Genesis 45:1, Genesis 45:2
Then (literally, and) Joseph could not refrain himself (i.e. keep himself from giving way to the impulses of love) before all them that stood by him (i.e. the Egyptian officials of his household); and he cried (or made proclamation, issued an instruction), Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. It was true delicacy on the part of Joseph which prompted the discovery of himself to his brethren in private; not simply because he did not wish to pain his brethren by a public reference to their past wickedness, ne facinus illud detestabile multis testibus innoteseat (Calvin), but because the unrestrained outburst of emotion erga fratres et parentem non posset ferre alienorum praesentiam et aspectum (Luther). And he wept aloud (literally, and he gave forth, or uttered, his voice in weeping): and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. The meaning is that the Egyptian officials of Joseph's house, who were standing outside, heard, and reported it to the house of Pharaoh (Keil, Murphy). It is not necessary to suppose that Joseph's residence was so close to the palace that his voice was heard by the inmates (Lunge).
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph. The effect of this announcement can be better imagined than described. Hitherto he had been known to his brethren as Zaphnath-paaneah. Now the voice and the appearance of their long-lost brother would rush upon their minds at the first sound of the familiar name, and fill them with apprehension. Probably Joseph's discernment of this in their countenances was the reason why he asked so abruptly after Jacob. Doth my father yet live? It is not now "the old man of whom ye spake" (Genesis 43:27) for whom Joseph inquires, but his own beloved and revered parent—"my father." "Before it was a question of courtesy, but now of love" (Alford). And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled (or cast into a trepidation, hence terrified) at his presence—literally, before his face. Not only did his present greatness overawe them, but the recollection of their former crimes against him filled them with alarm.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. It is probable they had instinctively shrunk from his presence on learning the astounding fact that he was Joseph, but felt reassured by the kindly tone of Joseph's words. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. It was impossible to evade allusion to their early wickedness, and this Joseph does in a spirit not of angry upbraiding, but of elevated piety and tender charity. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves (literally, let it not burn in your eyes, as in Genesis 31:35), that ye sold me hither (their self-recriminations and heart upbraidings for their former wickedness Joseph in all probability saw depicted in their faces): for God (Elohim) did send me before you to preserve life (literally, for the preservation of life). For these two years hath the famine been in the land (literally, in the midst of the land): and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earning nor harvest—literally, neither ploughing nor reaping, the term ploughing, or earing, charish (cf. ἄροσις, aratio, Anglo-Saxon, origin), being derived from a root signifying to cut. And God (Elohim, the use of which here and in Genesis 45:5 instead of Jehovah is sufficiently explained by remembering that Joseph simply desires to point out the overruling providence of God in his early transportation to Egypt) sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth (literally, to keep for you a remnant on the earth, i.e. to preserve the family from extinction through the famine), and to save your lives by a great deliverance—literally, to preserve life to you to a great deliverance, i.e. by a providential rescue (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), which is better than to a great nation or posterity, פְלֵיטָה being understood, as in 2 Samuel 15:14; 2 Kings 19:30, 2 Kings 19:31, to mean a remnant escaped from slaughter (Bohlen), an interpretation which Rosenmüller thinks admissible, but Kalisch disputes. So now (literally, and now) it was not you that sent me hither, but God—literally, for the Elohim (sent me). Joseph's brethren sent him to be a slave; God sent him to be a savior (Hughes). And he hath made me a father to Pharaoh,—i.e. a wise and confidential friend and counselor (Keil, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary;' cf. 1 Macc. 11:32). Murphy explains the term as signifying "a second author of life," with obvious reference to the interpretation of his dreams and the measures adopted to provide against the famine—and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land Egypt (vide Genesis 41:40, Genesis 41:41). Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God (Elohim) hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen. Goshen, Γεσὲμ Αραβίας (LXX.), was a region on the east of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, extending as far as the wilderness of Arabia, a land of pastures (Genesis 46:34), exceedingly fertile (Genesis 47:6), styled also the land of Rameses (Genesis 47:11), and including the cities Pithon and Rameses (Exodus 1:11), and probably also On, or Heliopolis. And thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee (the verb is the Pilpel of כּול, to hold up, hence to sustain); for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty—literally, be robbed, from יָרַשׁ, to take possession (Keil), or fall into slavery, i.e. through poverty (Knobel, Lange). And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. And ye shall tell my father of (literally, ye shall relate to my father) all my glory (cf. Genesis 31:1) in Egypt, and of all (literally, ail) that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. Calvin thinks that Joseph would not have made such liberal promises to his brethren without having previously obtained Pharaoh's consent, nisi regis permissu; but this does not appear from the narrative.
