John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 45
This chapter contains an account of Joseph's making himself known to his brethren, which was done when they were alone, Genesis 45:1; when he encouraged them not to distress themselves on account of their selling him into Egypt, for God in his providence had sent him there for their good, Genesis 45:5; and he ordered them to go forthwith to Canaan, and acquaint his father with all the honour and glory they saw him in, and to desire him to come thither to him, where he should be provided for during the five years of famine yet to come, in the best part of the land of Egypt, Genesis 45:9; upon which he expressed the strongest affection to Benjamin, and to all his brethren, Genesis 45:14; the fame of this was soon spread in the house of Pharaoh, which gave the king great pleasure, who immediately expressed his earnest desire that his father might come and settle in Egypt, and ordered provisions to be sent him, and carriages to bring him down, and all that belonged to him, Genesis 45:16; and Joseph accordingly delivered to his brethren wagons and provisions for the way, and gave gifts to them, and sent a present to his father, and dismissed his brethren with an exhortation not to fall out by the way, Genesis 45:21; and when they came to Canaan, they acquainted their father with all these things, who at first could not believe them; but when he saw the wagons, his spirit revived, and determined to go and see his son, Genesis 45:25.
Then Joseph could not refrain himself,.... That he should not weep, as the Targum of Jonathan adds; at least he could not much longer refrain from tears, such an effect Judah's speech had on his passions:
before all them that stood before him; his servants that attended him and waited upon him, the steward of his house, and others, upon whose account he put such a force upon himself, to keep in his passions from giving vent, that they might not discover the inward motions of his mind; but not being able to conceal them any longer:
and he cried; or called out with a loud voice, and an air of authority:
cause every man to go out from me; out of the room in which he and his brethren were; perhaps this order was given to the steward of the house to depart himself, and to remove every inferior officer and servant upon the spot; or other people that might be come in to hear the trial of those men, and to see how they would be dealt with:
and there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren; not that Joseph was ashamed of them, and of owning before them the relation he stood in to them; but that they might not see the confusion his brethren would be thrown into, and have knowledge of the sin they had been guilty of in selling him which could not fail of being mentioned by him, and confessed by them; and besides, it was not suitable to his grandeur and dignity to be seen in such an extreme passion he was now going into.
And he wept aloud,....; Or "gave forth his voice in weeping"
and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard; the Egyptians, that were in the room or rooms adjoining to that where Joseph was, heard his cry, and perhaps a great deal of what was said; which they soon reported to others, and it quickly reached Pharaoh's court, which might not be at any great distance.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph,.... As soon as he could compose himself a little, and utter his words, the first thing he said was, that he was Joseph; that was his right name, his Hebrew name; though he was called by the Egyptians Zaphnathpaaneah, and by which name Joseph's brethren only knew him, if they knew his name at all; and it must be very startling to them to bear this sound, and to be told by himself that that was his name; and which was not all he meant and they understood, but that he was Joseph their brother as afterwards expressed:
doth my father yet live? this he knew before, for they had told him he was alive; wherefore he puts this question not through ignorance, or as doubting but to express his affliction for his father, and his joy that he was alive:
and his brethren could not answer him; they were so surprised and astonished; they were like men thunderstruck, they were not able to utter a word for awhile:
for they were troubled at his presence; the sin of selling him came fresh into their minds, the guilt of it pressed their consciences, and the circumstances that Joseph was in filled them with fear that he would avenge himself on them.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, come near to me, I pray you,.... Very probably Joseph sat in a chair of state while they were under examination, and through reverence of him they kept at a proper distance; or being frightened at what he had said, he might observe them drawing back, as Jarchi remarks, and so encourages them in a kind and tender manner to return and come nearer to him, and the rather, that they might more privately converse together without being overheard; as also that they might, by approaching him discern and call to mind some of his features still remaining, by which they might be assured he was Joseph indeed:
and they came near, and he said, I am Joseph your brother; not only his name was Joseph, but he was that Joseph that was their brother; he claims and owns the relation between them, which must be very affecting to them, who had used him so unkindly:
whom ye sold into Egypt: which is added, not so much to put them in mind of and upbraid them with their sin, but to assure them that he was really their brother Joseph; which he could not have related had he not been he, as well as to lead on to what he had further to say to them for their comfort.
Now therefore be not grieved,.... To an excess, so as to be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow; otherwise it became them to be grieved for their sin, and to show a godly sorrow and true repentance for it:
nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; reflect upon themselves, and afflict themselves in an immoderate way; or break forth into anger and wrath with one another, upbraiding and blaming each other for their conduct in that affair, and so foment contentions and quarrels among themselves:
for God did send me before you to preserve life; the life of thousands of persons in Egypt, Canaan, and other countries; and particularly to preserve their lives was he sent before them into Egypt; where, by interpretation Pharaoh's dreams, by which he understood and did foretell the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, he was to great honour and trust, and laid up a sufficiency of corn in the time of plenty to answer the exigencies of various countries in the time of famine, and, among the rest, of his own family; and therefore would have this attributed by them to the wise disposing providence of God.
