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Genesis 45:6. Earring.] To ear in the Anglo-Saxon means to plough. The word is used in this sense in Exodus 34:12; Deuteronomy 21:4.—
Genesis 45:8. A father to Pharaoh.] “Second author of life to him.” (Murphy.) “Most confidential counsellor and friend.” (Keil.) So Haman is styled a second father to Artaxerxes. (Esther 13:6.) Also in 1Ma. 11:32, King Demetrius writes to his father Lasthenes.—
Genesis 45:10. The land of Goshen.] Otherwise called (Genesis 47:11) “the land of Rameses.” “It was to the east of the Nile, as lying nearest to the immigrants from Canaan; and neither at this time, nor in the history of the exodus, do we hear of any crossing of the river. But it must have extended to the Nile—witness the hiding of the infant Moses, and the regrets for the fish which they used to eat in Egypt. (Numbers 11:5.) The LXX. render the word used here and in ch. Genesis 37:35, by “Gesen of Arabia; and we know from Herodotus and Strabo that the ancients reckoned the Eastern cities of Egypt, Heliopolis and Herroopolis, as in Arabia. So that it was to the north-east of Egypt, where even now is the most fertile part, and in the neighbourhood of the capital, where Joseph dwelt.” (Alford.)—
Genesis 45:12. My mouth that speaketh unto you.] He speaks no longer by an interpreter, but by his own lips and in their native tongue.—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 45:1-15
JOSEPH MADE KNOWN TO HIS BRETHREN
Joseph’s brethren would be naturally anxious while Judah was so eloquently pleading. Powerful and tender as that speech was, they must have trembled as to the issue; for they could not help regarding all their calamities as a most righteous judgment of God upon them. Benjamin would feel most acutely for his afflicted father who is destined to suffer another bereavement, and for his brother who is about to give himself up for him. But how does their judge, all this time, stand affected? All depends upon the temper in which he listens to the appeal, upon the end which he has in view. But Joseph was now to be made known to his brethren. In this discovery, mark—
I. The ripeness of the time. The great object of Joseph, in all his dealings with his brethren had now been gained. They were brought to a bitter sense of their sin. Their sorrow for the past was deep and overwhelming. They were in the penitent state, and were now prepared for forgiveness and blessing. Now that the end had been gained, to lengthen out their trial any further would have been both a cruel and useless experiment. We are prepared for the grace of Christ by the sorrows and discipline of repentance. He will not prolong our trial further than is necessary for us, but will reveal His mercy at our worst moment, when we are ready to believe that all is lost. After our greatest trials, when we have toiled all night and caught nothing, even at the fourth watch, He will come walking on the wave and will stand on the shore and reveal Himself. (John 21:7.) We value God’s mercy most when we are made to see the awful depth of our sin.
II. His delicacy of feeling. “He cried, cause every man to go out from me: and there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.” (Genesis 45:1.) The deepest and tenderest feelings of the heart are not to be exposed to strangers. Hence all such witnesses of his emotion were to be put away. There are some who love to expose their feelings to others, who express their various emotions without reserve. They feel a sense of luxury in the display of grief. But the greatest and most exalted minds shrink from thus vulgarizing their feelings. They respect the sacredness of human sorrow. Our Lord, who took our human nature upon Him, and who was the highest example of that nature, did not announce His deepest truths and feelings to the multitude, but reserved them for his disciples.
III. His entire forgiveness. Now that he is about to forgive he does not chide them for their past conduct. He will not spoil the gift by his manner of giving. It shall be like the gifts of God, “liberally and without “upbraiding.” (James 1:5.) The completeness and the gracefulness of Joseph’s forgiveness may be gathered from these two considerations:—
1. He strives to prevent remorse. He hastens to preserve them from sinking into the lowest possible deep of misery at the remembrance of the past. “Be not grieved,” he says “nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither.” (Genesis 45:5.) He will not allow them to fall into that state of remorse in which true penitence is impossible. He will prevent despair by leading them away from themselves and from self-reproaches, so that they might see and enjoy the mercy which was prepared for them.
