26 “Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. 27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:26–28 (ESV)
Joseph’s brother, except Simeon, began their long, arduous trip back to their homeland of Canaan and their father, Jacob. They certainly did not expect any surprises on their trip home. They could not have been more mistaken.
They stopped along the way at a lodging place. It was an inn or a shelter in which they would spend the night. It may have been a building or an open air location for overnight camping.
When one of the brothers opened his sack of provisions to give his donkey fodder, or animal feed, he discovered money in the opening of the sack. He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” It was Joseph who was responsible for placing each man’s money in their individual sacks (Gen. 42:25). It would be when the brothers returned home that they discovered that each of their sacks contained money (Gen. 42:35).
It was at this realization that the text says the brothers’ hearts failed them. In other words, their minds, emotions and will were filled with so many thoughts and concerns that they were dumbfounded. They did not know what to do. Additionally, they were scared.
However, it should be noted that they did not say to each other that they were scared of Joseph, the governor of Egypt. Rather, the text says they were thinking about God.
Certainly, they had to wonder if Joseph would now pursue them and have evidence that they were indeed spies. How else could they explain the money? Yet, for the first time, we see these men sensitive to the providential leading and direction by the One, True God: Yahweh.
Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Their guilty conscience and fear of vengeance from God surfaced again in this response to the money with which they had purchased the grain being returned and found in the one sack that had been opened. Later, upon discovering all their money had been returned, their fear increased even further (v. 35).”
Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Joseph’s brothers began to acquire wisdom because they began to reverentially fear God. May this be said of us.
Soli deo Gloria!