For these two years hath the famine been, in the land,.... In the land of Egypt and in the countries round about:
and yet there are five years; still remaining, which he knew by the above dreams and the interpretation of them:
in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest; that is, no tillage of land, neither ploughing nor sowing, and so no reaping, or gathering in of the fruits of the earth, as used to be in harvest; at least, there would be very little ground tilled, only it may be on the banks of the Nile, since they had no corn to spare for seed; and besides, as the Egyptians knew by Joseph's prediction that the Nile would not overflow, it was to no purpose to attempt to plough their land, which through seven years of drought was become very difficult, or to sow, could they get the seed into the ground, since there was no likelihood of its springing up again.
And God sent me before you,.... This he repeats to impress the minds of his brethren with a sense of the good providence of God in bringing him to Egypt before them, to make provision for their future welfare, and to alleviate their grief, and prevent an excessive sorrow for their selling him into Egypt, when by the overruling hand of God it proved so salutary to them:
to preserve you a posterity in the earth; that they and theirs might not perish, which otherwise, in all human probability, must have been the case; and that the promise of the multiplication of Abraham's seed might not be made of none effect, but continue to take place, from whence the Messiah was to spring:
and to save your lives by a great deliverance; from the extreme danger they were exposed unto, through the terrible famine, and in which deliverance were to be observed the great wisdom, goodness, power, and providence of God.
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God,.... Which is to be understood not absolutely, as if they had no concern at all in sending him thither; they sold him to the Ishmaelites, who brought him down to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, and so were instrumental in his coming to Egypt; but comparatively, it was not they so much as God that sent him; whose providence directed, disposed, and overruled all those events, to bring Joseph to this place, and to such an high station, to answer the purposes and designs of God in providing for and preserving Jacob's family in a time of distress:
and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh: to be a teacher to him, as Aben Ezra, that is, to be his counsellor, to advise him well in all things, as a father his children; or to be his partner and patron, as Jarchi, to have a share with him in power and authority, and to be reckoned as a father to him, see Genesis 41:43; and to provide for him and the welfare of his kingdom, as parents do for their children: the following phrases explain it of rule and government; and the meaning is, that he was a great man, and a prince
and lord of all his house; his prime minister, chief counsellor and courtier:
and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt; to whom all the deputies of the several provinces were subject under Pharaoh, and especially in the affair of the corn.
Haste you, and go up to my father,.... In Canaan, which lay higher than Egypt; being desirous he should know as soon as possible that he was alive, and in what circumstances he was:
and say unto him, thus saith thy son Joseph; without any title, such as the father and counsellor of Pharaoh and governor of Egypt, only Joseph his son, which would be enough to revive the heart of Jacob:
God hath made me lord over all Egypt: his exaltation to this dignity he ascribes, not to Pharaoh, but to God; civil honour and promotion to worldly grandeur and dignity are from God, and not from man:
come down unto me, tarry not; the great business on his hands not permitting him to go to his father and fetch him to Egypt, he desires that he would come to him without delay, which would be greatly to the advantage of him and his family, and to their mutual comfort.
And thou shall dwell in the land of Goshen,.... Called by Artapanus
and thou shalt be near unto me; as he would be in Goshen, if Memphis was the royal seat at this time, as some think
thou and thy children, and thy children's children: for Jacob's sons had all of them children, even Benjamin the youngest, as appears from the following chapter:
and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast; and Goshen, being a place of pasturage, was fit and suitable for them; and so Josephus says
And there will I nourish thee,.... Provide for him and his family:
for yet there are five years of famine; still to come, two of the seven only being past:
lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty; his whole posterity be consumed, as it would be in all probability, if he did not procure food for his family during the famine.
And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin,.... They were eyewitnesses of his being alive, having themselves seen him, and even Benjamin, who could not be suspected by his father of a fraud in imposing on him; and some of them could doubtless remember his features, and had an ocular proof of his being the very person, which they could with great evidence relate unto Jacob; as also his voice in speaking:
that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you; without an interpreter, as Aben Ezra, and in the Hebrew language, as the Targum and Jarchi; which might confirm them, and likewise their father upon their report, that the governor was not an Egyptian, but an Hebrew; and by that and other concurrent testimonies that he must be Joseph.
