corporate entity, and in this present Church age the house represents the Church as a corporate entity, so that the brethren’s being brought into Joseph’s house by the nameless servant who represents the Holy Spirit, is the symbolic declaration of the truth that those believing Jews of the Tribulation age will also be a corporate entity - the new nation of Israel that will enter the Millennium.
Their being brought home to Joseph’s house to dine with him points to the communion the remnant will enjoy with Christ even in the Tribulation. That communion, however, was with a Joseph whom they knew only as the ruler of Egypt, and can’t be compared with the communion they enjoyed with him later when he revealed himself as the one who was also their brother. The communion which believers enjoy here on earth with Christ is as nothing compared to what it will be when we see Him face to face. The communion enjoyed by the remnant in the Tribulation will be as nothing compared to the fellowship they will enjoy with Him when they also see Him face to face.
The time when they were to dine was “at noon,” the time that speaks of fullness of light, teaching us perhaps, that spiritual communion and spiritual enlightenment go together. He who is little concerned with acquiring a deeper knowledge of Christ will enjoy a correspondingly small measure of communion.
43:17. “And the man did as Joseph bade, and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.”
They might not enter Joseph’s house apart from the leading of his servant, nor may men enter the Father’s house apart from the Holy Spirit.
Contrary to what is sometimes taught, the activity of the Holy Spirit doesn’t cease on earth with the rapture of the Church. That event brings to an end His activity as Restrainer of sin, but not His work of conviction and enlightenment essential for salvation in the Tribulation, as in every age.
43:18. “And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house, and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in, that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.
We have already noted in an earlier study that their having brought money to buy the corn represents the attempt of the sinner to buy salvation through law-keeping, and its being returned points to God’s rejection of all such work. It is with difficulty, however, that man can be induced to accept this truth. There are many true believers who have undergone spiritually what is portrayed in this experience of Joseph’s brethren. Even after having been “brought into Joseph’s house,” that is, after having been saved, they have entertained doubts as to whether salvation is really by faith apart from works, and it wasn’t until they had grown in knowledge that they were delivered from this fear.
In the context of this spiritual application it is easy to understand the spiritual significance of their fear that they would be taken “for bondmen.” More than one true believer has begun his new life with the fear that the Christian life is a bondage requiring constant “good works” in order to keep the salvation obtained initially by faith.
The asses were to be associated with them in the imagined bondage. Since the domesticated ass represents the body under at least some degree of moral restraint, the spiritual lesson isn’t difficult to read. Many a true believer has foolishly linked his eternal security with his own ability to control his bodily lusts.
43:19. “And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house.”
The fact that they communed with the steward “at the door of the house” seems to confirm that the spiritual picture here is of believers newly saved: they have just entered “the house,” but are no further than the doorway. From this we learn that the Holy Spirit’s ministry doesn’t end with our conversion, but rather continues as a ministry of sealing, teaching, and comforting. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30), “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost ... shall teach you all things” (Jn 14:26).
43:20. “And said, 0 sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food.”
Their discussion centered on their returned corn money, which we have seen to represent a believer’s concern as to whether works must be added to faith for salvation. As it was the steward who enlightened them, so is it the Holy Spirit Who brings enlightenment to those who submit themselves to His teaching.
43:21. “And it came to pass, when we were come to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand.”
In our study of Ge 42:27 we concluded that in the present context the inn may represent a local assembly of Tribulation age believers, and that the spiritual significance of their coming to the inn and discovering their returned corn money, may be the symbolic revelation of the fact that it will be through the study of the Scriptures in such companies that the Tribulation age believers will learn the truth that salvation is by faith apart from works. That the lesson is learned slowly, however, is disclosed in their statement “and we have brought it again in our hand.” We might note in passing that the hand here, as always in Scripture, is the symbol of work, as the foot is of the walk or manner of life.
43:22. “And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.”
There may be an intellectual knowledge of truth without a corresponding spiritual comprehension, and it is the Holy Spirit alone Who gives that spiritual enlightenment. It is one thing to believe intellectually that salvation is without works, but quite another to grasp that fact spiritually in all its fullness. The following illustration will perhaps demonstrate the reluctance of the remnant to relinquish trust in law-keeping as a necessary adjunct of faith.
A prize of one thousand dollars is available to anyone willing to cling to the back of a trapeze artist swinging from one trapeze to another thirty feet away - without the use of a safety net. I may have complete confidence in the trapeze artist’s ability, and to win the prize I may be willing to take the risk, but would feel much better if the net were there - just in case. Many believe that salvation is by faith apart from works: but they would feel more comfortable if they weren’t asked to relinquish the idea that works help. That “safety net” must be discarded, however, otherwise it wouldn’t be salvation by faith. Our present passage shows symbolically that the remnant will learn that lesson in the Tribulation.
43:23. “And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.”
The servant’s bequest of assurance and peace foreshadows the Holy Spirit’s ministry of comfort, not only to the Tribulation-age remnant, but to every believer.