Genesis 45:14, Genesis 45:15
And he (i.e. Joseph) fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. "Benjamin is the central point whence leads out the way to reconciliation" (Langs). "Here brotherly affection is drawn out by affection, tear answering tear" (Hughes; cf. Genesis 33:4). Moreover he kissed all his brethren,—"the seal of recognition, of reconciliation, and of salutation" (Lange)—and wept upon them. It has been thought that Benjamin stood when Joseph embraced him, and that the two wept upon each other's neck, but that the brethren bowed themselves at Joseph's feet, causing the expression to be, "and he wept upon them" (Lange). And after that his brethren talked with him—feeling themselves reassured by such demonstrations of affection.
Joseph's discovery of himself to his brethren.
I. THE ANNOUNCEMENT. "I am Joseph, whom ye sold into Egypt."
1. How it was made.
2. How it was received.
II. THE COMMISSION.
1. To carry an invitation. "Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, and tarry not."
2. To deliver a promise. "And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen," and "there will I nourish thee."
3. To explain a reason "For yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty."
4. To provide an authentications. "And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you."
5. To supply an encouragement. "And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt."
6. To return with an answer. "And ye shall haste and bring down my father hither."
III. THE RECONCILIATION.
1. With tears of joy. "He fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck." Over the rest of his brothers also as they bowed before him "he wept."
2. With kisses of love. "Moreover he kissed all his brethren"—not even forgetting Simeon, who probably had bound him.
3. With words of cheer. "After that his brethren talked with him."
Lessons:—See in the character of Joseph, as portrayed in this touching scene, a brilliant constellation of heavenly virtues and holy graces.
1. Of fraternal affection in his tender dealing with his brethren.
2. Of filial piety in his considerate regard for his father.
3. Of eminent devotion in recognizing the hand of God in all his past fortunes.
4. Of exquisite sensibility in being so quickly moved to tears.
HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY
Darkness turned into light.
Joseph's revelation of himself to his brethren in the atmosphere of the purest brotherly affection and grateful acknowledgment of Divine goodness. Only small natures are ashamed of tears. At first the men who had a great sin upon their consciences were only troubled at the presence of their injured brother, but soon the free and full manifestation of his love turns all their fears into rejoicing. Joseph wept for joy at their return to him, and they were henceforth his brethren indeed. Although for a time we carry the burden of our sins and feel their weight, even though we believe that they are forgiven, still as God reveals himself to us and surrounds us more and more with the embrace of his love, we lose the constraint of our painful remembrance, and rejoice with all our hearts in present peace and future glory.—R.
HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY
The great announcement.
Not a stranger, but a brother. Yet they were slow to receive comfort from it. The fact beyond all expectation; the suspicion of the unknown ruler attaching itself to the newly-found brother; the remembrance of their own former cruelty; the doubt whether indeed the past were forgiven, combined to make them "troubled at his presence." Akin to this is the slowness with which the great revelation of the gospel is received, our adoption as sons (Galatians 4:5) through our brotherhood with Christ; members of Christ, and thus children of God. Not the doctrine, for we are familiar with its terms, but the practical reception of it. The gospel preached is "good-will to men;" the foundation on which it rests is the work whereby the eternal Son became our brother and representative (2 Corinthians 5:14). The means of appropriation, belief that God has indeed done this thing for us (Matthew 11:28). Yet even to those who are longing for peace and salvation the message often seems to bring no real comfort. The truth of the doctrine is admitted, but Jesus is not recognized as a personal, present Savior. There is a feeling that something not declared lies behind; that there is some unexplained "if," some condition to be fulfilled, some part of the work to be done, ere it can be safe to trust. Conscious of sin, they do not fully receive the offer as made to them such as they are. The fact is, men often want to begin at the wrong end; to make some worthy offering to God ere they have it to give (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Corinthians 4:7); want to gather fruit ere the tree is planted; to build a spiritual house ere the foundation is laid.
