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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Genesis 46

 

 

Verse 1

And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

Israel took his journey with all that he had - that is, his household; for, in compliance with Pharaoh's recommendation, he left his heavy furniture behind. In contemplating a step so important as that of leaving Canaan, which at his time of life he might never revisit, so pious a patriarch would ask the guidance and counsel of God. With all his anxiety to see Joseph, he would rather have died in Canaan, without that highest of earthly gratifications, than leave it without the consciousness of carrying the divine blessing along with him.

Came to Beer-sheba. That place, which was in his direct route to Egypt, had been a favourite encampment of Abraham (Genesis 21:33) and Isaac (Genesis 26:25), and was memorable for their experience of the divine goodness; and Jacob seems to have deferred his public devotions until he had reached a spot so consecrated by covenant to his own God and the God of his fathers.


Verse 2

And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

God spake unto Israel. Here is a virtual renewal of the covenant, and an assurance of its blessings.

Moreover, here is an answer on the chief subject of Jacob's prayer, and a removal of any doubt as to the course he was meditating. At first the prospect of paying a personal visit to Joseph had been viewed with unmingled joy. But, on calmer consideration, many difficulties appeared to lie in the way. He might remember the prophecy to Abraham, that his posterity was to be afflicted in Egypt, and also that his father had been expressly told not to go; he might fear one contamination of idolatry to his family, and their forgetfulness of the land of promise. These doubts were removed by the answer of the oracle, and an assurance given him of great and increasing prosperity.


Verse 3

And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

I will ... make of thee a great nation. How truly this promise was fulfilled, appears in the fact, that the 70 souls who went down into Egypt increased, in the space of 215 years, to an immense multitude (see the note at Exodus 12:37).


Verse 4

I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

I will ... surely bring thee up again. Since Jacob could not expect to live until the former promise was realized, he must have seen that the latter was to be accomplished only to his posterity. To himself it was literally verified in the removal of his remains to Canaan; but, in the large and liberal sense of the words, it was made good only on the establishment of Israel in the land of promise.

Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes - shall perform the last office of filial piety, which was usually reserved to the oldest or the dearest member of the family; and this implied that he should henceforth enjoy, without interruption, the society of that favourite son.


Verse 5

And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba - to cross the border, and settle in Egypt. However refreshed and invigorated in spirit by the religious services at Beer-sheba, he was now borne down by the infirmities of advanced age; and therefore his sons undertook all the trouble and toil of the arrangements, while the enfeebled old patriarch, with the wives and children (see the note at Genesis 45:19), was conveyed, by slow and leisurely stages, in the Egyptian vehicles sent for their accommodation.

Wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. An obvious inquiry is, by what way did they come? 'We read nowhere (says Dr. Robinson, 'Biblical Researches,' 1:, p. 317) of wheeled carriages in connection with the country south of Jerusalem, except where Joseph is said to have sent wagons to bring down his father Jacob into Egypt. These came to Hebron; and Jacob traveled thence to Beer-sheba (Genesis 46:1 : cf. Genesis 45:19; Genesis 45:21; Genesis 45:27). We had this circumstance in mind on our journey from Beer-sheba to Hebron; and long before reaching Dhoheriyeh, we were convinced that wagons for the patriarch could not have passed by that route. Still, by taking a more circuitous course up the great Wady el Khulil, more to the right, they might probably reach Hebron through the valleys without great difficulty.'


Verse 6

And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:

Goods, which they had gotten - not furniture, but substance; precious things. Goods, which they had gotten - not furniture, but substance; precious things.


Verse 7

His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

Daughters - one daughter only is mentioned in the family; but the daughters-in-law are most probably included in the general account of the emigrants that this verse contains.


Verse 8

And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.

These, are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt. The natural impression conveyed by these words is, that the genealogy which follows contains a list of all the members of Jacob's family, of whatever age, whether arrived at manhood or carried in their mother's arms, who, having been born in Canaan, actually removed along with him to Egypt; and the carefulness with which, at the close of the catalogue, the amount of persons comprised in it is summed up, tends to confirm the idea that the apparent is the real and just view of the genealogy. A closer examination, however, will show sufficient grounds for concluding that the genealogy was constructed on a very different principle-not that of naming only those members of Jacob's family who were natives of Canaan, but of enumerating those who at the time of the immigration into Egypt, and during the patriarch's life-time, were the recognized heads of families, in Israel, though some of them, born after the departure from Canaan, could be said to have "come into Egypt" only in the persons of their fathers.


