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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 47

 

 

Verses 1-12

Genesis 46:1 to Genesis 47:12. Jacob and his Descendants Go down into Egypt and Settle in Goshen.—The list in Genesis 46:8-27 with the introductory verses Genesis 46:6 f. is from P, as are Genesis 47:5-6 a, Genesis 46:7-11. The rest is JE. To E belong Genesis 46:1-5 (in the main) and perhaps Genesis 47:12, the rest to J. Jacob visits the sanctuary at Beersheba, where he has a vision dispelling the fears which he naturally feels at leaving his native land and settling in Egypt so late in life. He will not leave his father's God behind him; He will go with him and bring him back in the great nation that will spring from him, though he himself will die in Egypt, and the dearly-loved Joseph will close his eyes. The catalogue inserted from P raises critical and material problems, which must be passed over here. According to J's story it looks as if Pharaoh had no knowledge about Joseph's family till they were actually in Egypt. Joseph is obviously anxious that they should be permitted to live in Goshen, perhaps because it was near the frontier, so that they could more easily leave the country if they wished, and also that they might retain their distinctive nationality. He is apparently doubtful of the king's permission, for the frontier was vulnerable in that district, and foreigners might prove dangerous. So he carefully instructs his brothers to ask permission to remain in Goshen, whither they had come driven by lack of pasture in Canaan (no reference is made to the invitation of Joseph and Pharaoh recorded in E). Their request is all the more plausible that shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians, and should, therefore, not live in their midst. We have no evidence for this, though cowherds and swineherds were despised by the Egyptians. All went well. Pharaoh gave permission, and even offered to take any who were specially competent into his service. Jacob's introduction to Pharaoh is then inserted from P, with its pathetic summary of his career; his days both few (130 years) and evil, long exile, hard life, the death of Rachel, the bitterness of Joseph's loss, pass before his mind.

Genesis 47:5 f. The LXX has here a more original text, whose discrepancies are smoothed out in MT. See the larger commentaries.


Verses 13-26

Genesis 47:13-26. Joseph Takes Advantage of the Famine to Secure for the Crown the Money, the Cattle, and the Lands of the Egyptians.—If this belongs to one of the main documents, J is the most probable. But it may be an independent piece. It is an ætiological story (p. 134). The system of land tenure in Egypt must have struck the Hebrews as strange; they accounted for it in this way. The system is not attested in the inscriptions, but there is confirmatory evidence, and it probably existed much as represented. Apparently the events described belong to the closing years of the famine, for the distribution of seed was of no avail till the seven years of famine were drawing to an end (Genesis 45:6). The money presumably lasted for about five years, the cattle paid for corn in the sixth, in the seventh year they sold their land and became serfs, on their own suggestion, the need was so desperate. The priests were exempt because Pharaoh supported them, so they had no need to sell their lands. Joseph allows the people to farm their lands on a 20 per cent, rental.

Genesis 47:21. Read with VSS (mg.), "he made bondmen of them, from," etc.


Verses 27-31

Genesis 47:27 to Genesis 48:22. Jacob Extracts an Oath that Joseph will Bury him in Canaan, and Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh.

Genesis 47:22 f., Genesis 48:3-6 belong to P. To J Genesis 47:29-31 may be assigned. Genesis 48:1 f., Genesis 48:8-22 was formerly attributed to E, recent critics assign it to JE. The analysis is somewhat as follows: E, Genesis 48:1-2 a, Genesis 48:8-9 a, Genesis 48:10 b, Genesis 48:11 f., Genesis 48:15 f., Genesis 48:20 (from "In thee"), Genesis 48:21 f. J, Genesis 48:2 b, Genesis 48:9 b, Genesis 48:10 a, Genesis 48:3 f., Genesis 48:17-19, Genesis 48:20 a (to "day"). The origin of Genesis 47:7 is uncertain, it is out of place here. It may have led up to a request for burial in Rachel's tomb, which had to be suppressed as it was in conflict with P's statement that he was buried in Machpelah (Genesis 50:13). But if so, the tomb would hardly have been called Rachel's sepulchre (1 Samuel 10:2) but Jacob's. From Genesis 50:5, however, it would seem that J represented Jacob as buried in a grave he had himself digged, rather than in the family grave. The blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh explains how it is that the two sons of Joseph ranked as two independent tribes; Jacob had adopted them by the ceremony of taking them between his knees (Genesis 48:12); also why Ephraim the younger was a mightier tribe than Manasseh the firstborn.

Genesis 47:29. Cf. Genesis 24:2*.

Genesis 48:7. Cf. Genesis 35:16-20*.—by me: read mg

Genesis 47:8. Here Jacob can see, whereas in Genesis 47:10 a he is blind, like Isaac. In this story Jacob seems not to have seen them previously, so his death happened soon after his arrival in Egypt.

Genesis 47:22. cf. mg. The reference is to Shechem, where Joseph was buried (Joshua 24:32). We have no other account of any such capture by Jacob, who is nowhere represented as a warrior. Moreover the passage implies that Jacob had distributed their territory to all the tribes.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 47:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-47.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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