2. He bids them see in their past history the plan of God. “For God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5.) Throughout all the dark and evil things of their history the hand of God was manifest. Providence, even by such strange means, was working out redemption. God had a saving purpose in view. All those things of which they were most afraid had been allowed to happen to them to further this benevolent design—“to preserve life.” The end of the Lord is salvation, however strange the means by which that end is brought about. God brings good out of evil, and these men were but instruments in His hands. The actors in this history had no plan. They knew not whither all these strange things were tending. Even Joseph himself did not know one step before him. “There is a danger in the too easy acquiesence in the fact that good comes from evil; for we begin to say, evil is then God’s agent, to do evil must be right, and so we are landed in confusion. Before this had taken place, had Joseph’s brethren said, ‘out of this good will come, let us sell our brother,’ they would have been acting against their conscience; but after the event it was but faith to refer it to God’s intention. Had they done this before, it would have been presumption. But to feel that good has come through you, but not by your will, is humiliating. You feel that the evil is all yours, and the good is God’s.”—(Robertson.)
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 45:1. Now at length all the love, which during twenty-two long years had been pent up in Joseph’s breast, bursts forth with irrepressible might.—(De Sola.)
No more can Jesus refrain himself in the extreme afflictions of His brethren. (Isaiah 42:14.) For he is a very tender-hearted Joseph, and though He speak roughly to His brethren, and handle them hardly, yea, and threaten grievous bondage to His best beloved Benjamin, yet can He not contain Himself from weeping with us, and upon us.—(Trapp.)
He does not choose to have any spectators to the tender scene before him, except those who were to be the actors in it. The heart does not like to have its stronger emotions exposed to the view of many witnesses. Moreover, had hisservants been present, they must soon have learned what treatment Joseph oncereceived from his brethren; and it was not to be expected that they would so easily forgive the injuries done to their lord as their lord himself could do. Joseph, with his characteristic generosity, determines at once to spare the feelings of his brethren and consult their reputation by having all spectators removed.—(Bush.)
That religious feeling which is never at a loss for appropriate words is a religion and a sensibility which has in it no depth. With deep truth we are told this in the parable of the sower and the seed. He cast his seed on the stony ground, and the seed sprang up rapidly, simply because there was no depth of earth. Therefore we learn from this that feeling, to be true and deep, must be condensed by discipline.—(Robertson.)
Many passions do not well abide witnesses, because they are guilty to their own weakness. Joseph sends forth his servants, that he might freely weep. He knew he could not say, “I am Joseph,” without an unbeseeming vehemence.—(Bp. Hall).
Genesis 45:2. It was the wicked brothers who should have filled the house with outcries and bitter groans of repentance. But it is Joseph who weeps in the presence of the transgressors. How our New Testament Joseph weeps at the grave of Lazarus to think of all the ravages which sin has made! Not your tears, sinner, but the tears and agonies of Jesus must avail for salvation.—(Jacobus).
Genesis 45:3. He must now speak out in the plainest terms. I am Joseph. How this brief sentence goes to their heart, explains the mystery, fills them with awe and self-reproach, yet invites their confidence. How we are reminded of Saul of Tarsus when our New Testament Joseph reveals Himself to him. “Who art thou, Lord? I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” What shall Joseph now say? Shall he remind them of the pit, and the sale into slavery, to confound them utterly? No! He asks only, “Doth my father yet live?” This is to confess them as his brethren, by acknowledging their common father. So Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren. (Hebrews 2:11). Only as a next step will Joseph refer to their wrong-doing, and then the rather to bid them not be grieved nor angry with themselves so as to keep them aloof from him with fear.—(Jacobus).
Those words, “I am Joseph,” seemed to sound thus much to their guilty thoughts:—You are murderers, and I am a prince in spite of you. My power, and this place, give me all opportunities of revenge: my glory is your shame, my life your danger—your sin lives together with me. But now the tears and gracious words of Joseph have soon assured them of pardon and love, and have bidden them turn their eyes from their sin against their brother, to their happiness in him, and have changed their doubts into hopes and joys, causing them to look upon him without fear, yet not without shame. Actions salved up with a free forgiveness are as not done: and as a bone once broken is stronger after well setting, so is love after reconcilements.—(Bp. Hall.)