I. GOD'S OFFER PRECEDES FAITH. The gospel proclaims a fact—Christ crucified for us, the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5. Its primary message is not of something to follow our faith, but of that on which our faith rests. The "foundation" of spiritual life is not our belief but Christ's work (1 Corinthians 3:11). But in practice many seem to regard the right to trust in Christ's work as depending on their being in a fitting state of mind. And thus their mind is turned away from Christ to their own state (cf. Matthew 14:30). No doubt there must be a conviction of need ere the Savior can e welcomed (Matthew 9:12). But the evidence of that conviction is not our feelings but laying our burden upon the Lord.
II. GOD'S OFFER MUST BE RECEIVED BY FAITH—that is, it must be accepted as it is made; not something else put in its place. God's message is, Trust in Christ. To do this is to exercise faith. But the answer often is, I must first see whether I have faith. It is as if when our Lord bade the impotent arise, he had answered, I must first feel that I have the power. Faith depends not on accurate knowledge. The gospel is for the ignorant; and what it claims is that we receive it according to the measure of our knowledge, guided by those means of instruction which we possess.
III. GOD'S OFFER IS TO MAKE US WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE. Christ accepted, trusted, is made unto us wisdom, &c. (1 Corinthians 1:30). Faith leads to more communion with Christ. The Bible becomes a living voice instead of a dead letter. Channels of knowledge are opened, and daily increasing powers are given where the will is to be really Christ's (John 6:68).—M.
HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY
"Now therefore be not grieved," &c.
I. THE END IS GOODNESS AND MERCY.
1. To preserve life.
2. To set the seed of the better society in the midst of the corruptions and imperfections of the old.
3. To prepare the way for the higher revelations of the future.
II. GOD'S METHOD OF INSTRUMENTALITIES HIS GLORY.
1. The history of his people, their persecutions, their apparent humiliations, their marvelous victories.
2. The transformation of men, whereby enemies are made friends, &c.
3. The biographies of distinguished servants of God illustrate his grace in bestowing fitness for appointed work.
III. MYSTERIES LOOKED AT FROM A HIGHER POINT OF VIEW BECOME REVELATIONS.
1. Time a great revealer. Wait for the Lord.
2. The narrow circle of a family history taken up into the higher sphere of Divine purposes concerning nations and humanity itself.
3. Ultimate vindication of the spiritual men and spiritual principles as against the merely earthly and selfish aims of individuals or communities.—R.
And the fame thereof—literally, the voice, hence rumor (cf. Jeremiah 3:9)—was heard in Pharaoh's house (having been brought thither doubtless by some of the Court officials), saying, Joseph's brethren—it is probable that they would style him Zaphnath-paaneah (cf. Genesis 41:45) are come (i.e. are arrived in Egypt): and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants—literally, it was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants (cf. Genesis 41:37). The LXX. render ἐχάρη δὲ Φαραὼ; the Vulgate, gavisus est Pharao, i.e. Pharaoh was glad.
Genesis 45:17, Genesis 45:18
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; and take your father and your households, and come unto me. This may have been an independent invitation given by the Egyptian king to Joseph's relatives; but it is more than likely that Joseph had already told him of the proposal he had made to his brethren, and that he here receives a royal confirmation of the same). And I will give you the good of the land of Egypt,—i.e. the best part of the land, viz; Goshen (Rosenmüller, Lange, and others); though the phrase is probably synonymous with that which follows—and ye shall eat the fat of the land. The fat of the land meant either the richest and most fertile portion of it (Lunge, Kalisch), or the best and choicest of its productions (Gesenius, Keil). Cf. Deuteronomy 32:14; Psalms 147:14.
