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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Genesis 46

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 46:1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

Ver. 1. And came to Beersheba.] A place, (1.) Consecrated to God’s worship; (2.) Where he and his fathers had met God, and received many mercies; (3.) That lay in his way from Hebron to Egypt. But say it had been out of his way; yet it had been nothing out of his way to go thither and seek God. A whet is no let; a bait by the way no hindrance; the oiling of the wheel furthers the journey. As it is, Tithe, and be rich; so, Pray, and be prosperous. But say it should be some prejudice; Is it not wisdom to make God’s service costly to us? Cannot he make us amends? "give us much more than the hundred talents?" [2 Chronicles 25:9] Is anything lost by his service? Prayer furthers thrift. The night of Popery will shame many of us; who in their superstitious zeal had this proverb, Mass and meat hindereth no man’s thrift. The very heathen offered sacrifices when they took journeys, as Festus witnesseth. (a)


Verse 2

Genesis 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here [am] I.

Ver. 2. Here am I.] Josephus tells us, (a) he said, Who is there? He seems never seriously to have read the Bible; but only in transcursu, et quasi aliud agens. Is not that then a proper excuse for the Church of Rome’s sacrilege, in robbing the common people of the Holy Scriptures, that she allows them to read Josephus, where they may find the history of the Old Testament more plainly and plentifully set forth than in the Bible! But Barclay, (b) that made this apology, was of the mind, belike, of Walter Mapes, sometime archdeacon of Oxford, who, relating the gross simony (traffic in sacred things) of the Pope, for confirming the election of Reginald, bastard son to Jocelin, bishop of Sarum into the see of Bath, concludes his narration thus: Sit tamen domina materque nostra Roma baculus in aqua fractus, et absit credere quae vidimus; { c} howbeit, far be it from us to believe our own eyes.


Verse 3

Genesis 46:3 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:

Ver. 3. Fear not to go down into Egypt.] Cause of fear he might see sufficient; but God would have him not to look downward on the rushing and roaring streams of miseries that ran so swiftly under him and his posterity, but steadfastly fasten on his power and providence, who was his God, and the God of his father. He loves to perfect his strength in our weakness; as Elijah would have the sacrifice covered with water, that God’s power might the more appear in the fire from heaven.


Verse 4

Genesis 46:4 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.

Ver. 4. I will go down with thee.] That was as good security as could be. For if Caesar could say to the fearful ferryman, in a terrible storm, Be of good cheer, thou carriest Caesar, and therefore canst not miscarry; (a) how much more may he presume to be safe that hath God in his company! A child in the dark fears nothing while he hath his father by the hand.

And I will also surely bring thee up again.] So saith God to his dying people when they are to enter into the grave. He will surely bring them back from the jaws of death to the joys of eternal life. Yea, by rotting, he will refine their frail bodies; as the goldsmith melts a picture of gold, or bruised piece of plate that is out of fashion, to make it up better.

And Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.] An ancient and an honourable custom, in use among the Romans also, as Pliny tells us. The eyes are commonly open, lift up to heaven, when men are dying; unless they be such as that pope was, who, breathing out his last, said, Now I shall know whether the soul be immortal, or not. (b) Or that desperate advocate in the court of Rome, mentioned by Bellarmine, who, dying, used these words, Ego propero ad inferos, neque est, ut aliquid pro me agat Deus. But Jacob had hope in his death; and Joseph had the honour of closing up those eyes, that shall shortly "see God" again "in the flesh." [Job 19:26]


Verse 5

Genesis 46:5 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.

