Observe here, I. Jacob’s persuasibleness. He would be ruled by reason, though they were his inferiors that urged it. He saw the necessity of the case; and, since there was no remedy, he consented to yield to the necessity (Gen. 43:11): “If it must be so now, take your brother. If no corn can be had but upon those terms, we may as well expose him to the perils of the journey as suffer ourselves and families, and Benjamin amongst the rest, to perish for want of bread.” Skin for skin, and all that a man has, even a Benjamin, the dearest of all, will he give for his life. No death so dreadful as that by famine, Lam. 4:9. Jacob had said (Gen. 42:38), My son shall not go down; but now he is over-persuaded to consent. Note, It is no fault, but our wisdom and duty, to alter our purposes and resolutions when there is a good reason for our so doing. Constancy is a virtue, but obstinacy is not. It is God’s prerogative not to repent, and to make unchangeable resolves.
II. Jacob’s prudence and justice, which appeared in three things:—1. He sent back the money which they had found in the sacks’ mouths, with this discreet construction of it, Peradventure it was an oversight. Note, Honesty obliges us to make restitution, not only of that which comes to us by our own fault, but of that which comes to us by the mistakes of others. Though we get it by oversight, if we keep it when the oversight is discovered, it is kept by deceit. In the stating of accounts, errors must be excepted, even those that make for us as well as those that make against us. Jacob’s words furnish us with a favourable construction to put upon that which we are tempted to resent as an injury and affront; pass it by, and say, Peradventure it was an oversight. 2. He sent double money, as much again as they took the time before, upon supposition that the price of corn might have risen,—or that if it should be insisted upon they might pay a ransom for Simeon, or his prison-fees,—or to show a generous spirit, that they might be the more likely to find generous treatment with the man, the lord of the land. 3. He sent a present of such things as the land afforded, and as were scarce in Egypt—balm and honey, etc. (Gen. 43:11), the commodities that Canaan exported, Gen. 37:25. Note, (1.) Providence dispenses its gifts variously. Some countries produce one commodity, others another, that commerce may be preserved. (2.) Honey and spice will never make up the want of bread-corn. The famine was sore in Canaan, and yet they had balm and myrrh, etc. We may live well enough upon plain food without dainties; but we cannot live upon dainties without plain food. Let us thank God that that which is most needful and useful is generally most cheap and common. (3.) A gift in secret pacifies wrath, Prov. 21:14. Jacob’s sons were unjustly accused as spies, yet Jacob was willing to be at the expense of a present, to pacify the accuser. Sometimes we must not think it too much to buy peace even where we may justly demand it, and insist upon it as our right.
III. Jacob’s piety appearing in his prayer: God Almighty give you mercy before the man! Gen. 43:14. Jacob had formerly turned an angry brother into a kind one with a present and a prayer; and here he betakes himself to the same tried method, and it sped well. Note, Those that would find mercy with men must seek it of God, who has all hearts in his hands, and turns them as he pleases.
IV. Jacob’s patience. He concludes all with this: “If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved; If I must part with them thus one after another, I must acquiesce, and say, The will of the Lord be done.” Note, It is our wisdom to reconcile ourselves to the sorest afflictions, and make the best of them; for there is nothing got by striving with our Maker, 2 Sam. 15:25, 26.