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and they all wondered how he could know so much about them; and all this time it never came into their thoughts that he might be Joseph. And, according to the custom of the country, Benjamin had five times more food set before him than any of the rest, having a greater variety of dishes for his choice; hence we sometimes say, when any one is helped largely, he has got Benjamin's mess; not that Benjamin was a glutton, and ate more than any of the rest, but Joseph gave him this mark of honour, as it was then thought, because he was not a half brother, but his own brother, whom he greatly loved.
So seeing Joseph behaved so kindly, they drank and were merry with him.
The Cup in Benjamin's Sack.
GENESIS XLIV. 12. Joseph's brethren again prepared to depart, and Joseph ordered every man's money to be put again in his sack’s mouth ; and along with the money, he ordered his silver drinking-cup to be put into Benjamin's sack.
As soon as the men were gone a little way, he sent after them, and charged them with having stolen his cup. They were sure that they all knew too well what a crime it was to steal, and so they readily agreed to be searched, and that the thief should be made prisoner. The search was then made; and lo, the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Then, as was the custom in great grief, they tore their garments, and all of them went back.
When they came to Joseph, they fell before him on the ground.” And Joseph asked them if they supposed that they could cheat him ? Did not they know that he was a very cunning man, and could divine or find out such things ? Now Joseph did all this to try if his brethren could yet find him out, and Providence made these plans their punishment for their cruelty to their brother. He wanted, also, to detain Benjamin, and to try if they had
any affection for his brother, or if they did not care about him, as they once proved they did not love him.
But Joseph had the pleasure to find that his brethren were truly sorry for what they had done. He knew they were innocent; yet they said, in remembrance of their past conduct, “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants;" thinking that God was now reckoning with them. And at length Judah made a most beautiful and tender speech, which touched the heart of Joseph to the centre, and which we can scarcely read even now without tears.
Joseph makes himself known to his Brethren,
GENESIS xLv. 1-15. Jadah's beautiful speech so overcame Joseph, that he was obliged to give way to his feelings, and to make himself known; and having ordered every one but his brethren instantly to leave his presence, he said, “I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." No wonder they were troubled at his presence. These were cutting words, but he soon softened them and quieted their fears.
6. Now therefore,” said he, “ be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither : for God did send me before preserve
life." How much of kindness and goodness was here! Joseph only wished his brethren to forgive themselves, for he had forgiven them.
And now he would have his father come and live near him, and all of them. “ And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them : and after that his brethren talked with him.”
Now Pharaoh soon heard of this interesting meeting of Joseph and his brethren; and, as he greatly respected him, he desired that what he wished should be directly done : and he ordered Egyptian waggons to be sent into Canaan, to fetch the women and children of the old man, and promised them “the good of all the land of Egypt.”
And Joseph gave presents of clothes to his brethren, and a large present of clothes to his brother Benjamin ; and he sent corn, and bread, and meat, for his father; and dismissed his brethren with this good advice—“See that ye fall not out by the way."
And when they got home and told their father that Joseph was yet alive, he was sometime before he could believe them ; but when he saw the waggons, he knew that they were not theirs, and that they could not bring them away without leave, and then he said, “It is enough ;"—I am satisfied ;—" Joseph my son is yet alive : I will go and see him before I die.”
Jacob goes into Egypt.
GENESIS XLVI. 1-7. Good old Jacob wished to be guided by Providence in all he did ; and before he quite made up his mind to go down into Egypt, he went to Beersbeba, and there he worshipped God. It was in his way, and it was a
favourite place, for there Abraham and Isaac had worshipped God before him. (See Genesis xxi. 33; xxvi. 35.) And there God spake in some way, which we do not know,—but we know he can do all things,—and told Jacob to go down into Egypt, and that he and his should there prosper.
So Jacob and his family went down into Egypt, being in number threescore and ten, or seventy persons.