Ver. 5. And Jacob rose up from Beersheba.] The word "rose up" is emphatical, and imports that his heart was lightened, and his joints oiled and nimbled, as it were, with the heavenly vision. As when he had seen God at Bethel, he "lift up his feet," and went on his way lustily; [Genesis 29:1] so here, as fast as his old legs would carry him; as Father Latimer said to Ridley, when they were going to the stake. (a) And as it is recorded of good old Rawlins White, martyr; that whereas before he was wont to go stooping, or rather crooked, through infirmity of age, having a sad countenance and very feeble complexion, and, with it, very soft in speech and gesture; now he went and stretched up himself, not only bolt upright, as he went to the stake, but also bare, with it, a most pleasant and comfortable countenance, not without great courage and audacity, both in speech and behaviour. (b) In like sort, Jacob here, having sought God, and received a gracious promise of his presence and protection, rose up merrily from Beersheba, and doubts not to follow God whithersoever he shall lead him.


Verse 6

Genesis 46:6 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:

Ver. 6. And they took their cattle, and their goods.] Though Pharaoh sent to them they should not, yet, not willing to be much chargeable, they brought that they had. It is a happiness so to live with others as not to be much beholden; but rather helpful, than burdensome. He that receives a courtesy, we say, sells his liberty: and "the borrower is servant to the lender." [Proverbs 22:7] St Paul glories in this to the liberal Corinthians, that when he was present with them he was "chargeable to no man." [2 Corinthians 11:9] Oυ κατεναρκησα ουδενος; (a) dunned no man, I was no man’s parasite. He was not of those that "served not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies." [Romans 16:18] The Duke of Bavaria’s house is so pestered with friars and Jesuits that, notwithstanding the greatness of his revenue, he is very poor; as spending all his estate upon these Popish parasites. Such among the Turks are the Dervislars and Imailers, that under pretence of religion, live, like body lice, upon other men’s sweat and labours. (b)


Verse 7

Genesis 46:7 His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

Ver. 7. His daughters, and his sons’ daughters.] That is, by a synecdoche, integri; his niece Serah, and his daughter Dinah, who came down with the rest into Egypt; and therefore was not Job’s wife, as the Jews would persuade us.


Verse 12

Genesis 46:12 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.

Ver. 12. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron.] Hezron and Hamul, not yet born, are reckoned instead of Er and Onan, who were dead before the descent into Egypt. See Funccius’s Chronolog. Comment., A.M. 2273.


Verse 26

Genesis 46:26 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;

Ver. 26. Which came out of his loins.] Heb., e femore eius. A modest description of generation, by the instrumental and material cause thereof. And because it is said, that so many souls came out of Jacob’s body, Augustine (a) moves the question here, whether souls also are not begotten, as well as bodies? And when the learned father demurred, and would not presently determine the point, a rash young man, one Vincentius Victor, as Chemnitius relates it, boldly censured the father’s unresolvedness, and vaunted that he would undertake to prove by demonstration that souls are created, de novo, by God; for which peremptory rashness the father returned the young man a sober reprehension. But souls are doubtless here put for persons, which the Latins call capita.


Verse 27

Genesis 46:27 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.

Ver. 27. Threescore and ten.] St Stephen reckons seventy-five. [Acts 7:14] And so the Greek translateth here, which Stephen seemeth to follow; as doth likewise St Luke for Cainan; [Luke 3:36] that translation being then received, and they not willing to alter it. The Jews say, that these seventy souls were as much as all the seventy nations of the world. And Moses tells them, that whereas their fathers went down into Egypt with seventy souls, now Jehovah had made them "as the stars of heaven for multitude." [Deuteronomy 10:22]


Verse 28

Genesis 46:28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

Ver. 28. And he sent Judah before him.] "A good man guides his affairs with discretion"; [Psalms 112:5] doth all things decently, and in order. It was great "joy" to the apostle to behold the Colossians’ "order." [Colossians 2:5]


Verse 29

Genesis 46:29 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.

