And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
Ver 1. - And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger (literally, in the land of the sojourning, s of his father), in the land of Canaan. This verse is not the commencement of the ensuing (Keil, Kalisch, Lange, &c.), but the concluding sentence of the present, section, the adversative particle ו, corresponding to the δε of the LXX., introducing a contrast between Esau, who dwelt in Mount Seir, and Jacob, who dwelt in the land of Canaan, and the following verse beginning the next division of the book with the customary formula, "These are the generations" (LXX., some MS., Quarry, p. 523). Rosenmüller less happily connects the present verse with Genesis 35:29; the Vulgate begins the next section with ver. 3. A similar division of verses to that proposed will be found in Genesis 25:11.
These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
Verse 2. - These are the generations of Jacob. The opening of a new section (cf. Genesis 2:4 &c.). Joseph, the son of Rachel, and born in Padan-aram (Genesis 30:24) - being seventeen years old, - literally, a son of seventeen years, thus making Jacob 108 - was feeding the flock with his brethren; - literally, was shepherding; not his brethren (Bush), but with his brethren, in, or among, the flock - and the lad was - literally, and he a lad, aetate, moribus et innocentia (Lyra), non tantum aetate sed et ministerio (Poole), but most probably designed simply as a note of his age. Pererius, following the Vulgate, connects the clause with what precedes; Calvin, Dathius, Lange, Murphy, Kalisch, and others conjoin it with the words that follow; the LXX., Willet, Rosenmüller, Keil, Ainsworth, Bush, &c. regard it as a parenthetical statement - with - not in the capacity of a servant (Vatablus) or of a ward (Kalisch), but of a companion - the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. With these rather than the sons of Leah, as being less supercilious and haughty than the children of the first wife (Lawson), or as being less opposed to him than they (Lange), or more probably as being nearer to his own age than they (Keil), or perhaps as having been brought more into contact with the handmaids' children, and in particular with those of Bilhah, Rachel's maid, who may have been to him as a mother after Rachel's death (Rosenmüller). And Joseph brought unto his (rather, their) father their evil report. Not accusavit fratres suos apud patrem crimine pessimo (Vulgate), or κατὴνεγκαν ψόλον πονηρὸν προς Ισραὴλ τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν (LXX.), as if Joseph drew down upon himself their calumnious reports, but carried to his father an evil report concerning them (Kalisch); not informed him of what he himself saw of their evil deeds (Lawson), though this need not be excluded, but repeated the דִּבָּה, or fama, always of a bad character (Rosenmüller), which was circulating in the district respecting them - tunics rumores qui subinde de iis spargebantur (Dathius); - the noun being derived from an onomatopoetic root, דָּבַב, signifying to go slowly, or to creep about.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
Verse 3. - Now (literally, and) Israel loved Joseph more than all his children (literally, sons), because he was the son of his old age - literally, a son of old age (was) he to him; not a son possessing the wisdom of advanced years (Onkelos), but a son born in his old age (Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, et alii), which was literally true of Joseph, since he was born in his father's ninety-first year. Yet as Joseph was only a year or two younger than the children of Bilhah and Zilpah, and as Benjamin was still later born than he, the application of this epithet to Joseph has been explained on the ground that Benjamin was at this time little more than a child (Keil), and had not much come into notice (Murphy), or perhaps was not born when this portion of the narrative was originally written ('Speaker's Commentary); or that Joseph had obtained the name before Benjamin's birth, and that it had clung to him after that event (Inglis). Josephus ('Ant.,' 2:02, 1) gives another reason for Jacob's partiality which is not inconsistent with the statement in the text, viz., the beauty of his person and the virtue of his mind, διὰ τε τὴν τοῦ σώματος εὐγένειαν καὶ διά ψυχῆς ἀρετής. And he made him a coat of many colors - literally, a coat (kithoneth, from kathan, to cover; vide Genesis 3:21) of ends (Keil, Lange), i.e. a tunic reaching to the ancles, and with sleeves reaching to the wrists, and commonly worn by boys and girls of the upper ranks (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 7:08, 9; 2 Samuel 13:18), or a coat of pieces (Kalisch, T. Lewis, Wordsworth); hence a variegated garment, χιτὼν ποικίλος (LXX.), tunica polymita (Vulgate), a coat of many colors (Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'). "Such garments are represented on some of the monuments of Egypt. At Beni-Hassan, for example, there is a magnificent excavation forming the tomb of Pihrai, a military officer of Osirtasen I., in which a train of foreign captives appears, who are supposed to be Jebusites, an inscription over one person in the group reading, "The Chief of the Land of the Jebusites. 'The whole of the captives are clad in parti-colored garments, and the tunic of this individual in particular may be called "a coat of many colors" (Thornlcy Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 12). It has been supposed that Jacob's object in conferring this distinction on Joseph was to mark him out as the heir to whom the forfeited birthright of Reuben (1 Chronicles 5:1) was to be transferred (Kurtz, Lange, Gerlach, Bush, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' &c.); but the historian only mentions it as a token of affection, such as was customary in those times for princes to bestow upon their subjects, and parents on their children (vide Thornley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 11). Roberts says the same thing is still done among the Hindoos, crimson, purple, and other colors being often tastefully sewed together for beautiful or favored children (vide 'Oriental Illustrations,' p. 43).
