21 “The sons of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. 22 To each and all of them he gave a change of clothes, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. 23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the way.” (Genesis 45:21–24 (ESV)
Joseph’s brothers complied not only with his directives but also with Pharaoh’s. They took the wagons the two Egyptian leaders gave them, along with provisions for the journey, and began their long trip back home to Canaan.
The brothers not only received supplies for the journey, but also a change of clothes. This was probably due to the fact that their trip was over desert terrain that was hot and dusty. The clothes would have been outer tunics, much like the multi-colored tunic Joseph wore years before as a teenager. These gifts which Joseph gave his elder brothers was further proof of his forgiveness of them and reconciliation with them. These special coats could now be given without any worry of inciting strife of jealousy.
However, Joseph gave Benjamin three hundred shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. Why?
One author writes, “For reasons not expressed, Joseph was treating his older half-brothers kindly, and his youngest full-brother, Benjamin, as a rich man. Whether it was because of the difference in blood relationship, or because his half-brothers, who were born of Leah, had treated him so badly, is not said. But Joseph definitely gave preferential treatment to Benjamin, starting with Benjamin’s share at the dinner table (Genesis 43:34). Some have said that Joseph was testing his brothers at the table to see if they would resent the portion he gave to the youngest as they had resented the love and favor he had with his father (Gen. 37:3-4). If so, perhaps his giving five changes of raiment to Benjamin was a continuation of this test, for so many changes of clothes were in those days the signs of a rich man, and the desire of many. Clothing was often given as gifts to kings and prophets and for great deeds done (2 Kings 5:5, 22–23; 2 Chronicles 9:24; Esther 6:8–9; and Daniel 5:29).”
Joseph also saw to it that Jacob received the best Egypt had to offer. Today’s text says. “To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey.” Joseph not only ensured his father would receive honor as a patriarch, but also that he would be outfitted for the journey back to Egypt with his entire family and possessions.
As his brothers departed, Joseph commanded them not to quarrel on the way home. Dr. John Walvoord writes, “This was not a time for accusations and recriminations. It was a time for joyful reunion. Yet he knew that they could fall out on the way home.”
Puritan Matthew Henry writes: “We are guilty, truly guilty, and, instead of quarrelling with one another, we have a great deal of reason to quarrel with ourselves. It does us no good to blame the others involved when we must own up to our misdeeds. We should just humbly admit our sin and ask for pardon. Let us also take care not to major on the minors and make relatively minor theological positions a litmus test for fellowship.”
Have a blessed day in the LORD.
Soli deo Gloria!
The His Word Today Podcast begins June 1, Soli deo Gloria!