« السابقةمتابعة »
that he may send away your other brother and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” With these affecting words he dismissed them, and they hastened into Egypt, and to the presence of Joseph, who, when he saw that Benjamin was with them, directed his steward to prepare an entertainment, and bring these strangers to his house at noon, avoiding himself for the present any conversation with them. Alarmed by this unexpected honour, and connecting it with the mysterious circumstance of the money returned in their sacks, they sought the steward, and anxiously exculpated themselves from any knowledge of that obnoxious act; in confirmation of which, they had brought the money again with them, and had added other sums to obtain a further supply of corn, the single objeet they again asserted of their original visit. The good-natured steward relieved their excessive apprehensions, by acknowledging, that he had himself restored their money, and encouraged them to hope that providence had yet some special favours in store for them. He then liberated their brother Simeon, and brought them all into Joseph's house, where they were to dine,-gave them water to wash their feet, and other refreshments, very grateful after their long journey.
CHARLES. Let me take this opportunity to ask the reason of that ancient custom of giving travellers water to wash their feet; we should think it an awkward piece of civility now.
MRS. M. We do not require it. Our convenient baots, and shoes were not known to the people who practised that courtesy. They wore sandals, which exposed the upper part of the foot to the dust, Washing the feet and bathing
the whole body is so necessary to health, as well as comfort, that it becomes a religious rite in very hot climates. But I will not detain you from the meeting of Joseph with his brethren.
Fanny. Yes, I am impatient to return to that eventful dinner.
Mrs. M. No explanation, however, took place at this second meeting, for the purposes of Providence were not yet completed. Every thing that occurred was calculated to excite wonder and reflection, especially the singular notice that was taken of Benjamin; for Joseph not only graciously accepted their present, and asked affectionately for their father, “ the old man of whom they had spoken;" but seeing a new face among them, he gently inquired, “Is this your younger brother? God be gracious to thee, my son," was all he could articulate; and hurrying from them to his chamber, he gave vent to his tears. When his agitated feelings were in some measure tranquillized, he washed his face, and assuming an air of indifference, met his family and guests.
Three tables were prepared; one for the governor of Egypt, another for his eleven brothers, and a third for the nobles who were admitted to his society, and who could not submit to the abomination of eating with the Hebrews.
CHARLES. Dear mother, your narrative so often encounters the customs or prejudices of the ancients, of whom I am always anxious to learn what I can, that I am tempta ed to interrupt you. Pray tell me why these people could not eat together.
Mrs. M. Because the Hebrews, who, at that time made no distinction in articles of food, would eat the flesh
of animals held sacred by the Egyptians; and the abhorrence of the latter for such a profanation would not permit them to sit at table with those who committed it.
But though offensive in this particular, the strangers were treated with extraordinary civility. Arranged carefully in the order of their birth, they received each a portion from the governor's table; but Benjamin's was five times the quantity of any of his brothers. This singular attention amazed them; but as they saw no immediate occasion of alarm, they enjoyed the present moment in feasting and mirth. Early the next morning they commenced their journey homeward laden with provisions as much as they could possibly carry. But scarcely had they lost sight of the city, when they were overtaken by the very
steward who had seemed so studious of their comfort, and abruptly reproached with having returned evil for good, in that they had stolen the golden cup of his master! Confident in their innocence, and seeing, only in this disgraceful charge some new oppression of their mysterious persecutor, they fearlessly inquired, how they who had brought back the money discovered in their sacks on the former occasion, which they might have concealed and retained, could now be suspected of an action they abhorred? And to evince their indignant sincerity, they added, “ let him die with whom the cup shall be found.” The terms were accepted and the baggage immediately examined : beginning with Reuben's and descending to Benjamin, when, lo! in the sack of the latter the goblet was found.
FANNY. Alas! had he stolen it indeed ?
Mrs. M. Ono-it was placed there secretly by Joseph's direction, who intended by these trials to bring them to a sense of their guilt. The conviction had seemed yet in
complete; but now overpowered entirely by the dreadful result of their own stipulation, they saw the hand of God taking vengeance for their brother's blood.
In awful suspense they returned to the presence of Joseph, and prostrating themselves at his feet, they exclaimed, “ what shall we speak, or how shall we clear ourselves! God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants : behold we are my lord's servants, both we, and he with whom the cup is found."
« God forbid," returned he, “ that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant, as for you, get you up to your father in peace.”
This determination was the climax of their sufferings, To see the sorrow they had once wantonly brought upon their father by tearing from him his favourite, renewed in the loss of Benjamin, they could not endure. Judah, therefore, encouraged by the amiable deportment of Joseph, approached him, and deprecating his anger, he prayed to be heard. He then went on to rehearse with the simple eloquence of heart-felt grief, the whole history of their coming into Egypt. He painted the anguish of his father for the loss of Joseph, his best beloved child, his subsequent tenderness for Benjamin, the only remaining son of their mother, and his excessive unwillingness to trust him out of his sight. Nor did he forget indirectly to appeal to the generosity of the governor, by reminding him that the unhappy Israel would not have been brought into this dilemma but for his own rigid inquiry," have ye yet a brother?” and his refusal to let them have corn except their younger brother came down. “Suspecting no danger," he continued," he had readily become the surety for his safety; and now that the liberty of Benjamin was thus inexplicably forfeited, he would pay the penalty in his stead, for he could not return and behold the anguish of his father.”
This pathetic speech of Judah, not one word of which can be omitted without losing a significant expression, was admirably adapted to affect such a man as Joseph ; his firmness was conquered the tide of tender emotions could no longer be restrained and hastily commanding every one except the culprits to leave the room, he exclaimed, “1 am Joseph-- does my father yet live!” Amazement, , joy, and shame overpowered his brethren. Silence, the most profound, could alone declare the tumultuous passions which mingled in their bosoms. He saw them unable to speak, and generously encouraged and comforted them Come near, I pray you, said he, I am Joseph your bro
I ther, whom ye sold into Egypt; be not grieved therefore por angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life.” And seeing them incredulous, and pitying their confusion, he continued to assure them,“ haste ye, go my
say to him, thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not, and I will nourish thee, for there are yet five years of famine; thou shalt dwell in Goshen, with all that thou hast, lest thou come to poverty. Your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you; tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and all that ye have seen, and haste and bring down my father hither.”' The geverous effort to relieve his troubled brothers was now exhausted. Language refused any longer her aid ; but thorwing his arms around his beloved Benjamin, and by