Ver. 29. Presented himself unto him.] Joseph, a prince, was no whit ashamed of the poor old shepherd his father, before so many his peers, and other courtiers, that accompanied him and loathed such kind of persons. Colonel Edmonds is much commended for his ingenuous reply to a countryman of his, recently come to him, into the Low Countries, out of Scotland. This fellow desiring entertaimnent of him, told him, my lord his father, and such knights and gentlemen his cousins and kinsmen, were in good health. Quoth Colonel Edmonds, Gentlemen (to his friends by), believe not one word he says; my father is but a poor baker; whom this knave would make a lord, to curry favour with me, and make you believe I am a great man born. (a) {See Trapp on "Genesis 22:10"}

And he fell on his neck, and wept, &c.] For exceeding joy. What then shall be the meeting of saints in heaven! Christ shall say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father." As if he should say, Where have ye been all this while, my dear brethren? It was a part of his joy, when he was on earth, "that we should be with him where he is, to behold his glory." [John 17:24] And this he now prays not, but, "Father I will that they be with me"; as that which he had merited for them. And now, what joy will there be, to see them and suaviate them, for whose sake he shed his most precious blood; through which they may safely sail into the bosom of the Father! Surely, if Plotinus the philosopher could say, Let us make haste to our heavenly country; there is our Father, there are all our friends; (b) how much more triumphantly may Christians say so! If Cicero could say, O praeclarum diem, cure ad illum animorum concilium caetumque proficiscar! &c.; Oh, what a brave day will that be, when I shall go to that council and company of happy souls! to my Cato, and other Roman worthies, dead before me; - how (c) much more may Christians exult, to think of that glorious "nightless day" ( ανεσπερον ημεραν), as Nazianzen calls it, when they shall be admitted into the congregation house ( πανηγυριν) of the firstborn, [Hebrews 12:23] as the apostle calls heaven; and joyfully welcomed by Abraham, David, Paul, &c., who shall be no less glad of their, than of their own happiness! Who can conceive the comfort of Jacob and Joseph, - or of those two cousins, Mary and Elizabeth, - at their first meeting? But for the joys of heaven, it is as impossible to comprehend them, as to compass heaven itself with a span, or contain the ocean in a nut shell. They are such, saith Augustine, ut quicquid homo dixerit, quasi gutta de mari, quasi scintilla de foco. (d) If the presence of Christ, though but in the womb, made John to spring, and dance a galliard, as the word imports ( εσκιρτησεν εν αγαλλιασει, Luke 1:44); what shall it do when we come to heaven! Sermo non valet exprimere experimento opus est, saith Chrysostom. It is more fit to be believed, than possible to be discoursed, saith Prosper. Nec Christus nec caelum patitur hyperbolen, saith another. The apostle, after he had spoken of glorification, breaks forth by way of admiration, into these words; "What shall we say to these things?," [Romans 8:31] these "wordless words!" as he phraseth it ( αρρηστα ρηματα, 2 Corinthians 12:4); and ever uttereth himself, in a transcendent expression, as 2 Corinthians 4:17, where he calleth it "a weight of glory"; such as, if the body were not by the power of God upheld, it were not able to bear. Jacob could hardly hear the news of Joseph, and live: but when once he saw him; "Now let me die," saith he.


Verse 30

Genesis 46:30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou [art] yet alive.

Ver. 30. Vow let me die.] What would this good old man have said, had he seen Christ in the flesh, which was one of Augustine’s three wishes? (a) How merrily would he have sung out his soul, as Simeon did, [Luke 2:29-30] who had long looked for the consolation of Israel; and having now laid in his heart what he lapt in his arms, cries, "Nunc dimittis Domine": I fear no sin, I dread no death (as one Englisheth it): I have lived enough, I have my life: I have longed enough, I have my love: I have seen enough, I have my light: I have served enough, I have my saint: I have sorrowed enough, I have my joy. Sweet babe! let this song serve for a lullaby to thee, and a funeral for me. Oh, sleep in my arms; and let me sleep in thy peace.

