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to buy it from thence. Jacob, in the mean time, having buried, in conjunction with his reconciled brother Esau, their father Isaac in a good old age, endeavoured to console himself, in training up the youthful Benjamin, for the loss of Rachel and of Joseph ; when the pressure of famine compelled him to send up his other ten sons into Egypt, in order to make a purchase of food. There they realized the first dream of Joseph, by bowing themselves to the ground in his presence, not knowing him, altered as he was in dress and appearance, though immediately recognised by him. If he had borne malice or hatred in his heart, what an opportunity for taking vengeance was now before him! Punish them he did, but it was a mild and brotherly chastisement, calculated to awaken in them feelings of remorse and repentance, and to render them worthy of the kindnesses which he purposed to show them in the end. A three days' imprisonment was all that he inflicted upon those who had sold him into a state of bondage, from which there was no probability of his obtaining his release : at the expiration of that time he sent them home again, exacting from them as the condition of their dismissal, an assurance that they would return and bring with them their youngest brother, as a proof that their account of themselves was true; and retaining one of them, Simeon, in safe custody, until they should come again. which they had come to buy, he allowed them to take with them; and not only that, but the money with which they had bought it was found by each of them in the mouth of his sack-a mixture of harshness and liberality which filled them with astonishment, while the emotion excited in their father's mind by the events which had befallen them was one of unmingled distress. For a long while his affection for Benjamin caused him to resist their

The corn

entreaties to allow the boy to depart : at last, when their supply of food was exhausted, and more must needs be sought in Egypt, he yielded to necessity, and sent them with a present to the ruler of the land, as well as a sufficiency of money to pay for the corn formerly obtained, and to procure a fresh supply. Having thus discharged the obligations of justice and of a liberal policy, Israel committed the success of their expedition with pious resignation to his God. God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin : if I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." On their arrival, the anxiety which they naturally felt as to the sort of reception they might meet with, was dissipated by the honourable and kind treatment which Joseph's principal steward was enjoined to afford them : nor was this all ; Joseph himself admitted them to share in the festivities of his house; and though his heart yearned upon his brother Benjamin, he contented himself with paying him especial honour at the banquet, intending to subject the whole of them to one trial more, before he disclosed himself unto them. This he did, by ordering his silver cup to be privately placed in Benjamin's sack, after it had been laden with the corn which they had purchased ; and then, after they had departed on their journey homeward, sending his steward to overtake them, and charge them with the theft. The truth of the accusation being apparently proved by the discovery of the cup, he caused them all to be brought back again, now, indeed, in the utmost alarm and wretchedness, that he in whose possession it was found might suffer the penalty of his offence. Judah stood forth in that terrible moment, and interceded with him for Benjamin : he declared to him with what difficulty the consent of his aged father had been wrung from him by hard necessity, that the boy should go down with them at all—now certainly, the knowledge of the fate that had befallen him would bring down the grey hairs of Israel with sorrow to the grave; and finally, with a noble self-devotion, he offered to be left in bondage instead of his brother, for whom he had become a surety, and without whom he could not bear to return. Then Joseph could refrain himself no longer ; but, causing all others to quit the apartment, he threw off at once the character of the stern judge and awful ruler, and made himself known unto his brethren. “I am Joseph ;

* Gen. xliii. 14.

doth

my

father yet live ?"'*

They hesitated for a while, their spirits being perplexed by so sudden a change, till he made them come nearer unto him, and repeated, “ I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt :" and, lest the recollection of that circumstance should only add to their alarm, he went on thus,—“Now, therefore, be not grieved or angry with yourselves that

ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life.” Their crime was not the less, because this good event had proceeded out of it; but when they heard their brother look upon it in this point of view, they felt assured that he had forgiven it. They had nothing to fear from him, and therefore they with joy received his embraces, and accepted the invitation he gave them, to bring down their father and their households to be nourished by him in Egypt, during the continuance of the famine, of which five years still remained. Full of these joyous tidings, they hastened back to calm the anxiety of their father. The old man's heart at first fainted when he heard them, and he believed them

* Gen. xlv. 345.

die."*

not. When, however, he saw the actual preparations which had been made for his journey, the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, his spirit revived: “and Israel said, It is enough! Joseph my son is yet alive : I will go and see him before I

His journey was a happy one: at Beersheba he was gladdened by a vision of God, encouraging him to perform it; and when he arrived at the part of Egypt called Goshen, he was met by his long-lost son, and they wept tears of joy upon each other's necks. In Goshen, by the advice of Joseph, he asked Pharaoh's leave to take up his habitation : it was a country rich in pasturage, and thus peculiarly fitted for those who lived by their flocks and herds, an occupation disliked by the Egyptians, who on this account gave them undisturbed possession of one of the best portions of the land ; and this at a time when, to obtain the corn laid up in the king's store-houses, the natives of the country, with the exception of the priests only, were obliged to make over their possessions to Pharaoh, receiving them again to hold under him at a fixed rent of a fifth part of the produce.

Thus calmly and happily, in comparison with the earlier portions of his mortal pilgrimage, did Jacob draw near his end ; he saw his descendants flourishing around him ; he saw Joseph, whom he had mourned as dead, enjoying the fulness of worldly glory, and what is better far, the favour of his God. He saw the two sons born to Joseph in Egypt, not indeed with his bodily organs, for his eyes had become dim with age, but in the spirit of prophecy, as two of the tribes into which his offspring would thenceforward be divided ; and blessed them not according to their seniority, but Ephraim principally, and Manasseh in the second place, according to the respective importance which they would hereafter enjoy. On each of his sons he bestowed a parting word : on some a rebuke, on some a benediction ; but to Judah he promised a continuance of the ruling sceptre, until “Shiloh,” that is, until Christ, should come, * unto whom would the gathering of the people be. Then, waiting patiently for the Lord's salvation, the patriarch died, and at his own request was buried in the grave of his fathers in the land of Canaan. Joseph his son survived him fifty years, dealing consistently and mildly with his brethren, who feared without cause, that when their father was gone he might change his conduct towards them ; and then died also, not forgetting the land of promise, but “ by faith made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones,”+ that they should carry them up with them when they quitted Egypt, and bury them in that land.

* Gen. xlv. 28.

CHAP. XIII.

THE EGYPTIAN BONDAGE.

IN the foregoing history of the patriarchal times,

we have seen the favour and protection of God extended for the most part over one single family : we have now to look upon that family multiplied into a nation, and still preserving, under the altered circumstances of its condition, the distinctive privilege of being considered by the Most High his own peculiar people. The saying, however, which is at all

* Gen. xlix. 10.

+ Heb. xi. 22.

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