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liation and joy. Such openness however it was impossible and would have been most unwise to exhibit in the situation in which they stood. For they knew not what evil might lurk in the motives of the question ; but they did know the unfortunate consequences which had attended the communication they had formerly made to the same individual, and they had a strong recollection of the rebuke they had received from their father for having made such a communication at all. With that cold caution, therefore, which such recollections and circumstances naturally inspired, their reply was conveyed in terins the most concise it was possible to frame. “They answered and said, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive.” This was all that they answered and said. Not a single circumstance did they add to gratify the eager curiosity of the person they addressed. Not a single allusion did they make to the reason of their delayed return, or the grief and reluctance of Jacob at parting with Benjamin, or his extreme anxiety lest the younger, like the elder child of Rachel, should meet with mischief by the way, and fill up the measure of an old and an afflicted man's woes. All this interesting and important information was withheld, and the letter and not the spirit of the enquiry regulated the reply. What satisfactory conclusion, then, could Joseph


possibly form? They had before asserted that “if the lad left his father, his father would die." They now acknowledged that, though “the lad had left his father,” his father was yet in good health and yet alive. They distinctly allowed that the evil they had so confidently prognosticated had not ensued. Jacob was not dead, was not even in the sickness of affliction. Such were the apparently contradictory statements they had made. What reliance then could fairly be placed upon their answer to any further question Joseph might propose ? or in what manner was their seeming inconsistency to be reconciled? Were they now falsely maintaining their father's existence and health, or had they before been guilty of exaggerating the strength of his affection, and the greatness of his fears for Benjamin ? Were either of their assertions true, and, if either, to which of the two was the preference to be assigned ? Doubts like these must necessarily have occurred to Joseph's mind, and to remove the difficulties under which he laboured, and to determine both what he was to believe, and how he was to act with regard to his father, would naturally become the object of his immediate and most earnest attention. To obtain therefore this interesting and essential information, and to remove the ambiguities which the cautious brevity and suspicions of his brethren had left with regard to

the real feelings and situation of Jacob, we shall find to have been the direct intention of the second artifice which Joseph devised, and which we are now, in the third place, to consider and explain.

The plan, then, upon which we are informed that the Patriarch determined upon the present occasion was this. “He commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.” Thus far he only imitated his previous conduct; but he now also added, “And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest.” And the man did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. The plan being thus prepared for execution, his brethren were no sooner gone out of the city in the morning, than Joseph again summoned his steward and commanded him immediately to follow, to overtake, to accuse, and to search them, and to make him with wbom the cup was found his servant, and to consider the rest as blameless, and consequently free, “ And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.”

Such is an outline of the artifice, and it is

impossible to imagine a contrivance more certain of producing the end proposed, whatever might be the effect produced upon his brethren by its execution. If Jacob really lived, and had really been grieved to part with Benjamin, nothing could be better calculated to ascertain that point than the injunction which Joseph had given to his steward to bring back that individual alone with whom the cup was found. For when the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, the rest of his brethren, if they were indeed conscious of the affection of their father for this favoured child, and certain that the loss of Benjamin would "bring down his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave,” would naturally return to plead for his liberation or share his fate. For what consolation could they possibly afford to sooth their father's calamity? To say that Benjamin had been justly detained by the “lord of the land” as a punishment for the wickedness of bis ingratitude, is what they could never truly assert, for it was what they could never for a moment believe. From the first they must have felt convinced that the same hand which had twice restored their money, had also in this instance secreted the cup. The almost inevitable result, then, of this artifice, if there was any truth in what the sons of Jacob had stated in their former interview would be this, that they would

return with Benjamin, they would intercede for Benjamin, and breaking the silence which they had hitherto so unfortunately maintained upon

the particulars of Jacob's reluctance in consenting to the separation, display before Joseph the real feelings of his father. If, on the other hand, Jacob was not yet alive, or if his sons had declared that “if the lad should leave his father, his father would die,” merely as a

means of evading the necessity of bringing up Benjamin into Egypt, most happy would they be in that case to be permitted to escape with their liberty, and most ready to leave Benjamin to endure his supposed bondage alone. But, at any rate, whether his brethren returned or no, and whether they did or did not communicate with sincerity the information he required, the detention of Benjamin still afforded him a certain opportunity, and a most undoubted means of learning with accuracy those facts with respect to his father and his family which he so much and so naturally desired to know. For Benjamin had never injured him, and Benjamin had nothing to fear from his power, and every thing to hope for from his love. The only thing, therefore, which seemed necessary for Joseph, was, by a discovery of himself to Benjamin alone, to make him sensible of the legitimate interest he took in obtaining a statement, and he had then a


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