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Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Lange's Commentary
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 46". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lcc/ genesis-46.html. 1857-84.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 46". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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Israel’s emigration with his family to Egypt. The settlement in the land of Goshen. Jacob and Pharaoh. Joseph’s political Economy. Jacob’s charge concerning his burial at Canaan.
Genesis 46, 47
1And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said Jacob, Jacob. 3And he said, Here I am. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes. 5And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the Wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him: 7His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt. 8And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s first-born. 9And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch [initiated or initiating, teacher], and Phallu [distinguished], and Hezron [Fürst: blooming one, beautiful one], and Carmi [Fürst: noble one, Gesen.: vine-dresser]. 10And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel [day or light of God], and Jamin [the right hand, luck], and Ohad [Gesen.: gentleness; Fürst: strong], and Jachin [founder], and Zohar [lightening one, bright-shining one], and Shaul [the one asked for] the son of a Canaanitish woman. 11And the sons of Levi; Gershon [expulsion of the profane?], Kohath [congregation of the consecrated?], and Merari [harsh one, severe one, practiser of discipline?]. 12And the sons of Judah; Er [see Genesis 38:3], and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron [see Genesis 5:9], and Hamul [sparer? gentle one, delicate one]. 13And the sons of Issachar; Tola [worm, cocus-worm, one dressed in crimson cloth, war-dress], and Phuvah [=Phuah, utterance, speech, mouth], and Job [= יָשׁוּב, see Num 26:29; 1 Chronicles 7:1, returner], and Shimron [keeping, guarding]. 14And the Sons of Zebulun; Sered [escaped, salvation], and Elon [oak, strong one], and Jahleel [waiting upon God]. 15These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three. 16And the sons of Gad; Ziphion [beholder, watchman, the seeing one], and Haggi [Chaygai, the festive one], Shuni [the resting one], and Ezbon [Gesen.: devoted; Fürst: listener], Eri [watchman], and Arodi [descendants], and Areli [heroic]. 17And the sons of Asher; Jimnah [fortune], and Ishuah [like], and Isui [alike, one to another? twins?], and Beriah [gift], and Serah [abundance], their sister; and the sons of Beriah; Heber [company, associate], and Malchiel [my king is God]. 18These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls. 19The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife; Joseph and Benjamin. 20And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim1 [see chap. 1, etc.], which Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah priest of On, bare unto him. 21And the sons of Benjamin were Belah [see Genesis 14:2, devourer], and Becher [young camel? youth], and Ashbel [sprout], Gera [=גרה, fighter?], and Naaman [loveliness, graceful], Ehi [brotherly], and Rosh [head], Muppim [adorned one, from יפה], 22and Huppim [protected], and Ard [ruler? from ירד]. These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen. 23And the sons [the son] of Dan; Hushim [the hastener]. 24And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel [alloted by God], and Guni 25[hedged around, protected גנן], and Jezer [image, my image], and Shillem [avenger]. These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob; 26all the souls were seven. All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six: 27And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten. 28And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face2 unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. 29And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 30And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive. 31And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me: 32And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. 33And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 34That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth, even until now, both we and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
Genesis 47:1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. 2And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. 3And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy 4servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. They said, moreover, unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. 5And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: 6The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. 7And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? 9And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. 10And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. 11And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses [Ramses, son of the sun. The name of several Egyptian kings], as Pharaoh had commanded. 12And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household with bread, according to their 13families3 [Bunsen: “To each one according to the number of his children”]. And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt, and all the land of Canaan, fainted4 by reason of the famine. 14And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth. 16And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. 17And they brought their cattle unto Joseph; and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for their flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses; and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year. 18When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not aught left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: 19Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. 20And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s. 21And as for the people, he removed them to cities5 from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof. 22Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: where fore they sold not their lands. 23Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day, and your land, for Pharaoh; lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. 24And it shall come to pass, in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. 25And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. 26And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s. 27And Israel dwelled in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions6 therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. 28And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years. 29And the time drew nigh that Israel must die; and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place. 31And he said, I will do as thou hast said. And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.
1. The transplantation of the house of Israel to Egypt under the divine sanction in the genesis of the people of Israel, and under the protection afforded by the opposition to each other of Egyptian prejudice and Jewish custom; this being with the definite reservation, confirmed by an oath, of the return to Canaan. Such is the fundamental idea of both chapters.
2. Knobel finds a manifold difference in the history contained in chapters 46–48, “between the ground scripture as it is accepted by him, and the amplification of the later editor.” According to the Elohist (he says), Manasseh and Ephraim are said to have been youths already, whilst here, that is, in the “amplification,” etc., they appear as boys (Genesis 48:8-12). In the narrative of the Elohist, Jacob’s request respecting his burial is directed to all his children, whilst here it is made to Joseph only (Genesis 47:31). And this is held up as a discrepancy! See another specimen of this critical dust-raising, p. 336. Here again Knobel knows not how to take the significancy of his ἅπαξ λεγόμενα. Even הֵן, Genesis 47:23, must answer as proof of a second Jehovistic document.
3. Ch. 47 and 48 are taken by Delitzsch as belonging to the superscription, as containing Jacob’s testamentary arrangements.
4. The contents: 1) Jacob’s departure, Genesis 46:1-7; Genesis 2:0) Jacob’s family, Genesis 46:8-27; Genesis 3:0) the reunion and mutual salutation in the land of Goshen, Genesis 46:28-34; Genesis 4:0) introduction of Joseph’s brethren and his father Jacob to Pharaoh; grant of the Goshen territory; the induction and settlement of the house of Israel, Genesis 47:1-12; Genesis 5:0) Joseph’s administration in Egypt, Genesis 48:13-22; Genesis 6:0) Israel in Egypt and the proviso he makes for his return to Canaan, even in death, Gen 48:27–31.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Jacob’s departure (Genesis 46:1-7).—And Israel took his journey.—Even as Israel he had a human confidence that he might follow Joseph’s call to Egypt. But as a patriarch he must have the divine sanction. Until this time he might have doubts. When he halted at Beer-sheba (“the place of Abraham’s tamarisk tree, and of Isaac’s altar”) he offered sacrifice to the God of his fathers—a peace offering, which, in this case, may also be regarded as a thankoffering, an offering of inquiry, or in fulfilment of a vow. It must be remembered that Isaac once had it in view to journey to Egypt, had not God forbidden him. And so, in the last revelation that Jacob received, in the night-vision, there comes to him a voice, saying, Jacob, Jacob; just as Abraham had to be prepared by a decisive prohibition in the repeated call, Abraham, Abraham, Genesis 22:11, so, in a similar way, must Jacob here be prepared for going onward to Egypt. The revelation which Abraham had, Genesis 15:0, might seem dark to him. Its import neither held him back nor urged him forward on the journey. The transplantation of his house to Egypt was a bold undertaking. On this account the God of his fathers, the Providence of his fathers, reveals himself to him as God El, the powerful one,7 with whom he may safely undertake the journey, notwithstanding the apparent inconsistency that he is leaving the land of promise. The main thing in the divine promise now is, that he is not only to become a mighty people in Egypt, but that he shall return to Canaan. The latter part might be fulfilled in the return of his dead body, but this would be as symbolic pre-representation of the fact that Israel’s return to Canaan should be the return of his people. The firmness of the departure appears in the fact that Israel, with wives and children, allows himself to be placed on Egyptian wagons, and that they took with them all the movable property that they possessed in Canaan. The picture of such a migration scene upon the monument of Beni Hassan is described by Hengstenberg, “Moses and Egypt,” p. 37, etc. “Jacob is now to die in Egypt; this death, however, in a foreign land, is to have the alleviation that Joseph shall put his hand upon his eyes. This last service of love was also customary among other ancient nations (comp. Hom. II. xi. 453, etc.8).” Knobel. Concerning the wagons, see Delitzsch, p. 562.
2. Jacob’s house (Genesis 46:8-27). Three things are here to be considered: 1) The number 70; 2) the enumeration of the children and grandchildren who may have been born in Egypt; 3) the relation of the present list to the one given Numbers 26:0, and 1 Chronicles 2:0. The numbering of the souls in Jacob’s household evidently points to the important symbolic number 70. This appears in its significance throughout the history of the kingdom of God. It is reflected in the ethnological table, in the 70 elders of Moses, in the Jewish Sanhedrin, in the Alexandrian version of the LXX, in the 70 disciples of our Lord, in the Jewish reduction of the heathen world to 70 nations. Ten is the number of the completed human development, seven the number of perfection in God’s work; seventy, therefore, is the development of perfection and holiness in God’s people. But between the complete development and the germ there must be a correspondence; and this is the family of the patriarch, consisting of seventy souls. “The number seventy is the mark by which the small band of emigrants is sealed and stamped as the holy seed of the people of God.” Delitzsch. On the mariner in which the number 70 is formed out of the four columns, Leah, Zilpah, Rachel, Bilhah, see Delitzsch, p. 563; Keil, p. 270. It is to be observed that Dinah, as an unmarried heiress, constitutes an independent member of the house, just as Serah, daughter of Asher (Genesis 46:17); whilst it may be supposed, in respect to the other daughters and granddaughters, that by marriage they became incorporated with the families and tribes that are mentioned. The fact that a son of Simeon is specially mentioned as the son of a Canaanitish woman, shows that it was the rule in Jacob’s house to avoid Canaanitish marriages, though the “Ishmaelitish, Keturian, and Edomitic relationship still stood open to them.” Keil. The ancient connection, however, with Mesopotamia, Laban had impaired, if not entirely interrupted. A similar enumeration, Exodus 1:5; Deuteronomy 10:22; whilst the LXX, and, after it, Acts 7:14, presents the number 75, by counting in the five sons of Ephraim and Manasseh according to 1 Chronicles 8:14 (see note by Keil, p. 271), an enumeration by which the persons named are still more distinctly set up as heads of families.
As to what farther relates to the sons of Pharez, the sons of Benjamin, etc., it is clear that when it is said of Jacob, that he brought all these souls to Egypt, it must have the same meaning as when it is said of his twelve sons, that he brought them out of Mesopotamia, though Benjamin was born afterwards in his home. The foundation of the Palestinian family state was laid on the return of Jacob to Canaan, whilst the formation of the Egyptian family state, and of its full patriarchal development, was laid when he came to Egypt. The idea goes ahead of the date. Baumgarten urges the literal conception; but the right view of the matter is given by Hengstenberg. For a closer discussion of the question see Keil, p. 271, and Delitzsch, p. 564; especially in relation to the difficulties of Knobel, p. 340. Keil: “It is clear that our list contains not only Jacob’s sons and grandsons already born at the time of the emigration, but besides this, all the sons that formed the ground of the twelve-tribed nation,—or, in general, all the grand-and great-grandchildren that became founders of mischpa-hoth, or independent, self-governing families. Thus only can the fact be explained, the fact otherwise inexplicable, that, in the days of Moses, with the exception of the double tribe of Joseph, there were, in none of the tribes, descendants from any grandson, or great-grandsons, of Jacob that are not mentioned in this list. The deviations in the names, as given in Numbers 26:0, and in Chronicles, are to be considered in their respective places.” We refer here to Keil, p. 272; Delitzsch, p. 565.
3. Their re-union and greetings in the land of Goshen. Genesis 46:28-34.—And he sent Judah.—Judah has so nobly approved himself true and faithful, wise and eloquent, in Joseph’s history, that Jacob may, with all confidence, send him before to prepare the way. Judah’s mission is to receive Joseph’s directions, in order that he himself may be a guide to Israel, and lead him unto the land of Goshen. Joseph, however, hastens forward to meet his father in Goshen, and to greet him and his brethren.—And he presented himself to him.—Keil: “נִרְאָה otherwise generally thus used in speaking of an appearance of God, is here chosen to express the glory in which Joseph went to meet his father.”9 But surely it was less the external splendor, in itself considered, than the appearance of one beloved, long supposed to be dead, but now living in glorious prosperity.—Now let me die.—This joyful view of death is not to be overlooked; it is opposed to the common notion respecting the Jewish view of the life beyond the grave. Such language shows that Jacob recognizes, in Joseph’s reappearance, the last miraculous token of the divine favor as shown to him in this world.—I will go up to Pharaoh.—Knobel explains the expression from the fact, that the city of Memphis, being the royal residence, was situated higher than the district of Goshen. Keil explains it ideally as a going up to court. This view becomes necessary if we regard Tanais as the capital, which is, however, rendered somewhat doubtful by the expression itself, if it is to be taken literally.—That ye shall say, thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle.—This instruction shows Joseph’s ingenuousness, combined with prudent calculation. His brethren are frankly to confess their occupation; Joseph even sets them the example before Pharaoh, although, according to his own explanation, shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians, that is, an impure caste. By this frankness, however, they are to gain the worldly advantage of having given to them this pastoral district of Goshen, and at the same time, the theocratic spiritual benefit of dwelling in Egypt, secured, by this distinction of castes, from all impure mingling with the Egyptians themselves. Knobel lays stress upon the word צאן, in distinction from בקר, because sheep and goats were not generally used for sacrifice by the Egyptians, because their meat did not belong to the priestly royal dish, and because wool was considered by the priests to be unclean, and was, therefore, never used for the wrapping of the dead. But the conclusion drawn from this, that keepers of sheep and goats had been especially תּועֵבָה (a thing tabooed), cannot be established. This, in a very high degree, was the case only with herdsmen of swine (Herod. ii. 47), who, nevertheless, together with the herdsmen of cattle, were numbered in the seven castes (Herod. ii. 164), and both together called the caste of shepherds, (Diod. i. 74). The name βουκόλοι is only a naming a potiori (from the better part).” Delitzsch. According to Grant (“Travels,” ii. 17), the herdsmen are represented on the monuments, as long, lean, distorted, sickly forms—a proof of the contempt that rested upon them. Joseph’s theocratic faithfulness preferred for his people contempt to splendor, provided that under the cover of this contempt, they might remain secluded and unmixed (see Hebrews 11:26). For the cause of this dis-esteem, see Keil, p. 274; Knobel, p. 341.
4. The presentation of Joseph’s brothers, and of his father, to Pharaoh. The grant of the land of Goshen. The induction and settlement. Genesis 47:1-12.—Some of his brethren.—(מִקְצֶה) This has been interpreted as meaning some of the oldest, and some of the youngest, or, in some such manner; but there is no certainty about it; since the expression may mean any part as taken (cut off) from a whole. As Joseph could not present all his brethren to Pharaoh, he chooses five, a number of much significance to the Egyptians (see Genesis 43:34). Pharaoh again shows himself, in this case, a man of tact and delicacy. Of the young men he asks the nature of their occupation; of old Jacob he inquires his age. Especially well does he manage in not immediately granting to Joseph’s brethren their petition to be allowed to settle in Goshen, but leaves it to Joseph, so that he appears before his brethren in all his powers, and their thanks are to be rendered unto him instead of Pharaoh. Joseph, at the same time, receives full power to appoint proper men from among them as superintending herdsmen (magistros pecoris).—See Knobel, who thinks “that this petition was more suitable for the chief of the horde (sic).” Yet he quiets himself by the fact that in other places the narrator brings forward the sons of the aged father; as though this were not an obviously proper proceeding. Still he will have it that the ground Scripture, as he calls it, reports but one introduction of Jacob.—And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.—When he came into his presence and when he left him. There is something more here than a mere conventional greeting. Jacob had every inducement to add his blessing to his thanks for Joseph’s treatment, for the stately invitation, and for the kind reception. Besides, an honorable old age is a sort of priesthood in the world.—Of my pilgrimage.—Jacob’s consciousness of the patriarchal life, as a pilgrimage in a foreign land, must have developed itself especially in his personal experience (see Hebrews 11:13, etc.).—Few and evil.—That is, full of sorrow. Jacob speaks of his life as of something already past. This is explained from his elevated state of soul. He is ready to die. In such presentiment of death, however, he is mistaken by almost seventeen years; for he died at the age of one hundred and forty-seven. His father, Isaac, also had thought to make his testament much earlier (see Genesis 27:1, etc.). In fact, the age of Jacob fell much short of that of Abraham (one hundred and seventy-five), and that of Isaac (one hundred and eighty).—In the land of Rameses.—(Heroon-polis.) Genesis 45:10, it is called Goshen. It is here named after a like-named place in Goshen (Exodus 1:11); and thus we are already prepared for the departure afterwards, which started from Rameses (Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:35). Concerning the country of Goshen, see Keil, p. 276; Delitzsch, p. 572.
