Verse 34. "Benjamin's mess was five times so much as any of theirs." - Sir John Chardin observes that "in Persia, Arabia, and the Indies, there are several houses where they place several plates in large salvers, and set one of these before each person, or before two or three, according to the magnificence of each house. This is the method among the Hindoos; the dishes are not placed on the table, but messes are sent to each individual by the master of the feast or by his substitute. The great men of the state are always served by themselves, in the feasts that are made for them; and with greater profusion, their part of each kind of provision being always DOUBLE, TREBLE, or a LARGER proportion of each kind of meat." The circumstance of Benjamin's having a mess FIVE times as large as any of his brethren, shows the peculiar honour which Joseph designed to confer upon him. See several useful observations on this subject in Harmer's Observ., vol. ii., p. 101, &c., Edit. 1808.
1. THE scarcity in Canaan was not absolute; though they had no corn, they had honey, nuts, almonds, &c. In the midst of judgment, God remembers mercy. If there was scarcity in Canaan, there was plenty in Egypt; and though his providence had denied one country corn, and accumulated it in the other, his bounty had placed in the former money enough to procure it from the latter. How true is the saying, "It is never ill with any but it might be worse!" Let us be deeply thankful to God that we have any thing, seeing we deserve no good at his hands.
2. If we examine our circumstances closely, and call to remembrance the dealings of God's providence towards us, we shall find that we can sing much both of mercy and of judgment. For one day of absolute unavoidable want, we shall find we had three hundred and sixty-four, if not of fullness, yet of a competency. Famines, though rarely happening, are everywhere recorded; innumerable years of abundance are scarcely ever registered! Such is the perverseness and ingratitude of man!