And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:
All Commentaries on Genesis 43:11 Go To Genesis 43
Ambrose of Milan
Nevertheless Benjamin, the youngest, was kept back and still stayed close to his loving father. The bonds of the law held him back, and ancestral custom. The famine was increasing because he was coming late. Two brothers, Reuben and Judah—that is, humility and confession—make intercession on his behalf. He has them as guarantees with his father; to them Benjamin is entrusted. One of them is the firstborn, the other restored to life. The firstborn represents the law; the one restored to life, the gospel. The young Benjamin is led down by them and arrives, accompanied by good fragrances and carrying with him the cement with which stones of marble are fastened together; thus by his own preaching as by a spiritual cement he might fasten together living stones. He also carries honey, which destroys the harmful effects of an internal wound, without the bitter pain of any cutting. Such indeed was the preaching of Paul that it destroyed the festering infection and drained off the tainted fluid with the sting of its argument, for it sought rather to cauterize the sick vitals of the heart than to cut them. That the incense is a sign of prayer and the cassia and aloes are signs of burial, David the psalmist taught us when he said, “myrrh and aloes and cassia from your garments.” For Paul came to preach the cross of the Lord, an oak that is always verdant. And almonds appear, which are rather hard in the shell but more tender in the meat—it was right that Aaron’s priestly rod was of the almond tree, and Jeremiah’s staff as well—double money too. Who would doubt that these gifts were useful? For the life of the patriarch and the preaching of the apostle are always verdant in the heart of each person, and the speech of the saints shines brightly with the splendor of the precept of salvation, like silver tried by the fire. And it is with reason that they carry double money, for in them there is prefigured the coming of Paul, who presented presbyters who labor in the word and in the teaching with a double honor.