Genesis 45:19, Genesis 45:20
Now thou art commanded, this do ye;—an apostrophe to Joseph, Pharaoh manifestly regarding the cause of Joseph and his brethren as one (Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, and others)—take you wagons out of the land of Egypt—the carriages here referred to ( עַגָּלוֹת, from עָגַּל to roll) were small two-wheeled vehicles suitable for a fiat country like Egypt, or for traversing roadless deserts. They were usually drawn by cattle, and employed for carrying agricultural produce. Herodotus mentions a four-wheeled car which was used for transporting the shrine and image of a deity (2:63; vide Rawlinson's edition, and note by Sir G. Wilkinson) for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Pharaoh meant them to understand that they had not only Joseph's invitation, but his (Pharaoh's) commandment, to encourage them to undertake so serious a project as the removal of their households to Egypt. Also regard not your stuff—literally, and your eyes shall not (i.e. let them not) grieve for your utensils (i.e. articles of domestic furniture), although you should require to leave them behind (LXX; Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, et alii). The rendering of the Vulgate, nee dimittatis quicquid de supellectili vestra, conveys a meaning exactly the opposite of the true one, which is thus correctly expressed by Dathius: Nec aegre ferrent jacturam supellectilis suet. For the good of all the land of Egypt is yours—literally, to you it (sc. shall belong).
And the children (better, sons) of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment (literally, the mouth) of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.
To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment;—literally, alterations of garments, i.e. changes or suits of dress ( 14:12, 14:13; 2 Kings 5:5); probably dress clothes for special occasions (Keil, Lange, Murphy); δισσὰς στολὰς (LXX.); binas stolas (Vulgate)—but (literally, and) to Benjamin he gave—not to make amends for having given him a fright (Lange), but as a special token of fraternal affection (Murphy)—three hundred pieces of silver,-literally, three hundred of silver (cf. Genesis 43:1-34 :44)—and five changes of raiment—which renders it probable that the brothers only received two.
And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses (vide Genesis 12:16) laden with (literally, carrying) the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with (or carrying) corn and bread and meat—probably prepared meats, some sort of delicacy (Clarke)—for his father by the way.
So (literally, and) he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way. The verb רָגַן signifies to be moved or disturbed with any violent emotion, but in particular with anger (Proverbs 29:9; Isaiah 28:21; cf. Sanscr. rag, to move oneself, Gr. ὀργή, anger, Lat. frango, Gerregen), and is here generally understood as an admonition against quarrelling (LXX; μὴ οργιζεσθε; Vulgate, ne irascimini) (Calvin, Dathius, Rosenmüller, Keil, Mur phy, Lange, Alford, et alii), although by others (Tuch, Baumgarten, Michaelis, Gesenius, Kalisch) it is regarded as a dissuasive against fear of any future plot on the part of Joseph.
And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, and told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he (literally, and that he; an emphatic assurance which Keil, following Ewald, renders by" yea," and Kalisch by "indeed") is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's (literally, his, i.e. Jacob's) heart fainted (literally, A few chill, the primary idea of the root being that of rigidity through coldness; cf. πηγνύω, to be rigid, and pigeo, rigeo, frigeo, to be chill. The sense is that Jacob's heart seemed to stop with amazement at the tidings which his sons brought), for he believed them not. This was scarcely a ease of believing not for joy (Bush), but rather of incredulity arising from suspicion, both of the messengers and their message, which was only removed by further explanation, and in particular by the sight of Joseph's splendid presents and commodious carriages. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them:—i.e. about Joseph's invitation and promise (Genesis 45:9-11)—and when he saw the wagons—probably royal vehicles (Wordsworth)—which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived (literally, lived; it having been previously numb and cold, as if dead): and Israel said,—the change of name here is significant. The sublime theocratic designation, which had dropped into obscurity during the period of the old man's sorrow for his lost son, revives with the resuscitation of his dead hope (cf. Genesis 43:6)—It is enough (one word, as if expressing his complacent satisfaction); Joseph my son is yet alive (this is the one thought that fills his aged heart): I will go down—"The old man is young again in spirit; he is for going immediately; he could leap; yes, fly" (Lange)—and see him (a sight of Joseph would be ample compensation for all the years of sorrow he had passed through) before I die. He would then be ready to be gathered to his fathers.
Joseph's invitation to Jacob.
I. AUTHORIZED BY PHARAOH. Though possessed of the liberty to issue such a commission as he had just entrusted to his brethren, Joseph felt that it would be right and proper to have his sovereign's sanction. Accordingly, on mentioning the matter to the king, the required consent was—
1. Immediately obtained. "Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; and take your father and your households, and come unto me." It was also—
2. Sincerely given, as was attested by the royal order to take Egyptian curricles in order to convey the immigrants. "Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come." And, still further, it was—
3. Warmly urged, by a handsome promise—"I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land"—and an earnest exhortation—"Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land Of Egypt is yours."
