Verse 27. "When he saw the wagons-the spirit of Jacob-revived" - The wagons were additional evidences of the truth of what he had heard from his sons; and the consequence was, that he was restored to fresh vigour, he seemed as if he had gained new life, yjtw vattechi, and he lived; revixit, says the Vulgate, he lived afresh. The Septuagint translate the original word by anezwpurhse, which signifies the blowing and stirring up of almost extinguished embers that had been buried under the ashes, which word St. Paul uses, 2 Tim. i. 6, for stirring up the gift of God. The passage at once shows the debilitated state of the venerable patriarch, and the wonderful effect the news of Joseph's preservation and glory had upon his mind.
Verse 28. "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive" - It was not the state of dignity to which Joseph had arisen that particularly affected Jacob, it was the consideration that he was still alive. It was this that caused him to exclaim br rab; "much! multiplied! my son is yet alive! I will go and see him before I die." None can realize this scene; the words, the circumstances, all refer to indescribable feelings.
1. IN Joseph's conduct to his brethren there are several things for which it is difficult to account. It is strange, knowing how much his father loved him, that he never took an opportunity, many of which must have offered, to acquaint him that he was alive; and that self-interest did not dictate the propriety of this to him is at first view surprising, as his father would undoubtedly have paid his ransom, and restored him to liberty: but a little reflection will show that prudence dictated secrecy. His brethren, jealous and envious in the extreme, would soon have found out other methods of destroying his life, had they again got him into their power. Therefore for his personal safety, he chose rather to be a bond-slave in Egypt than to risk his life by returning home. On this ground it is evident that he could not with any safety have discovered the place of his residence.
2. His carriage to his brethren, previously to his making himself known, appears inexcusably harsh, if not vindictive; but when the men are considered, it will appear sufficiently evident that no other means would have been adequate to awaken their torpid consciences, and bring them to a due sense of their guilt. A desperate disease requires a desperate remedy.The event justified all that he did, and God appears to have been the director of the whole.
3. His conduct in requiring Benjamin to be as it were torn away from the bleeding heart of an aged, desolate father, in whose affection he himself had long lived, is the most difficult to be satisfactorily accounted for. Unless the Spirit of prophecy had assured him that this experiment would terminate in the most favourable manner, his conduct in making it cannot well be vindicated. To such prophetic intimation this conduct has been attributed by learned men; and we may say that this consideration, if it does not untie the knot, at least cuts it. Perhaps it is best to say that in all these things Joseph acted as he was directed by a providence, under the influence of which he might have been led to do many things which he had not previously designed. The issue proves that the hand of God's wisdom and goodness directed, regulated, and governed every circumstance, and the result was glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will among men.
4. This chapter, which contains the unravelling of the plot, and wonderfully illustrates the mysteries of these particular providences, is one of the most interesting in the whole account: the speech of Joseph to his brethren, ver. 1-13, is inferior only to that of Judah in the preceding chapter. He saw that his brethren were confounded at his presence, that they were struck with his present power, and that they keenly remembered and deeply deplored their own guilt. It was necessary to comfort them, lest their hearts should have been overwhelmed with overmuch sorrow. How delicate and finely wrought is the apology he makes for them! The whole heart of the affectionate brother is at once seen in it-art is confounded and swallowed up by nature-"Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves-it was not you that sent me hither, but God." What he says also concerning his father shows the warmest feelings of a benevolent and filial heart. Indeed, the whole chapter is a master-piece of composition; and it is the more impressive because it is evidently a simple relation of facts just as they occurred; for no attempt is made to heighten the effect by rhetorical colouring or philosophical refections; it is all simple, sheer nature, from beginning to end. It is a history that has no fellow, crowded with incidents as probable as they are true; where every passion is called into action, where every one acts up to his own character, and where nothing is outer in time, or extravagant in degree. Had not the history of Joseph formed a part of the sacred Scriptures, it would have been published in all the living languages of man, and read throughout the universe! But it contains the things of God, and to all such the carnal mind is enmity.