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“O my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant; for thou art even as Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, Have ye a father or a brother ?”—and he went on briefly over the incidents in their former visit respecting these two; and then the parting of their father with Benjamin ;-and he added,
“Now therefore, when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us (seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life); it shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die; and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For thy servant becamo surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now, therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bond-man to my lord ; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest, peradventure, I the evil that come on my father.”
Joseph could contain his feelings no longer. The offer to remain a bond-man in the young man's place, when, if there had been an imposition, they might have readily yielded up the impostor, satisfied him that this was indeed his youngest brother. His heart needed no promptings; he gave orders to have all but these men leave the hall; then he wept aloud and cried out
“I am Joseph ; doth my father yet live ?”
The brothers stood aghast at the revelation! He, Joseph ! whom they would have murdered, whom they sold for money, who must have long treasured resentments, who had plotted and drawn all these mysteries about them, and now had them completely in his power!
Aghast and mute, they had not a word to say. Conscious that he knew them well and all their wickedness, they felt
that it was useless to attempt explanation or excuse. They shrunk at the towering greatness of the man even far more than they had ever done previously; for he was now, they might suppose, their bitter enemy. They stood, without a word. He however, quickly spoke: " Come near to me,
I pray you ;” and they came near. He added,
“I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life,”—and he went on to state how long the famine was yet to last, and God's goodness in making him an instrument for saving also their race from perishing; and then his thoughts flew back with stirrings of all fond affections toward his father and home. They were, he said, to go back immediately and bring his father and all that belonged to him, descendants and households and flocks and herds and retainers, “all,” in short, “that he had.” He would give them room in Goshen, a choice grazing-ground in Egypt, in its low surface moist, and perhaps yet green when all the upper valley was like dust; that should be their home under his protection, and he was now able to protect any whom he might choose.
Such words came from him no longer in calm or lordly style; for his heart was full of tenderness, and he could wait in it only to reassure them. “Then he fell
his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept with him upon his neck. Moreover, he kissed all his brethren and wept upon them; and after that his brethren talked with him"
Reports of all this soon reached Pharaoh's ears. The strange circumstances previously attending the advent of these men, and especially the steward's orders respecting them, had made them objects of close attention, and had sharpened men's ears, and the bursts of feeling at the recognitions had been overheard ; now, the great news that the Prime Minister's brothers were in the palace induced action from Pharaoh himself. The monarch might well take an interest in everything connected with Joseph; for this was now the second year of the prevalence of the famine, and proofs had multiplied every day, that his wise foresight had truly saved the nation from extinction. Pharaoh, but for him, would have ruled over an utter solitude, if he had ruled at all;over a land strewn with festering corpses, with not a live being left,--all life of man or beast extinct. Five years were yet to come; but the granaries were still abundant in stores. There was suffering, and over all the country was a heavy gloom, and there would be more; but this was not extinction, as would have been but for this wise and great man, in his greatness not haughty, in his power unassuming and gentle, though firm ; even the courtiers had given up their jealousy in the universally felt relief through his wisdom; and they now also united with the monarch in the gratification at the presence of his brothers. Pharaoh sent for him, and gave directions that from the royal magazines of chariots and other conveniences for travel, everything necessary should be furnished for bringing the whole Israelite people, with their dependants, down to Egypt, where—s0 Joseph was authorized to say to them _“I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. . . . . Regard not your stuff, for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.'
The men were furnished accordingly. To each of them Joseph also gave changes of raiment; to Benjamin, five changes and three hundred pieces of silver; for his father he sent “ten asses, laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she-asses laden with corn and bread and meat” for the journey. Fearful that the new prosperity and the distinctions might give rise again to jealousies and dissensions, he gave to bis brothers, as they were leaving, the significant advice, “See that ye fall not out by the way."
JACOB IN EGYPT.
T Hebron, a very strange sight not long after this,
, greeted the eyes of the people. It consisted of a succession of wagons,-a vehicle scarcely known in that country of hills and nomads,—and with these, long lines of asses laden with choice articles of food and raiment, all more particularly remarkable in this time of poverty and drought. Crowds of lookers-on gathered, as they had gathered before, on the return of this company from Egypt, but not now, as then, with feelings ending in dismay; for men swift of foot had spread the news that all the brothers were there, Simeon and Benjamin, as well as the rest; and gladly answered the rapidly-put questions, as to what that wonderful sight of the approaching wagons could mean. Soon Jacob himself,--an old man now, and tottering with age, was among them. He was scarcely allowed time to ask what this meant, for the cry rung in his ears,
"Joseph is yet alive, and he is Governor over all the land of Egypt !”
The old man did not believe what he heard ; yet the words were so thrilling that they brought a coldness and faintness to his heart. The announcement, though there might seem to be no possibility of truth in it, was sufficient to be an ice-bolt sent through him, so abrupt was it, and unexpected, and strange. But as the sudden faintness passed off, his eyes took in the scene of wagons and great lines of loaded animals; and moreover Benjamin was soon by his side, and he felt reassured. Then they recounted to him all Joseph's words, and told him of the glory of his lost son, the most powerful lord in that land. But all the lordship
and power and glory in Egypt were of little moment to the old man's heart compared with the simple fact of his son's living; the strong tide of his affection swallowed up everything else. To their descanting on what their eyes had seen of the splendors and honors concentrating on Joseph, he answered in his one thought,
“It is enough ; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.”
The preparations were soon made; for the life of a nomad is so simple that at any time they can quickly be ready for moving; and the aged father was anxious to be gone. No one held back; for all the others were desirous to be, as soon as possible, connected with the richness and glory of the Egyptian court. The news had spread rapidly among the Canaanites around them, and the admiration and wonder and envy of these neighbors stimulated still more the self-gratification of the Israelites; while the famine left no desire to remain in that land. So the whole tribe was soon in motion, not only the direct descendants of the aged chief or sheikh, and their wives; but also his retainers, who must have been numerous and also glad to go. We know that Abraham had among his adherents three hundred and eighteen men fit to bear arms, and also that all the males among his people, whether purchased or born there, were subjected to the Jewish rite,' and consequently were considered a part of his tribe or nation. Jacob had probably as large a tribe, probably much larger (see Gen. xxxvi. 7), and it would now have been great cruelty to leave them here in want when abundance for him and them was offered in Egypt. Therefore undoubtedly they accompanied him, making the Israelite nation going down into that country far more numerous than his own immediate family. This subject is an important one in connection with the question
i See Gen. xvii. 23.