When they were near their journey's end, Judah was sent forward to tell Joseph that they were coming ; "and Joseph made ready his chariot,' being a great man, “and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen;"for you remember that Israel was the name given to Jacob by the Angel that wrestled with him;—and he “presented himself unto him: and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.”
You see that Joseph did not neglect his good old father because he was "a plain man," while he himself was become a great man in the land of Egypt.
Jacob before Pharaoh.
GENESIS XLVII. Jacob and his family having arrived in Egypt, he and five of his sons were introduced by Joseph to the king, and Joseph having told them what to say about themselves,—that they were shepherds,—they told Pharaoh about their employment ; for though Joseph could have got them greater honours, he thought that they would be much more happy in being by themselves, than among a people that did not worship the true God.
So Pharaoh ordered Joseph to give them the best land in Goshen to live in, where there was pasture for their flocks; and to make any of the most trustworthy rulers of his cattle, or chiefs over his herdsmen.
And when Jacob was introduced, he blessed Pharaoh, who had been so kind to his family. This was grateful. Jacob's blessing was the same as if he prayed for his welfare ; and the prayers of such a good old man were no small returns for Pharaoh's kindness.
And then Pharaoh asked Jacob, “ How old art thou ?” And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years : few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage."
“And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his
father's household, with bread, according to their families." Thus you see how God brought good out of all the seeming evil that had happened to
And now the famine became very bad indeed, as Joseph, under divine direction, had foretold. And the people spent all their money to buy corn; and when that was gone they exchanged their cattle for it; and when that was gone, they gave their lands and themselves as servants to Pharaoh, rather than perish for want. Now, Joseph was not cruel in taking their money, and cattle, and lands, and themselves ; for he had bought up the corn in his granaries with Pharaoh's money, and it was Pharaoh's corn and not his to give away.
And if the people had been wise, they would have laid up corn as well as Joseph ; but as they did not fear God, they did not believe his servant, and so this distress came upon them. And as the property he gained was the king's, Joseph made no advantage of it: he kept Done for himself, but only, like a faithful servant, gave it to Pharaoh ; and then, at last, he restored the people their lands-only on condition that they would give one-fifth of its produce to Pharaoh, to help him to preserve the state,—a kind of tax, not greater than is paid by farmers in England to keep up the state ; and they may be happy enough if they please.
So you see how Pharaoh prospered through Joseph, and for being kind to Jacob.
After this Jacob lived seventeen years; and finding himself grow very feeble, he thought upon dying and being buried, and he got Joseph to make him a solemn promise that he would take his body out of Egypt, and bury him with his fathers; for Canaan was a type or resemblance of heaven, being the land God had preserved for his peculiar people, and there he wished to rest in peace.
Jacob on his Death-bed.
GENESIS XLVIII., XLIX. Jacob being about to die, Joseph went to comfort him, and to receive his blessing; and he took his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, with him, that he might bless them also.
And Jacob laid his hands upon their heads, and blessed them; committing them to the care of God, which was the best fortune he could possibly leave them.
Then he called all his sons together, and told them, being taught by God, what should happen to them in their latter days.
After he had done, he desired to be buried in the field which Abraham had bought of Ephron the Hittite,—the same field in which Abraham and Sarah were buried, and Isaac, and Rebekah, and Leah ; there they were laid in a cave prepared on purpose for the family.
“And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost;" that is, breathed out his spirit, and was gathered unto his people.
Thus died Jacob, aged one hundred and forty-seven years. My little reader, may Jacob's God be your God, and your last end be as happy as his !
Jacob's Funeral and Joseph's Death.
GENESIS L. When Joseph saw that Jacob was dead, he “fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.” He had lost a kind and pious father, and such a friend is a loss indeed.
It was a custom with the Egyptians to embalm or preserve the bodies of their dead friends, by taking out their insides and salting them, and filling them with spices, which had the effect of keeping them from decaying many hundreds of years; and after this the corpse was rolled up tightly in