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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 37

Verses 1-36


Joseph is Hated by his Brethren and Sold into Egypt

With the exception of a few passages chiefly in Genesis 46, 49, the rest of the book of Genesis is taken from the Primitive source.

The chief event with which the rest of Genesis is concerned, namely, the migration of Israel to Egypt, displays the working out of God’s purposes declared in Genesis 15. In Egypt the chosen race grew in peace from a tribe to a nation, instead of having to encounter the hostility of the Canaanites as their numbers increased and their aspirations became known. In Egypt, too, they came in contact with a highly civilised and law-abiding nation, and learnt from them much of the highest value for the future.

There are many points in the history of Joseph which remind us of Christ, e.g. in his being the loved son of his father, in his being sent to his brethren who hated and rejected him, in his humiliation and glory, and in the benefits he conferred on those among whom he came to dwell.

2. The generations of Jacob] i.e. the history of Jacob’s descendants, especially of Joseph. Their evil report] RV ’the evil report of them.’ The sins of Jacob’s sons in Genesis 34, 37, 38 afford plain evidence of their lawless characters.

3. A coat of many colours] RM ’a long garment with sleeves,’ i.e. reaching to the ankles and wrists, and worn by persons of distinction. The ordinary coat had no sleeves and reached only to the knees.

5. Joseph dreamed] The fact of the dreams indicates a contemplative disposition in Joseph: their character foreshadows his future pre-eminence among his brethren.

10. Thy mother] According to Genesis 35:19, Rachel was already dead: but critics assign that passage to a different source.

13. Jacob was living at Hebron, but he had land at Shechem: see Genesis 33:18, Genesis 33:19.

15. In the field] i.e. in the open country.

17. Dothan] 12 m. N. of Shechem. It was on the caravan route between Syria and Egypt. This explains the passing of the merchants.

21f. The narrative in this chapter appears to be drawn from two sources which give somewhat varying accounts of the way in which Joseph was rescued and sold without any attempt to harmonise them. In one it is Judah who defends him and Ishmaelites who buy him; in the other it is Eeuben and Midianites.

24. A pit] These pits or, rather, cisterns are generally dry except in the rainy season. They are much smaller at top than bottom, that they may be the more easily closed. Some are 80 to 100 ft. deep: cp. Jeremiah 38:6.

25. Spicery, balm, and myrrh] fragrant gums from various trees, used in Egypt for making incense, and for embalming.

28. Twenty pieces of silver] ’The price, in later times, of a male slave from five to twenty years old, the medium price being thirty shekels of silver or £4’ (Edersheim).

29. Reuben had evidently been absent during this transaction.

34. Sackcloth] a coarse material made of goats’ hair, and worn next the skin in token of the affliction of the soul.

35. The grave] the Heb. ’Sheol’ means the place of departed souls.

36. Sold him] Syrian slaves were highly valued by the Egyptians. Potiphar] probably means ’the gift of Ra,’ the sun-god of the Egyptians.

Captain of the guard] i.e. of the bodyguard who protected Pharaoh’s person and executed criminals: but some render ’chief of the butchers.’

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 37". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/genesis-37.html. 1909.