May 13, 2017

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART IV: JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN (Gen. 37:1-50:26)

 

 

Topic # D: VISITS OF JOSEPH'S BROTHERS. Gen. 42:1-45:28                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

Lesson IV.D.10: Joseph Sends for the Family. (Gen. 45:16-28)                                      

 

 

 

Genesis 45:16-28 (KJV)

 

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.

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

18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is your's.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.

27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

 

 

Commentary

 

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.

 

“And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house,....”

The account of what had transpired in Joseph’s house between his brethren and he was swiftly carried to Pharaoh’s court, and there it was told by some from Joseph's household, who had overheard the conversation, at least some of it:

 

“saying, Joseph's brethren are come”;

They might have called him by his Egyptian name, but the writer of Genesis uses his Hebrew name, which was his right name, the name by which he was best known to the Hebrews, for he wrote chiefly for them.

 

“and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants”;

Joseph was greatly beloved by “Pharaoh” and his nobles, who are here called “his servants.” They were glad to have another opportunity to show their rising respect for him, by the respect and civilities they planned to extend to his family and friends. Joseph was credited with being the means of providing for the welfare of the whole kingdom, and with saving all their lives. Pharaoh's expressions of tribute given on this occasion were, no doubt sincere; however, some of his courtiers did not esteem their Hebrew governor very highly at all. They could have been jealous of him, for he was a stranger, and one that had come from a very low level of life, to be raised above them, and have so much trust placed in him, and honor conferred upon him, and so, they might somehow get around giving their respect to Joseph before their sovereign. On the other hand, those same men might be so affected by the good sense and friendliness of Joseph, and their own sense of the gratitude they owed to him, that they might be really pleased to hear that his brethren had joined him. Pharaoh and his court might be even more delighted, because it appeared that he came from a good family in Canaan. All they knew about him is that he had been a slave in Potiphar's house, and from there he was cast into a prison for committing a crime, and finally he was taken out of prison, and made the great man he now was.

 

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

 

“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph,....”

It is highly probable that Joseph was waiting for Pharaoh to advise him of the coming of his brethren; for it cannot be imagined that Pharaoh would say what follows based upon a mere report, without having obtained Joseph’s account of things, or that he would neglect giving it. Without a doubt, Joseph would take the first opportunity to inform him, at which point he gave him the following order.

 

“say unto thy brethren, this do ye;”

 Give them the following instructions.

 

“lade your beasts:”

 Load your asses with provisions for your father's household in Canaan, and for their journey back to Egypt:

 

“and go, get you into the land of Canaan;”

Go swiftly to your home in Canaan.

 

18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

 

“And take your father, and your households,....”

By “households” are meant families, for all the brothers were married persons, and had children, and no doubt servants also; and all were to be brought with them. They would naturally bring their livestock and all their possessions too.

 

“and come unto me;”

Come to my kingdom, to my city, and to my palace, and into my presence.

 

“and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt;”

By this we know that he plans to provide them with the best things which Egypt has to offer, and for their home, the best and most fruitful part of it, as he did afterwards, which was the land of Goshen.

 

“and ye shall eat the fat of the land;”

We still hear the phrase “the fat of the land,” which means the choicest fruits and vegetables, such as were produced in the fields and gardens of Goshen; meaning that they would have the finest of the wheat for themselves, and the best pastures for their flocks.

 

19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

 

“Now thou art commanded, this do ye,....”

Joseph had his orders from Pharaoh; he had full power and authority to do the above things and what follows. The sense which some give to this clause is that Joseph was ordered by Pharaoh not to let any wagons go out of Egypt with corn, for fear that the Egyptians would go without corn. But now it appears he has changed his mind, for here he says to him, though you have already been given orders, nevertheless tell thy brethren to do as follows.

 

“take you wagons out of the land of Egypt:”

The land in Egypt was by and large flat and meticulously cultivated, and therefore was made to order for the use of wheeled vehicles which could easily pass through the roadless desert, and consequently they came into use there at an early period. Those depicted on the monuments had two wheels, and were drawn by oxen. The chariots of Pharaoh and Joseph were probably drawn by horses, which had about this time been introduced into Egypt.

 

The terrain in Palestine was very unlike that of Egypt, for it was rugged and mountainous, and therefore the use of carts in Palestine came much later than it did in Egypt; there were probably none in Palestine at this time; hence, we have the reason for Pharaoh’s instruction⸺“take you wagons out of the land of Egypt;” wagons loaded with corn and drawn by oxen.

 

 Christ also will send His wagons for us, His cherubims, and clouds to carry us up to heaven, at the last day (1 Thessalonians 4:15), as they did Moses and Elias (Matthew 17:3).

 

“for your little ones, and for your wives:”

The wagons were needed to carry the women and children when they return. The “little ones,” of course,are the children, and they are included in the “households” of Genesis 45:18. The invitation, though made primarily to the men, includes all their dependents and servants, amounting probably to several hundred persons.

 

“and bring your father, and come;”

Bring your father here in one of the carts, or in whatever way is most agreeable to him in his old age.

 

20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is your's.

 

Also regard not your stuff;

The Lord says the same to his; ‘Don’t care so much about your house and land; rather, endure with joy the loss of your possessions; Come lovingly to me; I have far better things for you above: the good of all the land of the living is yours.’ Don’t you think we should cheerfully answer the divine call? Many give the impression that they don’t want to leave, because they have treasure in the world, like those ten men had in the field: “Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it” (Jeremiah 12:8). But all that this world affords is but trash to the truly religious. Alexander, hearing of the riches of the Indies, divided his kingdom of Macedon among his captains and soldiers. And being asked what he had left for himself; he answered, Hope. And should not the hope of heaven make us snub all earthly vanities? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

 

“for the good of all the land of Egypt is your's.”

Whatever those good things were, whether it was food or things for their own personal use, their houses, or their flocks, all were at their service, and they were welcome to them; or the best or most fruitful part of the country was intended for them, and would be given to them, or was at least an option.

 

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.

 

“And the children of Israel did so,....”

The children of Israel,” that is, the children of Jacob⸺whose name God changed to Israel⸺did what Joseph directed them to do, oras Pharaoh commanded Joseph. Now that Pharaoh has taken charge everything has to be done as he said. Joseph had intended to bring them in without any fuss but now he has no choice.

 

“and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh:”

Joseph provided them with wagons (or carts), and horses or oxen to pull them, and they were not empty, for though their principal use was to fetch his father and his family, and their goods, they must have contained provisions for the trip home and their return to Egypt.

 

The wagons must have been novelties in Palestine, for wheeled carts were almost unknown there. It appears from this that such vehicles were used very early, and that the road from Egypt to Canaan must have been very open and frequently used, otherwise such wagons could not have been used.

 

“and gave them provision for the way:”

So that they would have sufficient food for both going and returning. Similarly does God provide for all His; meat that the world knows not of; joy that the natural heart never tasted of; the white stone; the hidden manna; the continual feast; the foretaste of eternal life, to sustain their hearts till they come home to heaven.

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.

 

“To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment.

That he furnishes his brethren with supplies for their journey is not surprising; but for what reason did he give them money and garments, since they would so soon return? I believe that he did it on account of his father and the wives of his brethren, so that they might have less reluctance to leave the land of Canaan. Joseph may have thought that his message would probably not be believed, unless some visible tokens of its truth were presented. It might also be, that he not only tried to entice those who were absent, but that he also wished to demonstrate, more and more, his love for his brethren. But the former purpose carries more weight with me, because he took greater care in providing for Benjamin than the rest. Jerome has translated the expression, “changes of raiment,” as “two robes,” and other interpreters, explain it as meaning “different kinds of garments.” I do not know which interpretation is correct. I do believe they were elegant garments, such as were worn on special occasions such as weddings and festival days.

 

“but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver”

“Three hundred pieces of silver” amounted to between $1848.00 and $2160.00 of our money.

 

“And five changes of raiment”

Benjamin was given “five changes of raiment”⸺ more than any of his brothers⸺because of Joseph’s greater love and affection for him. It was customary, with great men, to bestow on their friends, clothes of distinction, and when they are of the same description and quality, the value of these presents consists in their number. The great number given to Benjamin is a token of the warmth of his brother‘s attachment to him; and Joseph felt, from the amiable temperament they now all displayed, he might, with perfect safety, indulge his fond partiality for his mother‘s son.

 

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.

 

“And to his father he sent after this manner”

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 is intended, like the five changes of raiment” given to Benjamin, as a token of his great love for his father. “After this manner” means “according to” this; either in like manner, as he gave his brethren a change of raiment, so he sent the same to him; or he is referring to either what went before, changes of rainment, or what follows, ten asses, etc.

 

“ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt”

“Ten asses” carrying the best things the land had to offer. These presents for his aged father were in princely abundance, as was fitting the rank of the highest subject of Pharaoh. It was meant to impress Jacob with the reality of the loving story of God’s providence which the brethren were to carry back to their father; however, since Jacob was immediately to leave home he could only use a very small part of this provision.”

 

“and ten she asses laden with corn”

Not corn and wheat made into bread, which is mentioned next, and so this is a separate item.

 

“and bread”

Ready made and baked (probably not sliced).

 

“and meat for his father by the way

Here “meat” is used for food and fruit of various sorts; peas, beans, lentils, millet, fetches, figs, currants, dates, and so forth. Some have stated that it may mean prepared meat; some made-up dish, delicacies, confectionaries (deserts, sweets), etc. In Asian countries they have several remarkable methods of preserving meat by potting, by which it may be kept, for any length of time, sweet and wholesome. Some delicacy, similar to the savory meat which Isaac loved, may be intended here; sent to Jacob in consideration of his age, and to confirm the respect of his son. On the other hand, he could have no need for other kinds of meat, since he had large flocks and herds, and could kill a lamb, kid, etc. when he pleased.

 

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, and they departed”

They left Egypt to go to Canaan with the wagons, asses, and rich presents.

 

“and he said unto them, see that ye fall not out by the way”

The word, rendered “fall not out,” means to quarrel with passion and fury (Proverbs 29:9; 2 Kings 19:27). Joseph knew his brethren, and He knew they were too apt to be quarrelsome; and in light of all that had happened lately, and remembering what they had done in the past to their brother, might give them a reason to quarrel. Now Joseph having forgiven all of them gives them this final instruction; do not quarrel with one another. Our Lord Jesus has given the same instruction to us that we love one another that we live in peace, that whatever happens, or whatever former incidents we remember, we do not bicker, because we are brethren, we all have one and the same Father. We are His brethren; and we hurt our relationship with Him, who is our peace, if we fall out (argue, fight, bicker). We are all guilty, very guilty, and instead of quarrelling with one another, we have good reason to have a disagreement with ourselves. We are forgiven by God, Whom we have all offended, and therefore should be ready to forgive one another. We are on the path, a path that takes us through the land of Egypt, where we have many eyes upon us that seek an opportunity to take advantage of us; a way that leads to Canaan, where we hope to live eternally in perfect peace.

 

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

 

“And they went up out of Egypt

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

 

“and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father”

At the end of their journey, they found old Jacob alive and well. I imagine the old man took many long looks at the southern horizon, looking for some indication that they had returned; and now that they have arrived, he had far more joy at their return than he had before. (Genesis 42:29).

 

26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.

 

“And told him

They told him what had happened to them in Egypt.

 

“saying, Joseph is yet alive”

This was the most joyful news that Jacob ever heard, and it gave him the sincerest pleasure that he ever had; which God reserved for his old age. How much his good heart, after he had composed himself, danced in his bosom, to hear of Joseph’s honor, but especially of his life! What will ours do, when we see Christ in His kingdom!

 

“and he is governor over all the land of Egypt”

As governor, he had such power and authority that nothing was done without his thorough knowledge and approval; the executive power or administration of government was put into his hands, and all the officers of the kingdom were under him, he was next to Pharaoh.

 

“and Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not”

The news of Joseph was too grand and too good to be true; though it was glorious, it was unexpected; it amazed him, he did not know what to think, or say or believe about it. There was such a conflict of the passions within him, that he could not compose himself, or reason with himself about it. And what might have done more to hinder his belief of it was that this report of theirs was contrary to what they themselves had originally said about Joseph’s death; and very likely upon hearing that Joseph was alive, he fainted, and was not himself for a while; but when he came to himself, they went on with their report, as follows.

 

27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

 

“And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them”

Not what he said concerning their selling of him, and his forgiveness of them, and reconciliation to them, which perhaps Jacob never heard of to his dying day, since he makes no mention of it, nor hints at it in his dying words to them; but of his great advancement in the court of Pharaoh, and how eager he was to have his father and family with him, and provide for them, since there were five years of famine yet to come.

 

“and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him”

The purpose of the wagons was to transport Jacob and his sons’ wives and children, and all their possessions down to Egypt; and which were so grand and magnificent, that he was easily persuaded that his sons could never have provided them, if what they had said concerning Joseph was not true; and then….

 

“the spirit of Jacob their father revived”

Not the Holy Spirit, which the Jews say departed from him, and had not been with him since the loss of Joseph, but now returned; but his own natural spirit, he became vigorous and cheerful, giving credit to the report of his sons. It pleases him to think that Joseph is alive. He says nothing of Joseph’s glory, which they had told him of; it was enough for him that Joseph was alive: it pleases him to think of going to see him. Though he was old, and the journey long, yet he would go to see Joseph, because Joseph’s business would not permit him to come to him. Observe, he will go see him, not, I will go live with him; Jacob was old, and did not expect to live long: but I will go see him before I die, and then let me depart in peace; let my eyes be refreshed with this sight before they are closed forever, and then it is enough; I need no more to make me happy in this world.

 

28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

 

“And Israel said, it is enough, Joseph my son is yet alive”

Or it is “all I need” or “great”; his joy was complete; this was the greatest blessing of all, and it meant more to him than all the glory and splendor that surrounded Joseph; it was enough for Jacob just to know that he was alive. That gave him contentment and pleasure; not so much the news of his grandeur in Egypt, but his being in the land of the living [above ground].

 

“I will go and see him before I die”

Though his age was great, the journey long and difficult, yet his desire to see Joseph was so great that he immediately determined to leave at once, since he was expecting death shortly. No doubt this was said in submission to the will of God, and when seeking him by prayer and supplication, and when exercising faith, believing that God would grant him his desire. Nothing in life could be more desirable to him than that, and he only wished to live long enough to enjoy this blessing. By Joseph's making himself known to his brethren, He has become a type of Christ, who manifests Himself to His people alone, and not to the world. He says to them, that He is Jesus the Savior, their friend and brother, and whom they crucified, whose sins were the cause of His sufferings; and yet He encourages them to draw nigh unto Him with a humble and holy boldness, giving them abundant reason to believe that He will receive them kindly, seeing that all that were done to Him were by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, and for their good, even for their eternal salvation; and in order that they might not perish, but have everlasting life; and to whom He now gives change of raiment, riches and honor, even, durable riches and righteousness; and declares it to be His will, that where He is, they may be also, and behold His glory: and this is sufficient to persuade them to reckon all their worldly goods and enjoyments as mere stuff, contemptible things in comparison to the good and glories of another world they are rushing to, where there will be fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore; and therefore should not fall out by the way, as they too often do.

 

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