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.
Verse 1. - Then Joseph came - literally, and Joseph went, up to the royal presence, as he had proposed (Genesis 46:31) - and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come cut of the land of Canaan; - as thou didst desire (Genesis 45:17, 18) - and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen (vide Genesis 45:10).
And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.
Verse 2. - And he took some of his brethren, even five men, - literally, from the end, or extremity, of his brethren; not from the weakest, lest the king should select them for courtiers or soldiers (the Rabbis, Oleaster, Pererius, and others); or the strongest and most handsome, that the Egyptian monarch and his nobles might behold the dignity of Joseph s kindred (Lyre, Thostatus, and others); or the youngest and oldest, that the ages of the rest might be therefrom inferred (Calvin); but from the whole body of his brethren (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, et alii) he took five teen - and presented them unto Pharaoh (cf. Acts 7:13).
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.
Verse 3. - And Pharaoh said unto his (i.e. Joseph's) brethren, What is your occupation? (vide Genesis 46:33). And they said unto Pharaoh, - as directed (Genesis 46:34) - 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.
Verse 4. - They said moreover (literally, and they said) unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; - an unconscious fulfillment of an ancient prophecy (Genesis 15:13) - for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks (it was solely the extreme drought that had caused them for a season to vacate their own land); for the famine is sore (literally, heavy) in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell (literally, and now might thy servants dwell, we pray, the future having here the force of an optative) in the land of Goshen.
And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
Verses 5, 6. - And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: the land of Egypt is before thee (cf. Genesis 20:15); in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell. Wilkinson thinks it possible that Jacob's sons "may have asked and obtained a grant of land from the Egyptian monarch on condition of certain services being performed by themselves and their descendants" ('Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 1. Genesis 2. p. 35). In the land of Goshen let them dwell. Robinson (Genesis 1:78, 79) speaks of the province of es-Shar-Kiyeh, which corresponds as nearly as possible with ancient Goshen, as being even in modern times (1736) exceedingly productive and thickly populated. And if thou knowest any men of activity among them, - literally, and if thou knowest, and there be among them, men of strength - chayil, from chul, to twist (εἰλύω ἐλίσσω), the idea being that of strength as of twisted rope - then make them rulers over my cattle - literally, and thou shelf make them masters of cattle over that which belongs to me. "The shepherds on an Egyptian estate were chosen by the steward, who ascertained their character and skill previous to their being appointed to so important a trust" (Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. p. 445, ed. 1878).
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.
Verse 7. - And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh. It has been thought that Jacob's presentation to the Egyptian king was deferred till after the monarch's interview with his sons because of the public and political character of that interview, relating as it did to the occupation of the land, while Jacob's introduction to the sovereign was of a purely personal and private description. And Jacob - in reply probably to a request from Pharaoh (Tayler Lewis), but more likely sua sponte - blessed Pharaoh. Not simply extended to him the customary salutation accorded to kings (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Alford, and others), like the "May the king live for ever!" of later times (2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Kings 1:25; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9, &c.), but, conscious of his dignity as a prophet of Jehovah, pronounced on him a heavenly benediction (Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary,' and others) - hoe verbo non vulgaris et profana salutatio notatur, sed pia sanctaque servi Dei precatio (Calvin).
And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?
Verses 8, 9. - And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? - literally, How many are the days of the years of thy life? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage (literally, of my sojournings, wanderings to and fro without any settled condition) are an hundred and thirty years. Since Joseph was now thirty-seven years of age (Genesis 45:6), it is apparent that he was born in his father's ninety-first year; and since this event took place in the fourteenth year of Jacob's residence in Padan-aram (Genesis 30:25), it is equally apparent that Jacob was seventy-seven years of age when he left Beersheba after surreptitiously securing the patriarchal blessing (Genesis 28:1). 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. As Jacob s life fell short of that of his ancestors in respect of duration (witness the 175 years of Abraham, and the 180 of Isaac), so it greatly surpassed theirs in respect of the miseries that were crowded into it.
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.
Verse 10. - And Jacob blessed Pharaoh (as he had done on entering the royal presence), -
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.
Verse 11. - And Joseph placed his father and his brethren (i.e. gave them a settlement, the import of which the next clause explains), and gave them a possession (i.e. allowed them to acquire property) in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, - either that district of Goshen in which Jacob and his family first settled (Michaelis, Rosenmüller), or, what seems more probable, the land of Goshen itself (LXX., Keil, Hengstenberg, Kalisch, et alii), being so named proleptically from the town Rameses, which was subsequently built (Exodus 1:11), or, if the town existed in the time of Joseph, and was only afterwards fortified by the Israelites, deriving its designation from the name of its chief city' - as Pharaoh had commanded.
