And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry…
I. THY. TEST TO WHICH JOSEPH EXPOSED HIS BRETHREN. There is at first sight an apparent wantonness in the manner in which this was applied; but looking deeper we see some motives for such a mode of action.
1. Probably it was designed as a kind of penalty for their former deeds. Joseph had been basely treated. Though he forgave his injurers, yet it was good for them to see their crime and feel it. His was not mere maudlin compassion; he desired first to bring them to repentance, and then he was ready and willing to forgive. And in this he is a type of God; God is the infinitely Forgiving One, but the Just One besides.
2. And a second motive which may be assigned for Joseph's conduct is that perhaps it was to compel them to feel that their lives were in his power. They are humbled to the dust before him by the test. Now, in assigning to him such a natural motive, we are not showing his conduct as anything superhuman. It was magnanimous, but yet mixed with the human. Everything that man does has in it something of evil; even his best actions have in them something that will not bear the light of day.
3. Again, Joseph may have wished to test his brethren's capability of forgiveness.
II. THE CONDUCT OF JOSEPH'S BRETHREN UNDER THE TEST.
1. Judah cannot prove that his brother is not guilty, neither can he believe that he is guilty; he therefore leaves that question entirely aside. Instead of denying it, in modern language he showed cause why the law should not be put in force against him.
2. We next notice the pathos of that speech (ver. 20).
3. Let us learn, in conclusion, that even in the worst of mankind there is something good left. Judah was by no means an immaculate man; but from what a man was, you cannot be certain what he is now. Here were men virtually guilty of the sin of murder, really guilty of cupidity in selling their brother; but years after we find in them something tender still, love for their father and compassion for their brother. It is this spark of undestroyed good in man that the Spirit of Christ takes hold of; and he alone who is able to discover this in the hearts of the worst, he alone will be in this world successful in turning sinners to God.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.