And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
Verse 4. - And when (literally, and) his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they (literally, and they) hated him, - as Esau hated Jacob (Genesis 27:41; cf. Genesis 49:23) - and could not speak peaceably unto him - literally, they were not able to speak of him for peace, L e. they could not address him in such a way as to wish him well; they could not offer him the customary salutation of Shalom, or Peace.
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
Verse 5. - And Joseph dreamed a dream (in which, though, as the sequel shows, intended as a Divine communication, there was nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary product of the mind), and he told it to his brethren: - not in pride, since there is no reason to suppose that Joseph as yet understood the celestial origin of his dream but in the simplicity of his heart (Kalisch, Murphy), though in doing so he was also guided, unconsciously it may be, but still really, by an overruling providence, who made use of this very telling of the dream as a step towards its fulfillment (Lawson) - and they hated him yet the more - literally, and they added again to hate him.
And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
Verse 6. - And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed. Though Joseph did not certainly know that his dream was supernatural, he may have thought that it was, the more so as dreams were in those times commonly regarded as mediums of Divine communication; and in this case it was clearly his duty to impart it to the household, and all the more that the subject of it seemed to be for them a matter of peculiar importance. In the absence of information to the contrary, we are warranted in believing that there was nothing either sinful or offensive in Joseph s spirit or manner in making known his dreams. That which appears to have excited the hostility of his brethren was not the mode of their communication, but the character of their contents.
For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
Verse 7. - For (literally, and), behold, we were binding sheaves - literally, binding things bound, i.e. sheaves, alumim, from alam, to bind; the order of the words and the participial form of the verb indicating that the speaker describes the vision as it appeared to his mind (vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 342) - in the field, - literally, in the middle of the field; from which it would appear that Jacob was not a mere nomad, but carried on agricultural operations like his father Isaac (Genesis 26:12) - and, lo, - "the הֵנּה, as repeated in his narration, shows that he had a presentiment of something great" (Lange) - my sheaf arose, and also stood upright (literally, stood, i.e. placed itself upright, and remained so); and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance - i.e. bowed themselves down (cf. Genesis 23:7, Abraham bowing to the Hethites) - to my sheaf. The fulfillment of this dream occurred in Egypt (vide Genesis 42:6; Genesis 43:26; Genesis 44:14).
And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
Verse 8. - And his brethren (who had no difficulty in interpreting the symbol's significance) said to him (with mingled indignation and contempt), Shalt thou indeed reign over us? - literally, reigning, wilt thou reign? i.e. wilt thou actually reign over us? the emphasis resting on the action of the verb (vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 312a) - or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? The form of expression is the same as that of the preceding clause. And they hated him yet the more (literally and they added again to hate him) for (i.e. on account of) his dreams, and for (or, on account of) his words.
And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.