5. Joseph’s administration of the affairs of Egypt (Genesis 47:13-26). This proceeding of Joseph, reducing the Egyptians, in their great necessity, to a state of entire dependence on Pharaoh, has been made the ground of severe reproach; and, indeed, it does look strange at first. The promotion of earthly welfare, and of a comfortable existence, cannot excuse a theocratic personage in bringing a free people into the condition of servants. But the question here is whether Joseph really acted in an arbitrary manner. He was not a sovereign lord of the storehouses, but only Pharaoh’s servant. As such, ho could not demand of Pharaoh views that in their aspect of liberality lay beyond his horizon; besides it is to be considered that the people themselves desired to save their lives at the price of their freedom. The point we are mainly to look at is that Joseph was not at liberty to give the corn away, and, to say nothing of Pharaoh’s right, he might thereby have opened so wide the door of a wasteful squandering, as to have produced a universal famine. We are also to suppose that Joseph was urged, step by step, to these measures, by the pressing consequences of the situation; but that he tried to mitigate, as much as posible, the dependence that necessarily followed, by an assessment of the fifth part, leaving four-fifths to them. The principal aim of the narrative is to show, in the first place, the advantages of the Israelites in comparison with the Egyptians; how splendidly the former were provided for. Again, Joseph might have yielded to the urgency of the circumstances, all the more freely from the consideration, that the future of Israel would be more secure by thus having a favorable position among a depressed, rather than a haughty and oppressive people. But, at all events, even in this relation, divine retribution surpasses, in its severity, the measure of human understanding. When afterwards the Israelites were held in bondage by the Egyptians, it may remind us of the fact, that, through Joseph, the Egyptians themselves had been made servants to Pharaoh, however pure may have been his motive.—Herds of cattle.—The expression מקנה הבהמה shows that the fair value of the cattle is here kept prominently in view; since מקנה denotes property acquired.—And as for the people they demanded.—Concerning the different readings, Genesis 47:21, where the LXX and the Samaritan, and others, with Knobel, read הֶעֱבִיד instead of הֶעֱבִיר, see note, Keil, p. 277. We must not, however, suppose, with Delitzsch, a translocation of the people from one place in Egypt to another in its remotest part, but the distributing of the present crown peasants into the different towns of their respective districts throughout the whole land. The ground of this was that, for the present, they must get their sustenance from their granaries in the cities, and that, afterwards, these became the places in which they were to deliver the fifth part.—Had a portion assigned them.—We understand this of the land of the priests, not of their portion of the provision which is mentioned afterwards.—Ye shall give the fifth part.—This was no heavy tax; and there was a benefit in it, that it tended to produce an habitual carefulness in respect to the unfruitful years. That a provision, in such cases, had heretofore been wanting in Egypt, is evident from the destitution of the people. Joseph may, therefore, be looked upon, in all this, as a wise man striving with the necessities of famine, so sore an evil in ancient times.10
The accounts which Herodotus (ii. 109), and Diodorus (i. 73), have given concerning the national economy of ancient Egypt, seem to refer to dispositions of a later date, at whose basis, nevertheless, may have lain these measures of Joseph, even as the latter may have been grounded on still older relations and peculiarities. The main view to be taken in respect to this economy is, that the king, in connection with the priest and warrior castes, possessed the land (Diod. Sic.), whilst the peasants and tradesmen had land subject to rent. Now if Joseph changed the feudal system, formerly existing, into one of servitude, it is to be remembered that the former was not so favorable, nor the latter so unfavorable, as that which existed in still later times. The feudal peasant was already under an absolute authority, and was obliged, e.g., at the beginning of the seven years of plenty, to give the fifth part; whilst the servants, as they are afterwards called, were only persons put under a more definite direction in the management of their economic relations. For more on this, see Keil, p. 278, on the tax relations of the East, and also Knobel, p. 346. Gerlach maintains that the Egyptians did not become bondsmen in this transaction, but were only brought into a feudal relation to Pharaoh. It is said, however, expressly, that Joseph bought not only their land, but themselves, their bodies. It is true, a distinction may be made between this, and an entire bodily subjection; and, therefore, may it be called servitude or dependence.
6. Israel in Egypt. His proviso. His return in death to Canaan. Genesis 47:27-31.—And they had possession therein.—Personal appropriation and outward extension.—And Jacob lived.—The narrative prepares us very circumstantially for Jacob’s death, as an event of great moment to his people.—Put thy hand under my thigh.—See Genesis 23:0 Joseph is to confirm by an oath his promise to bring his remains home to Canaan. Because Jacob exacts this of all his sons collectively (see Genesis 49:0), Knobel, as usual, discovers a discrepancy. It is, however, the same determination, only more fully developed in the latter passage. After Joseph’s promise, Jacob prays upon his bed. The fulfilment of his last wish has been secured.—And Israel bowed himself.—We must think of him as sitting up in his couch; it is, therefore, incorrect when Keil says, he turned towards the head of the bed, in order to worship, while lying with the face turned towards the bed. The Vulgate which Keil quotes, says the reverse: adoravit Deum conversus ad lectuli caput. The idea is, that, kneeling, he bows himself in the bed, with his face turned towards the head. The LXX seems to have read הַמַּטֶה for הַמִּטָּה (ham-mat-teh for ham-mit-tah) caused by a mistake of the vowels to the unpointed consonants, and the consideration that Jacob is not represented as sick and confined to his bed until the next chapter. By this LXX interpretation: προσεκύνησεν ’Ισραὴλ ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ (which we also find in the Syriac, the Italian, and Hebrews 11:21), there is suggested the rich and beautiful thought, that Jacob celebrates the completion of his pilgrimage (Genesis 47:9) in prayer and thanksgiving. If we take it in the other sense, having no greater evidence, and less significance, the turning to the bed’s head in a kneeling posture is the one natural to the body, if we imagine the bed’s head to be the higher part. At the same time, it seems here expressed that Jacob, in praying, turns away from the world, and from men to God, as the facing and turning of the priest at the altar expresses the same idea symbolically. Von Bohlen maintains that the question has nothing to do with praying. It means, he says, that Jacob was sinking back upon his pillow, as David, 1 Kings 1:47, whilst Joseph put his hand under his thigh. For such an occasion, however, the word וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ (generally denoting adoration) would seem unhappily chosen, and is easily misunderstood. Delitzsch takes the two representations together (as denoting in one the act of prayer and the oath ceremonial).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Jacob’s halt at Beer-sheba furnishes a proof again of the distinction between human certainty, and that derived from the divine assurance. Thus John the Baptist knew already of the Messianic mission, before his baptism, but it was not until the revelation made at the baptism that he received the divine assurance which he needed as the forerunner of Christ. In our day, too, this distinction is of special importance for the minister of the gospel. Words of divine assurance are the proper messages from the pulpit.
2. The God of Israel is also the mighty God of Jacob—the same God who commanded the one to stay, the other to go.
3. Not until Jacob had again made sure and sealed his patriarchal covenant-relation with God, is he able to set forth, with joy and confidence, on a journey, with his whole family, into a strange and dangerous world.
4. Exegesis, as in other places, hastens too rapidly over the significance of these Biblical names. Though some are quite doubtful, others have an unmistakable importance, opening, by their connections, a view revealing the spirit of the respective families, and of their fathers. Thus the names of Reuben’s sons express a sanguine hope (initiated, distinguished, etc.). In the names of Levi’s sons, we may recognize the three leading traits of hierarchical rule. And so in many other cases.
5. Dinah had to atone for her former freedom, and the fanatical severity of her brothers, by a joyless single life. But she has the honor, along with Serah, of being reckoned among the founders of the house of Israel in Egypt. Together with the development of the theocracy, there is unfolded the gradual elevation of woman. The idea of female inheritance here presents itself.
6. Judah, the father’s minister to Joseph. By his faithfulness, strength, and wisdom, he has risen in the opinion of his father, and thus it is that Jacob’s divine illumination shows itself especially in respect to the tribe of Judah,—becoming a revelation full and clear in the blessing pronounced Genesis 49:0.
7. Jacob’s and Joseph’s reunion, full of unspeakable emotion expressed in tears and in embraces. To Jacob, Joseph appears as one who had come from the realm of the dead.
8. Jacob’s declaration: now let me die, presents another aspect in the contemplation of death and Hades, different from that which is usually raised through the more common speech respecting it in Old-Testament times. The men of the Old Testament describe Sheol as a gloomy region; but this comes from their fear of descending into it before they hare seen the full tokens of grace, or have received that peace of the Lord which giveth rest. When they have had a sight of these, they die willingly; it is then a lying down to sleep,—a going home to the fathers. In general, however, it is true that this terrified legal consciousness of death predominates over the Old-Testament evangelical consciousness of unconditional resignation in hope.
9. The instructions that Joseph gives his brethren show us that this ancient statesman clearly comprehended the truth, that the highest ingenuousness, and the purest frankness, is, at the same time, the highest wisdom (see the instructions of Christ to the apostles, Matthew 10:0). This wisdom of Joseph, it is true, was not the wisdom of this world. It was a divine wisdom, that he thus placed the house of Israel in Egypt under the protection of Egyptian contempt. By thus giving them a lowly position, he secured their worldly welfare, whilst promoting their theocratic prosperity.
