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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Genesis 47

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 47:1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they [are] in the land of Goshen.

Ver. l. Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh.] This was great wisdom in him, to do nothing for his friends, though he were so great a favourite, without the king’s privity and approbation. There wanted not those that waited for his halting; envy attends upon honour, (a) and always aimeth at the highest; as the tallest trees are weakest at the tops. Melancthon tells us he once saw a certain ancient piece of coin, having on the one side Zopyrus, on the other Zoilus. It was an emblem of kings’ courts, saith he; (b) where calumnies accompany the well-deserving, as they did Daniel, Datames, Hannibal, (c) &c. Difficillimum inter mortales est gloria invidiam vincere, saith Sallust. (d) How potent that quick-sighted and sharp-fanged malignity is, we may guess by that question, Proverbs 27:4.


Verse 2

Genesis 47:2 And he took some of his brethren, [even] five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.

Ver. 2. Even five men.] R. Solomon telleth us (but who told him?) which five they were; sc., Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and Benjamin.


Verse 3

Genesis 47:3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What [is] your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants [are] shepherds, both we, [and] also our fathers.

Ver. 3. What is your occupation?] That they had an occupation Pharaoh took for granted. God made Leviathan to play in the sea; [Psalms 104:26] but none to do so upon earth. Turks and Pagans will rise up in judgment against the idle. {See Trapp on "Genesis 46:33"} Periander made a law at Corinth, that whosoever could not prove that he lived by his honest labour, he should suffer as a thief. The apostle bids "him that stole steal no more, but labour with his hands the thing that is good," &c. [Ephesians 4:28] Not to labour, then, with hand, or head, or both, is to steal. Every one must bring some honey into the common hive, unless he will be cast out as a drone. (a) "Thou idle and evil servant," saith our Saviour. [Matthew 25:26] To be idle, then, is to be evil; and he shall not but do naughtily that does nothing. God wills that men should earn their bread afore they eat it, [2 Thessalonians 3:12] neither may they make religion a mask for idleness. [Genesis 47:11]


Verse 4

Genesis 47:4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine [is] sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

Ver. 4. For to sojourn in the land are we come.] And had they returned home again after the death of Joseph, they had taken a right course for themselves. But as God had otherwise decreed it, so they thought it best being there; and, therefore, not without their own fault, they fell into servitude.


Verse 5

Genesis 47:5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:

Ver. 5. And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph.] Kind he was, and constant, to so good a servant; as Darius likewise was to his Zopyrus, whom he preferred before the taking of twenty Babylons; (a) the King of Poland to his noble servant Zelislaus, to whom he sent a golden hand, instead of that hand he lost in his wars (b)


Verse 6

Genesis 47:6 The land of Egypt [is] before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest [any] men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

Ver. 6. If thou knowest any men of activity.] Or ability of body and mind; such as "Jeroboam, a mighty man of valour," [1 Kings 11:28] and fit for the work; prudent and diligent, ingenious and industrious, that hath a dexterity and handiness to the business. Such St Paul would have all Christians to be. [Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14] "Let them that have believed in God," saith he, "be careful to maintain good works," or profess honest trades, "for necessary uses," and that therein they be their crafts masters, and excel others, Aιεν αριστευειν και υπειροχον εμμεναι αλλων. This was Cicero’s posy from his youth, as himself witnesseth. And Plutarch tells us that all his strife and drift was, all his life long, to leave others behind him, and to be the best at anything he ever undertook. (a) This should he every man’s endeavour in his place and station, as that which is "good before God, and profitable unto men," as the apostle there subjoineth. Solomon also assures us that such shall "stand before kings," and not live long in a low place. [Proverbs 22:29]


Verse 7

Genesis 47:7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

Ver. 7. Jacob blessed Pharaoh.] That is, he prayed God to bless him, both at meeting and parting. To salute is comely: but see that ye be hearty, not frothy; prayerful, not complimental. We are heirs of blessing, and must therefore be free of it. [1 Peter 3:9]


Verse 8

Genesis 47:8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old [art] thou?

Ver. 8. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob.] This king took not pleasure, as those Persian kings did, in a wild retiredness, or stern austerity, but in a mild affableness, and heart attracting courtesy, He shows not himself strange or stoical, but sweet and sociable. So Atticus seemed in his carriage, cornraunls infimis, par principibus. Adrian, the Emperor, would most courteously confer with the lowest. Vespasian was wont, not only to greet the chief senators, but even private persons; inviting them many times to his table; himself again going to their houses, especially if he found them learned and virtuous. (a) Pharaoh might find Jacob both these; and so make very good use of him, as his faithful counsellor. Princes had learned men ever with them, called monitors or remembrancers ( μνημονες): as Dio had his Plato; Scipio, his Polybius, &c. Abimelech made much of Abraham, and afterwards of Isaac; some think it was for their skill in physic and astronomy. (b) Why might not Pharaoh find and favour the same worth in Jacob, and learn the same wisdom from him, that his senators, by his appointment, did of his son Joseph?