Verse 9. - And he dreamed yet another dream, - the doubling of the dream was designed to indicate its certainty (cf. Genesis 41:32) - and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun (הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, the minister, from Chaldee root שְׁמַשׁ, the pael of which occurs in Daniel 7:10) and the moon - הַיּרֵחַ, probably, if the word be not a primitive, the circuit-maker, from the unused root יָרַח, = = אָרַח, to go about (Furst); or the yellow one, from יָרַח = = יָרַק, to be yellow, ח and ק being interchanged (Gesenius) - and the eleven stars - rather, eleven stars, כּוכָבִים, globes, or bails, from כָּבַב, to roll up in a ball (vide Genesis 1:10) - made obeisance to me - literally, bowing themselves to me, the participles being employed ut supra, ver. 7. It is apparent that Joseph understood this second dream, even more plainly than the first, to foreshadow, in some way unexplained, his future supremacy over his brethren, who were unmistakably pointed out by the eleven stars of the vision; and this remarkable coincidence between the number of the stars and the number of his brethren would facilitate the inference that his parents were referred to under the other symbols of the sun and moon. In the most ancient symbology, Oriental and Grecian as well as Biblical (Numbers 24:17), it was customary to speak of noble personages, princes, &c., under such figures; and the employment of such terminology by a nomadic people like the Hebrew patriarchs, who constantly lived beneath the open sky, may almost be regarded as a water-mark attesting the historic credibility of this page at least of the sacred record (vide Havernick, 'Introd.,' § 21), in opposition to Bohlen, who finds in the symbolical character of Joseph s dreams an evidence of their unreality, and De Wette, who explains them as the offspring of his aspiring mind.
And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
Verse 10. - And he told it to his father, and to his brethren - whom it manifestly concerned, as, for the like reason, he had reported the first dream only to his brethren. That he does not tell it to his mother may be an indication that Rachel was by this time dead. And his father rebuked him, - either to avoid irritating his brethren (Calvin), or to repress an appearance of pride in Joseph (Lange, Murphy, Inglis), or to express his own surprise (Candlish) or irritation (Keil), or sense of the absurdity of the dream (Lawson), which he further demonstrated when he added - and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed! Shall I and thy mother -
(1) "Rachel, who was neither forgotten nor lost" (Keil), who may possibly have been living at the date of the dream ('Speaker's Commentary'), though then Joseph could not 'have had eleven brothers; who, being dead, was referred to in order to show the impossibility of its ever being fulfilled (Kalisch, Pererius); or
(2) Leah, as the chief mistress of Jacob's household (Willet, Hughes, Inglis); or
(3) Bilhah, Rachel,s maid, who had probably acted as Joseph s mother after Rachel's death (Jewish interpreters, Grotius, and others); or, what seems more probable,
(4) the term "mother" is here introduced simply for the sake of giving completeness to the symbol (Kurtz, Murphy) - and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee - Joseph's brethren ultimately did so in Egypt (Genesis 41:6); Joseph's father practically did so when he recognized Joseph's greatness and depended on him for support (Genesis 47:12). It is certain that Leah died before the immigration to Egypt (Genesis 49:31), and it cannot be determined whether Bilhah or Zilpah went to Egypt - to the earth. Jacob seems here, by intensifying Joseph's language, to resent the claim which it conveyed.
And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
Verse 11. - And his brethren envied him. The verb קָנָא (unused in Kal), to become red in the face, seems to indicate that the hatred of Joseph's brethren revealed itself in scowling looks. But his father observed the saying - literally, kept the word, διετήρησε τὸ ῤῆμα (LXX.). Cf. Daniel 7:28; Luke 2:51.
And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.
Verse 12. - And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem - i.e. the modern Nablous, in the plain of Muknah, which belonged to Jacob partly by purchase and partly by conquest (vide Genesis 33:19; 34:27). Shechem was at a considerable distance from the vale of Hebron, where the patriarchal family at this time resided.
And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
Verse 13. - And Israel (vide Genesis 32:28; Genesis 35:10) said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock (literally, Are not thy brethren shepherding?) in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. Either he was solicitous of the safety of his sons while in the vicinity of Shechem (Lawson), or he hoped to effect a reconciliation between them and Joseph (Candlish). And he (i.e. Joseph, in response to this invitation, expressed a willingness to undertake a mission to his brethren, and) said to him, Here am I.
And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
Verse 14. - And he (Jacob) said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren (literally, see the place of thy brethren), and well with the flocks (literally, and the peace of the flock); and bring me word again. So (literally, and) he sent him out of the vale of Hebron (vide Genesis 35:27), and he same to Shechem - a distance of sixty miles.
And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?