10. Pilgrim in youth, pilgrim in age, always a wrestler,—Jacob just touches upon his sufferings, as far as it is meet for Pharaoh to hear. The feeling of his wonderful deliverances shows itself movingly in his blessing upon Joseph’s sons. The idea of the spiritual pilgrimage of believers upon earth appears very distinctly in this picture of Jacob’s life, which he sketches before Pharaoh.
11. The last thought of Jacob, erstwhile in Mesopotamia, and now in Egypt, is that of going home. There he wishes to return, even in death itself. And yet Canaan was not his true and proper home; though it was for him the type and pledge of the everlasting rest (see Hebrews 11:0).
12. The transplantation of Israel had for its aim the negative and positive advancement of the people of God. Negatively: It must be transplanted from Canaan if it would escape being ruined spiritually by mingling with the people of the land, or bodily, through premature wars with them. Positively: In Egypt they were parted from heathenism by a double barrier, namely, their foreign race, and their reputation as a caste impure; but here they found sustenance and room for their enlargement as a people upon its fertile soil; at the same time, they were drawn out, through the Egyptian culture, to development of their mental powers. In Egypt were they prepared for their transition from the nomadic to the agricultural state.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See Doctrinal and Ethical. Jacob’s last pilgrimage.—Jacob’s house.—Jacob and Joseph’s reunion.—Jacob’s joy in death.—Jacob before Pharaoh.—Israel in Goshen.—Taube (Genesis 47:7-10): Jacob’s life: 1. As a mirror of the miseries of human life in general; 2. as a mirror especially of a true and blessed pilgrimage.
First Section. (Genesis 46:1-7.) Starke: This departure to Egypt is often spoken of; Numbers 20:14-15 : Joshua 24:4; Psalms 105:23; Isaiah 52:4; Jeremiah 31:2; Acts 7:15.—This is the last appearance with which God favored Jacob.
Genesis 46:3. Jacob might be afraid: 1. On account of his personal safety (advanced years); 2. on account of the prohibition to Isaac (Genesis 26:2); 3. on account of his descendants (Egypt a heathen country); 4. on account of servitude threatening them (as predicted Genesis 15:13); 5. on accouut of leaving Canaan, the promised land; 6. Abraham’s experiences, Genesis 12:12 (see Jacob’s declaration Genesis 45:28).—A Christian should enter upon his journeys with God accompanying.—Bibl. Tub.: God guides his people on their ways.—Cramer: Jacob an example of the fortune and pilgrimage of believers.—Schröder: The answer of God is in reply to his distressing anxiety,—to his flesh and blood, as we may regard it; therefore does he call him by his more human name: “Jacob! Jacob! Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes;” the last service of love that the nearest kindred could perform to the dying (Tob 14:15). See Robinson on the halting of the wagons at Beersheba.
Second Section. (Genesis 46:8-27.) Starke: The use of this accurate catalogue of the children of Israel; it shows the separation of the tribes, and marks the tribe of the Messiah. It gives a clearer view of the people’s increase, and thus shows the fulfilling of the divine promise.—Ohad, Numbers 26:0 and 1 Chronicles 4:21, not counted here; probably died without issue.—(Genesis 46:15. The numbers do not sum up to more than thirty-two. The Rabbins remove the difficulty by saying, God must be counted in, since he said that he would go down with them. But this is not necessary. It would be better to say, Jacob and his children, etc.)
Genesis 46:21. On the difference between this and 1 Chronicles 8:6, and Numbers 26:38-39, in respect to Benjamin’s children, see the explanation in the respective places. The genealogies are important.—Bibl. Wirt.: The true church of God is a small number, but let no one stumble thereat. God takes good care of his elect, and knows all their names.—Schröder: The fact that Egypt is the hiding-place for Israel, shows that the relation was not one-sided only; if Israel was something for the heathen, it is also clear that the heathen, on the other hand, had their mission for Israel (Baumgarten).—The full people of Israel consisted of twelve sons, and seventy souls, and the Christian church consisted of twelve apostles, and seventy disciples (Roos).
Third Section. (Genesis 46:28-34.) Starke: (In the land of Goshen; after several weeks spent on a journey of forty or fifty miles).—John 16:20.—Was Joseph’s joy great when he saw again his father, how great will be the joy of God’s children when they meet each other again in glory!—Schröder: Now the patriarch is ready to die, for in Joseph he beholds the fulfilment of all the promises.
Genesis 46:33. To be sure, is to win. Right ahead, is the motto of the good rider (Valer. Herb.). The pride of the world makes small estimate of what God regards as highest (Baumgarten). Thus began already in the house of Jacob, at its entrance into Egypt, that reproach of Christ which Moses afterwards esteemed greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (Roos). This antipathy of the Egyptians towards the shepherd-people was a fence to them, such as was afterwards the law of Moses (Roos).
Fourth Section. (Genesis 47:1-12.) Starke: Genesis 47:1. Joseph does not ask particularly for Goshen, yet he knows in what manner to arrange it, that Pharaoh may readily perceive how much he would be obliged to him for the grant of that district.—(Genesis 47:2. מקצה; some translate it from the extremes, that is from the oldest and the youngest; others understand it as referring to those who were of least account. Their idea is that Joseph meant to prevent Pharaoh’s employing them as soldiers.)—Calvin: Se quis aliter pure Deo servire non potest quam si mundo se fœtidum reddat, hic omnis facessat ambitio. A Christian must not be ashamed of the humble condition in which God may have placed him.—Muscul.: Pharaoh does not inquire after Jacob’s piety, religion, and godly walk, but only after his age.—Seventeen years. As long as he had sorrowfully cared for Joseph, so long Joseph, in return, cared for him. Earthly benefits God repays by spiritual blessings; 1 Corinthians 9:11.—Cramer: God bestows much on the man who has many children.—Schröder: Very proper that they remain in the border district until everything is settled. In the midst of the Egyptians, the Israelites are ever as strangers in the land.—Heim: The patriarch standing before Pharaoh. The patriarch and the priest of God’s church before the king of the mightiest and most civilized state at that time in the word.
Fifth Section. (Genesis 47:13-26.) Starke: Genesis 47:13. A divine punishment of the Egyptians. (They would not otherwise have regarded Joseph’s example in the sparing use of the corn; some, perhaps, would have scouted his predictions).
Genesis 47:16. Joseph said: Fidelity to Pharaoh requires that I should not let you have the corn for nothing.—Freiburger Bibel: Slavery is against the law of nature.—Our daily bread, a great proof of the divine beneficence.—(Genesis 47:22. Circumstances sometimes excuse. If Joseph favored the heathen priests it was in obedience to the express commands of Pharaoh.)—Schröder: Concerning Goshen. It was for the most part a prairie country, adapted to the grazing of cattle, and yet there were fertile agricultural portions (Hengstenberg).—See Robinson’s account of Goshen, or the province Surkijeh, p. 620.—In the enumeration of Egyptian herds, horses come first, Exodus 9:3; for their raising was especially proper for the country.—Sheep, “held sacred by the Thebans.”—Asses, were sacrificed to Typhon.—The fifth, a religious political revenue, whose relation to tithes (double fifths) is obvious. The tax of a fifth is small in a fertile land like Egypt, where harvests are from thirty to a hundred fold.)—(Robinson compares Joseph’s conduct with that of Mohammed Ali (p. 623), who made himself sole owner of all the property in Egypt; but the great difference between them is obvious.)—The double tithe in Israel was probably a Mosaic imitation. “As Pharaoh provides by a fifth for the sustenance of the priests, so also Jehovah” (Hengstenberg).
Sixth Section. (Genesis 47:26-31.) Starke: Bibl. Tub.: It is right that a certain part of what the land produces should be given to the lord.11
Genesis 47:30. Thus Jacob testifies to the resurrection of the dead, as one who awakes from sleep.—Schröder: Jacob dies as the last of the patriarchs, and his death is the conclusion of this historical introduction, or history of the beginning. He dies, moreover, in a foreign land. That makes it the more important and conclusive event. (In the expression: have found grace, there comes into consideration: 1. That it has not the same weight, nor the same subordinate sense, as it would have in occidental speech; 2. that Jacob here asks a favor of Joseph which might seem to him as coming in collision with his Egyptian duty.)—Heim: Jacob had reached a lovely evening of his wearisome and troubled life; but it might be said of him: Forgetting the things that are behind, I reach forth unto the things that are before.
[Note on the Interview between Jacob and Pharaoh—the Patriarchal Theology—the Idea of the Earthly Life as a Pilgrimage.—Commentators have bestowed much study upon the genealogical register in the preceding chapter, the meaning of its proper names (in most cases not easily determined), and the question, whether all the descendants of Jacob there mentioned were born before the migration. This is valuable, indispensable, it may be said, to a right knowledge of the Scriptures; but it has led many to pass very slightly over those scenes of touching beauty, and most exquisite tenderness, that are presented in Joseph’s meeting with his father (already alluded to in the note, p. 633), and in the interview between Jacob and Pharaoh, Genesis 47:0 : “And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh.” What a picture of life and reality have we here! The feeble patriarch, leaning upon the arm of his recovered son, is led into the presence of the courteous monarch, who receives him, not as an inferior, nor as a dependent even, but with all the respect due to his great age, and with a reverent feeling that in this very old man, the representative, as it were, of another age, or of another world, there was something of a sacred and prophetical character. “And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.” It is probable that Pharaoh asked his blessing. At all events, there is something in the kindliness of his reception that induces Jacob to bestow his patriarchal benediction upon him; and doubtless the king received it, not as a formality, or with a mere feeling of courtly condescension, but as something that had a divine value for himself and his kingdom. Throughout this narrative of Joseph there is a life-likeness in the character of Pharaoh that shows him to us as one of the most veritable objects presented in history. And what an air of reality in all these scenes here so exquisitely portrayed! What a power of invention do they exhibit (if we concede to them no higher excellence); what skill in the art of pictorial fiction,—that peculiar talent so cultivated in modern times, and which, it is supposed, has only reached its perfection in our own day. It is this,—inconsistent as it may seem with all we know of the most early writings,—or it is the most natural and exact drawing from the very life. There is something here in the internal evidence which the sound mind intuitively perceives, and on which it confidently relies. It is no invented tale. The picture stands out vividly before us; age has not dimmed its colors; remoteness of scene, and wide diversity of life and manners, cannot weaken its effect. It produces a conviction of reality stronger than that which comes, often, from narratives of events close to our own days, or even cotemporary. Away over the chasm of time we look directly into that old world. We see the figures distinctly moving on that far-off ancient shore. It is brought nigh to us in such a way that we could almost as well doubt our senses, as think of calling it in question. At all events, no mythical theory can explain it. We are shut up to a very sharp issue, a very stringent alternative: It is the very truth, the very life, in the minutest feature of its close limning, or it is the most monstrous, as it is the most circumstantial, and consciously inventive, lying. No “higher criticism,” as it is called, can ever make satisfactory, to a truly thoughtful mind, the comparison sometimes drawn between these “Bible stories” and the cloudy fables that characterize the early annals of other ancient nations. Study well the striking contrasts. The lives of the pilgrim patriarchs, so clear in their lifelike portraitures, the wild Scandinavian legends, the wilder Hindoo myths, presenting not simply the supernatural, for there are connections in which that is most credible—more credible even than its absence—but the unnatural, the horrible, the monstrous, the grotesque; what affinity between these? The clear, statistical story of Joseph, the picture of the veritable Pharaoh,—the shadows of Ion, of Dorus, of Cadmus, that flit across the dim page of the earliest Hellenian history; what sane mind can trace any parallel here? There is no escaping the issue, we may say again. It is sharp and decisive. The reasoning is curt and clear. Absolute fiction in these Bible stories, with a skill surpassing that of Defoe, Scott, or Thackeray,—absolute forgery, with a conscious intent to deceive in every particular, or absolute truth, self-verifying, is the only alternative. It is not such a forgery; it is not such an artful fiction; the most extreme rationalist shrinks from affirming this; it is, therefore, the truth, and nothing but the truth. We may reverently use the imagination in attempting to fill up some parts of the picture, but we may not disturb the graphic outline. How very clear it is in the passage, specially before us. Imagination needs no help. We can almost see them, the stately monarch, the very aged man, the beloved son now in the strength and glory of manhood,—they stand out as vividly as anything now on the canvas of our present history. We may as well doubt of Cæsar and Alexander, yea of Napoleon and of Washington, as of Jacob, Joseph, and Pharaoh.
“And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?” The English translation here, in departing from literalness in the question, has marred the effect of the answer, the peculiar language of which is suggested by it, or, at least, strictly connected with it. The Hebrew is, כַּמָּה יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיֶּיךָ which we have reason, from what Diodorus says of their views of life (lib. i. 51), to regard as an Egyptian as well as a Shemitic idiom—“How many are the days of the years of thy life” (or, lives)? It is a drawing out of the phrase to make it intensive. It suggests the long years of the earthly sojourning, enhanced by the thought of the many days of which they are composed—or days taken in that indefinite way so common in the early languages to denote times or periods. In what perfect harmony with this is the answer? We see in it the old man’s garrulousness (using the term in its most innocent and natural sense), the feeling of personal importance which the very old exhibit, and rightly exhibit, in view of their surpassing length of years. They love to dwell on it, and to state it minutely, extending their words as though in some proportion to the long time through which memory looks back. How strongly we are reminded here of the Grecian Nestor, except that there is a holiness and a moral grandeur about Jacob, to which the old Homeric hero, in his garrulous worldliness and boasting, makes no approach. They are alike in the senile reduplication of their words. Not, however, like the frequent Nestoric prelude, εἴθ’ ὣς ἡβώοιμι, “O that I were young again,” but in a prolonged strain of solemnity and sadness comes the slow reply: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the lives of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage.” We can see the old man as he says this, leaning on his staff, and supported by his son; we can almost hear the tones of his trembling voice, the pauses of his slow utterance, the seemingly tautological yet most emphatic sound of his repetitions. “Few and evil;” alas! how ancient is this style of speech! How from the very beginning dates this wailing language so full of the feeling that some great evil has befallen humanity, and that our earthly life, in its best condition, is but a pilgrimage of sorrow. It has not come from the world’s later experience. The farther we go back, even into what would seem to be the very youth of our race, the louder and clearer is the voice. It is not confined to t he Scriptures. It meets us everywhere in the earliest heathen writings, but without the placid resignation that is so evident in the most striking Biblical examples. Compare the Odyssey, xviii. 130.
οὐδὲν�, ὅσσα τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει—
Sophocles, Œdipus Tyrannus, 1186,
ἰὼ γενεαὶ βροτῶν ·
τίς γὰρ, τίς�
τᾶς εὐδαιμονίας φἐρει,
ἢ τοσοῦτον ὅσον δόκειν,
καὶ δόξαντ’ ἀποκλῖναι.
So Pindar’s σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος Pyth. viii. 99. Compare Job 7:0; Job 14:0; Psalms 103:15; Genesis 18:27 (“who am but dust and ashes,”); the same, Job 30:19; Job 42:6; Sir 10:9 (“why is dust and ashes proud”); and other passages too numerous for quotation.
Among the most natural and truthful things in this narration is the respect shown by Pharaoh to Jacob. It might be accounted for by that courteousness and sense of justice which seems so characteristic of this monarch, as also by his great friendship for Joseph. But there is something more in the case, and having a deeper ground. It is a feeling of reverence which makes him desire the patriarch’s blessing. Respect for age was more felt, and more lauded as a virtue, in the ancient world, than in the modern, although it still holds, and nothing but a most dissolute civilization can break it up. There is, moreover, something of awe with which we look upon a very old man, a centenarian or upwards, one who has gone far beyond the ordinary limit of human life. It affects us as a strange spectacle. There seems to be something unearthly about him, superhuman, almost supernatural—as though he belonged to another age, or world. So to the young Telemachus appeared the aged Nestor who had survived three generations of men (Odyss. iii. 246),
“like an immortal, as I gaze, does he stand out before me”—like one seen in vision, to give the full force of that peculiar word ἰνδάλλεται—or as something transcending the ordinary humanity. This feeling was heightened by the fact that the Egyptians, as compared with the nomadic patriarchs, were not a long-lived people. Jacob, although he bad “not attained unto the days of the years of the life of his fathers,” was to them a remarkably old man. Pharaoh had, probably, never before seen a case of such extreme longevity. Herodotus (iii. 23) learns, from the Egyptians, of an Æthiopian people, among whom some reached the age of one hundred and twenty years, but the manner in which it is narrated shows that it was regarded as remarkable and exceptional, confirming the idea that such advanced age was unknown among the Egyptians themselves.
The matter however, of deepest interest, and most worthy of note in this answer of Jacob, is its pilgrim tone: “The days of the years of my pilgrimage—few and evil have they been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage.” Who can deny the fairness of the apostle’s reasoning (Hebrews 11:14): “Now they who say such things declare plainly (ἐμφανίζουσιν, make it very manifest) that they seek a country—that they long (ὀρέγονται) for a better country, even a heavenly—confessing themselves to be strangers and sojourners upon earth” (ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι, men away from home). “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God (not of the nonexistent, or the perished, Matthew 22:32), for he hath prepared for them a city”—“a city which hath foundations,” stable, enduring, that “passeth not away.” This language of pilgrimage is not resolvable into the unmeaning, like a worn-out modern metaphor, or a mere poetical sentimentality. Such use of words would be wholly inconsistent with the character of the patriarchs, and their stern ideas of reality. It was not a pilgrimage simply in respect to the old home “whence they came out;” for thither, as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews most pertinently observes (Genesis 11:14), they could, at any time, have returned. That certainly was not “the better country” they were seeking. No going back to Mesopotamia, the region of the fire-worshipping idolatry; rather go down to Egypt, the land of dreams and symbols, yea, down to Sheol even—ever pressing on their pilgrim-way with unabated confidence in the covenant God. He would be with them wherever they went. Into whatever regions they might pass, known or unknown, there would be the מַלְאָךְ הַּגֹּאֵל, the “angel Redeemer,” to “deliver them from all evil.” It was no metaphor except as a transfer from a lower to a higher sense. The true pilgrim idea is inseparable from the term constantly employed. No word in the Hebrew language maintains a more clear and emphatic sense: מָגוּר, a sojourning, a tarrying, a pilgrimage, from גור, to turn aside by the way, to tarry as a stranger, ever denoting a temporary instead of a settled residence. It is a staying in a land which is not one’s home. So, to the patriarchs, even Canaan is called אֶרֶץ מְגֻרֵיהֶם, the land of their pilgrimages. To their descendants, or to the Israelitish nation taken collectively, as a corporate historical entity, it was a κληρονομία, a settled earthly inheritance, but to them, individually, it was not “the rest provided for the people of God,” and this language was ever to remind them of it. Their only inheritance was the promise, of which the Canaanitic κληρονομία was the type, and of this they became “heirs through faith”—διὰ πίστεως κληρονομούντων ΤΑΣ ’ΕΠΑΓΓΕΛΙΆΣ, Hebrews 7:12. For examples of such use of גּוּר מָגוּר, and גֵּר, see Genesis 17:18; Genesis 28:4 (“the land in which thou art a stranger”), Psalms 119:54; Psa 39:13; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Lev 17:22 (“the stranger dwelling in the midst of you”), Deuteronomy 5:14; Deuteronomy 24:14, and many other places. The idea is ever present, that of a stranger tarrying in a strange land; and this language of the patriarchs has been taken up by later writers, thus becoming predominant among the grave pictures of the Old-Testament saintly life. See 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 39:13, “strangers before thee, and sojourners as all our fathers were.” The words are also used of lodging in an inn, or dwelling temporarily in a tent, and this calls up the passage before quoted from Diodorus Siculus (Excursus on Sheol, p. 587), showing that some such an idea of life being a pilgrimage was not altogether unknown to Pharáoh, and to the early Egyptians. The other conception of life, as a transient dwelling in a tent, gives an inexpressible sublimity to some of the Old-Testament declarations, evidently accommodated to it, and intended to denote the security of the everlasting rest: “From the ends of the earth do I cry unto thee” (from this distant earth, this remote and foreign land); “O that I might dwell in THY tabernacle of the eternities (בְּאָהָלְךָ עוֹלָמִים), O that I might find shelter under the covert of thy wings,” in the “secret place of thy presence!” Psalms 61:0.
As Canaan was not “the rest,” so neither was Sheol, whether regarded as the grave merely, or some strange state of continued being, lying beyond. No mere sentimentality about the sepulchre as a place of repose from life’s weariness could answer to these grave declarations of grave men, much less that monstrosity of conception which would connect the ideas of rest and utter non-existence. Sheol lay in the road of their pilgrimage. Through this unknown region—so very dark then, so obscure even yet,—they had to pass; but only as a part of their appointed journey. The “city which had foundations,” lay still beyond. But why, it may be asked, as it often has been asked, did not the patriarchs, and the pious Bible writers who followed them, say more about this better country, instead of only, now and then, giving a glimpse of it in some pious ejaculation? It may be answered, that perhaps their hearts were too full of it to say much about it. They had the pilgrim’s reticence in the midst of frivolous and unsympathizing strangers. These old “men of faith” had that precious thing so pleasing unto God as the only root of any true human virtue, and which made these uncultivated Old-Testament heroes, imperfect as they were in some things, fairer in His sight than an Epictetus, a Seneca, or an Antonine, with all their lauded and refined morality. They had “this precious faith,” but they did not weave it into dogmas, or construct from it systems of heartless ethical speculation. They did not talk of their spirituality; and yet, even in the few things they said, what approach is made to them by the modern rationalist, or our flippant litterateur, who calls them gross, and pronounces their views so defective as measured by the later progress in all elevated and refined thinking? Who hears, or expects to hear, from critics of this class, the utterance of any longing desires for the better country? How strange it would sound to hear them say: “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,” or to make, in earnest, the declaration that they regarded themselves as “pilgrims and sojourners” upon this unsatisfying earth!
Again, a reason of their silence may have been the reserve arising from the thought of the dark and unknown journey yet to be made before their pilgrimage was wholly ended. Their views of Sheol were sombre, because Sheol (in its true sense) was to them, perhaps, a stronger, a sterner, if not a clearer reality, than it has become to us with those confident expectations of an immediately perfect state that have placed the old doctrine, with much valuable Scripture connected with it, almost wholly in the background of our theology. But to understand their language we must go back to their standpoint, dark and inadequate as it may seem to us. As death was not non-existence in any view (see note on the earliest ideas of death, p. 274), but a state of being, however strange,—not the opposite of being, at all, but of active life,—so Sheol was the continuance, the prolongation of the judicial death pronounced upon man, not a state following it. Deliverance from one was deliverance from the other. Their pilgrimage led them through this shadowy place, and though they still trusted to their covenant God, they knew not when, nor where, nor how that deliverance should be. Sheol was not their home, their language implies that; it was not the end of their journey. They did not talk of going to Heaven, or to glory; these ideas, as we now hold them, had not yet come in; and yet, if we may take many expressions in the Psalms as the language of the Old-Testament religious experience, there was ever the thought of a divine presence, of a nearness unto God, of the support and guidance of the redeeming Goel, whatever ideas of locality, of time, or of condition, might be present or wanting to the conception. As their eyes grew dim in death, their hope grew stronger, though, perhaps, no more definite than before. Hence Jacob’s ejaculation, coming in so strangely, and so suddenly, whilst presenting the visions he had of his sons’ worldly destiny. To cheer his dying heart, there seems to have mingled among these far-off yet earthly pictures, as they crowded upon the seer’s mind, a ray still more remote, from the other side of Sheol. What else could he have meant in that remarkable interruption of the prophetic series: לִישׁוּעָתְךָ קִוִּיתִי יְהוָֹה, “for thy salvation have I waited, Jehovah” (Genesis 49:18). What salvation? nothing, surely, in this life. It was no deliverance from Laban, or Esau, no expectation of worldly security, such as followed his vision upon the stone pillow at Bethel. That was all past and gone. Sheol was before him, but Jacob still trusts the angel of the covenant, and this dying ejaculation shows that there was with him, then and there, in some way, the presence of the nameless power that had met him at Peniel. What meaning in it all, unless that power, and that guide, was expected to go with him through the still darker journey? The supposition that this sudden exclamation refers to something seen in vision in respect to Dan and Samson (an opinion derived from its place among the blessings which it interrupts), seems the merest trifling,—with all respect, be it said, to the learned commentators who have held it. Even if we regard the whole as an ecstatic dream, there must be some consistency in it.
The whole patriarchal theology may be summed in one great article, trust in the covenant God,—a trust for life, a trust for death, for the present being, or for any other being. There was something exceedingly sublime in this faith. They were like men standing on the border of an immense ocean, all unknown as to its extent, its other shore, if it had any, or its utter boundlessness. Ready to launch forth at the divine command, they had the assurance that all would be well, whatever might be their individual destiny, since this covenant God was also the God of their fathers, who must, therefore, in some way, “live unto Him,” that is, they must have yet a being that would make them the proper subjects of such a covenant relationship. Still Sheol had a gloomy aspect; it was associated with the idea of penalty; Death and Hades went together; the one was but a form of the other, a carrying out of the great sentence. Though a part of their pilgrimage, the way was very dark. Not with rapture, therefore, but with calm confidence, did they go down into its unknown depths, still holding fast the hand of the “redeeming angel,” who in death, as well as in the active earthly life, would “deliver them from all evil.” They knew that this “ Redeemer lived “(Job 19:25), and they felt that in some way, they knew not how, his life was theirs. He could “quicken them, and bring them up again from the depths of the earth” (Psalms 71:20). Thus their hope took the form of a waiting, until “the wrath should turn” (עַד שׁוּב אַפֶךָ, Job 14:13), and the dread penalty, in some way, be satisfied. Thus Job says: “all the days of my appointment (there) will I wait, until my change shall come”—my halipah, my reviviscence or renewal (see how the word is used Psalms 90:5; Psalms 102:27). So Psalms 16:10, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades,” Psalms 49:8-16, “ No man can redeem his brother”; “yet God will redeem my soul from the hand of Sheol, for He will take me.” Let the rationalist say what he will of this language, the taking out of the hand, and the preventing, for a brief and unimportant time, the hand from seizing, can never be made to mean the same thing. To the same effect Psalms 31:6, “Into thy hands do I trust my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me (rescued, ransomed me), Jehovah, God of truth”—of covenant-faithfulness. Sometimes it seems to take the form of a hope that this Goel, this “angel of the covenant,” would be personally with them in Sheol. There is good, reason for thus interpreting the passage Psalms 23:4, as referring rather to Sheol itself, the spirit-world, or world of the dead, instead of a state of sorrow in this life, or a drawing near unto death, as is commonly supposed. For places in which צַלְמָוֶת (tzalmaveth, there rendered shadow of death) is put for death itself, or the state of the dead, see Job 38:17 (שַׁעֲרֵי צַלְמָוֶת, gates of tzalmaveth), Genesis 10:22, compared with Job 28:3, and especially Job 28:21; Job 28:23. Such a rendering seems necessary to the climax intended Psalms 23:4 : “Even in the valley of tzalmaveth,” in the land of the shades, the terra umbrarum, “I will fear no evil (comp. Genesis 48:16), for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they shall comfort me”—יְנַחֲמֻנִי, restore me, revive me, and hence the Syriac נוּחָמָא, for reviviscence, resurrection. In Hades they are still with “the Shepherd and Bishop of Souls.”
This patriarchal faith, in its pilgrim aspect, seems a strange thing to our modern conceptions; but there is a view of it which may lead us to regard it as even a stronger, if not a better, faith than our own. Involved in the very essence of all spiritual religion are two great truths: 1. The being of a God, a moral governor who treats man as something above the plane of nature, that is, enters into a covenant with him; and, 2. the existence of the human soul in another life, as grounded, in its ultimate perfection at least, upon such covenant. The first of these is also first in value and importance. It is the first lesson in the catechism of theology. It must be learned thoroughly, or the second, by itself, as the mere idea of continued spiritual existence, becomes a perversion, and may be a source even of dangerous imaginative error. The patriarchs were educated chiefly in this greater and more fundamental dogma, belief in God, trust in God, submission to God, whatever might be the human destiny. Nothing can be purer or more lofty than their theism when viewed alone; though, as has been before remarked, it is never wholly separate from some form of the other doctrine. The purity with which men hold the second must depend upon the thoroughness of their initiation into this prime idea of a God to be trusted, in life, in death, in light, in darkness, and to whose sovereign wisdom and goodness there must be an implicit resignation, whatever may be known or unknown in respect to his dealings with the finite being he has created. To this state Job was brought, when, at the close of the long drama, he fell upon his face before God, and said unto Him (אֵלַי, unto me, not, concerning me) that “right thing” for which he was commended, rather than for any superiority in the previous argument. Hence it is that this first truth takes precedence, not in rank only, but in the time order of revelation, though the second, in its rudimentary state, may be almost coeval with it. The one is fully developed, while the other is in its germ. As best expressing the contrast, the editor would venture here to quote from something he has elsewhere written (“Article on the Closing Chapters of the Book of Job,” Mercersburg Review, Jan. 1860): “The patriarchs were first instructed in that first and greatest chapter in theology. Is there not something in modern experience to show the evil of reversing this order of ideas, of making the subordinate primary, of coming to regard the human spiritual destiny too much as the chief thought in religion, and the belief in a God as something ministerial or mediate to it? We refer not now to that naturalistic form of spiritualism which has lately become so rife among us, but to much that appears in the better thinking of the religious world. We may yet learn from the Old Testament. We may see a glory in its theism thus standing alone in its sublimity. Boast as we may of our progress in theology, unless this order of ideas is preserved in all its purity, our belief, our reverence, our highest thought of God, may fall below that of the Syrian pilgrim, or of that ancient son of the East whose sufferings and experience are recorded in attestation of this first and greatest of truths.” We must guard against such tendency, or there is danger that our re-ligio,—our view of the bond between the infinite and the finite soul,—may become nature instead of covenant,—a dreamy sentimentality instead of faith.—T. L.]
[Genesis 46:20.—The LXX have added, after Manasseh and Ephraim, a verse seemingly from 1 Chronicles 7:14, but differing so much, both from the Hebrew of that place, and from the LXX itself, that it can hardly be recognized. No other ancient version has it. It is not in the Samaritan, which, in most cases of variance, has been made to conform to the LXX. If it was in some old Hebrew copies, it had clearly been put in to carry out the line of Joseph; and this shows us how explanatory scholia, referring to later things, may have got a place, and some of them an abiding place, in the text of Genesis.—T. L.]
[Genesis 46:28.—לְהוֹרֹת, to show the way—inf. Hiphil of ירה. This makes a very good sense here, but there is some reason for doubting it, since the LXX render συναντῆσαι, as though they had read לִקְרַאה here, as well as just below. To the LXX, as usual, the Samaritan is conformed, and gives לִקְרַאת twice. The Syriac has ܠ ܘܠܷܬ ܚܰܐܳ ܝܘ, to appear unto, or be seen, which shows that the translator read לְהוֹראֹת (for לְהָרְאֹת), Hophal infinitive of the verb ראה, or regarded לְהוֹרֹת as being the same defectively written. This has some support from what immediately follows in Genesis 46:29, וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו (Niphal of ראה), and appeared, or “presented himself” to him. The Targum of Onkelos renders it to meet him; which shows also the reading לִקְרַאת, like that of the LXX.—T. L.]
[Genesis 47:12.—לְפִי הַטָּף. This is sometimes a phrase of comparison, or proportion, as also כְּפִי (see Leviticus 25:52; Numbers 6:21; Exodus 12:4, etc.), yet here it is more expressive taken literally, to the mouth of the little ones, preserving the sense of proportion, yet showing, at the same time, Joseph’s pathetic care—seeing to the wants and providing appropriate food even for the youngest in the great company.—T. L.]
 [Genesis 47:13.—וַתֵּלַהּ הָאָרֶץ. The Textus Samaritanus has ותלא (וַתֵּלָא), which Rosenmüller condemns as a mere gloss. It seems, however, to be the same word, only with a different orthography, א for ה; and so all the old interpreters regarded it—either reading ותלא, or regarding ותלה as equivalent to it; LXX ἐξέλιπε, failed, fainted; Syriac ܚܖ̇ ܒܬ, was desolate. Literally, if we read לאה, the land was weary, faint. So the Greeks use the verb κάμνω of lands and cities as well as of persons. Such a poetic transfer has great pathos. So also, in Hebrew, is the verb שבת, to rest, transferred to the land. Comp. Leviticus 26:34-35. As also other verbs by the same or an opposite figure; Isaiah 24:4, אָבְלָה נָבְלָה הָאָרֶץ אֻמְלְלָה נָבְלָה תֵּבֵל, mourning, withering, is the land, languid and wasting the world. There is no need of supposing a different root, as Gesenius does, or of comparing it with כהה, which is quite a different word. See in the Œdipus Tyrannus of Sophocles, 26, the description of a land wasting with famine and pestilence:
φθίνουσα μὲν κάλυξιν ἐγκάρποις χθονός.
[Genesis 47:21.—הֶעֱבִיר אֹתוֹ לֶעָרִים, transferred it (the people) to cities, etc. The LXX read here תֶעֱבִיד אֹתוֹ לַעֲבָדִים, which is good Hebrew, notwithstanding what Rosenmüller says about it, and render accordingly, κατεδουλώσατο αὐτῷ εἰς παῖδας, made them serve him as servants, which would not, however, be slavery, in the sense of man-ownership, according to the most modern notion, but, rather, an increase of their civil subjection. The Samaritan has the Hebrew corresponding to this; but the whole argument of Gesenius on that codex goes to show that it is everywhere a conforming to the LXX, rather than an older text whence the readings of the LXX were derived. See on this passage his tract De Pentateuchi Samaritani Origine, etc. p. 39. The Hebrew gives a clear and satisfactory sense, as it stands, and the whole aspect of the case proves that the change was from that reading rather than to it. The Targum agrees with the Hebrew. So does the Syriac, only with more clearness, having, instead of the single word ערים, a repetition, ܩܠܢ ܩܖ̇ܐ ܠܩܖ̇ܐ, from city to city, or rather, from farm to farm. Raschi says he did this to break up their title by destroying the residence as a memorial of ownership, and so preventing seditions, as Grotius also remarks upon the place. The common reading is confirmed by Josephus, Antiq. Jud. ii. 7, 7.—T. L.]
