11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. 14 May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:11-14)
Jacob realized that for his family to survive the continuing and devastating famine, he must agree to the terms set by the governor of Egypt. When his sons return to Egypt for more grain, Jacob’s youngest son, Benjamin, must accompany them. There was no alternative.
Jacob then directed his sons to prepare an appropriate gift for the governor. He simply refers to him as the man. He does not know that he is his son, Joseph. The gift includes choice fruits, balm, honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Apparently, these items would be unavailable in Egypt.
Additionally, Jacob instructed the brothers to carry back the money that was returned to them. He reasoned that perhaps it was an oversight on the governor’s part.
Finally, the patriarch tells his sons to take Benjamin, the youngest. He then orders them to return to the man.
His final words before his sons depart is a prayer. He prayed that God Almighty, El-Shaddai, would grant them mercy. In other words, that Yahweh would give the brothers His compassion before the governor. He also prayed that their other brother and Benjamin would return. Perhaps Jacob did realize that Joseph was still alive and perhaps had been sold into slavery by his brothers.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “In trusting his sons, Jacob must also trust the Lord, for he cannot be certain that he will see Benjamin again. His faith in God’s providential care is revealed in the benediction he offers before his sons depart (v. 14). He calls on the name of God Almighty, the name our Creator gave to Himself when the Abrahamic covenant was sealed (17:1–14). This is significant. Just as Abraham earlier had to trust the Lord to do the impossible and give him a son in his old age (17:15–21), so too must Jacob now trust God to accomplish His promise to multiply his family (35:11) even if the unthinkable happens and he loses more sons (43:14).”
Puritan Matthew Henry concludes by saying, “Though men value very highly their gold and silver, and the luxuries which are counted the best fruits of every land, yet in a time of famine they willingly barter them for bread. And how little will earthly good things stand us in the day of wrath! How ready should we be to renounce them all, as loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ! Our way to prevail with man is by first prevailing with the Lord in fervent prayer. But, Thy will be done, should close every petition for the mercies of this life, or against the afflictions of this life.”
Soli deo Gloria