And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
Verse 12. - And Joseph nourished - ἐσιτομέτρει (LXX.), i.e. gave them their measure of corn - his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families - literally, to, or according to, the mouth of the little ones, meaning either in proportion to the size of their families (LXX., Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), or with all the tenderness with which a parent provides for his offspring (Murphy), or the whole body of them, from the greatest even to the least (Calvin), or completely, down even to the food for their children ('Speaker's Commentary').
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.
Verse 13. - And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore (literally, heavy), so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted (literally, was exhausted, had become languid and spiritless) by reason of the famine. The introduction of the present section, which first depicts the miseries of a starving population, and then circumstantially describes a great political revolution forced upon them by the stern necessity of hunger, may have been due to a desire
(1) to exhibit the extreme urgency which existed for Joseph's care of his father and brethren (Bush),
(2) to show the greatness of the benefit conferred on Joseph's house (Baumgarten, Keil, Lange), and perhaps also
(3) to foreshadow the political constitution afterwards bestowed upon the Israelites (Gerlach).
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.
Verse 14. - And Joseph gathered up - the verb, used only here of collecting money, usually signifies to gather things lying on the ground, as, e.g., ears of corn (Ruth 2:3), stones (Genesis 31:46), manna (Exodus 16:14), flowers (Song of Solomon 6:2) - all the money (literally, silver) that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph (who in this matter was simply Pharaoh's steward) brought the money into Pharaoh's house (i.e. deposited it in the royal treasury).
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.
Verse 15. - And when money failed (literally, and the silver was consumed, or spent) in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all (literally, and all) the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth (literally, and why should we die in thy presence because silver faileth? i.e. seeing that thou art able to support us).
And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.
Verses 16, 17. - And Joseph said, Give (literally, bring) your cattle; and I will give you (sc. bread) 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 (literally, and for cattle of the flocks), and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses (the severity of these terms of sale and purchase was not so great as at first sight appears, since to a famishing people under-fed cattle and starving horses must have been comparatively worthless): and he fed them - literally, led, in the sense of cared for and maintained, them (cf. Psalm 23:2; Isaiah 40:11) - for all their cattle for that year - this was the sixth year of the famine (vide ver. 23).
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:
Verses 18, 19. - When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year (not the second from the commencement of the dearth, but the second from the consumption of their money), and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that - literally, for if (so we should speak openly), hence equivalent to an intensified but - our money (literally, the silver) is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; - literally, our herds of cattle also (sc. have come) to my lord - 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 (literally, and we shall) live, and not die, that the land be not desolate (literally, and the land shall not be desolate).
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.
Verse 20. - 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 (literally, and) the land became Pharaoh's. From this it may be concluded that originally Pharaoh had no legal claim to the soil, but that the people had a valid title to its absolute possession, each man being regarded as the legitimate proprietor of the portion on which he had expended the labor of cultivation.
And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
Verse 21. - And as for the people, he removed them - not enslaved them, converted them into serfs and bondmen to Pharaoh (LXX., Vulgate), but simply transferred them, caused them to pass over - to cities - not from cities to cities, as if changing their populations (Onkelos, Rosenmüller, Kalisch), but either from the country districts to the towns (Targums Jonathan and Jerusalem, Lange, Schumann, Gerlach, Murphy), or according to the cities, i.e. in which the grain had been previously collected (Keil) - from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof. Not that the people were transported from one side of the country to the other as a high stroke of policy to complete their subjugation (Jarchi, Grotius, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, and others), but that throughout the land they were moved into the nearest cities, as a considerate and even merciful arrangement for the more efficiently supplying them with food (Calvin, Keil, Lange, Wordsworth, Speaker's Commentary).
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.
Verse 22. - Only the land of the priests (so the LXX., Vulgate, and Chaldee render cohen, which, however, sometimes signifies a prince) bought he not; for the priests had a portion - not of land (Lange, Kalisch), but of food (Keil, Murphy) - assigned them of Pharaoh (not of Joseph, who must not, therefore, be charged with the sin of extending a State allowance to an idolatrous priesthood), and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands, - that is, in consequence of the State aliment which they enjoyed (during the period of the famine) they did not require to alienate 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.
Verses 23, 24. - 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. This proves the time to have been the last year of the famine; and since the people obtained seed from the viceroy, it is reasonable to suppose that they would also have their cattle restored to them to enable them to till the ground. 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. This verse is a sufficient refutation of the oft-preferred charge that Joseph had despoiled the Egyptians of their liberties, and converted a free people into a horde of abject slaves. Slave-owners are not usually content with a tax of only twenty percent on the gross revenues of their estates. Nor does it seem reasonable to allege that this was an exorbitant demand on the part either of Joseph or of Pharaoh. If in the seven years of plenty the people could afford to part with a fifth part of their produce, might not an improved system of agriculture enable them, under the new regulations, to pay as much as that in the shape of rent, and with quite as much ease? At all events the people themselves did not consider that they were being subjected to any harsh or unjust exaction.
