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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 47

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

Verses 1-31

Genesis 47:2. Some of his brethren. ומקצה vemi-ketzeh extremitate, as in Montanus, five of the tallest and finest looking of his brethren; as is the import of the word, Judges 18:2, when describing the five valiant and enterprising Danites.

Genesis 47:8. How old art thou? Pharaoh appears to have been struck with Jacob’s gray hairs, and venerable appearance. His troubles had probably made him look older than he really was.

Genesis 47:10. Jacob blessed Pharaoh, being a patriarch, and much older than the king.

Genesis 47:11. Give them a possession. The population being thin, much land, as in Canaan, was unoccupied.

Genesis 47:18. The second year; that is, the second year after all the private stores were exhausted, and about the fifth of the famine.

Genesis 47:21. He removed them to cities. How came those cities to be so thinly populated? It is replied, not the famine, for that drove the people into Egypt. But there had been an inundation on all the lower countries, accompanied with a most tremendous hurricane from the south west, for the trees found in marshes lie with their heads toward the north east. It happened about the autumnal equinox, hazel nuts being found in abundance. In this flood, king Ogyges was drowned in Thebes, a city of Achaia, which he had builded. Eusebius places this occurrence above a thousand and twenty years before the first Greek Olympiade. Helvicos, Chronicles p. 13, places it 530 years after the flood of Noah, and 248 before the flood of Deucalion, which laid all Thessalia under water: Augustine says, in his city of God, that it was not so great as the inundation in the days of Ogyges. Egypt also must then have been laid very much under water, and the inhabitants and cattle very much overwhelmed in this irruption of the sea. Varro, in his third book on agriculture, places the inundation of Ogyges 1500 years before the foundation of Rome. Dr. Edward Clarke, our able and accredited traveller, fully coincides, that the immense quantities of horns and bones of quadrupeds of constant occurrence in bogs and marshes, were deposited there during the Ogygian overflowing of the sea. The tanning principle must have contributed remarkably to their preservation. See note, chap. Genesis 8:3.

Genesis 47:22. The priests had a portion assigned. It is the character of piety to give food and raiment to God’s servants; and if there be any redundancy in that portion, it is not to be expended in fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, but on the poor, and in works of benevolence, as might abundantly be proved from antiquity.

Genesis 47:24. A fifth part. A very easy rental, when houses, lands and cattle, were provided by the prince. The Egyptian police must have been wise and salutary in its arrangements, lenient, but vigorous in its operation, that no sedition, no riot was known during this unexampled pressure of calamity and want. How happy are that prince and that people, who can find a divine minister to take the helm during a dangerous course.

Genesis 47:29. Put thy hand under my thigh: words of modesty. Circumcision being the seal of all the righteousness of God promised to Abraham, Jacob required an oath by that covenant that his bones should rest in the promised land, and in hope of the joyful resurrection of the dead.

Genesis 47:30. Carry me out of Egypt. Jacob required an oath of this, that his family might ever regard Canaan as their promised inheritance; and that Joseph might have the better plea for attending the funeral. Believer, no earthly Goshen is thy home.

Genesis 47:31. Upon the bed’s head. The Septuagint reads, upon the top of his staff; as is followed by St. Paul, Hebrews 11:0.


In this whole chapter Joseph’s character appears to advantage. He was the best of sons, the best of brothers, and the best of servants to the king. What an example for men to copy in all the relative duties of life; and that family and kingdom shall prosper, even in the time of adversity, where the like wisdom and virtue operate in all their counsel and conduct.

Jacob regarded life as a pilgrimage. St. Paul has admired this confession which Jacob made before Pharaoh, and his patriarchal way of life, which had now continued a hundred and thirty years; but from hence he was to rest in Goshen during the remainder of his days. The idea of life as a pilgrimage cannot be too frequently placed in our view, for the longest life is short compared with eternity, and its vicissitudes are many: it should therefore constantly produce a sentiment in our heart to wean us from the world, and attach us to heaven.

Jacob regarded his long pilgrimage as transient and full of evils. The quarrel with Esau, the oppression of Laban, the violence offered to Dinah, the revenge on Shechem, and the strange affair of Judah and Tamar, were but a few of the calamities which had imbittered his days. And if Israel, beloved for his father’s sake, was not exempt from those afflictions, what can we expect but a constant mixture of evils, and a constant succession of calamities, with all the good that God shall give?

Hence let no man be discouraged; for the good angel of the Lord had redeemed Jacob from all his troubles. Mark how he ascribes his preservation to providence. Our care is insufficient without God’s care. Oh how often should we have died by affliction, been killed by accidents, or run into ruin, had not the Lord preserved our lives. How blind then, and how impious the man, who ascribes his safety to his own precaution, and his prosperity to the efforts of his own arm.

Did Joseph introduce his father to Pharaoh, and afterwards his brethren? Let us rejoice in hope while we sustain the evils of life. In a little while, our advocate with the Father, not ashamed of his unworthy brethren, will introduce us to the Father, and present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. He will, forgetful of all his wrongs, give us the happiest place in his kingdom, and do us good for ever.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 47". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/genesis-47.html. 1835.
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