Verses 15, 16. - And a certain man (or simply a man) found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field (obviously seeking some thing or person): and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? And he said, I seek my brethren: - or, more emphatically, My Brethren I (sc. am) seeking - tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks - or, Where (are) they shepherding?
And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
Verse 17. - And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan - Dothaim, "the Two ells," a place twelve miles north of Samaria in the direction of the plain of Esdraelon, situated on the great caravan road from Mount Gilead to Egypt, the scene of one of the greatest miracles of Elisha the prophet (2 Kings 6:13-18), and, though now a deserted ruin, still called by its ancient name. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. "Just beneath Tell Dothan, which still preserves its name, is the little oblong plain, containing the best pasturage in the country, and well chosen by Jacob's sons when they had exhausted for a time the wider plain of Shechem" (Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 132; cf. Thomson, ' Land and Book,' p. 466).
And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
Verse 18. - And when (literally, and) they saw him afar off, even (or, and) before he came near unto them, they (literally, and they) conspired against him (or, dealt with him fraudulently) to slay him
And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.
Verse 19. - And they said one to another (literally, a man to his brother), Behold, this dreamer - literally, this lord of dreams (cf. Genesis 14:13; Exodus 24:14) - cometh - expressive of rancor, contempt, and hatred.
Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
Verse 20. - Come now therefore, and lot us slay him, and cast him into some pit (literally, into one of the pits or cisterns in the neighborhood), and we will say (sc. to his father and ours), Some (literally, an) evil beast hath devoured him (which will account for his disappearance); and we shall see what will become of his dreams - or, what his dreams will be.
And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.
Verses 21, 22. - And Reuben (the eldest son, and therefore probably regarding himself as in some degree responsible for Joseph's safety) heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him - literally, Let us not destroy his life (nephesh). And Reuben said (further) unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness (i.e. into a dry pit that was near), and lay no hand upon him; that (the adverb indicates the purpose Reuben had in view) he might rid him (translated above deliver him) out of their hands, to deliver him (or, more correctly, to return him) to his father again.
And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;
Verse 23. - And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors - i.e. his coat of ends, or coat of pieces (vide on ver. 3) - that was on him.
And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
Verses 24, 25. - And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. Cisterns when empty, or only covered with mud at the bottom, were sometimes used as temporary prisons (Jeremiah 38:6; Jeremiah 40:15). And - leaving him, as they must have calculated, to perish by a painful death through starvation, with exquisite cold-bloodedness, paying no heed to his piteous outcries and appeals (Genesis 41:21) - they sat down (the callous composure of the act indicates deplorable brutality on the part of Joseph's brethren) to eat bread (perhaps with a secret feeling of satisfaction, if not also exultation, that they had effectually disposed of the young man and his dreams): and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, Behold, a company - or-chath, from arach, to walk; a band of travelers, especially of merchantmen; a caravan; συνοδία ὁδοιπόροι (LXX.; cf. Job 6:19) - of Ishmaelites - Arabs descended from Ishmael, who occupied the district lying between Egypt and Assyria (Genesis 25:18), and, as appears from the record, carried on a trade with the former country. That Ishmael's descendants should already have developed into a trading nation will not be surprising (Bohlen) if one reflects that Ishmael may have married in his eighteenth or twentieth year, i.e. about 162 years before the date of the present occurrence, that four generations may have been born in the interval, and that, if Ishmael's sons had only five sons each, his posterity in the fifth generation (not reckoning females) may have amounted to 15,000 persons (Murphy). But in point of fact the Ishmaelites spoken of are not described as nations - simply as a company of merchants, without saying how numerous it was (Havernick, 'Introd.,'§ 21) - came (literally, coming) from Oilcad (vide Genesis 31:21) with (literally, and) their camels bearing spicery - נְכאת, either an infinitive from נָכָא, to break, to grind (?), and signifying a pounding, breaking in pieces, hence aromatic powder (Gesenius); or a contraction from נְכָאות (Ewald), meaning that which is powdered or pulverized. Rendered θυμιαμάτα (LXX.), aromata (Vulgate), στύραξ (Aquila), it was probably the gum tragacanth, many kinds of which appear in Syria (Furst, Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, Murphy), or storax, the resinous exudation of the