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.
Verse 25. - And they said, Thou hast saved our lives (literally, thou hast kept us alive): let us find grace in the sight of my lord (i.e. let us have the land on these favorable terms), and we will be Pharaoh's servants. "That a sort of feudal service is here intended - the service of free laborers, not bondmen - we may learn from the relationship of the Israelites to God, which was formed after the plan of this Egyptian model" (Gerlach).
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.
Verse 26. - And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day (i.e. the day of the narrator), that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh's. The account here given of the land tenure in Egypt, viz.,
(1) that after the time of Joseph the kings of Egypt became lords paramount of the soil,
(2) that the only free landholders in the country were the members of the priestly caste, and
(3) that the population generally occupied their farms at the uniform fixed rent of one fifth of their yearly produce, is abundantly corroborated by the statements of Herodotus (2. 109), that Sesostris divided the soil of Egypt among the inhabitants, "assigning square plots of equal size to all, and obtaining his chief revenue from the rent which the holders were required to pay him year by year; of Diodorus Siculus (1. 73), that the land in Egypt belonged either to the priests, to the king, or to the military order; and of Strabo (17. 787), that the peasants were not landowners, but occupiers of ratable land; as also by the monuments, which represent the king, priests, and warriors alone as having landed property (Wilkinson, Ken). Dr. Robinson quotes a modern parallel to this act of Joseph's, which both illustrates its nature and by way of contrast exhibits its clemency. Up to the middle of the present century the people of Egypt had been the owners as well as tillers of the soil. "By a single decree the Pasha (Mohammed Ali) declared himself to be the sole owner of all lands in Egypt; and the people of course became at once-only his tenants at will, or rather his slaves." "The modern Pharaoh made no exceptions, and stripped the mosques and other religious and charitable institutions of their landed endowments as mercilessly as the rest. Joseph gave the people seed to sow, and required for the king only a fifth of the produce, leaving four-fifths to them as their own; but now, though seed is in like manner given out, yet every village is compelled to cultivate two-thirds of its lands with corn and other articles for the Pasha, and also to render back to him, in the form of taxes and exactions in kind, a large proportion of the produce remaining after" ('Biblical Researches,' 1:42).
And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
Verse 27. - And Israel (i.e. the people) dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein (i.e. acquired holdings in it), and grew (or became fruitful), and multiplied exceedingly - or became very numerous. This was the commencement of the promise (Genesis 46:3).
And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
Verse 28. - And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was (literally, the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were) an hundred forty and seven years. He had lived seventy-seven years in Canaan, twenty years in Padanaram, thirty-three in Canaan again, and seventeen in Egypt, in all 147 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:
Verse 29. - And the time drew nigh that Israel (i.e. Jacob) must die (literally, and the days of Israel to die drew near): and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight (not as if Jacob doubted Joseph's affection, but simply as desiring a last token of his love, perhaps also as unconsciously recognizing his son's greatness), put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, - an ancient form of adjuration (cf. Genesis 24:2) - and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt. On the root קָבַר, to bury (cf. Eng. cover), vide Genesis 23:4.
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.
Verse 30. - But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place. The request of the venerable patriarch, while due in some respect to the deeply-seated instinct of human nature which makes men, almost universally, long to be buried in ancestral graves, was inspired by the clear faith that Canaan was the true inheritance of Israel, and that, though now obtaining a temporary refuge in Egypt, his descendants would eventually return to the land of promise as their permanent abode. And he (i.e. Joseph) said, I will do as thou hast said - literally, according to thy word.
And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.
Verse 31. - And he (i.e. Jacob) said, Swear unto me (in the manner indicated in ver. 29). And he (i.e. Joseph) sware unto him. And (having concluded this touching and impressive ceremonial) Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head. Though supported by many eminent authorities (Chaldee Pard. phrase, Symmachus, Vulgate, Calvin, Willet, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, &c., &c.), the present rendering is not entirely free from difficulty, since not until the next chapter is there any mention of Jacob's sickness; while in favor of the reading, "And Israel bowed himself on the top of his staff" (LXX.), it may be urged
(1) that it is adopted by the writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:21),
(2) that the Hebrew words for staff and bed differ only in the punctuation, and
(3) that the action of leaning on his staff was quite as suitable to Jacob's circumstances as turning over and bowing on his bed's head.