“... treasure in your sacks” reminds us that believers here on earth, including the Tribulation-age remnant, “have this treasure (eternal life) in earthen vessels (these earthly bodies)” (2 Cor 4:7).
“... I had your money.” Pharaoh wasn’t robbed of corn. He had given all of it into Joseph’s charge to dispense as he pleased. And so is it with Christ. God has committed all things into His hand to dispense as He pleases. God isn’t robbed of anything through our salvation. The life forfeited by the rebellion of the first Adam was yielded up by the last Adam at Calvary. Sin was fully atoned for. It called for the death of the sinner, but Christ, Who knew no sin, took our sins upon Himself, and died the death we should have died. Our pardon rests upon a basis of perfect justice. Every claim against us was fully met at Calvary. Christ paid for our salvation with His own precious blood.
“And he brought Simeon out unto them.” The spiritual “hearing” which Simeon represents, is also given to every believer: we are endowed with the ability to under the spiritual meaning of Scripture. In Joseph’s treatment of Simeon we have the demonstration of a Divine principle: the hearing must first become Christ’s “prisoner” - there must be obedience. Then it will be given back to us to be the means of understanding God’s Word; and if we would be blessed, hearing must be followed by obedience. All of this applies in equal measure to the remnant that will be saved in the Tribulation.
43:24. “And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet, and he gave their asses provender.”
It is the Holy Spirit Who will bring the remnant into Christ’s “house,” as He does every believer.
The water represents the Word ministered by the Holy Spirit, see for example Eph 5:26. As water both cleanses and refreshes, so does the Word, and it is significant that preparatory to their dining with Joseph, they were given water by this nameless servant, but the language indicates that it was they themselves who washed their own feet. The lesson couldn’t be clearer, for it is the Old Testament foreshadowing of the command given by Paul relative to the Lord’s Supper, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (judgment) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Co 11:28-29). The foot washing represents the confession of sin by believers, for it is by confession that we are cleansed, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). As those brethren were not to go into Joseph’s presence with unwashed feet, neither are we to come before Christ with known sin unconfessed. It is by the water of the Word that we are cleansed, “Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Ps 119:19). “Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word” (Eph 5:26). That feast in Joseph’s house appears to be a foreshadowing of what takes place at the Lord’s Supper, and there is every reason to believe that in the Tribulation, believers will also commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection, not with bread and wine, but with the designated Levitical sacrifices, those sacrifices offered in the Tribulation and in the Millennium being commemorative rather than anticipative as in the past.
“And he gave their asses provender.” Since the ass is a type of the natural body, this reminds us of the Lord’s equally faithful care to provide for our temporal needs. He will be no less careful to supply the temporal needs of the remnant in the Tribulation.
43:25. “And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.”
Since we have discussed the significance of the present or gift in our study of verse eleven, it is unnecessary to repeat that discussion here, but we should note the fact that Joseph’s coming was to be at noon, the time of greatest light, and two thoughts suggest themselves. Where Christ is there is light, for He is the Light of the world, and we are they who have been called “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pe 2:9), as it is written, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day....” (1 Th 5:5). And keeping in mind that this feast with Joseph in his house is a type of the commemoration of His death and resurrection, a further practical lesson to be learnt is that spiritual worship requires spiritual intelligence (light).
43:26. “And when Joseph came home, they brought the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.”
Two thoughts present themselves here. If this is, as we have suggested, a type of the Tribulation-age equivalent of the worship meeting of the Church, then God would remind us that as everything centered around Joseph, so does everything center around Christ at the Lord’s Supper, for that supper is the focal point of the worship meeting. The brethren waited for Joseph, not he for them. To be tardy at that meeting is to make Christ wait for us. No believer who loves the Lord will be guilty of such presumption.
Secondly, they bowed themselves to him to the earth. This is more than the fulfillment of what God had foreshown in connection with Joseph, and the foreshadowing of what will be in the Tribulation. It demonstrates the reverence due to Christ, not only at the worship meeting, but always.
43:27. “And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? is he yet alive?”
Joseph’s solicitude portrays the immeasurably greater concern which the Lord has for His own. And Joseph’s concern for Jacob reminds us that Christ loves the nation of Israel, and longs to see them saved.
43:28. “And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.”
The believing remnant will be able to give the same report in the Tribulation, for in spite of the terrible judgments that will decimate Israel, and the nations, God will preserve a faithful remnant through those terrible years, and bring them as a new nation into millennial blessing.
43:29. “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.”
Benjamin’s being referred to as “his mother’s son” reminds us that the Christ Israel crucified is nevertheless, the same Messiah Whose coming in power and glory they still anticipate. The Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah have the same “mother” - Israel.
His blessing Benjamin anticipates the greater blessing that will be experienced by the remnant at the end of the Tribulation, as they pass into the Millennium, and Christ Himself fulfills the Benjamin type.