And you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt,.... His wealth and riches, his grandeur and dignity, his power and authority:
and of all that you have seen; what a magnificent house he dwelt in; what a numerous train of servants he had; in what majesty he rode in the second chariot to the king; and what authority he exercised over the people, and what reverence they gave him, and what power he had, particularly in the distribution of corn:
and ye shall haste, and bring down my father hither; for Joseph had an eager desire to see him, wherefore this is repeated.
And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck and wept,.... On his neck first, because he was his own brother by father and mother's side; and he wept over him for joy that he had a sight of him once more: the word for "neck" is in the plural number, and being used, may signify that he fell first on one side of his neck, and then on the other, to show his great affection for him:
and Benjamin wept upon his neck; their love and the tokens of it were reciprocal.
Moreover, he kissed all his brethren,.... In their turns, to testify his real affection for them, and hearty reconciliation to them:
and wept upon them; that is, upon their necks, as he had on Benjamin's:
and after that his brethren talked with him: being emboldened by this carriage of his to them, and encouraged to believe that he really forgave them their sin against him, and was truly reconciled unto them, and had a real affection for them, and had no reason to fear he would avenge himself on them: they entered into a free conversation, and talked of their father and their family, and the concerns of it, and of what passed since the time he was separated from them.
And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house,.... The report was carried to court, and there it was told by some from Joseph's house, who had overheard what had passed, at least somewhat of it:
saying, Joseph's brethren are come; perhaps they might call him by his Egyptian name, though the historian gives him his Hebrew name, and which was his right name, and by which he was best known to the Hebrews, for whose sake chiefly he wrote:
and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants; for Joseph being greatly beloved both by the king and his courtiers, who are meant by his servants, they were glad of an opportunity of showing their further regard to him, by their respect and civilities to his relations and friends, who had been the means of providing for the welfare of the whole kingdom, and of saving all their lives; Pharaoh's expressions of pleasure on this occasion were, no doubt sincere, whatever were those of his courtiers; who might not so well affect a stranger, and one that had been in a very low estate of life, to be raised above them, and have so much trust reposed is him, and honour conferred upon him, and might dissemble in their respect to Joseph before their sovereign; though such might be the prudence and affability of Joseph, and such the sense they had of their obligations to him in point of gratitude, that they might be really pleased to hear that his brethren were come; and the rather Pharaoh and his court might be the more delighted, because that it appeared that he came of a good family in Canaan; whereas they knew no more of him than of his having been a slave in Potiphar's house, and then cast into a prison for a crime charged upon him, out of which he was taken, and made the great man he was.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph,.... Who, it is highly probable, waited upon Pharaoh to acquaint him with the coming of his brethren; for it cannot be imagined that Pharaoh should say what follows upon a bare report, without having a further account of things from Joseph, or that he would neglect giving it, but take the first opportunity to inform him, whereupon he gave him the following order:
say unto thy brethren, this do ye; give them directions and instructions to do as follows:
lade your asses: with provisions for the present necessity of their father's household in Canaan, and for their journey back to Egypt:
and go, get you into the land of Canaan; with all the haste they could make.
And take your father, and your households,.... Or families, for they were all married persons, and had children, and no doubt servants also: all were to be brought with them:
and come unto me; into his kingdom, to his metropolis, and to his palace, and into his presence:
and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt; the best things which it affords, and the best and most fruitful part of it, as he afterwards did, which was the land of Goshen:
and ye shall eat the fat of the land; the choicest fruits of the earth, such as were produced in fields and gardens; meaning that they should have the finest of the wheat for themselves, and the fattest pastures for their flocks.
Now thou art commanded, this do ye,.... Had his orders from Pharaoh; had full power and authority to do the above things, and what follows: the sense Joseph Kimchi gives of this clause is, that Joseph was ordered by Pharaoh not to let any wagons go out of Egypt with corn, lest the Egyptians should want; but now Pharaoh said to him, though thou wert thus ordered, yet bid thy brethren do as follows:
take you wagons out of the land of Egypt: and lade them with corn, as the same writer observes; the Targum of Jonathan adds, which were drawn by oxen:
for your little ones, and for your wives: the wagons were to carry the women and children in when they returned:
and bring your father, and come; in one of the carriages, or in what way was most agreeable to him in his old age.
Also regard not your stuff,.... Or "your vessels"
for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours: whatever good things were in it, whether for food or use for themselves, their houses, or their flocks, all were at their service, and they were welcome to them; or the best or most fruitful part of the country was designed for them, and would be given to them, or was at their option.
And the children of Israel did so,.... As Pharaoh commanded, and Joseph from him directed them to do:
and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh: and beasts, either horses or oxen to draw them, and these not empty, though the principal use of them was to fetch his father and his family, and their goods:
and gave them provision for the way: both going and returning, as much as would suffice for both.