[Genesis 47:27.—וַיֵּאָחֲזוּ בָּהּ. The Niphal form, with its passive, reflexive, or deponent sense, makes the expression here correspond exactly to the technical language of the English common law in regard to the holding of land—they were seized of it—the passive of the habendum et tenendum in the language of a grant. Compare Joshua 22:9, אֵרֶץ אֲחֻזָּתָם אֲשֶׁר נֹאחֲזוּ בָהּ, “the land of their holding” of which they were seized, as tenants in fee, having had “livery of seizin” given to them, בְּיַר משֶׁה, “by the hand of Moses.” Compare also Numbers 32:30, וְנֹאחֲזוּ בְתוֹכְכֶם, “and they were seized (that is, they had possession given them) in the midst of you.” In the verse before (Genesis 42:26), Joseph is said to have given them possession (acting doubtless as agent or attorney to the king, the chief lord, or holder in capite), that is, livery of seisin, in some such manner, or with some such ceremonies as are described in our old common-law books. וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ יוֹסֵף לְחֹק, “and Joseph put it for a decree”—a memorial of the grant, עַד הַיּוֹם, unto this day, that is, “in fee”—in perpetuum. It is interesting to notice how strikingly similar have been the law-language and ceremonies of different ages. Compare the prophetical, or spiritual, grant, Psalms 2:8, where אֲהֻזָּה has the same emphasis, “the nations for an inheritance, the ends of the earth for a holding forever.”—T. L.]
[Our English translation, I am God, fails here in not giving the article (הָאֵל), or any emphasis of expression equivalent to it. The best way would have been to give the name itself—I am El—as elsewhere there is given the name El Shaddai, or else the meaning of the name as Lange renders it—I am the Mighty One, the God of thy fathers.—T. L.]
[See also the Odyssey xi. 426; xxiv. 296, and a very touching passage to the same effect in the Electra of Sophocles, 1138.—T. L.]
 [The right view of וַיֵּרָא לוֹ (appeared unto him) is necessary to determine the meaning of what follows: and he Jell upon his neck, etc. Who fell? It is not so clear that the subject of the verb וַיִּפֹּל is Joseph, although it is so taken by the LXX, the Vulgate, and most of the translators. In our English version, as in that of Luther, it is left ambiguous, though both convey the impression that it was Joseph. The Jewish commentators differ. Rashi makes it Joseph, and raises the query, why Jacob did not fall upon his son’s neck and kiss him; for which he gives reasons from the Rabbins that are hardly intelligible. Maimonides, on the other hand, makes Jacob the grammatical subject. It would not have been according to the ancient notions of reverence for the son to have first fallen on his father’s neck and kissed him. The proper action, he says, would have been to have kissed his hand, and then to have waited for the father’s embrace. Joseph, he intimates, appeared to him in all his glory. At first he did not recognize him, but as soon as he saw who it was (Heb., as expressed passively, appeared, became visible unto him) he fell, etc. We may think Maimonides’ other reason to be inconclusive in this case, but the grammatical one is entitled to much attention. The easy and natural rule is that where there are a number of verbs connected, the subject of the first belongs to them all unless there is a change direct, or implied in some way, in the number, gender, or idiom. Had וַיֵּרָא לוֹ been like the rest of the verbs, there would have been no ground for such a supposition. It is, however, passive or deponent; he appeared unto him (badly rendered, presented himself), or became visible or known to him. The Targum of Onkelos translates וַיֵּרָא לוֹ by אִתֻגְּלִי לֵהּ, was revealed to him. In such case the grammatical object of the verb preceding may become the real subject of the one that follows; and it must be looked for here in the pronoun (לוֹ) which represents Jacob. This makes a change as though it had been said actively, and he (Jacob) recognized him, and fell en his neck, etc. The verb יֵרָא is Niphal, corresponding to the Syriac ܐܷܬ ܚܐً ܝ, which is used for it here, and is employed to denote a subjective appearance. Thus, in the Peschito Version of the New Testament, it corresponds to the Greek ὤφθη, and is even used for ἀνέβλεψε (he recovered sight), taken in this passive or subjective aspect. As in Mark 10:52; John 9:15, where, in the Syriac, Jesus is the subject of the verb, and the blind man’s seeing, or seeing again, is most strikingly expressed by saying, he became visible unto him—that is, Jesus standing before him, as the first object on which the new eye fell. Compare, also, in the Greek, Luke 22:43, “and an angel appeared (ὤφθη) unto him, and he prayed,” etc. The subject of προσηύχετο is different, on this account, from, the grammatical subject of ὤφθη, and is derived from the preceding αὐτῷ, although no other direct cause of change intervenes. In the spirit of this the late Arabic Version of Drs. Smith and Van Dyck has well rendered it ذـاـهى له, he appeared unto him, instead of لعّا رآه, when he saw him, of a previous Arabic translation following the Vulgate. Of course, the rule stated and the apparent exception, become unimportant, and are both disregarded, when the context, of itself, prevents all ambiguity. The more carefully, however, the language is examined here, the more reason will there appear for regarding the father as the subject of the verb וַיִּפֹּל; as in the parallel passage, Luke 15:20, where it is the father who sees the son, and who falls upon his neck, εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ καὶ ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ. It would have been the same had the construction been, and he appeared unto him.
But whatever view is taken, there is great pathos in the particle עוֹד, commonly rendered again, and here, very tamely, in our English Version, a good while. In this passage it must have its primary sense of repetition, reiteration, as it appears in the Arabic, عال which the translator, Arabs Erpenianus, actually uses for it. So Rashi and Aben Ezra. They refer to Job 34:23, לֹא יָשִׂים עוֹד “for not repeatedly (or continually) does God lay upon man.” A better reference would be to Psalms 139:18, when I awake, I am still with thee, עוֹדִי עִמָּךְ, again and again with thee; or Psalms 84:5, “ Blessed are they who dwell in thy house, they shall be still praising thee, evermore praising thee;” as in Revelation 4:8, “They cease not day nor night saying, holy, holy, holy.” He wept long, translates Luther, weinete lange, but it means more than this; he fell upon his neck and wept repeatedly,—over and over again,—unable to satisfy the ἵμερον—κλαυθμοῖο, as Homer styles the luxury of grief even for remembered sorrows, much less the joy of tears at such a recognition. Affecting is it in either view, but most of all when we regard it as the long sobbings and long embracings of the aged father. The old eyes weeping! There is not in our human life a more touching scene, even when it comes from senile weakness, and not, as in this case, from recognitions that might draw tears from the stoutest manhood, and from the recollection of events whose pathetic interest the utmost invention of the novelist or the dramatist fails to imitate. With this passage in Genesis there may be compared the interview of David and Jonathan, 1 Samuel 20:41 : “And they kissed one another, and wept, one with another, until David exceeded, עַד דָּוִד הִגְדִּיל,” David autem amplius; his emotion went beyond all ordinary bounds. The expression seems to have much of the force of the particle in the passage before us. It is another example of the rhetorical fact, that the briefest and simplest language is ever the most affecting.—T. L.]
[All this difficulty, about Joseph’s proceeding, vanishes when one studiously considers what the Egyptians would have done, or how fatal their free improvidence might have proved, without his sagacious political economy. There would have been no cattle to be sold; the lands would have been barren for the want of hands to till them. Each one for himself, without a common weal, and a wise ruler taking care of it, and taxing them for such care, there would not have been, in their future prospects, any stimulus to frugality, or industry. It is yet an unsettled question, whether unregulated individual cultivation of land, in small portions, or a judicious system of landlordism, for which, of course, there must be rent or tax, is the better method for the universal good. The twenty per cent. which Joseph exacted for the governmental care, was not a system of slavery; and it may have been far better than a much greater percentage, perhaps, to capitalists and usurers.—T. L.]
[So says the European commentator. The American would rather say: to the government that protects its produce and the labor employed in its cultivation,—presenting a similar idea, but in a more rational, as well as in a milder form.—T. L.]