43:30. “And Joseph made haste, for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep, and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.”
Joseph’s unseen weeping reveals the sorrow of Christ over the unbelief of Israel that keeps them estranged from Him, and robs them of the blessings He wants to shower upon them. He couldn’t reveal himself to his brethren until he was convinced of their repentance, and his yearning over Benjamin emphasizes that until that repentance comes, Israel can’t see that the Messiah represented by Joseph is the same as the One represented by Benjamin.
His brethren were unaware of Joseph’s weeping, as is Israel of the sorrow their unbelief causes Christ. That sorrow, however, goes beyond Israel to embrace every rebel. God longs to see men saved. “The Lord is longsuffering... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pe 3:9). Nor is the ignorance confined to unbelieving Israel: we who have been redeemed by His precious blood, are equally ignorant of the full extent of the love that led Him out to Calvary to die in our place. Finite minds cannot comprehend it. Only in heaven will we begin to understand “what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height (of) the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge....” (Eph 3:18-19).
43:31. “And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.”
The full revelation of his love for them must await their full confession and repentance. Until the time of that confession and repentance they could know him only as the ruler of Egypt.
His command to set on bread speaks of temporal, rather than spiritual provision, in the present context, and it serves to illustrate the curtailment of communion that results from unconfessed sin. It was one thing to eat with the man they knew only as the ruler of Egypt, but quite another to eat with that same man known also as the brother who loved them.
The practical application to ourselves is obvious.
43:32. “And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.”
Joseph’s preeminence adumbrates that of Christ. The separation of the Israelites and the Egyptians points to the difference between believer and unbeliever, and it may point also to the clear distinction that exists between Jew and Gentile, but since here it is due to the Egyptians’ disparagement of the Hebrews’ trade (they were shepherds, “and every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians 46:34) it may portray more the nations’ hatred of the Jew during the Tribulation. Anti-Semitism which even today is but thinly veiled, will wear no veil at all in the Tribulation.
43:33. “And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.”
Joseph’s seeming supernatural knowledge is a picture of Christ’s actual knowledge, for His cognizance embraces not only what is outward: He knows also “the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
They were seated according to the honor of age, but no such capricious standard will govern the seating arrangement in either the millennial or eternal kingdoms. Faithful service will determine the seating order there. The judgment given at the Bema will determine our eternal place in the hierarchy of heaven.
What folly, then, to be forfeiting eternal glory for present worthless earthly gain!
43:34. “And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.”
Mess means “lifting, burden, gift,” and in the present context may possibly refer to gifts as well as to food sent from Joseph’s table. It may be symbolic of the Lord’s provision for the Tribulation remnant, but it may have also a deeper significance. We have taken this feast to be symbolic of the Trib-ulation-age equivalent of the Lord’s Supper, with their gift representing worship. They had come to present him with a gift, and were unexpectedly recompensed, not only with the privilege of dining with the ruler of Egypt in his house, but in being treated as highly honored guests. This points to the experience of the man who comes to the Lord’s Supper, not out of mere formality, but to worship God in Spirit and in truth. He who comes to present his gift of thanksgiving finds that he invariably receives far more than he gives.
Since the number five is connected with Benjamin’s portion, and five is the Biblical number of responsibility, the Holy Spirit is clearly declaring some truth relative to responsibility. First, as to the brethren, they had fulfilled their responsibility by obeying Joseph’s orders in regard to bringing Benjamin, and the reward for that fulfilled responsibility was that they sat as honored guests at his table. Fulfilled responsibility always brings its reward.
It was Benjamin, however, who received the special portion which gave him the place of supreme honor among the brethren. Since he is a type of Christ in millennial glory, the truth being symbolically declared is that it is because of responsibility perfectly met Godward and manward, that He has been given the highest place of honor, as it is written, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php 2:9-10).
He will be glorified by Israel when she fulfills her long-neglected responsibility to confess her sin, and trust Him as Savior. He is likewise glorified in the salvation of sinners from every nation, as He will be also in the destruction of those who refuse to fulfill their responsibility to confess, repent, and trust Him as Savior.
Since wine is the Biblical symbol of joy, their drinking with Joseph speaks of the joy that is experienced even here on earth by those who have trusted Christ. But it is only a shadow of the joy that awaits Israel in the Millennium, and every believer in eternity.
On the night when He instituted the remembrance feast, the Lord declared, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Mt 26:29). This feast with Joseph and his brethren foreshadows that quickly approaching day.
The omissions of Scripture are as instructive as its direct statements, and in this present instance we should note that while they ate and drank with Joseph, the emphasis is upon their drinking, with conspicuous absence of any mention of their also eating.
As noted already, wine is the Biblical symbol of joy, but eating is the Biblical equivalent of learning, so that the absence of any reference to their eating declares the truth that in the eternal state to which that earthly feast points, we shall have no need of instruction, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Co 13:12).