● Gen 42:24b . . Returning, he talked some more with them. He then chose Simeon from among them and had him shackled in their sight.
Rueben had shown some good colors back at the pit in chapter 37, so the lot fell to Simeon seeing as how he was next in the line of seniority of the ten brothers (Gen 29:31-33). Simeon was a good choice since he and his brother Levi had so far shown themselves to be the cruelest among the brothers in the matter of Dinah back in chapter 34. Let's just give Simeon a taste of mortal fear for a change and see how he likes it.
Later, at home, neither Jacob nor the others will seem overly concerned that Simeon was selected to be detained, and the total focus will be upon Benjamin's safety rather than upon Simeon's rescue; in fact, Jacob will write him off as dead.
Apparently, Simeon wasn't all that appreciated by his own family: and no wonder with that savage nature of his. They were probably all, including Jacob, relieved to be rid of his company. Joseph's own lack of popularity among his elder brothers was a natural friction stemming from old fashioned sibling rivalry. But Simeon was just plain mean; while Joseph was likely a pleasant sort of guy and easy to get along with. Difficult people shouldn't be surprised when others around them spit on their graves.
● Gen 42:25-26 . . Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men's sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother's payment at the top of his sack. He also gave them provisions for their journey. So they loaded up their donkeys with the grain and started for home.
Returning his family's money was something that Joseph did for himself. How could he possibly make his own desperate kin pay for food under his control? He couldn't. In his position, Joseph could easily provide for all of them at no cost to themselves whatsoever.
"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1Tim 5:8)
Joseph was a man of honor. No doubt he made up for their payment out of his own pocket so that no one could accuse him of abusing his privileges and giving Pharaoh's grain away for nothing to people who had demonstrated that they had the wherewithal to pay for it. A man's reputation, after all, is his singular most valuable asset.
"Choose a good reputation over great riches; for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold." (Pro 22:1)
Giving them free provisions for the trip would have included food and water not only for themselves, but also their beasts. That was a diplomatic gesture, and would go a long ways towards making the family feel welcome down in Egypt, and encourage them to return since they had certainly been given a degree of fair treatment way beyond what they had any right to expect from a foreign dignitary.
● Gen 42:27-28 . . As one of them was opening his sack to give feed to his burro at the night encampment, he saw his money right there at the mouth of his bag. And he said to his brothers: My money has been returned! It is here in my bag! Their hearts sank; and, trembling, they turned to one another, saying: What is this that God has done to us?
Why is it people always tend to blame God for their misfortunes? But in this case, their perceived misfortune is not that at all. If only they hadn't been so infected with guilt they would have easily seen that the Egyptian big shot was demonstrating that he meant only the best by them. But no; instead, they go off the deep end and interpret their host's graciousness as an ill omen rather than a token of good will. Some people are so suspicious of anything nice that people do for them-- always looking for an ulterior motive.
● Gen 42:29a . .When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan
If Jacob was still living in Hebron, the distance the men traveled to get back home was roughly 250 miles if Joseph's headquarters was possibly either in, or near to, the city of Memphis, which is about ten miles south of today's Cairo.
NOTE: In the millennia prior to mechanized conveyances, the greatest obstacle to travel was distance. Today the average American zips around in a vehicle that can easily travel 55 miles in just one hour. That same distance would take eleven hours at a burro's pace. In other words; in the time it takes a burro to walk 55 miles, an automobile at 55 miles an hour can travel 605.
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