They could not answer him. They were troubled at his presence. So the sense of sin makes us dread the presence of God. We are confounded before Him, and know not what we shall say. Adam hides himself among the trees of the garden. Only the clear revelation of God’s love to sinners can restore us to confidence and peace. That comfort which the Gospel brings is the only healing for our afflicted souls.
Wonder, doubt, reverence, fear, hope, guiltiness, joy, grief, struck them all at once. Shall it not be so with the Jews at their glorious conversion, when they shall hear, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye have persecuted and pierced?” (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7.)—(Trapp.)
Genesis 45:4. How disposed to forget and bury their sin. He invites them to his free favour. So our Joseph in the Gospel bids us come to Him. This is the Gospel message, Come unto Me. This is the entreaty of love. He will have them approach more closely and come boldly that he may more fully reveal himself. They felt the power of this gracious word and they came near.—(Jacobus.)
I am Joseph, your brother. Their great transgressions had not broken the bonds of nature. Christ is “not ashamed to call us brethren,” though we have rendered ourselves unworthy by our manifold sins. Even in all his wandering, the prodigal was still a son.
Genesis 45:5. Here is a lively imago of Christ’s love towards His enemies, for whom he prayed and died. This Angel of the Covenant first troubles the waters, and then cures those cripples that step in. This sun of Righteousness first draws up vapours of godly grief, and then dispels them.—(Trapp.)
A less delicate mind would have talked of forgiving them; but he entreats them to forgive themselves, as though the other was out of the question. Nor did he mean that they should abuse the doctrine of Providence to the making light of sin; but merely that they should eye the hand of God in all, so as to be reconciled to the event, though they might weep in secret for the part which they had acted. Their viewing things in this light would not abate their godly sorrow, but rather increase it. It would tend only to expel the sorrow of the world which worketh death.—(Fuller.)
The cross of Christ is an example, and the highest, of that Power above us which brings good out of evil. The murderers of Jesus only intended evil, and yet God by their means wrought out salvation. They were the unconscious instruments of His gracious will.
We shall ever find abundant cause of thanksgiving that a gracious God has counteracted the tendency of sin to produce the most misirable effects in ourselves and others, and preserved us from the pain of seeing misery diffused around us as the fruit of our doings. Yet for our humiliation let us remember that the nature of sin is not altered by the use that God makes of it. Poison does not cease to be poison because it may enter into the composition of healing medicines.—(Bush).
The principles illustrated in Joseph’s statement are these,—
1. God’s absolute control over all creatures and events.
2. That while sinners are encouraged to hope in His mercy, they are left without excuse for their sin.
3. That God orders all human affairs with a view to the preservation of His sacred and gifted family,—the Church.
Genesis 45:6-7.—Whatever might be the pressure of the famine, God designed not only to preserve the lives of those who then existed, but to preserve also a posterity in the earth for Abraham and Jacob. If Isaac had perished on Mount Moriah, what would have become of the promise to Abraham? If Jacob’s sons had died of hunger, what would have become of the promise to Jacob, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed? Let us learn from this to be thankful to God for those mercies to our fathers by which they were preserved from destruction. They were upheld for our sakes as well as their own.—(Bush).
That is the most rational view in all cases, especially in the dark dispensations of human life, not to halt at human causes, or stay there, but to look at God’s ways, as Joseph does here; and to trace His leading, like a golden thread drawn through all the follies and errors of men.—(Lange).
Genesis 45:8. Had such words as these been spoken by Joseph’s brethren, we should justly have thought they were uttering a blasphemous lie by endeavouring to transfer their criminal conduct to God. Had thay said, “It was not we that sent you hither, but God,” we might justly have pronounced them guilty of daring impiety; but when Joseph is the speaker, we recognise the drift of the words at once. His object was to intimate that his coming to Egypt was more God’s work than theirs. Their intention was no doubt evil; but his thoughts were so much occupied with God’s intentions, that he forgot theirs.—(Bush.)
God hides Himself behind human history, where only the eye of faith can discern Him.
Joseph ascribes his exaltation and prosperity to God.
1. He looks, beyond all hindrances, to God. Beyond the persecutions of his brethren to that Providence which has a purpose of good, even in things evil.
2. He looks, beyond all human instruments, to God. Pharaoh had been the means of his exaltation, but it was from God that he derived that knowledge and wisdom which gave him favour in the eyes of Pharaoh.
3. He accepts the position which God has given him. He was a father to Pharaoh,—in very deed, the second author of life to him. It is not a sin against humility to accept what God appoints for us.
4. He maintains the right disposition through all the changes of Providence. He bears his affliction with meekness, and his elevation with humility.
Genesis 45:9. Better than abundance of corn is it, to be assured that the lord of the granaries is his son Joseph. How blessed to know from the Gospel that the dispenser of universal providence and the proprietor of the universe is our God, for ever and ever—that our elder brother is exalted at the right hand of the Majesty or high. And then the message come down unto me—tarry not. (So John 14:0) Faith in the Father and the Son is the cure for heart trouble. “I will surely come again to take you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also.”—(Jacobus.)
Christ seems to send from heaven, and say unto us in like sort, God hath made me Lord of all; come up unto me, tarry not.—(Trapp.)
Genesis 45:10-11.—He already has a place prepared for the covenant household. The land of Goshen was the most fertile part of the land best suited for shepherds. The covenant household is now to be transferred to Egypt, for their development from a family to a nation. (Genesis 47:11)—(Jacobus.)
I will nourish thee. Joseph kept his word to the letter. (Genesis 47:12.)
Genesis 45:12. He appeals to their natural senses in proof of his identity. So our Joseph reveals Himself that we may not fail to recognise Him. It is I, be not afraid.
(1.) Filial piety is beautiful.
(2.) It is a shame to a son when he becomes exalted to despise and neglect his poor parents.—(Jacobus.)
The mercy of God to us, in Christ, is so great that we require the strongest evidence in order to believe it.
Genesis 45:13. A lover of God takes pleasure in telling what God has done for him, that his friends may magnify the Lord with him. Joseph had, perhaps, another end in view in desiring his brethren to tell his father of his glory. This part of the message might give them the hope of finding forgiveness with their father. By hearing of Joseph’s glory, he could perceive that God had sent him into Egypt by their hands to accomplish his prophetical dreams. The grace of God, in giving such a favourable issue to Joseph’s afflictions, would reconcile Jacob to the men who had brought those afflictions upon him.—(Bush.)
Genesis 45:14. God’s people are not senseless Stoics or flinty Nabals, but have natural affections in them.—(Trapp).
Genesis 45:15. In the spirit of a fond brother, and not of an offended judge, he kisses all of them as well as Benjamin, and thus assures them of forgiveness more expressly than any laboured language could have done. They were emboldened to speak to him after this. After all our Joseph’s assurances to us by word and deed in the gospel, by His loving life, and His living love, we may come boldly to the throne, seeing it is the throne of grace. Our Elder Brother, our Kinsman Redeemer is such an one as we need. Our Joseph will have us emboldened to talk with Him in prayer and communion.—(Jacobus).
Genesis 45:20. Regard not your stuff.] Houses, or pieces of furniture which must be left behind. The word is literally your utensils, articles of household use.—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 45:16-20
PHARAOH’S INVITATION TO JACOB AND HIS SONS
Pharaoh invites Joseph’s brethren and their father to dwell in his land. (Genesis 45:17-20.)
I. This speaks well as to his delicate consideration for Joseph. He had reposed full confidence in Joseph, leaving to him the management of all his affairs. Joseph had already given orders that his father should be brought down to Egypt. (Genesis 45:13.) He knew also that he was admitted so far into the confidence of his master that he could take this liberty. But Pharaoh, with great delicacy, wishes to spare Joseph’s feelings in having to invite his own relations, as it were, to another man’s house.
II. This shows the value he set upon Joseph. His invitation is accompanied with more liberal offers than those of his trusted servant. Joseph only desired them to bring all the property they had; but Pharaoh bids them disregard their household goods, as he himself would make for them an abundant and sufficient provision. (Genesis 45:10-20.) The “good of all the land of Egypt” was theirs. Pharaoh will even have them brought to Egypt with all possible speed and comfort. He gives orders for waggons to fetch them. They could only have this favour by royal command, for it was strictly forbidden that waggons should be taken out of Egypt. His great liberality towards this family tells us how high Joseph was in his esteem. He wanted to express the gratitude of the nation to so great a benefactor.
III. This teaches us how great is the influence of character. Joseph’s character had made a strong impression upon his master. We often say hard things concerning the ingratitude of human nature; but, after all, there is much gratitude yet to be found, even in this heartless world. Pharaoh had found Joseph faithful in all things, and, therefore, honoured and esteemed him. Such influence could not be gained by exalted position, or by mere authority, nor could it be commanded and enforced by law. It can only arise in consequence of that law of the human heart by which love begets love.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 45:16. They highly esteemed Joseph on his own account; and that he should prove to be a member of a respectable family, and have the pleasure of again meeting with his nearest relatives, were circumstances that afforded them a real gratification.—(Murphy)
The servants of princes are seldom disposed to look kindly upon those that are raised above themselves, especially if foreigners. Joseph’s merits, indeed, were such that they could not but be universally acknowledged; yet the spirit which is in man lusteth so strongly to envy, that Joseph’s continued good standing in the court of Pharaoh must be considered as a singularly good testimony to the wisdom and blamelessness of his deportment to all around him.—(Bush).
Genesis 45:17. Pharaoh is good to Jacob and his house, for Joseph’s sake; so is God to us and ours, for Jesu’s sake.—(Trapp).
Genesis 45:18. So saith Christ, “Come unto me, and ye shall find rest to your souls” (Matthew 11:28). Say you meet with some trouble by the way, as haply Jacob had foul weather ere he came down to Egypt. What is a drop of vinegar put into an ocean of wine? No country hath more venemous creatures than Egypt, none more antidotes. So godliness, saith one, hath many troubles, and as many helps against trouble.—(Trapp).
Genesis 45:19. This was a mode of travelling to which Jacob had been but little used. As at that day, so at the present, wheel carriages are almost wholly unknown in the country of Palestine.—(Bush).
Christ will send His waggons for us, His cherubins, and clouds to fetch us up to heaven at the last day (1 Thessalonians 4:15), as they did Moses and Elias (Matthew 17:3). This David foresaw, and therefore envied not the pomp and state of those men of God’s hand, that are whirled here up and down in waggons and chariots, etc. (Psalms 17:14-15).—(Trapp).
Genesis 45:20. Why should those who have all the riches of the better country before them give themselves any disquiet about the perishing things that belong to the earthly house of this tabernacle? The heirs of heaven are rich in the midst of poverty; although they have nothing, they possess all things. Never let them give less credit to the promises of their heavenly Father than Jacob’s son gave to the King of Egypt.—(Bush).
Alexander, hearing of the riches of the Indies, divided his kingdom of Macedon among his captains and soldiers. And being asked what he had left for himself, he answered, Hope. And should not the hope of heaven make us slight all earthly vanities? (Hebrews 11:1).—(Trapp).
The family of Jacob thus came to Egypt, not by conquest or purchase, but by hospitable invitation, as free, independent visitors or settlers. As they were free to come or not, so were they free to stay or leave.—(Murphy).
Genesis 45:21. Joseph gave them waggons.] Two-wheeled cars, fit for driving over a rough country, where roads were not found. Wheeled vehicles are scarcely seen in Palestine.—
Genesis 45:24. See that ye fall not out by the way.] Some maintain that the sense is, “Be not afraid.” They were not to be in dread lest any after-plot of his should bring them back again. The Heb. word means, to be stirred by any passion, whether of fear or anger; and is interpreted in the sense of quarrelling, or falling out, in Proverbs 29:9; Isaiah 28:21. The word is so rendered here, and it best suits the sense. Onkelos gives to it the same signification, “Do not contend.”—
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 45:21-24
JOSEPH EQUIPS HIS BRETHREN FOR THEIR JOURNEY
His bounty towards them was most liberal. They are supplied not only with necessaries, but even with luxuries, and furnished in a style calculated to make an impression upon spectators. The richness and splendour of this outfit was worthy of a brother raised to such high eminence in a great nation. But the whole of this incident brings out these two things especially:—
I. His respect and honour for his father. This is seen:—
1. In the portion he gave to Benjamin. He was furnished more liberally than the rest, distinctly marked out as a peculiar object of favour. (Genesis 45:22.) This would touch the heart of the doting father.
2. In the portion he sent to his father. (Genesis 45:23). He could not fetch him himself, but he sends him the richest presents of Egypt. In this way he expressed his peculiar affection for his father. The old man would need the strongest proof of the reality of those strange things he was about to hear, and the style in which his sons were sent to him from Egypt would naturally make a strong impression upon him.
II. His shrewd wisdom. Another point brought out in this incident. Joseph charged his brethren, as they were leaving, “See that ye fall not out by the way.” (Genesis 45:24.) This advice was founded upon deep wisdom, and showed great knowledge of human nature in the man who gave it. Joseph had heard already from Reuben some severe reflections upon his brethren. (Genesis 42:22.) He might well suppose that they would repeat these things when they were alone. Reuben might have told them how different the result would have been had they taken his advice. Each one would have his cause of quarrel. The unexpected prosperity into which they had fallen would only have served to arouse old feelings of enmity. But they were now restrained by Joseph’s sober and timely advice. It is sad to think how that through the fault of human nature, even the manifestations of God’s goodness towards us may be made the occasion of wrangling and angry strife. Even when the Gospel message was first announced to the world, men soon began to quarrel with each other. The very terms of salvation were disputed. Men were not content to receive the truth as it was told them, but they must make it the subject of endless and fruitless controversy. Let us be satisfied with the bountiful provision God makes for us by the way, spending our energy in praising Him, and refusing to waste it in the mean warfare of human strifes.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 45:21. Provision for the way. So doth God give all His; meat that the world knows not of; joy that the natural heart never tasted; the white stone; the hidden manna; the continual feast; the foretaste of eternal life, to hold up their hearts till they come home to heaven. On the cates of a good conscience, he goes on feeding as Samson did on his honeycomb, till he came to his parents; as Joseph’s brethren here did on their venison, till they came to their father Jacob.—(Trapp.)
Genesis 45:22. As the fashion of clothes never changes in the East as with us, they do not become useless as long as they last. Joseph virtually published to his brethren the superior regard which he entertained for Benjamin as the son of his mother, as well as of his father. He showed his confidence in their good dispositions towards Benjamin.—(Bush.)
Genesis 45:23. It was, no doubt, a pleasure to Jacob to partake of the fruits of the attention and kindness of his long-lost Joseph. Yet we may safely suppose he derived more pleasure from Joseph’s goodness to his brethren than from the presents sent to himself. He had no reason to doubt of Joseph’s warm, filial affection, but it would fill him with unspeakable joy to find his son exhibiting the highest pattern of meekness and of the forgiveness of injuries that the world had ever yet beheld.—(Bush.)
Genesis 45:24. On the journey to eternity we must not become angry, either with our companions, or with God. Christians, as brethren, ought not to quarrel with each other on the way of life.—(Lange.)
Joseph’s brethren send him naked to strangers, he sends them in new and rich liveries to their father; they took a small sum of money for him, he gives them great treasures; they sent his torn coat to his father, he sends variety of costly raiments to his father by them; they sold him to be the lead of camels, he sends them home with chariots. It must be a great favour, that can appease the consciousness of a great injury.—(Bp. Hall.)
Genesis 45:26. And Jacob’s heart fainted.] “Fainted is perhaps literally, remained cold.” He had too much experience of deceit to believe easily a strange tale like this. (Alford.)
Genesis 45:27. The spirit of Jacob their father revived.] “Warmth and life returned to his spirit.” (Alford.)
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Genesis 45:25-28
THE JOYFUL NEWS TOLD TO JACOB
I. It is, at first, received with incredulity. He is told that Joseph lives, that he is governor of Egypt, and that he himself is summoned to go down thither. These were astonishing tidings. They were as a voice and an appearance from the grave. We do not wonder at their effect upon the physical frame of the aged man. There was a chill at his heart, the news overcame him, yet he received it with incredulity. The very thought of such prosperity, so vividly presented to his mind, would, of itself, powerfully affect his feelings. But he did not believe that all this could be true. There are two kinds of unbelief. One arises from moral perversity. A man refuses to believe because he hates the truth, and loves darkness rather than light. He refuses to see the truth, because he is content with his own lie and desires not goodness. He says, “Evil, be thou my good.” But another source of unbelief is, when the news seems too good to be true. There is a disposition to believe, and even a desire; but the greatness of that which is offered to faith is too much for it. This kind of unbelief does not denote a bad heart, though it may be an evidence of weakness. The Apostle, St. Thomas, could not believe, though he witnessed the joy of those who did. He required to see facts, such outward proofs and evidence which would be powerful enough to convince himself. The very greatness of the things to be believed by us is one of the difficulties of our faith.
II. It is afterwards accepted upon outward evidence. Jacob, at first, gave no credit to the tidings brought to him by his sons. But when he saw the waggons he believed. (Genesis 45:27-28.) It is sad to think that he should believe the waggons more than the word of his sons. But this is true to human nature. A favourable fact comes to the aid of hesitating belief. We can steady our minds upon it. Hence it is that the outward evidences of Christianity are so valuable for the mass of mankind. They produce conviction when other modes of reasoning fail. They make a vivid impression upon the ordinary mind. It is a nobler kind of faith when we can trust God out of sight, when we can believe in Himself as He is made known to our souls, when we have that within us which admires and loves the truth upon our first beholding it, when we are captivated and conquered by its heavenly beauty.
III. It enabled Jacob to vindicate his old character. He was Israel,—a prince prevailing with both God and men. He had nobly won that character, and maintained it; but for many years past he had no opportunity to distinguish himself therein. Now his old character is revived. He appears, again, as Israel.
1. His faith triumphs. As it has done so oft before. He now believes. He is satisfied. “And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive.” (Genesis 45:28.)
2. His dark destiny is now about to be cleared up. The grief of twenty-two sad and sorrowful years is ended, and the meaning of his life is now, at length, to be rendered clear. The purpose of God is accomplished, and it is full of mercy and goodness to his servant. The soul is satisfied with the loving-kindness of the Lord, when faith is allowed to see and enjoy its victory.
3. He anticipates his peaceful end. “Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.” (Genesis 45:28.) He is satisfied now that he shall see his beloved son restored to him, and in great prosperity. He can now look forward to the happy end of his pilgrimage. He had now no more wishes left unsatisfied on this side of the grave. Let him see Joseph, and that is enough. Then, like Simeon, when his eyes have seen God’s salvation, he can depart in peace.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES
Genesis 45:25-26. Jacob had doubtless been looking and longing for their return, and that with many fears and misgivings of mind. If the matter was announced as suddenly as it is here related, it is not surprising that “Jacob’s heart fainted, and he believed them not.” The suddenness of the transition would produce an effect like that of fire and water coming in contact. Perhaps, too, we may partly account for this incredulity from the aptness there is in a dejected mind to believe what is against him, rather than what is for him. When they brought him the bloody garment he readily believed, saying, Joseph no doubt is torn in pieces! But when good news is told him, it seems too good to be true.—(Fuller).
He believed them not. They had told him a tale before; and he that once hath cracked his credit is hardly, after, believed. Besides, he thought the news was too good to be true. The joy of heaven is so great that we must “enter into it;” it cannot enter into us. (Matthew 25:21).—(Trapp).
Genesis 45:27. When we see the history of redemption, the progress of Christianity, the means of grace, our confidence in God’s gracious intent is strengthened. When the Christian at last sees the provision made for his departure, the Intercessor gone before, the mansion prepared, the escort of angels, the welcome home, he receives dying grace, and often is most cheered and comforted in death.—(Jacobus).
Genesis 45:28. Nothing is said of his reception of the gifts, nor is it intimated that he was particularly affected by the report of his son’s glory in Egypt; it was enough for him that he was alive. Though the sight of Benjamin, an hour before this time, would have appeared to him a sufficient happiness for this world, yet now he enjoys not only that, but cherishes the hope of seeing and embracing once more the son whose loss he had mourned year after year in bitterness of soul.—(Bush).
It is enough! The assurance of a living Lord and Saviour is soul-satisfying. We want to go and see Him. (Philippians 1:23).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 45". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the <>Sixth Sunday after Easter