Verse 9

Genesis 47:9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage [are] an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

Ver. 9. The days of the years of my pilgrimage.] All saints here are sojourners, all good people "pilgrims and strangers." [1 Peter 2:11 Hebrews 11:13-14] Far they are from home, and meet with hard measure; as Israel did in Egypt; as those three worthies in Babylon. [Daniel 3:23] Their manners are of another manner: hence the world owns them not. [John 15:19] But God both owns and honours them; he knows their whole way; [Psalms 1:6] "leads them in his hand"; [Isaiah 63:13] "guides them with his eye"; [Psalms 32:8] "bears them in his bosom," [Isaiah 40:11] when ways are rough and rugged; provides "mansions" [John 14:2-3] for them, where they shall "rest in their beds," [Isaiah 57:2] feast "with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," [Matthew 8:11] walk arm in arm with angels, [Zechariah 3:7] be "gathered to their people," [Genesis 25:8 Hebrews 12:23] to their God, to their Christ," &c. - Provided that, in the meanwhile, they "set their faces towards Sion, inquiring the way"; [Jeremiah 50:4-5] that they walk therein "from strength to strength"; [Psalms 84:7] that they take in good part any kindness, as Ruth did; [Ruth 2:10] that they put up any unkindness, as Paul did; [Galatians 4:12] that they make much of any company; [Psalms 119:63] send home by any hand; [Nehemiah 2:5] "abstain from fleshly lusts"; [1 Peter 2:11] and have "their conversation in heaven"; [Philippians 3:20] eating, drinking, and sleeping eternal life; so wishing to be at home, yet waiting the Father’s call; sighing out, when moved to be merry, - as the French king did, when prisoner here in England, in the days of King Edward III, - "How can we sing songs in a strange land?" [Psalms 137:4]


Verse 10

Genesis 47:10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.

Ver. 10. {See Trapp on "Genesis 47:7"}


Verse 11

Genesis 47:11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.

Ver. 11. In the land of Rameses.] That is, in the whole territory where Rameses was afterwards built. [Exodus 1:11]


Verse 12

Genesis 47:12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to [their] families.

Ver. 12. And Joseph nourished his father.] For which end he was "sent before" [Psalms 105:17] by God: and for whose sake so many thousands were preserved, that else would have perished. What fools, then, are they that hunt out the saints, their only safeguard! and hate them to whom they owe all the good they have! This is, with the foolish deer, to eat up the leaves that hide them from the huuter.


Verse 13

Genesis 47:13 And [there was] no bread in all the land; for the famine [was] very sore, so that the land of Egypt and [all] the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.

Ver. 13. The famine was very sore.] Of this famine mention is made by Justin, lib. i., and Orosius, lib. i., cap. 8.

So that the land of Egypt fainted.] Furebat, saith Junius. The Egyptians in the fifth year of the famine began to rage, if they could have told at what; and were well-nigh mad. Our Saviour’s friends "went out to lay hold of him: for they said, He is beside himself." (a) [Mark 3:21] Or, as some render it, he will faint: for, Mark 3:20, "The multitude came so together, that they could not so much as eat bread." These Egyptians, whether they fainted or fretted, it was for want of bread. Joseph had foretold them of this seven years’ famine; but saturity and security had so besotted them, that they feared nothing, till they felt it. Fulness bred forgetfulness; and now they are ready to let fly at others, because pinched with that penury that they might have prevented. "The wickedness of a man perverts his way, and his heart frets against the Lord." [Proverbs 19:3] See it in that furious king, 2 Kings 6:33.


Verse 14

Genesis 47:14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.

Ver. 14. And Joseph gathered up all the money.] There is something, then, besides grace, that is better than money: though misers will as easily part with their blood, (a) as with their good. Constantinople was lost through the citizens’ covetousness. The like is reported of Heidelberg. Worthy they were, in this name, to have been served as the great Caliph of Babylon was by the great Cham of Tartary. He was set in the midst of those infinite treasures which he and his predecessors had most covetously amassed; and bidden to eat of that gold, silver, and precious stones, what he pleased, and make no spare. In which order, the covetous catiff kept for certain days, miserably died for hunger. (b) Money is a baser thing than "food and raiment": these if we have, "let us be content." [1 Timothy 6:8]


Verse 15

Genesis 47:15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.

Ver. 15. Why should we die in thy presence?] When it is in thy power to save us alive in this our extreme indigency? Qui non cum potest, iuvat, occidit, saith the proverb. And, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? to save, or to destroy a life?" [Mark 3:4] - intimating that not to save when we may, is to destroy. The Egyptians, therefore, put Joseph to it. Money they had none, but must have answered, if now it had been required of them, as those inhabitants of Andros did Themistocles. He being sent by the Athenians for tribute money, told them that he came on that errand accompanied with two goddesses; eloquence to persuade, and violence to enforce them. Whereunto the Andraeans made this answer; that they had on their side, also, two goddesses as strong; necessity, (a) they had it not, and impossibility, whereby they could not part with that which they possessed not. (b)


Verse 16

Genesis 47:16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

Ver. 16. Give your cattle.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 47:17"}


Verse 17

Genesis 47:17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread [in exchange] for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.

Ver. 17. And Joseph gave them bread in exchange,] An ancient and yet usual way of traffic, with savages and barbarians especially; as in Virginia, &c., where they usually change, as Glaueus did with Diomedes, χρυσεα χαλκειων. (a)


Verse 18

Genesis 47:18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide [it] from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:

Ver. 18. We will not hide it from my lord.] Confess we our pitiful indigence also to God, and he will furnish us with food and seed. Say with learned Pomeran, Etiamsi non sum dignus, nihilo minus tamen sum indigens.


Verse 19

Genesis 47:19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give [us] seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

Ver. 19. Buy us and our land for bread.] It was their own desire, therefore no injury. Nay, it was charity in Joseph, in remitting their services, and taking only their lands: yea, liberality, in reserving the fifth part only to the king; when husbandmen usually till for half the increase. And this the Egyptians thankfully acknowledge, Genesis 47:25.


Verse 20

Genesis 47:20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.

Ver. 20. So the land became Pharaoh’s.] Regi acquisivit imperium despoticum. This the Egyptians would never have yielded unto, but that stark hunger drove the wolf out of the wood, as the proverb is. Philo Judaeus reports of a heathenish people who in their wars used only this expression, to put spirit into their soldiers; estote viri, libertas agitur. The contention was hot in this land between prince and people for fourscore years together, about liberty and property; and ceased not till the great charter, made to keep the beam right between sovereignty and subjection, was in the maturity of a judicial prince, Edward I, freely ratified. (a)


Verse 21

Genesis 47:21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from [one] end of the borders of Egypt even to the [other] end thereof.

Ver. 21. And as for the people, he removed them.] So to alter tim propriety of their land, and to settle it upon Pharaoh; who with his own money had bought it. See his prudence and policy for his lord and master. So Daniel, though sick, did the king’s business with all his might. These were, as the philosopher saith, πεπραγωνοι ολοκληροι; few such now-a-days. Great need we have all to flee to Christ who "dwells with prudence"; [Proverbs 8:12] as Agur did, when he found his own foolishness. It was he that made Aholiab wise-hearted.


Verse 22

Genesis 47:22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion [assigned them] of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.

Ver. 22. Only the land of the priests bought he not.] Ministers’ maintenance, we see, is of the law of nature. Jezebel provided for her priests; Micah for his Levite. "Do ye not know," saith that great apostle, "that they which minister about holy things, live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar?" [1 Corinthians 9:13] Where, by "holy things," St Ambrose understands the law of the Gentiles by "the altar," the law of the Jews. Before them both, Melchizedek, δεδεκατωκε, tithed Abraham; by the same right, whereby he blessed him. [Hebrews 7:6] As after them, the apostle rightly infers, "Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." [1 Corinthians 9:14] But where hath the Lord ordained it? "The workman is worthy of his meat," saith Matthew; [Matthew 10:10] "of his hire," saith Luke: [Luke 10:7] of both, no doubt; as the labourers in harvest, who have better fare provided than ordinary, and larger wages. See Nehemiah’s zeal for church maintenance, Nehemiah 13:10; Nehemiah 13:14. He knew well that a scant offering makes a cold altar; and that, ad tenuitatem beneficiorum necessario sequitur ignorantia sacerdotum; as in Ireland, where, in former time, some of the bishops had no more revenue than the pasture of two milk cows, &c. In the whole province of Connaught the stipend of the incumbent is not above forty shillings; in some places but sixteen shillings. (a) Melancthon (b) complains of his Germany, that the ministers for most part were ready to say with him in Plautus: Ego non servio libenter: herus meus me non habet libenter, tamen utitur me ut lippls oculis. Such use Micah made of his Levite; more fit to have made a Gibeonite, to cleave wood, than to divide the word; and yet he maintained him; and doubted not, thereupon, to promise himself God’s blessing. He is a niggard to himself, that scants his beneficence to a prophet; [Matthew 10:41] whose very cold water shall not go unrewarded. Many rich refuse to give anything to the minister’s maintenance; (c) because they cannot be tithed. But "be not deceived; God is not mocked," saith the apostle in this very case. "Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth in all his goods." [Galatians 6:6-7] Such tribes as had more cities in their inheritance were to part with more to the priests: such as had fewer, with less. [Numbers 35:8] The equity of which proportion is still in force. The Jews, (d) at this day, though not in their own country, nor having a Levitical priesthood, yet those who will be reputed religious among them do distribute, in lieu of tithes, the tenth of their increase unto the poor: being persuaded that God doth bless their increase the more; according to that proverb of theirs, Tithe and be rich. But how is both the word and the world now altered among us? All is thought by the most to be well saved that is kept from the minister; whom to deceive is held neither sin nor pity. Fisco potius apud multos consulitur quam Christo, ac tonsioni potius gregis quam attentioni; as one complaineth, (e) Covetous patrons care not to sauce their meat with the blood of souls; while by them, et succus pecori, lac et subducitur agnis, (f) Besides, they bestow their benefices, non ubi optima, sed ubi quaestuosissime; being herein worse than these Egyptians, shall I say? nay, than the traitor Judas. He sold the head, they the members: he the shepherd, they the sheep; he but the body, they the souls; like that Romish strumpet, [Revelation 18:13] of whom they have learned it. But let them look to it, lest they ruin their wages of wickedness, with Judas. In the meanwhile, let them give us a just commentary upon that in Proverbs 20:25, and tell us who hath authority to take that, from a church, shall I say? nay, from God, that hath been once given him? We can tell them a sad story, of five servants of Cardinal Wolsey’s, employed by him, in tot piorum hominum donariis intervertendis, saith the annalist, (g) and came all to fearful ends. Two of them disagreed; and, challenging the field, one killed the other, and was hanged for it. A third drowned himself in a well. The fourth, from great riches, fell to extreme beggary and was starved with hunger. The last, one Dr Alan, being Archbishop of Dublin, was there cruelly murdered by his enemies. Now, if divine justice so severely and exemplarily pursued and punished these that converted those abused goods of the Church to better uses without question, though they looked not at that, but at the satisfying of their own greedy lusts, what will be the end of such sacrilegious persons as enrich themselves with that which should be their minister’s maintenance? Sacrum, sacrove commendatum qui clepserit rapseritque, parricida esto, said the Roman law. (h) It is not only sacrilege, but parricide, to rob the Church.


Verse 23

Genesis 47:23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, [here is] seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.

Ver. 23. Lo, seed for you, and ye shall sow.] This was the last of the seven years of famine: they might therefore sow "in hope." [1 Corinthians 9:10] Spes alit agricolas.


Verse 24

Genesis 47:24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth [part] unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.

Ver. 24. Ye shall give the fifth part.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 47:19"}


Verse 25

Genesis 47:25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.

Ver. 25. Let us find grace.] That is, Do us the favour to intercede for us to Pharaoh, that we may be his perpetual farmers, and hold of him. It seems that Pharaoh was no proper name, but common to the kings of Egypt; as Caesar, to the emperors of Rome; a title of honour, as His Majesty amongst us. Otherwise these poor people had been too bold with his name.


Verse 26

Genesis 47:26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, [that] Pharaoh should have the fifth [part]; except the land of the priests only, [which] became not Pharaoh’s.

Ver. 26. Except the land of the priests only.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 47:22"}


Verse 27

Genesis 47:27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.

Ver. 27. Grew and multiplied exceedingly.] Here that promise in Genesis 46:3 began to be accomplished. God dies not in any man’s debt.


Verse 28

Genesis 47:28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.

Ver. 28. Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years.] So long he had nourished Joseph; and so long Joseph nourished him; paying his αντιθρεπτηρια to the utmost penny. These were the sweetest days that ever Jacob saw. God reserved his best to the last. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for," be his beginning and his middle never so troublesome, "the end of that man is peace." [Psalms 37:37] A Goshen he shall have, either here or in heaven.


Verse 29

Genesis 47:29 And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:

Ver. 29. Bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt.] This he requested, partly to testify his faith concerning the Promised Land, heaven, and the resurrection; partly to confirm his family in the same faith; and that they might not be glued to the pleasures of Egypt, but wait for their return to Canaan; and partly also to declare his love to his ancestors, together with the felicity he took in the communion of saints.


Verse 30

Genesis 47:30 But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.

Ver. 30. Bury me in their burying place.] That he might keep possession, at least by his dead body, of the Promised Land. There they would be buried, not pompously, but reverently, that they might rise again with Christ. Some of the fathers think that these patriarchs were those that rose corporally with him. [Matthew 27:53]


Verse 31

Genesis 47:31 And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.

Ver. 31. And Israel bowed himself.] In way of thankfulness to God, framing himself to the lowliest gesture he was able; rearing himself up upon his pillow, "leaning" also "upon" his third leg, "his staff." [Hebrews 11:21] In effaeta senecta, fides non effaeta.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 47:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-47.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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