To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment,.... Rich apparel, two suits of clothes, to shift and change upon occasion, such as Homer
but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver; or shekels, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, which amounted to between thirty and forty pounds of our money; the Septuagint very wrongly renders it three hundred "pieces of gold"; and besides these he gave him also
five changes of raiment; because of his greater love and affection for him.
And to his father he sent after this manner,.... Or "according to" this
ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt: the best things the land afforded; the Targum of Jonathan says with wine, but that Egypt did not abound with; and so Jarchi, out of the Talmud, observes, that it was old wine that was sent, such as is agreeable to ancient men:
and ten she asses laden with corn; not made up into bread, next mentioned, and so distinguished from it:
and bread: ready made and baked:
and meat for his father by the way; food and fruit of various sorts; Aben Ezra reckons many, peas, beans, lentils, millet, fetches, figs, currants, and dates.
So he sent his brethren away, and they departed,.... From Egypt to Canaan with the wagons, asses, and rich presents:
and he said unto them, see that ye fall not out by the way; the Targum of Jonathan adds, about the affair of selling me; which he had reason to fear they would, from what they, and particularly Reuben, had said in his presence, Genesis 42:21; he was jealous this would be the subject of their discourse by the way, and that they would be blaming one another about it, and so fall into contentions and quarrels; that one would say it was owing to the reports of such an one concerning him, that they entertained hatred against him; that it was such an one that advised to kill him, and such an one that stripped him of his clothes, and such an one that put him into the pit, and such an one that was the cause of his being sold; and thus shifting of things from one to another, and aggravating each other's concern in this matter, they might stir up and provoke one another to wrath and anger, as the word used signifies, which might have a bad issue; to prevent which Joseph gives them this kind and good advice; and especially there was the more reason to attend to it, since he was reconciled unto them, and was desirous the whole should be buried in oblivion.
And they went up out of Egypt,.... That lying lower than the land of Canaan:
and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father; they found him alive and well.
And told him,.... What had happened to them in Egypt:
saying, Joseph is yet alive; who was thought by him and them to have been dead long ago:
and he is governor over all the land of Egypt; deputy governor, and had such power and authority that nothing was done without his order; the executive power or administration of government was put into his hands, and all the officers of the kingdom were under him, he was next to Pharaoh:
and Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not; it was too great and too good news to be true; though it was desirable, it was unexpected; it amazed him, he knew not what to think, or say or believe about it; there was such a conflict of the passions in him, that he could not compose himself, or reason with himself about it; and what might serve the more to hinder his belief of it was, that this report of theirs was contrary to what they themselves had before related of his death; and very likely upon the mention of the thing he fell into a swoon, and was not himself for a while; and when he came a little to himself, they went on with their account, as follows.
And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them,.... Not concerning their selling of him, and his forgiveness of them, and reconciliation to them, which perhaps Jacob never heard of to his dying day, since he makes no mention of it, nor hints at it in his dying words to them; but of his great advancement in the court of Pharaoh, and how desirous he was to have his father and family with him, and provide for them, since there were five years of famine yet to come:
and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, and his sons wives and children, down to Egypt in; and which were so grand and magnificent, that he was easily persuaded could never have been provided by his sons, if what they had said concerning Joseph was not true: and then
the spirit of Jacob their father revived: not the Holy Spirit, or spirit of prophecy, as the Targums, which the Jews say departed from him, and had not been with him since the loss of Joseph, but now returned; but his own natural spirit, he became lively and cheerful, giving credit to the report of his sons.
And Israel said, it is enough, Joseph my son is yet alive,.... Or it is "much" or "great"
I will go and see him before I die; though his age was great, the journey long and difficult, so great was his desire of seeing Joseph, that he determines at once upon going, expecting death shortly: no doubt but this was said in submission to the will of God, and in seeking him by prayer and supplication, and in the exercise of faith, believing that God would grant him his desire, than which nothing in life could be more desirable to him, and he only wished to live to enjoy this favour. In Joseph's making himself known unto his brethren, he was a type of Christ, who manifests himself to his people alone, and as he does not unto the world, saying unto them, that he is Jesus the Saviour, their friend and brother, and whom they crucified, whose sins were the cause of his sufferings; and yet encourages them to draw nigh unto him with an humble and holy boldness, giving them abundant reason to believe that he will receive them kindly, seeing that all that were done to him were by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, and for their good, even for their eternal salvation; and that they might not perish, but have everlasting life; and to whom he now gives change of raiment, riches and honour, yea, durable riches and righteousness; and declares it to be his will, that where he is, they may be also, and behold his glory: and this is sufficient to engage them to reckon all their worldly enjoyments as mere stuff, contemptible things in comparison of the good and glories of another world they are hastening to, where there will be fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore; and therefore should not fall out by the way, as they too often do.
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