Verse 9

And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

The sons of Rueben. Previous to the second journey to buy grain (Genesis 42:37), Reuben seems to have had only two sons; and since only a short time elapsed after their return, when the whole tribe migrated into Egypt, the third, at all events the fourth son, must have been born in that country.


Verse 10

And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.

The sons of Simeon; Jemuel - or probably, from an error in transcription, Nemuel (Numbers 26:12).

Ohad. His name reappears in the fragmentary list (Exodus 6:15), but does not occur among the heads of families (Numbers 26:12), his posterity, in the extraordinary diminution of the Simeonites, having apparently become extinct either in the wilderness or on the plains of Moab, (Numbers 25:1-18).

Jachin - or Jarib (1 Chronicles 4:24).

Zohar - or Zerah (Numbers 26:13).


Verse 11

And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 12

And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.

The sons of Judah. The five sons here enumerated were previously mentioned (Genesis 38:1-30); but to these are added the names of "Hezron and Hamul," grandsons of Judah. Upon this little clause a grand objection has been raised by Dr. Colenso to the historical credibility of this book, the writer of which, it is alleged, affirms that they were born in Canaan; and this is, by an elaborate calculation, demonstrated to have been an impossibility.

Now, without entering into any conjectures as to the probable age of Judah when he married, for which the sacred history does not furnish any certain data, it is readily admitted that, as the whole period of Jacob's sojourn in Canaan, between his return from Mesopotamia and his emigration to Egypt, was only about 30 years, this interval was too brief for Judah's arriving at a marriageable age-for his marrying Bathshua, who bore him three sons, all of whom successively reached maturity, then for the birth of a fourth son, who in his turn became the father of two sons. If the history contained anything to countenance this mass of impossibilities within the compass of a single year, as alleged, it would indeed be unworthy of credit. It is evident, however, that Pharez must have been still an immature youth at the time of the emigration from Canaan (see the note at Genesis 38:1-30), and that his sons, Hezron and Hamul, instead of coming into Egypt, were born only after the settlement in that country.

The fact is, that the clause under review forms not a part of the continuous narrative, but is a parenthetical sentence, separated in our English translation by a full period, and inserted to give the information, that as two of Judah's sons, Er and Onan, had died without issue, their place was supplied by Hezron and Hamul, whom Providence raised up and substituted in their stead, to be heads of Israelite families. This view of the isolated and independent position of the clause is corroborated by its grammatical structure. [The Hebrew text has wayih


Verse 13

And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.

The sons of Issachar - Phuvah or Pua, Job or Jashub (Numbers 26:23).


Verse 14

And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 15

These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three. Dinah. She and Serah (Genesis 46:17) are the only two females mentioned in this catalogue. Judging from the plan followed in other genealogical lists, respecting the introduction of female names, the insertion of the two women in this genealogy might have been dictated by reasons which, although well understood at the time, we may find it difficult to discover. Luther suggests that the reason of Dinah being mentioned might be, that she had become the housekeeper upon the death of Jacob's wives.


Verse 16

And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

The sons of Gad - Ziphion, or Zephon, Ezbon, or Ozni (Numbers 26:15-16).


Verse 17

And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.

The sons of Asher - Ishuah, Isui. It accords with Oriental taste to have such rhyming names in families (cf. Genesis 22:21).

The sons of Beriah - Heber and Malchiel; not 'were' Heber and Malchiel; and hence, it is probable that they had been born in Canaan. These grandsons of Asher are enumerated here, because they appear as heads of families (Numbers 26:45).


Verse 18-19

These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 20

And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

Manasseh and Ephraim - (see the note at Genesis 41:50-51.) Ephraim and Manasseh, though born in Egypt, are classed in this catalogue as being heads of families (Numbers 26:28). The Septuagint inserts here, from 1 Chronicles 7:14-22, the five sons of Manasseh and Ephraim.


