GENESIS CHAPTER 46
Jacob sets out towards Egypt with his family and substance; offers saerifices at Beer-sheba; God appears to him in a vision, renewing his promises and blessing, Genesis 46:1-4. He goes to Egypt, Genesis 46:5,6. The names of the children of Israel, Genesis 46:8-27. Jacob sends Judah before him; Joseph goes to meet his father; their joy, Genesis 46:28-30. Joseph instructs his brethren what to say to Pharaoh, to declare themselves shepherds, and desire to dwell in Goshen; the reason, Genesis 46:31-34.
1706 Both in thankfulness to God for former favours, and especially for Joseph’s preservation and happiness; and by way of supplication to God for his direction in this great case, whether he might leave the promised land of Canaan, and go into the idolatrous and impious land of Egypt; and for his protection and blessing, as well in his journey as in Egypt.
The God of his father Isaac; whom Isaac honoured and served, and who had constantly protected and provided for Isaac, and confirmed his covenant with him. He mentions Isaac rather than Abraham, partly for Isaac’s honour, to show that though Isaac was much inferior to Abraham in gifts and graces, yet God was no less Isaac’s than Abraham’s God, and therefore would be his God also, notwithstanding his unworthiness; and partly for his own comfort, because Isaac was Jacob’s immediate parent, and had transferred the blessing of the covenant from Esau to Jacob, and the validity of that translation depended upon Isaac’s interest in God.
In the visions of the night, i.e. in that way or manner of visions which God affordeth to men by night, and in their sleep. See Genesis 20:3 Job 33:15,16 Mt 1:20 2:13,19 Ac 16:9 18:9, &c.
Jacob, Jacob; he doubles the name both in token of his friendship and familiarity with him, and to raise Jacob’s attention. Compare Genesis 22:11 1 Samuel 3:10.
Here were many causes of fear; lest he should do evil in forsaking the promised and blessed land, and going to a place which had been incommodious to his grandfather, Genesis 12:15, and forbidden to his father, Genesis 26:2; lest he should expose his children to manifold perils, as of being infected with the vices, and particularly the idolatry, which reigned there above all other countries, and of being inveigled by the pleasantness and eminent fruitfulness of that soil, to give up themselves to all manner of pleasures, and to settle themselves there, and give over all thoughts of returning to Canaan, and of being brought into that grievous bondage and affliction which was spoken of Genesis 15:13; and lest some mischief should befall him or his in so long and dangerous a journey.
I will bring thee up again, though not in thy person, yet in thy body, Genesis 47:29,30 50:5,13; and in thy posterity, which are a part of thyself, or thyself multiplied.
Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes; shall close thy eyes; which office was usually performed by the nearest and dearest relations of the dying party among the Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Hereby Jacob is assured that he should die in peace, and that Joseph both now was alive, and should survive his father.
In the land of Canaan, and in Mesopotamia. But Canaan only is here mentioned, because here they got the far greatest part of them, which by a synecdoche is put for the whole.
His daughters; either his daughter Dinah, the plural number for the singular, as Genesis 46:23 21:7 Numbers 26:8, or Dinah and her daughters; for grandchildren are commonly called their grandfather’s children, or sons or daughters; or his daughters-in-law, his son’s wives.
This genealogy is both here and elsewhere described exactly and particularly, as well to show the faithfulness of God in the performance of his promise concerning the vast multiplication of Abraham’s seed, and that in so short a time, as to distinguish the tribes; which was of great importance, and necessary for the disposal of the kingdom and priesthood, and above all, for the discovery of the true Messias. Compare this following catalogue with that Numbers 26:1-65 1 Chronicles 6:1-8:40.
Ohad is not mentioned in those parallel places, because he was then dead, and that without issue.
The son of a Canaanitish woman; which is here mentioned as a brand upon him, and as an intimation that the rest of them, except Judah, married to persons of a better race.
Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan, and therefore are not contained in the following number, Genesis 46:15.
Hezron and Hamul, though they seem to have been born in Egypt, yet are here set down amongst those who came into Egypt, because they came thither in their father’s loins, as Levi is said to pay tithes in Abraham, Hebrews 7:9. And the children may as well be said to come thither in their parents, as their father Jacob is said to return from thence, Genesis 46:4, in his children.
Object. If this be the sense, why should these two be mentioned rather than the grandchildren of the other brethren, who came into Egypt in the same manner?
