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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 45

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-28

Genesis 45:5. Be not grieved; that is, not with any farther grief and trouble; for ye have wept and suffered enough. It was God, who taking advantage of your fault, sent me before you to preserve life.

Genesis 45:8. It was not you that sent me hither, but God. The Lord takes occasion from the errors and crimes of men to unfold his counsel, and his righteousness. Let it then be noted that Joseph says here, “God sent me to save your lives,” but not the least extenuation of their guilt by saying, as Mr. Calvin, who presses in more than a folio page, that God wrought admirably by them. Deus Mirabiliter per illos operatur, ut ex impuris fæcibus liquidam justitiam eliciat. St. Paul has said, “Oh the depth!” Notwithstanding the astonishment and displeasure of this Commentator, that we cannot see as he sees, we feel awed at the conclusion that the Just and Holy One in any sense, however disguised, employed these men to commit this complication of crimes against the best of brothers. While Zeno sat on the bench, a thief was put to the bar, who knowing the high stoical sentiments of the judge, pleaded fate and necessity; he could not help doing what he had done. Zeno felt the force of this defence, and colouring up with anger, replied, “yes, rogue, I know thou wast fated to be a thief, and I was fated to see thee whipped.” See on Jeremiah 36:3.

Genesis 45:10. Goshen. A rich district of pasturage, lying between the Nile and the Red sea. A happy soil for Israel to prosper in and increase.

Genesis 45:12. It is my mouth that speaketh. He had spoken by an interpreter before: but now his rough and judicial aspect was changed into tears of tenderness and love. Now they heard his voice in the Hebrew tongue, saying, I am JOSEPH! Doth your father yet live?


What a pathetic and endearing scene is here presented to our view. All the passions are moved, and all the soul is softened at once. Fear, shame, sorrow, gratitude and love, succeed one another as reflection strikes the mind. Seeing them covered with confusion, and silent with astonishment, he said come near. Just so does Jesus Christ view the abased and trembling soul, and invites it to kiss his sceptre, and embrace his mercy; just so does he invite those who have betrayed and crucified him, to dwell in his kingdom and share in all his glory. Oh what a day when the prodigal returns; what joy to angels, what overwhelming consolations inundate the soul!

Does he exhort them not to grieve, and does he comfort them with the idea, that God had sent him? Does he tenderly embrace them, and load them with every princely favour? Let us learn of him the noble temper of forgiveness and brotherly kindness. Let us learn of him, or rather of Jesus Christ, to overcome evil with good; and to show every becoming mark of affection and love to such as are contrite for their faults. These brothers no more hated Joseph, but revered his memory for ever.

Was Israel invited to dwell in Goshen, while a terrific famine pervaded the surrounding nations? Just so while sickness and troubles embarrass the wicked; while their peace is disturbed, and their joys are withered, Israel can say, The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, I have a goodly heritage. The Lord has invited me to buy wine and milk without money and without price. Who is like unto thee, oh people, saved of the Lord. Meanwhile let us rejoice with trembling, for while in this world, however happy may be our circumstances, it is not Canaan; we have not yet arrived at home; we must expect vicissitudes and troubles till heaven shall become our permanent abode.

But what a day of astonishment and joy was this to Jacob after all his afflictions. He had almost died of grief, and now he almost dies with exultation. Be encouraged then ye fathers, ye mothers, who have long mourned for the loss of children; they are not dead, for God hath sent them before. You shall find your Josephs again, not consumed in the tomb, but elevated in power and glory at the Father’s right hand. Though now, you see them not; though you are not acquainted with their prosperity, yet they all await your arrival in the happy abodes of everlasting repose. Rejoice in hope; the chariots shall soon arrive, that you may ascend, embrace, and dwell with them for ever. What a motive to piety; what an argument to resignation, that afflictions and death shall hasten our union with those we once so dearly loved.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 45". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/genesis-45.html. 1835.
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