Verse 21

And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

The sons of Benjamin. Ten are enumerated in this verse; and Dr. Colenso suggests that this large family may have been produced by different wives. But without dwelling on the prima facie improbability of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob, having a more numerous household than any of his brethren, all the statements made respecting him-such as that he was "a little one" (Genesis 44:20), that he was born after Joseph's abduction, because Jacob related the incidents to Joseph as new intelligence (Genesis 48:7), and that he was still a young man over whom his father exercised a parental control (Genesis 42:38; Genesis 43:3-13) - militate against the likelihood of his having become, before the emigration to Egypt, the father of so many sons. He was at the most about 22 years of age, and probably under it. Accordingly, a careful inspection will lead to the discovery that in this list of his sons are included grandsons and a great-grandson too.

The first three were Benjamin's own sons: Belah or Bela, Becher, and Ashbel or Jediael (Numbers 26:38; 1 Chronicles 7:6; 1 Chronicles 8:1). Gera, Naaman, and Ard or Addar, were sons of Bela. Ehi or Ahiram (Numbers 26:38), or Aharah (1 Chronicles 8:1). Rosh being not found in other copies of this genealogy, a very probable conjecture has been made, that the letter waw (w) at the beginning has been mistaken for gimel (g); and so the first three letters would make Gera, a name which is repeated in 1 Chronicles 8:5; and then shin (sh), the last letter of Rosh, being prefixed to the following, will make Shemuppim or Shupham (Numbers 26:39), or Shuppim (1 Chronicles 7:12), or Shephuphan (1 Chronicles 8:5). How little ground does there now appear for the allegation that Benjamin had a family of ten sons born to him in Canaan! [The Septuagint mentions only nine children of Benjamin in various degrees of descent-namely, three sons, five grandsons, and one great-grandson. Huioi de Beniamin; Bala kai Bochor kai Asbeel, egenonto de huioi Bala Geera kai Noeman kai Angchis kai Roos kai Mamphem; Geera de egenneese ton Arad, and Gera begat Arad (Ard).]


Verse 22

These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen. No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 23

And the sons of Dan; Hushim.

The sons of Dan - Hushim or Shusham (Numbers 26:42).


Verse 24-25

And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 26

All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt. The emigration to Egypt, being a new starting-point in the history of Israel, became an epoch from which time was calculated; and in this latitude of meaning, the words "All the souls that came with Jacob," are to be taken just as the accompanying phrase, "which came out of his loins," is also to be taken widely; because it includes in this genealogy not only his sons, but some of his grandsons, as the word "sons" frequently signifies in Scripture.

Another example of such a loose general statement occurs in this same genealogy as here. It is said (Genesis 46:15), "These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram;" - that being the native country of most of Jacob family, though several of the names comprehended in the previous list are those of his grandsons born in Canaan. On the whole, as the numerous retinue of servants and retainers who belonged to the tribe, which, with their immense flocks and herds, required a large tract of country in Egypt to be appropriated to their sole use, are excluded from this catalogue; and as not even the wives of the sons, who were probably of the families of Esau, Ishmael, Keturah, were taken into the enumeration, "All the souls" must be considered as limited to "the house of Jacob" (Genesis 46:27) - for they were the aristocracy of the nation, and they only were considered worthy of distinct record, as the ancestry of Israel-the pure original stock from which, when transplanted into Egypt, it grew into a nation.


Verse 27

And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

All the souls ... were threescore and ten. It appears, by comparing this with the preceding verse, that all the persons enumerated were 70, including in that number Jacob himself, Joseph, and his two sons. The following is a tabular view of the genealogy: In considering this genealogical list, in which the children of Jacob are reckoned by their several mothers, it appears distinguished by a few striking features-First, the great preponderance of sons. 'It was a mark of the divine wisdom, which always directed the births in the chosen family, that there should have been so large an excess of males in Jacob's family. It was of the greatest importance to guard against any intermarriages with the Canaanites, lest the stream of pagan corruption should break through the barriers by which this family was kept apart. Since, however, the immediate posterity of Jacob consisted chiefly of sons, it would be easier to overcome the difficulties, and there would also be less danger connected with the marriage of one of Jacob's sons or grandsons to a pagan wife, than with the marriage of a daughter to a pagan husband. The subordinate position of the wife would render the foyer of comparatively slight importance; but in the latter case the daughter would actually separate herself from the chosen family and from the covenant of Yahweh.'

