The Famine in Canaan
Genesis 42:1-2
Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, Why do you look one on another?…


1. A dire calamity. Perhaps none greater. One which human wisdom cannot foresee. Affects all classes. Animal life depends on vegetable life, vegetable life on seasons, light, heat, rain, temperature, &c. These under the control of God. The lawmaker may suspend the operation of natural laws, moderate their influence, or affect their course.

2. Usually unexpected. In this case there was a warning given, and preparations made. Men cannot foresee the suspension or deviation of natural laws. Hopes for the future built on productiveness of the past.

3. Often over-ruled for good. In this case conspicuously so. Promotes human sympathy (thus the Irish famine, 1846-7, besides evoking much individual be. nevolence, was responded to by Parliamentary grants of, in the whole, £10,000,000. Ill. Indian famine, 1861). Provokes scientific inquiry into "supply and demand." of food. Leads to emigration and breaking up of new ground.

4. Always possible and near. World at any time only a harvest off starvation.

5. Generally local (Genesis 8:22). "All countries" (Genesis 41:57), those adjacent to Egypt. Kindness of Providence in this. Nations in their turn dependent on each other. Each "offers something for the general use."


1. Where? In Egypt. A storehouse of plenty for hungry nations. Always food in some place, and will be while the earth lasts. He who feeds the ravens knows what man has need of.

2. Why? Does it seem strange that the promised land should suffer, rather than be the favoured spot?

(1) It was a small country.

(2) Had other nations gone thither they would have conquered it.

(3) Chiefly: it was part of the Divine plan that Israel should go down into Egypt, and the famine necessitated this.

3. How? By the extraordinary productiveness of seven preceding years, and the storing of the surplus corn. This effected by the instrumentality of Joseph. His mind supernaturally illuminated. Favour given him in the sight of the king of Egypt. Him appointment to office, including the absolute control of the produce of the land.


1. Want in the house of Jacob.

2. The ten sent out to buy corn in Egypt.

3. They arrive in Egypt, and visit the royal granaries.

4. Joseph recognizes them, and they bow before him, and thus fulfil the dream.

5. To disarm suspicion, and to discover the temper of their minds, and the history of their family, they are charged with being spies, and cast into prison.

6. After three days they are liberated, and a hostage required for their return with the younger brother of whom they have spoken, and of whose existence Joseph affects to doubt.

7. Mutual recriminations respecting Joseph.

8. Joseph is affected by what he hears.

9. Simeon bound and left in prison, while they betake themselves away to Canaan. Learn: However great the dearth of the bread that perisheth, there is always sufficient of the "bread of life," and it is always accessible.

(J. C. Gray.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?

WEB: Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, "Why do you look at one another?"

Man's Want and God's Provision
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