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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Genesis 45

 

 

Verse 1

Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and 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.

Then Joseph could not refrain. The severity of the inflexible magistrate here gives way to the natural feelings of the man and the brother. However well he had disciplined his mind, he felt it impossible to resist the artless eloquence of Judah. He saw a satisfactory proof, in the return of all his brethren on such an occasion, that they were affectionately united to one another; he had heard enough to convince him that time, reflection, or grace had made a happy improvement on their character; and he would probably have proceeded in a calm and leisurely manner to reveal himself as prudence might have dictated. But when he heard the heroic self-sacrifice of Judah, and realized all the affection of that proposal-a proposal for which he was totally unprepared-he was completely unmanned: he felt himself forced to bring this painful trial to an end. It is impossible for anyone whose taste can relish genuine, simple nature, not to be deeply affected with Judah's speech as it is in the Pentateuch. On reading it we are perfectly prepared for the effect which it produced on his unknown brother. We see, we feel, that humanity, natural affection, could hold out no longer. In Josephus, Judah's speech is a very different kind of performance-something so cold, so far-fetched, so artificial both in sentiments and in language, that it savours more of one who had been educated in the schools of the Greek sophists than of those plain, artless, patriarchal shepherds (Campbell's 'Lectures on Ecclesiastical History,' vol. 1:, pp. 19,20). The impression, however, produced by the resistless pathos of the speech is greatly weakened by the injudicious division of the chapter.

He cried, Cause every man to go out. In ordering the departure of witnesses of this last scene, he acted as a warm-hearted and real friend to his brothers-his conduct was dictated by motives of the highest prudence-that of preventing their early iniquities from becoming known either to the members of his household or among the people of Egypt.


Verse 2

And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.

He wept aloud - no doubt from the fullness of highly-excited feelings; but to indulge in vehement and long-continued transports of sobbing is the usual way in which the Orientals express their grief.


Verse 3

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.

I am Joseph. The emotions that now rose in the breast of himself, as well as his brethren-and chased each other in rapid succession-were many and violent. He was agitated by sympathy and joy;-they were astonished, confounded, terrified, and betrayed their terror by shrinking as far as they could from his presence. So "troubled" were they that he had to repeat his announcement of himself; and what kind, affectionate terms did he use. He spoke of their having sold him, not to wound their feelings, but to convince them of his identity; and then, to re-assure their minds, he traced the agency of an overruling Providence in his exile and present honour. Not that he wished them to roll the responsibility of their crime on God: no, his only object was to allay their deeply-agitated feelings, to encourage their confidence, and induce them to trust in the plans he had formed for the future comfort of their father and themselves.


Verse 4-5

And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 6

For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

For ... yet ... five years ... neither be caring nor harvest. Ear is an old English word, meaning to plow (cf. 1 Samuel 8:12; Isaiah 30:24). This seems to confirm the view given (Genesis 41:57) that the famine was caused by an extraordinary drought, which prevented the annual overflowing of the Nile, and of course made the land unfit to receive the seed of Egypt.


Verse 7

And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 8

So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

It was not you that sent me hither, but God. This statement must not be interpreted more strictly than the general tenor of the history warrants-certainly not as implying that the commission of the outrageous abduction of Joseph by his brethren was necessitated by anything like a direct, compulsory influence upon their minds. The strong phraseology in which the declaration was made is to be ascribed to the special circumstances of the speaker; and the meaning which underlies the expression is evidently this-That as nothing, whether great or small, important or trivial, can happen without God's will, His wisdom and providence had ordered a train of circumstances, so that bad and malignant individuals, subjected to their providence had ordered a train of circumstances, so that bad and malignant individuals, subjected to their influence, were induced to commit the crime of selling Joseph.

And he hath made me a father to Pharaoh , [ 'aab (Hebrew #1)] - father of the king; his vizier. [So Haman is said to be deuteros (Greek #1208) pater (Greek #3962) to Artaxerxes-Septuagint, Esth. .] Compare also Turkish Atabek, i:e., father-prince, and Lala, father, spoken of the vizier (Gesenius). But the expression, as illustrated by the tenor of the history and by the usage of the inspired writers (Job 29:16; Psalms 68:6; Isaiah 22:21), signifies not only vizier, but provider, benefactor.


Verses 9-13

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, tarry not:

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 14-15

And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

And he fell upon ... Benjamin's neck. The sudden transition from a condemned criminal to a fondled brother might have occasioned fainting, or even death, had not his tumultuous feelings been relieved by a torrent of tears. But Joseph's attentions were not confined to Benjamin. He affectionately embraced each one of his brothers in succession; and by those actions his forgiveness was demonstrated more fully than it could be by words.


Verse 16

And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 17-20

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;

Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren. Since Joseph might have been prevented by delicacy, the king himself invited the patriarch and all his family to migrate into Egypt, and made most liberal arrangements for their removal and their subsequent settlement. It displays the character of this Pharaoh to advantage, that he was so kind to the relatives of Joseph; but, indeed, the greatest liberality he could show could never recompense the services of so great a benefactor to his kingdom.

Verse 19. Your little ones , [ l


Verse 21

And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

Joseph gave them wagons - which must have been novelties in Palestine; because wheeled carriages were, and are almost unknown there.


Verse 22

To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.

Changes of raiment. It was and is customary with great men to bestow upon their friends dresses of distinction; and in places where they are of the same description and quality, the value of these presents consists in their number (Job 27:16; Isaiah 3:6; James 5:2). The great number given to Benjamin bespoke the warmth of his brother's attachment to him; and Joseph felt, from the amiable temper they now all displayed, he might with perfect safety indulge this fond partiality for a mother's son.


Verse 23

And to his father he sent after this manner; 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.

To his father he sent - a supply of everything that could contribute to his support and comfort-the large and liberal scale on which that supply was given being intended, like the five portions of Benjamin, as a token of his filial love.


Verse 24

So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.

So he sent his brethren away. In dismissing them on their homeward journey he gave them this parting admonition, "See that ye fall not out by the way" - a caution that would be greatly needed; because not only during the journey would they be occupied in recalling the parts they had respectively acted in the events that led to Joseph s being sold into Egypt, but their wickedness would soon have to come to the knowledge of their venerable father, Jacob.

Fall not out , [ 'al (Hebrew #408) tirg


Verse 25

And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,

They went up out of Egypt. The Hebrews considered what lay to the north as higher, and what lay southward as lower. Accordingly, those who traveled from Egypt to Palestine (which was north) went up (cf. Genesis 12:10; Genesis 26:2; Genesis 46:3).

 


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 45:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-45.html. 1871-8.

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