II. ATTESTED BY JOSEPH. Had the sincerity of Joseph stood in need of any demonstration, it would at once have been supplied by—
1. The splendid carriages he sent from Egypt to convey his father. That they had such an influence upon the heart of Jacob is apparent from the narrative. At first the old man could not bring himself to credit the report which his sons brought; but when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.
2. The valuable presents he bestowed upon his brethren and sent to his father: to each of the ten "changes of raiment;" to Benjamin 300 pieces of silver and five "changes of raiment;" to his father ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she-asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way. Gifts such as these were an index to the love which dwelt in Joseph's heart.
3. The good counsel he addressed to his brethren: "See that ye fall not out by the way." It was not likely if they disagreed among themselves that they would execute successfully the great commission Joseph had entrusted to them. It was a token of his anxiety for their accomplishing his mission that they should unitedly and lovingly address themselves to its performance.
III. REPORTED BY THE BRETHREN. On arriving at Hebron in the land of Canaan the sons of Jacob hastened to unburden themselves of their marvelous intelligence. The invitation of Joseph was detailed—
1. Faithfully. On the last occasion on which they had returned to Hebron with tidings concerning Joseph they had lied, and their father believed them; this time, although the old man believed not, what they said was true: "Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt," adding that he wished his venerable parent to go down to Egypt beside him.
2. Fully. "They told him all the words of Joseph which he had said unto them," not forgetting to deliver him the presents, and point him to the wagons or royal carriages which his son had sent for his conveyance thither.
IV. ACCEPTED BY JACOB. The strange tale to which the old man listened seemed on its first hearing to be incredible. Such a shock did it give to his feeble sensibilities that his heart almost stopped its beating. Apprehending that they were only mocking his already aged and bereaved spirit, he believed them not. But at length the splendid carriages carried conviction to his mind, and he believed—
1. With holy satisfaction. "It is enough." Since this was true, he had no desires unsatisfied below.
2. With paternal love. "Joseph my son" (what tenderness in the words!) "is yet alive."
3. With simple confidence. "I will go down and see him before I die."
HOMILIES BY R.A. REDFORD
The grace of God to his people.
We are now dealing no longer with Joseph's personal history, but brought out into the larger sphere of "the children of Israel" (Genesis 45:21). Already it may be said the Egyptian period in the history of the children of Israel has commenced. Pharaoh comes upon the scene and his servants. All the wealth of Egypt is placed at the command of Israel. The men who had been the transgressors against Joseph are now the mediators of the great change in the condition and prospects of the Israelitish race. The effect upon the old man's heart.—R.
The believer led to his reward.
Jacob's incredulity conquered. His spirit revived. His resolution taken.
I. OUR ENJOYMENT OF WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR US IS DEPENDENT UPON OUR CONFIDENT BELIEF AND EXPECTATION.
1. Separation from the old for the new life involves a struggle with self, with circumstances, with fellow-men.
2. The future must be laid hold of. We must believe that the better place is prepared for us, that the will of God is good.
II. WE GAIN THE VICTORY OVER NATURAL FEARS, DOUBTS, AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WE SIMPLY LOOK AT THE FACTS AS GOD HAS SET THEM BEFORE US, BOTH IN HIS WORD AND IN HIS PROVIDENCE. The men were deceivers. The facts, the wagons, the good things, the blessings plainly sent of God, earnest of the future, would not deceive.
III. THE TRUE FAITH IS THAT WHICH GRATEFULLY ACCEPTS THE INVITATION OF DIVINE GRACE, ACTING UPON IT, BOTH BY THE DECISION OF THE WILL AND BY THE DEVOTION OF THE LIFE. "It is enough, I will go."
IV. THE REWARD WHICH IS PREPARED FOR THE TRUE OBEDIENCE IS MUCH GREATER THAN WE CAN ANTICIPATE. To see Joseph was the patriarch's anticipation. The purpose of God was much larger for him. Joseph and Jacob met in the abundance of Egypt. The earthly pilgrimage leads to the true Goshen. "It is enough." We follow the voice of our God. It hath not entered into our heart to conceive what is before us.—R.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 45". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany