Matthew Henry's Commentary
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.
47:1-6 Though Joseph was a great man, especially in Egypt, yet he owned his brethren. Let the rich and great in the world not overlook or despise poor relations. Our Lord Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren. In answer to Pharaoh's inquiry, What is your calling? they told him that they were shepherds, adding that they were come to sojourn in the land for a time, while the famine prevailed in Canaan. Pharaoh offered to employ them as shepherds, provided they were active men. Whatever our business or employment is, we should aim to excel in it, and to prove ourselves clever and industrious.
And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.
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.
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.
And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
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.
And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
47:7-12 With the gravity of old age, the piety of a true believer, and the authority of a patriarch and a prophet, Jacob besought the Lord to bestow a blessing upon Pharaoh. He acted as a man not ashamed of his religion; and who would express gratitude to the benefactor of himself and his family. We have here a very uncommon answer given to a very common question. Jacob calls his life a pilgrimage; the sojourning of a stranger in a foreign country, or his journey home to his own country. He was not at home upon earth; his habitation, his inheritance, his treasures were in heaven. He reckons his life by days; even by days life is soon reckoned, and we are not sure of the continuance of it for a day. Let us therefore number our days. His days were few. Though he had now lived one hundred and thirty years, they seemed but a few days, in comparison with the days of eternity, and the eternal state. They were evil; this is true concerning man. He is of few days and full of trouble; since his days are evil, it is well they are few. Jacob's life had been made up of evil days. Old age came sooner upon him than it had done upon some of his fathers. As the young man should not be proud of his strength or beauty, so the old man should not be proud of his age, and his hoary hairs, though others justly reverence them; for those who are accounted very old, attain not to the years of the patriarchs. The hoary head is only a crown of glory, when found in the way of righteousness. Such an answer could not fail to impress the heart of Pharaoh, by reminding him that worldly prosperity and happiness could not last long, and was not enough to satisfy. After a life of vanity and vexation, man goes down into the grave, equally from the throne as the cottage. Nothing can make us happy, but the prospect of an everlasting home in heaven, after our short and weary pilgrimage on earth.
And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?
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.
And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
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.
And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
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.
47:13-26 Care being taken of Jacob and his family, which mercy was especially designed by Providence in Joseph's advancement, an account is given of the saving the kingdom of Egypt from ruin. There was no bread, and the people were ready to die. See how we depend upon God's providence. All our wealth would not keep us from starving, if rain were withheld for two or three years. See how much we are at God's mercy, and let us keep ourselves always in his love. Also see how much we smart by our own want of care. If all the Egyptians had laid up corn for themselves in the seven years of plenty, they had not been in these straits; but they regarded not the warning. Silver and gold would not feed them: they must have corn. All that a man hath will he give for his life. We cannot judge this matter by modern rules. It is plain that the Egyptians regarded Joseph as a public benefactor. The whole is consistent with Joseph's character, acting between Pharaoh and his subjects, in the fear of God. The Egyptians confessed concerning Joseph, Thou hast saved our lives. What multitudes will gratefully say to Jesus, at the last day, Thou hast saved our souls from the most tremendous destruction, and in the season of uttermost distress! The Egyptians parted with all their property, and even their liberty, for the saving of their lives: can it then be too much for us to count all but loss, and part with all, at His command, and for His sake, who will both save our souls, and give us an hundredfold, even here, in this present world? Surely if saved by Christ, we shall be willing to become his servants.
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.
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.
And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.
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.
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:
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.
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.
And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
47:27-31 At last the time drew nigh that Israel must die. Israel, a prince with God, had power over the Angel, and prevailed, yet must die. Joseph supplied him with bread, that he might not die by famine, but that did not secure him from dying by age or sickness. He died by degrees; his candle gradually burnt down to the socket, so that he saw the time drawing nigh. It is an advantage to see the approach of death, before we feel it, that we may be quickened to do, with all our might, what our hands find to do. However, death is not far from any of us. Jacob's care, as he saw the day approach, was about his burial; not the pomp of it, but he would be buried in Canaan, because it was the land of promise. It was a type of heaven, that better country, which he declared plainly he expected, Heb 11:14. Nothing will better help to make a death-bed easy, than the certain prospect of rest in the heavenly Canaan after death. When this was done, Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head, worshipping God, as it is explained, see Heb 11:21, giving God thanks for all his favours; in feebleness thus supporting himself, expressing his willingness to leave the world. Even those who lived on Joseph's provision, and Jacob who was so dear to him, must die. But Christ Jesus gives us the true bread, that we may eat and live for ever. To Him let us come and yield ourselves, and when we draw near to death, he who supported us through life, will meet us and assure us of everlasting salvation.
And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
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:
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.
And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.