Posted February 20, 2019
With heavy hearts, because they had to leave Simeon behind in one of Egypt's prisons, the nine brothers of Joseph mounted their beasts of burden. And yet with a sigh of relief they headed northward for the land of Canaan. How wonderful to be out of prison and away from rough speech!
The relief, however, was soon replaced with increasing anxiety, so that their hearts became heavier each step that they took homeward. For now a new trying situation began to impress itself upon their consciousness. They must face their father and explain to him Simeon's absence, the fact that they found a sack's worth of money in the sack of grain that they had opened, and that they must take Benjamin along, if they are to return and get food again out of Egypt. What troubled them especially was the fact that they had to persuade their father, who now looked upon Benjamin as his most beloved son, to let them take this youngest son along on their next trip.
Now, ordinarily, to find a sum of money brings elation. To get a large discount on the things you buy does not move to tears of sadness. To come home from the grocery store with a large bag of the necessities of life for which the owner refused to let you pay, and said that it was on the house, will not bring frowns and grumblings. More likely your step will be quicker and lighter; and you will want to hurry home and tell others of your "good fortune." But the nine brothers did not look forward to telling this to their father after they opened one of their sacks and found to the last penny the cost of that sack of corn lying on top of the food. They were filled with consternation to find this money, and with stark fear looked at each other in dismay. We read that their hearts failed them. The treatment that they had received in Egypt gave them no assurance that this was a gift of kindness—even though it was—or the deed of a good friend. Going home to get proof that they were true men, they knew of not one man in Egypt that was a friend to them. And what about Simeon being kept in prison? Is it any wonder that, when they did return with Benjamin, one of the first things that they did was to explain that they had found this money and were bringing it back? And is it any wonder that, upon being brought into Joseph's house, they first said among themselves, "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"? Note, by the way, how averse these brothers, who sold Joseph as a slave, are to becoming slaves themselves. But they can find only one explanation for the money in their sacks, and that is that it is an attempt to prove that they are spies, and thieves as well.
Imagine then their consternation, and their father's, when arriving home they open all the other eight sacks, and find in each one the money they gave for the contents! What is more, we may believe that each brother recognized the fact that he got exactly the same money—not merely the equivalent of what he bought the corn for—and in the same purse or package in which they brought it! If you will turn to Genesis 42:35, you fill find this, "And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack; and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid." Now this word bundle is elsewhere translated three times as bag, and it is not the same word as sack. There was a bundle or bag of money in each sack. The word bundle or bag means that which is compressed; and it gives the idea of a sum of money that is not loose but in some way wrapped up together. And "every man's bundle" means that the same bundle, bag, or wrapping is there with the exact coins that they had brought to buy the corn. No wonder they were afraid and that their hearts failed them, and said, "What is this that God hath done to us?" There was everything to give circumstantial evidence that they stole the money they brought down to Egypt.