styrax officinale, which abounds in Palestine and the East (Aquila, Bochart, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis) - and balm - ךצרִי (in pause צרי, after van of union צְרִי), mentioned as one of the most precious fruits of Palestine (Genesis 43:11), rendered ῤητίνη (LXX.) and refina (Vulgate), and derived from צָוָה, to flow, to run (hence, literally, an outflowing, or out-dropping). was unquestionably a balsam, but of what tree cannot now be ascertained, distilling from a tree or fruit growing in Gilead, and highly prized for its healing properties (Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 46:11). Vide Lexicons (Gesenius and Furst) sub voce; Michaelis, 'Suppl.' p. 2142; Kalisch in loco - and myrrh, - לֹט, στακτή (LXX.), stacte (Vulgate), pistacia (Chaldee, Syriac, Michaelis, 'Suppl.,' p. 1424), was more probably ladanum (Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, et alii), an odoriferous gum formed upon the leaves of the cactus-rose, a shrub growing in Arabia, Syria, and Palestine (vide-Herod., 3:112; Pliny, 'N. H., 12:37; Celsius, 'Hierob.,' L 280-288) - going - the caravan route from Gilead crossed the Jordan in the neighborhood of Bersan, and, sweeping through Jenin and the plain of Dothan, joined another track leading southwards from Damascus by way of Ramleh and Gaza (vide Robinson, 3:27, and cf. Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 132) - to carry it down to Egypt. At that time the land of the Pharaohs was the chief emporium for the world's merchandise.
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood?
Verses 26, 27. - And Judah (apparently shrinking from the idea of murder) said unto his brethren, What profit is it if (literally, what of advantage that) we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? (i.e. and hide the fact of his murder). Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him (literally, and our hand, let it not be upon him, i.e. to slay him); for he is our brother and our flesh - or, more expressly, our brother and our flesh he (cf. Genesis 29:14). And his brethren were content - literally, hearkened, viz., to the proposal.
Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.
Verse 28. - Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; - literally, and passed by the men, Midianites (by country), merchants (by profession). On the different appellations given to the traders vide infra, ver. 36 - and they - not the Midianites (Davidson), but Joseph's brethren - drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver - literally, for twenty (sc. shekels) of silver - L2 10s.; the price afterwards fixed for a boy between five and twenty (Leviticus 27:5), the average price of a slave being thirty shekels (Ezekiel 21:32), and Joseph only bringing twenty because he was a lad (Kurtz), because the Midianites desired to make money by the transaction (Keil), perhaps because-his brethren wished to avoid the reproach of having acted from love of gain (Gerlach), but most probably because Joseph's brethren cared little what they had for him, if so be they were rid of him (Lawson). On the term keseph vide Genesis 20:16. And they brought Joseph into Egypt - where they in turn disposed of their purchase, doubtless at a profit (ver. 36).
And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
Verses 29, 30. - And Reuben (in whose absence apparently the scheme of sale had been concocted and carried through) returned to the pit (obviously with a view to deliver Joseph); and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes - a token of his mingled grief and horror at the discovery (cf. ver. 34; 44:13; 2 Samuel 13:31; 2 Kings 18:37; Job 1:20). And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child (or young man, as in Genesis 4:23, where יֶלֶד in the one hemistich is equivalent to אִישׁ in the other) is not; and I, whither shall I go - i.e. however shall I account for his disappearance?
And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?
And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
Verses 31, 32. - And they - i.e. Joseph's Brethren, including Reuben, to whom manifestly the matter had been explained (Candlish thinks Reuben may have been deceived by his brethren), and who wanted the courage either to expose their wickedness or to dissent from their device for deceiving Jacob - took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, - more correctly, a he-goat of the goats, since the name of goat seems to have belonged in a wider sense to other animals also (Gesenius); usually understood to mean the somewhat older he-goat which was used as a sin offering - Leviticus 16:9; Leviticus 23:19; Numbers 7:16; Numbers 15:24 (Furst) - and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of many colors (vide on ver. 3), and they brought it (or caused it to be brought by the hands of a servant) to their father, and said (of course by the lips of the messenger), This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. Either Jacob's sons had not the fortitude to witness the first outburst of his grief, or they had not the effrontery requisite to carry through their scheme in their own persons, and were accordingly obliged to employ another, probably a slave, to carry home the bloody coat to Jacob in Hebron.
And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no.
And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.
Verse 33. - And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast (vide ver. 20) hath devoured him (this was precisely what his sons meant him to infer); Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces - טְרֹפ טֹרַפ, the inf. abs. Kal with the Pual expressing undoubted certainty.
And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Verse 34. - And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, - שָׂק (cf. σάκος, el, frog, saccus), the usual dress of mourners (2 Samuel 3:31; Nehemiah 9:1; Esther 4:1), was a coarse, thick haircloth, of which corn sacks were also made (Genesis 42:25), and which in cases of extreme mental distress was worn next the skin (1 Kings 21:27) - and mourned for his son many days. Though twenty-two years elapsed before Jacob again beheld his son, and though doubtless the old man's grief for the premature and, violent death, as he imagined, of Rachel s child was little abated by the lapse, of time, yet the expression "many days" may only be employed to mark the intensity of Jacob's sorrow, which continued longer than the customary mournings of the period.
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
Verse 35. - And all his sons - the criminals become comforters (Lange)- and all his daughters - either Jacob had other daughters besides Dinah (Kalisch, Gerlach, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or these included his daughters-in-law, the word being employed as in Ruth 1:11, 12 (Willet, Bush, Murphy), or the term is used freely without being designed to indicate whether he had one or more girls in his family (Augustine) - rose up to comfort him (this implies the return of Jacob's brethren to Hebron); but he refused to be comforted; and he said (here the thought must be supplied: It is vain to ask me-to be comforted), For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning - or, retaining the order of the Hebrew words, which is almost always more expressive than those adopted by our translators, I will go down to my son mourning to, or towards, in the direction of, Sheol. The term שְׁאֹל - more fully שְׁאול, an inf. absol, for a noun, either
(1) from שָׁאַל = שָׁעַל, to go down, to sink (Gesenius, Ftirst), signifying the hollow place; or,
(2) according to the older lexicographers and etymologists, from שָׁאַל, to ask, and meaning either the region which inexorably summons all men into its shade, the realm that is always craving because never satisfied (Keil, Murphy, Lange), or the land that excites questioning and wonder in the human heart, "the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns" (T. Lewis) - is not the grave, since Jacob's son had no grave, but the place of departed spirits, the unseen world (Ἅδης, LXX.) into which the dead disappear, and where they consciously exist (2 Samuel 12:23). Thus (literally, and) his father (not Isaac) wept for him.
And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.
Verse 36. - And the Midianites - or Medanites, descendants of Medan, a brother of Midian, both of whom were sons of Abraham by Keturah (Genesis 25:2). That the Arabian merchants are called Ishmaelites (ver. 27), Midianites (ver. 28), and Medanites (ver. 36), is explained as an evidence of varying legends (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson, Colenso), but is better accounted for as indicating that the traders were composed of men of various nations (Clericus); that the Midianites, Ishmaelites, and Medanites were often confounded from their common parentage and closely similar habits (Keil); that the narrator did not intend to lay stress upon the nationality, but upon the occupation, of the travelers (Havernick); that the proprietors of the caravan were Ishmaelites, and the company attending it Midianites or Medanites (Lange); that the Ishmaelites were the genus, and the Midianites and Medanites the species, of the same nation (Rosenmüller, Quarry); that the Midianites or Medanites were the actual purchasers of Joseph, while the caravan took its name from the Ishmaelites, who formed the larger portion of it (Murphy) - sold him into Egypt (i.e. having brought him into Egypt, perhaps, as Luther conjectures, passing through Hebron on the way, sold him) unto Potiphar, - the name is abbreviated from Poti-Phera (Genesis 41:50), i.e. he who belongs to the sun (Gesenius, sub voce). The LXX. render Πετεφρής or Πετεφρῆ - an officer - סָרִיס, from סָרַס, an unused root signifying to pull up by the roots, originally means a eunuch (Isaiah 56:3, 4), such as Oriental monarchs were accustomed to set over their harems (Esther 2:3, 14, 15; Esther 4:5), but is here employed to denote an officer or courtier generally, without any reference to the primary signification, since Potiphar was married - of Pharaoh's (vide Genesis 12:15), and captain of the guard - literally, captain of the slaughterers, i.e. chief officer of the executioners, the nature of whoso duties may be understood from the fact that he was keeper of the State prison, "where the king's prisoners were bound" (Genesis 39:20).