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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Genesis 37

Verse 1

Sojourned at Hebron and the environs. (Haydock)

Verse 2

Generations. This connects his history with chap. xxxv. What happened to Jacob and his sons, and particularly to Joseph, forms the subject of the remaining part of Genesis. (Haydock) --- Old; complete, or beginning "his 17th year," as the Hebrew, Chaldean, and Septuagint have it. "He was the son or boy of"---so many years always means the current year unfinished. (Bochart 1. R. xiii. 1.) --- The sons. Perhaps these were not so much enraged against Joseph, till he told his father of their scandalous behaviour, in order that he might put a stop to it. --- He accused. Some editions of the Septuagint read, "they accused him," &c.; but all others confirm the Vulgate and Hebrew. (Calmet) --- Crime: perhaps of sodomy, or bestiality (St. Thomas Aquinas); or of abusive language to Joseph himself. (Calmet)

Verse 3

Old age, and therefore expected to have no more children; but he loved him still more, on account of his innocent and sweet behaviour (Menochius): in which sense the Samaritan, Chaldean, &c., have, "because he was a wise and prudent boy." --- Colours. The nations of the East delight in gaudy attire, "hanging down to the heels" as the original passim is sometimes expressed, talaris & polymita, ver. 3. (Calmet)

Verse 4

Could not, through envy, which caused them to notice every little distinction shewn to Joseph. They perceived he was the most beloved. His accusing them, and insinuating by his mysterious dreams that he would be their lord, heightened their rage. (Haydock)

Verse 5

A dream. These dreams of Joseph were prophetical, and sent from God, as were also those which he interpreted, chap. xl. and xli.; otherwise, generally speaking, the observing of dreams is condemned in the Scripture, as superstitious and sinful. See Deuteronomy xviii. 10, and Ecclesiasticus xxxiv. 2, 3.

Verse 7

Sheaf. Joseph probably knew not what this portended, as the prophets were sometimes ignorant of the real purport of their visions. (Calmet) --- But it admirably foreshewed the famine, which would bring his brethren to adore him in Egypt. (Menochius)

Verse 9

The sun. This second dream confirmed the truth of the former. Joseph relates it with simplicity, not suspecting the ill will of his brethren: but his father easily perceives what effect the narration would have, and desires him to be more cautious. He even points out the apparent incoherence of the dream, as Rachel, who seemed intended by the moon, was already dead; unless this dream happened before that event. St. Augustine (q. 123) observes, this was never literally verified in Joseph, but it was in Jesus Christ, whom he prefigured. (Calmet) --- Some think that Bala, the nurse of Joseph, was intended by the moon. (Tirinus)

Verse 10

Worship. This word is not used here to signify divine worship, but an inferior veneration, expressed by the bowing of the body, and that, according to the manner of the eastern nations, down to the ground.

Verse 11

With himself: not doubting but it was prophetical. Thus acted the Blessed Virgin. (Calmet)

Verse 13

In Sichem. About ninety miles off. The town had not probably been as yet rebuilt. Jacob had a field there, and the country was free for any one to feed their flocks. It was customary to drive them to a distance. (Calmet)

Verse 14

Bring me. He was afraid of letting him remain with them, and retained him mostly at home for company, and to protect him from danger.

Verse 16

My brethren. The man was acquainted with Jacob's family, as he had dwelt in those parts for a long time. (Haydock)

Verse 17

Dothain: twelve miles to the north of Samaria. (Eusebius)

Verse 19

The dreamer. Hebrew Bahal hachalomoth, "the lord of dreams," or the visionary lord (Calmet); or one who feigns dreams: so the Jews say of our Saviour, this seducer. (Haydock)

Verse 20

Pit: walled around to contain water: Hebrew Bur. Bar means a well that has no walls. (Menochius) --- Shall appear. They resolve to tell a lie, and easily believe that Joseph had been as bad as themselves in telling one first. If they had believed the dreams were from God, they would hardly have supposed that they could prevent them from having their effect. (Haydock)

Verse 22

His father. Ruben wished to regain his father's favour, chap. xxxv. 22.

Verse 25

To eat bread. How could they do this while their innocent brother was praying and lamenting! (chap. xlii. 21.) (Haydock) --- Some: a caravan of merchants. (Du Hamel) --- Balm, or rosin; "That of Syria resembles attic honey." (Pliny, Natural History) --- Myrrh, (stacten); Hebrew, Lot: "drops of myrrh or laudanum, or of the Lotus tree." (Calmet)

Verse 28

Of silver. Some have read, thirty pieces of gold or silver. (St. Ambrose, c. 3.) --- The price was trifling: twenty sicles would be about 'a32 5s. 7'bdd. English. The Madianites and Ismaelites jointly purchased Joseph. (Haydock)

Verse 29

Ruben, who, in the mean time had been absent while his brethren hearkened to the proposal of Juda only, and therefore consented to this evil. (Haydock)

Verse 30

I go to seek for him. His brethren inform him of what they had done, and he consents to keep it a secret from his father. (Menochius)

Verse 33

A beast. So he might reasonably conclude from the blood, and from the insinuations of the messengers sent by his ten sons, (Haydock) whom he would not suspect of so heinous a crime. Wild beasts infested that country. (Menochius)

Verse 34

Sack-cloth, or hair-cloth, cilicio. These garments were made very close, like a sack, of the hair taken from the goats of Cilicia, which grew long, rough, and of a dark colour. The poorest people used them: Usum in Castrorum & miseris velamina nautis, (Vir.[Virgil,?] Geor. 3.); and the Ascetics, or monks, afterwards chose them for the sake of mortification and humility. (Calmet) --- Jacob was the first, mentioned in Scripture, who put them on, and the Israelites imitated him in their mourning. --- Long time; twenty-three years, till he heard of his son being still alive. (Menochius)

Verse 35

Into hell; that is, into limbo, the place where the souls of the just were received before the death of our Redeemer. For allowing that the word hell sometimes is taken for the grave, it cannot be so taken in this place; since Jacob did not believe his son to be in the grave, (whom he supposed to be devoured by a wild beast) and therefore could not mean to go down to him thither: but certainly meant the place of rest, where he believed his soul to be. (Challoner) --- Soal, or sheol, to crave, denotes the receptacle of the dead, (Leigh) or a lower region; the grave for the body; limbo, or hell, when speaking of the soul. See Delrio, Adag. in 2 Kings, p. 209. (Haydock) --- Protestants here translate it, "the grave," being unwilling to admit a third place in the other world for the soul. See the contrary in St. Augustine, ep. 99, ad Evod.; City of God xx. 15. (Worthington)

Verse 36

An eunuch. This word sometimes signifies a chamberlain, courtier, or officer of the king: and so it is taken in this place. (Challoner) --- Soldiers, cooks, or butchers. Hebrew tabachim, executioners, mactantium. He might also be chief sacrificer, governor of the prisons, &c., all these employments were anciently very honourable, Daniel ii. 14. The providence of God never shines more brightly in any part of the Scripture, than in this history of Joseph, except in that of Jesus Christ, of whom Joseph was a beautiful figure. He was born when his father was grown old, as Jesus was in the last age of the world; he was a son increasing, as Jesus waxed in age and grace before God and men; both were beloved by their father, both comely, &c. (Calmet)

Verse 43

CHAPTER XXXVII.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Genesis 37". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/genesis-37.html. 1859.