Because thou art yet alive.] If this were so great a matter to Jacob, what should it be to us, that Christ was dead, and is alive; yea, that he ever lives to make request for us; and that he stands at the right hand of his Father, when any Stephen of his is stoned, [Acts 7:56] as ready prest to interpose between them and any harm that may thereby come unto them! If Seneca could say to his Polybius, Fas tibi non est, salvo Caesare de fortuna tun queri; how much less cause have we to complain, so long as Christ is alive! Can our hearts die within us, while our head is the Lord of life, yea, "our life," as St Paul calls him? [Colossians 3:4]


Verse 32

Genesis 46:32 And the men [are] shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

Ver. 32. The men are shepherds.] The truly virtuous or valorous are no whit ashamed of their lowly parentage, but rather glory in themselves, that their merit hath advanced them above so many thousands far better descended. Dr Cox, almoner, and Sir John Cheek, tutor, to King Edward VI, were men of lowly birth, but so well esteemed, saith the historian, (a) for virtue and learning, that they might well be said to be born of themselves. So were Iphicrates, that brave Athenian, the son of a cobbler; Eumenes, one of Alexander’s best captains, the son of a carter; Agathocles king of Sicily, of a potter, &c. And these would many times freely discourse of their beginning, and plainly relate their bringing up, and what their parents were.

And they have brought their flocks.] As choosing rather a poor shepherd’s life in God’s service, than to ruffle it as courtiers, out of the Church. So did Moses afterwards; and David; [Psalms 84:10] and the poor prophet that died so deep in debt; and Micaiah; and those that "wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins," [Hebrews 11:37] who haply might have rustled in silks and velvets, if they would have strained their consciences. Origen was contented to be a poor catechist at Alexandria, every day in fear of death, when he might have been with his fellow pupil Plotinus, in great authority and favour, if not a Christian. Luther was offered a cardinalship, to have held his tongue; Galeacius Caracciohs, a great sum of gold, to have returned to his marquesdom in Italy, &c. God takes it kindly when men will go "after him in the wilderness, in a land not sown"; [Jeremiah 2:2] that is, choose him and his ways in affliction, and with self-denial.


Verse 33

Genesis 46:33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What [is] your occupation?

Ver. 33. When Pharaoh shall call you.] At Athens every man gave a yearly account to the magistrate, by what trade, or course of life, he maintained himself; which if he could not do, he was banished. (a) By the law, Mahomet, the great Turk, himself is bound to exercise some manual trade or occupation, for none must be idle: as Solyman the Magnificent’s trade was making of arrow heads; Achmat the Last’s, horn rings for archers, &c.


Verse 34

Genesis 46:34 That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, [and] also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd [is] an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Ver. 34. Thy servants’ trade hath been, &c.] They were not ashamed of their trade, though low and despicable. Malo miserandum quam erubescendum, saith Tertullian. (a) No lawful calling, but hath an honour put upon it by God; unlawful only are shameful. Ask a poor scavenger what his occupation is, he will answer, I am a scavenger; water bearer, &c. Ask a usurer, gamester, &c., that question; and he will not say, I am a usurer, &c.

That ye may dwell in the land of Goshen.] Which, as it was next to the land of Canaan, so it was most fat, fertile, and fit for their cattle. Sumen totius regionis, the like to Egypt, that Campania was to Italy; of which Florus thus writeth: Nihil mollius caelo, nihil uberius solo, nihil hospitalius mari, &c. Liberi, Cererisque certamen dicitur. (b)

For every shepherd is an abomination, &c.] An Israelite is still an abomination to an Egyptian, the righteous to the wicked, [Proverbs 29:27] and will be to the world’s end. And there is no love lost between them. The shepherds of Israel especially, are by profane great ones thought scarce worthy to wait upon their trenchers; the baser sort make songs of them, and the abjeets vilify them. Papists make more of hedge priests, than most among us do of powerful preachers: a sad forerunner of the departure of the gospel. If dishonour kept Christ from Nazareth, [John 4:44] much more will it it drive him thence when he is come.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 46:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-46.html. 1865-1868.

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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