Second, as a general rule, Jacob's sons and grandsons married among their paternal kindred. The case of Simeon (Genesis 46:10) is noticed as exceptional, as was also that of Judah (Genesis 38:2), the prevailing practice being to select wives from the families of Ishmael, Keturah, or Edom.

Third, since the twelve sons of Jacob founded the twelve tribes, so their sons, i:e., Jacob's grandsons, were the founders of the families into which the tribes were subdivided, unless these grandsons died without leaving children, or did not leave a sufficient number of male descendants to form independent families, or the natural rule for the formation of tribes and families was set aside by other events or causes. 'On this hypothesis we

[image]explain the peculiarities of this genealogy and the differences that appear between it and Numbers 26:1-65.' (Delitzsch).


Verse 28

And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

Sent Judah before him unto Joseph. This precautionary measure was obviously proper for apprising the king of the entrance of so large a company within his territories; moreover, it was necessary in order to receive instruction from Joseph as to the locale of their future settlement, and then to act as guide to it (see the note at Genesis 47:6-11).


Verse 29-30

And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.

And Joseph made ready his chariot. The difference between chariot and wagon was not only in the lighter and more elegant construction of the former, but in the one being drawn by horses, if it be true that the shepherd kings introduced these (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' b. 2:, chapter cciii., note), and the other by oxen. Being a public man in Egypt, Joseph was required to appear everywhere in a horse-drawn carriage suitable to his dignity; and therefore it was not owing either to pride or ostentatious parade that he drove his carriage, while his father's family were accomodated only in rude and humble wagons.

Went up - i:e., north to Goshen.

Presented himself - literally, showed himself, appeared. This form of the verb is frequently used to denote the appearance of Yahweh, or an angel, to men (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 17:1; Genesis 18:1), and here applied to describe the splendour of Joseph.

And wept on his neck a good while - literally, continuously, uninterruptedly. The Septuagint has, 'wept with a copious weeping.' The interview was a most affecting one-the happiness of the delighted father was now at its height; and life having no higher charms, he could, in the very spirit of the aged Simeon, have departed in peace.


Verses 31-34

And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;

And Joseph said ... I will go up, and show Pharaoh. It was a tribute of respect due to the king to apprise him of their arrival. And the instructions which he gave them were worthy of his character alike as an affectionate brother and a religious man.

His father's house. This phrase, used in distinction from "his brethren," must be considered as denoting the whole Israelite clan.

Verse 34. In the land of Goshen - [Septuagint, en gee Gesem Arabias.] This expression of the Greek translators seems to denote generally that part of the Delta which bordered on the eastern desert, and on only one part of which, at first, the Hebrews entered into possession (Drew, 'Scripture Lands').

For every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. This reason is assigned by Joseph for desiring to obtain a settlement for his father's house in a separate locality, in order that they might be kept away from much contact with the Egyptians, those manners and pursuits, above all, whose religion was very different from theirs. The hatred and contempt cherished by the old Egyptians for all classes of herdsmen was manifested by their ranking these in the lowest class of society, refusing to intermarry with them, forbidding them to enter the temples, and depicting them on the monuments as lean, sordid, wretched-looking creatures (Rawlinson's 'Herod.,' b. 2:, chapter 47:, 128,164). If, as some Egyptologers hold, from the thoroughly Egyptian character of the court in Joseph's time, that the shepherd kings had been expelled shortly before his arrival in that country, the vivid remembrance of their invasion would intensify the native feeling against shepherds. But those who consider Joseph's royal patron to have been Apepi or Aphophis, of the dynasty of Hyk-shos, or shepherd kings (see the note at Genesis 41:1-57), interpret Joseph's language in a very different way from our translators. [Some, taking tow`eebaah (Hebrew #8441) to bear a double meaning, as anathema (Greek #331) in Greek, and sacer in Latin, render it 'every shepherd is sacred unto the Egyptians' (cf. Exodus 8:26); and Savile ('Science and Revelation'), considering that tow`eebaah (Hebrew #8441) frequently signifies 'idols,' and that in unpointed Hebrew the words ro`eeh ts'on, translated "shepherd," mean 'consecrated goats,' renders the clause 'every consecrated goat is an object of idolatry or worship with the Egyptians.']

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 46:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-46.html. 1871-8.

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