Answ. This may be done either,
1. From some special excellency or eminency in them above the rest, as Hezron was eminent for being the progenitor of the Messiah, and Hamul might be so for some other cause, though unknown to us. Or,
2. Because they were the first grandchildren that were born in Egypt, and it may be all that were born whilst Jacob lived there, and therefore are not unfitly named with Jacob, and allotted to him; as Joseph’s two eldest sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were by Jacob appropriated to himself, and reckoned as his immediate sons, when all the rest of Joseph’s sons were excluded from that privilege, Genesis 48:5,6. And the like may be said of the other two grandchildren mentioned Genesis 46:17.
Which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram: this is true properly and immediately of the sons, who were indeed born there, but improperly and mediately of the grandchildren, which are as truly said to be born of Leah in Padan as to be born of her at all, because they were indeed born of them which were born of her, and that in Padan.
All the souls of his sons and his daughters, to wit, which came into Egypt as before; so that Er and Onan are excluded, as dying before this journey into Egypt, Genesis 46:12.
Daughters is here put for daughter, as Genesis 46:7, because Dinah was all the daughters which Jacob had. Heb. all the souls, sons and daughters being reckoned together with their father.
Whereof part seem to be born before his coming to Egypt, and part in Egypt, Benjamin being now but twenty and four years old.
Loins, Heb. thigh, which is here put for the secret parts between the thighs, which are called sometimes the feet, as Genesis 49:10 Deuteronomy 28:57 Ezekiel 16:25, for the like reason, because they are between the feet. From this eastern manner of speech came that passage in the Greek fables, concerning Bacchus being born out of Jupiter’s thigh.
Threescore and six; so many they are, excluding Jacob, as the common parent, and Joseph and his two sons, as being in Egypt before Jacob’s coming thither; which four being included they make up seventy, as it is Genesis 46:27.
He doth not say,
which came with Jacob into Egypt, because some of them came thither before him, and others with him, some in their persons, and some in their parents. As for the difficulty arising from comparing this place with Acts 7:14, it will be more fit to speak of it when we come to that place.
To direct his face unto Goshen; Heb. to prepare, or to teach him, the way before his face, i.e. before his coming to Goshen; i.e. to show him where it was, and into what part of it he should come and settle himself; or to give notice unto Joseph of his approach, before his face or coming into Goshen.
Doubtless Joseph fell down before him with all that reverence which children owe to their parents, and in this posture Jacob falls upon his neck, &c. Of which posture see Genesis 33:4 45:14 Luke 15:20 Acts 20:37.
Now I expect no greater happiness upon earth, and therefore am content to die. Compare Luke 2:29.
In this design and choice Joseph shows both his prudence and piety. He brings them not to court, where it had been easy for him to have put them all into the best places and offices of the court; and as he is not ashamed to own himself a brother to shepherds, which were contemptible among the Egyptians, so he seeks not to advance them higher, but continues them in their employment, and placeth them in Goshen: whereby,
1. He kept them together, which was very convenient for them in many respects.
2. He secured them both from envy, and, as far as he could, from the corruption of their religion and manners, which was likely to follow their mixture with the Egyptians, and especially their being at the court.
3. He put them into a capacity of returning to Canaan, when God gave them opportunity.
Every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians; either,
1. Because they did both kill and eat those creatures which the Egyptians adored. Or,
2. Because of the fresh remembrance of the horrid cruelties lately committed there by the Phoenician shepherds, who, as some very ancient writers affirm, were seated in Egypt in great numbers, and had arrived to great power, and waged a cruel war with other Egyptians, wherein they wasted divers cities, and burned their temples, and barbarously murdered a multitude of people. And therefore it is no wonder if the calling of shepherds was grown out of use and credit among them. True it is, the Egyptians had some sheep, and other cattle, Genesis 47:6,17 Exo 8:26 9:3, which they kept for delight or profit by their milk, wool, &c., or for sale to others, but they did not use them, as other shepherds generally did, kill and eat them. And it is probable that they committed even the keeping of their sheep and cattle to those strangers which were dispersed among them, and looked upon the employment as too vile and mean for any Egyptian. And though Pharaoh offered it to Joseph’s brethren as a favour to be
rulers over his cattle, Genesis 47:6, that might proceed only from hence, because he saw them firmly resolved upon that course of life, and therefore could not bestow any higher preferment upon them.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 46". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany