Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.Jacob sets out towards Egypt with his family and substance; offers saerifices at Beer-sheba; God appears to him in a vision, renewing his promises and blessing, Genesis 46:1-4. He goes to Egypt, Genesis 46:5,6. The names of the children of Israel, Genesis 46:8-27. Jacob sends Judah before him; Joseph goes to meet his father; their joy, Genesis 46:28-30. Joseph instructs his brethren what to say to Pharaoh, to declare themselves shepherds, and desire to dwell in Goshen; the reason, Genesis 46:31-34.
1706 Both in thankfulness to God for former favours, and especially for Joseph’s preservation and happiness; and by way of supplication to God for his direction in this great case, whether he might leave the promised land of Canaan, and go into the idolatrous and impious land of Egypt; and for his protection and blessing, as well in his journey as in Egypt.
The God of his father Isaac; whom Isaac honoured and served, and who had constantly protected and provided for Isaac, and confirmed his covenant with him. He mentions Isaac rather than Abraham, partly for Isaac’s honour, to show that though Isaac was much inferior to Abraham in gifts and graces, yet God was no less Isaac’s than Abraham’s God, and therefore would be his God also, notwithstanding his unworthiness; and partly for his own comfort, because Isaac was Jacob’s immediate parent, and had transferred the blessing of the covenant from Esau to Jacob, and the validity of that translation depended upon Isaac’s interest in God.
And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.In the visions of the night, i.e. in that way or manner of visions which God affordeth to men by night, and in their sleep. See Genesis 20:3 Job 33:15,16 Mt 1:20 2:13,19 Ac 16:9 18:9, &c.
Jacob, Jacob; he doubles the name both in token of his friendship and familiarity with him, and to raise Jacob’s attention. Compare Genesis 22:11 1 Samuel 3:10.
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:Here were many causes of fear; lest he should do evil in forsaking the promised and blessed land, and going to a place which had been incommodious to his grandfather, Genesis 12:15, and forbidden to his father, Genesis 26:2; lest he should expose his children to manifold perils, as of being infected with the vices, and particularly the idolatry, which reigned there above all other countries, and of being inveigled by the pleasantness and eminent fruitfulness of that soil, to give up themselves to all manner of pleasures, and to settle themselves there, and give over all thoughts of returning to Canaan, and of being brought into that grievous bondage and affliction which was spoken of Genesis 15:13; and lest some mischief should befall him or his in so long and dangerous a journey.
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.I will bring thee up again, though not in thy person, yet in thy body, Genesis 47:29,30 50:5,13; and in thy posterity, which are a part of thyself, or thyself multiplied.
Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes; shall close thy eyes; which office was usually performed by the nearest and dearest relations of the dying party among the Jews, Greeks, and Romans. Hereby Jacob is assured that he should die in peace, and that Joseph both now was alive, and should survive his father.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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:In the land of Canaan, and in Mesopotamia. But Canaan only is here mentioned, because here they got the far greatest part of them, which by a synecdoche is put for the whole.
His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.His daughters; either his daughter Dinah, the plural number for the singular, as Genesis 46:23 21:7 Numbers 26:8, or Dinah and her daughters; for grandchildren are commonly called their grandfather’s children, or sons or daughters; or his daughters-in-law, his son’s wives.
And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.This genealogy is both here and elsewhere described exactly and particularly, as well to show the faithfulness of God in the performance of his promise concerning the vast multiplication of Abraham’s seed, and that in so short a time, as to distinguish the tribes; which was of great importance, and necessary for the disposal of the kingdom and priesthood, and above all, for the discovery of the true Messias. Compare this following catalogue with that Numbers 26:1-65 1 Chronicles 6:1-8:40.
And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.Ohad is not mentioned in those parallel places, because he was then dead, and that without issue.
The son of a Canaanitish woman; which is here mentioned as a brand upon him, and as an intimation that the rest of them, except Judah, married to persons of a better race.
And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan, and therefore are not contained in the following number, Genesis 46:15.
Hezron and Hamul, though they seem to have been born in Egypt, yet are here set down amongst those who came into Egypt, because they came thither in their father’s loins, as Levi is said to pay tithes in Abraham, Hebrews 7:9. And the children may as well be said to come thither in their parents, as their father Jacob is said to return from thence, Genesis 46:4, in his children.
Object. If this be the sense, why should these two be mentioned rather than the grandchildren of the other brethren, who came into Egypt in the same manner?
Answ. This may be done either,
1. From some special excellency or eminency in them above the rest, as Hezron was eminent for being the progenitor of the Messiah, and Hamul might be so for some other cause, though unknown to us. Or,
2. Because they were the first grandchildren that were born in Egypt, and it may be all that were born whilst Jacob lived there, and therefore are not unfitly named with Jacob, and allotted to him; as Joseph’s two eldest sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were by Jacob appropriated to himself, and reckoned as his immediate sons, when all the rest of Joseph’s sons were excluded from that privilege, Genesis 48:5,6. And the like may be said of the other two grandchildren mentioned Genesis 46:17.
And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.No text from Poole on this verse.
These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.Which she bare unto Jacob in Padan-aram: this is true properly and immediately of the sons, who were indeed born there, but improperly and mediately of the grandchildren, which are as truly said to be born of Leah in Padan as to be born of her at all, because they were indeed born of them which were born of her, and that in Padan.
All the souls of his sons and his daughters, to wit, which came into Egypt as before; so that Er and Onan are excluded, as dying before this journey into Egypt, Genesis 46:12.
Daughters is here put for daughter, as Genesis 46:7, because Dinah was all the daughters which Jacob had. Heb. all the souls, sons and daughters being reckoned together with their father.
And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.No text from Poole on this verse.
These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.No text from Poole on this verse.
The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.No text from Poole on this verse.
And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.Whereof part seem to be born before his coming to Egypt, and part in Egypt, Benjamin being now but twenty and four years old.
These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Dan; Hushim.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.No text from Poole on this verse.
These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.No text from Poole on this verse.
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;Loins, Heb. thigh, which is here put for the secret parts between the thighs, which are called sometimes the feet, as Genesis 49:10 Deu 28:57 Ezekiel 16:25, for the like reason, because they are between the feet. From this eastern manner of speech came that passage in the Greek fables, concerning Bacchus being born out of Jupiter’s thigh.
Threescore and six; so many they are, excluding Jacob, as the common parent, and Joseph and his two sons, as being in Egypt before Jacob’s coming thither; which four being included they make up seventy, as it is 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.He doth not say,
which came with Jacob into Egypt, because some of them came thither before him, and others with him, some in their persons, and some in their parents. As for the difficulty arising from comparing this place with Acts 7:14, it will be more fit to speak of it when we come to that place.
And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.To direct his face unto Goshen; Heb. to prepare, or to teach him, the way before his face, i.e. before his coming to Goshen; i.e. to show him where it was, and into what part of it he should come and settle himself; or to give notice unto Joseph of his approach, before his face or coming into Goshen.
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.Doubtless Joseph fell down before him with all that reverence which children owe to their parents, and in this posture Jacob falls upon his neck, &c. Of which posture see Genesis 33:4 45:14 Luke 15:20 Acts 20:37.
And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.Now I expect no greater happiness upon earth, and therefore am content to die. Compare Luke 2:29.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?No text from Poole on this verse.
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.In this design and choice Joseph shows both his prudence and piety. He brings them not to court, where it had been easy for him to have put them all into the best places and offices of the court; and as he is not ashamed to own himself a brother to shepherds, which were contemptible among the Egyptians, so he seeks not to advance them higher, but continues them in their employment, and placeth them in Goshen: whereby,
1. He kept them together, which was very convenient for them in many respects.
2. He secured them both from envy, and, as far as he could, from the corruption of their religion and manners, which was likely to follow their mixture with the Egyptians, and especially their being at the court.
3. He put them into a capacity of returning to Canaan, when God gave them opportunity.
Every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians; either,
1. Because they did both kill and eat those creatures which the Egyptians adored. Or,
2. Because of the fresh remembrance of the horrid cruelties lately committed there by the Phoenician shepherds, who, as some very ancient writers affirm, were seated in Egypt in great numbers, and had arrived to great power, and waged a cruel war with other Egyptians, wherein they wasted divers cities, and burned their temples, and barbarously murdered a multitude of people. And therefore it is no wonder if the calling of shepherds was grown out of use and credit among them. True it is, the Egyptians had some sheep, and other cattle, Genesis 47:6,17 Exo 8:26 9:3, which they kept for delight or profit by their milk, wool, &c., or for sale to others, but they did not use them, as other shepherds generally did, kill and eat them. And it is probable that they committed even the keeping of their sheep and cattle to those strangers which were dispersed among them, and looked upon the employment as too vile and mean for any Egyptian. And though Pharaoh offered it to Joseph’s brethren as a favour to be
rulers over his cattle, Genesis 47:6, that might proceed only from hence, because he saw them firmly resolved upon that course of life, and therefore could not bestow any higher preferment upon them.