Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 47

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-31

In announcing to Pharaoh the coming of his father and his brothers, Joseph first introduces five of his brothers to him (vs.1-2). We are not told which ones, but they were likely those who could speak on behalf of their other brothers. They answer Pharaoh's question as to their occupation by confirming Joseph's word that they were shepherds as their fathers were, and that they desired to sojourn in Egypt because there was no pasture available in Canaan on account of the famine. They therefore requested that they might be allowed to settle in the land of Goshen (vs.3-4).

Rather than directly answering them, Pharaoh speaks to Joseph, reminding us that God gives all blessing through the Lord Jesus, the One in whom He finds great delight. Through Joseph therefore all they desire is freely granted to them, for Pharaoh tells Joseph they may have the best of the land (vs.5-6). This was pure grace. But also, on the ground of capability, some could be given the position of being put in charge of Pharaoh's livestock. Since he knew Joseph, he expected that at least some of his brothers would be capable men.

Then Joseph presented his father Jacob to Pharaoh. Before Pharaoh speaks, however, we are told that Jacob blessed him. "Beyond all contradiction, the lesser is blessed of the better" (Hebrews 7:7). But this is a picture of the coming day, when Gentiles will be blessed through Israel.

In answer to Pharaoh's question as to his age, Jacob speaks of his years as "few and evil," not attaining to the age of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac (vs.8-9). He had seen great trouble and sorrow during his 130 year pilgrimage, just as has been true of His descendants, the Jewish nation, who have suffered more affliction than any other nation over a period of centuries. Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving him.

Joseph placed his father and his brothers in the best of the land, that is, Rameses in the land of Goshen, in the north and on the east side of the Nile River. This pictures the Lord Jesus restoring Israel to great blessing under subjection to His authority, for we are also told that he nourished them with food (vs.11-12). How wonderful it will be to Israel in the millennium to be permanently settled and abundantly provided for! Of course the history here is only typical, for Israel soon after found itself in the bitter bondage of slavery to the Egyptians.



The famine was as serious as Joseph had predicted. Egypt and Canaan were both greatly affected. The people continued to buy food from Joseph as long as they had money (vs.13-14). But when they had spent it all and still needed food, Joseph told them to bring their livestock to exchange for food. This arrangement continued for a year, and the people came to Joseph again telling him that had nothing left except their bodies and their lands. Now they request that Joseph should take their land and also make the people the property of Pharaoh. Are we not to learn from this that it is good for us to be brought down to nothing?

The proposition of the people that they and their lands should belong to Pharaoh was agreeable to Joseph, and he removed the people into the cities (v.20-21). The land of the priests was however exempt from this decree, since they were already supported by Pharaoh and nothing in this respect was altered (v.22). Though these were not priests who had any ordination by God, they still picture the liberty that true believers in the Lord Jesus are given today. The people illustrate the sphere of government, while the priests speak of the sphere of the free operation of the Spirit of God. As priests of God, all saints today are not under bondage, but full provision is made for them by grace.

Joseph was not a cruel dictator who was seeking his own wealth by impoverishing the people. Some have strangely criticized the plan that he carried into execution, but the people themselves appreciated it (v.25). He had bought them and their land. Now he tells them he will give them seed to sow the land. For their labor they would receive four fifths of the crop. This arrangement would work remarkably well, only on condition that the rulers fair-minded and considerate of the people, and that the people would act responsibly. How much better is this than our present day order of government (or disorder) with many thousands of people homeless and unemployed!

However, this strikingly picture the coming rule of the Lord Jesus in His kingdom. As all the money of the Egyptians was gathered up by Joseph, so the Lord tells us in Haggai 2:8, "The silver and the gold are mine. Just as the livestock also became the property of Joseph, so the Lord says, "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalms 50:10). Also, as Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, so the Lord Jesus has by His sacrifice of Calvary bought "the field" (Matthew 13:44), that is, the world (Matthew 13:38), so that in the millennial age it will be declared, "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" (Psalms 24:1). More than this Joseph bought the people themselves, and God tells us in Ezekiel 14:8, "All souls are mine".

Our natural selfishness in considering that what we have is strictly our own has been through the years a terrible detriment to our own happiness. For nothing really belongs to us, as Israel will learn in a very practical way in the millennium. Let believers now remember that we are only stewards, put in charge of what belongs to our Lord, and responsible to give Him some return for all the goodness He shows to us. Only this attitude will give true happiness.

Just as the famine in Egypt resulted in the people becoming the property of Pharaoh, so the great famine of the tribulation period will result in Jews and Gentiles realizing they are really the property of the Lord Jesus, the Kings of kings. Because of their great trouble they will become more content and happy than they have ever been before, just as the people of Egypt all found blessing through the wisdom and kindness of Joseph. Joseph's administration would make for more equality among the people, with all having at least sufficient for their needs. Present day governments certainly have no reputation like this! Tremendous numbers are suffering to the starvation point, while the number of billionaires in the world increases amazingly. The people of Egypt said they will willing to be Joseph's slaves (v.25), but Joseph did not treat them like mere slaves.



Jacob's family was evidently not put under the same bondage as the Egyptians at this time. Pharaoh had given them land and Joseph had supplied their sustenance (vs.11-12). They grew and multiplied greatly, not becoming assimilated into the Egyptian culture, but maintaining their identity as the children of Israel.

Jacob remained there until his death seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt. Thus his age at death was 147 years, not as long as were the ages of Abraham (175) or Isaac (180), but longer than Joseph (110). See Genesis 25:7; Genesis 35:28; Genesis 50:26.

As Jacob knew he was nearing his end, he called for Joseph and asked him to put his hand under his thigh, evidently a symbol of his willingness to do as his father desired of him (v.29). Jacob wants to be sure that he is not buried in Egypt, but in the burial place of his fathers in Canaan. This was the land of promise, the land God had sworn to give to the seed of Abraham (Genesis 15:7), confirming it to Isaac (ch.26:3) and also to Jacob himself (ch.28:13). Jacob and his children are not to forget their homeland. Joseph willingly agrees to bury his father in Canaan, and at Jacob's request confirms this with an oath (v.31). "Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed." How good it is, after a long checkered life of learning the hard way, to see this aged child of God subdued in lowly worship before the Lord of glory!

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 47". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/genesis-47.html. 1897-1910.
Ads FreeProfile