JOSEPH PRESENTS HIS FATHER AND BRETHREN TO PHARAOH.
(1) Behold, they are in the land of Goshen.—Though Joseph had all along wished this to be the dwelling-place of his brethren, yet it was necessary to obtain Pharaoh’s permission; and at present Joseph only mentions that they had halted there. In Genesis 47:4 they ask for the necessary consent.
Few and evil.—Evil certainly: for from the time when he deceived his father, Jacob’s life had been one of great anxiety and care, in addition to his many sorrows. If he had gained wealth in Haran, it had been by great industry and personal toil, aggravated by Laban’s injustice. On his return, there was the double terror of Laban’s pursuit behind and Esau’s menacing attitude in front. He had then long lain ill at Succoth, waiting till time healed his sprained hip. His entry into the promised land had been made miserable by his daughter’s dishonour and the fierce conduct of his sons. And when his home was in sight, he had lost his beloved Rachel; and finally, been compelled to remain at a distance from his father, because Esau was there chief and paramount. His father dies, and Esau goes away; but the ten years between Isaac’s death and the descent into Egypt had been years of mourning for Joseph’s loss. All these troubles had fallen upon him, and made his days evil; but they were few only in comparison with those of his father and grandfather. In Pharaoh’s eyes Jacob had lived beyond the usual span of human existence; but to himself he seemed prematurely old. His end came after seventeen years of peaceful decay spent under Joseph’s loving care.
The land of Rameses.—See Note on Genesis 45:10. Though the LXX. take “land of Rameses” as equivalent to Goshen, it was more probably some special district of it, for, as we have seen, Goshen was a territory of vast extent. Raamses (Exodus 1:11) is the same word, though the Masorites have given it different vowels; but whether such a town already existed, or whether when built it took its name from the district, we cannot tell. If there were such a place, it would at this period be a poor village, consisting of a few shepherds’ huts; but long afterwards, in the days of King Rameses II., “it was the centre of a rich, fertile, and beautiful land, described as the abode of happiness, where all alike, rich and poor, lived in peace and plenty.”—Canon Cook, Excursus on Egyptian Words, p. 487. It deserved therefore its description as “the best of the land.”
Genesis 47:13And 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.
Genesis 47:14And 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.
Genesis 47:15And 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.
Genesis 47:16And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.JOSEPH’S POLICY IN EGYPT.
(16) Give your cattle.—As the people were in want of food, and their land incapable of cultivation as long as the Nile ceased to overflow, this was a merciful arrangement, by which the owners were delivered from a burden, and also a portion of the cattle saved for the time when they would be needed again for agricultural purposes. As the charge of so many cattle in time of dearth would be a very serious matter (1 Kings 18:5-6), we now see the reason why Pharaoh wished the ablest of Joseph’s brethren to be employed in the task; and probably while there was no food for them in the Nile Valley, there would still be grass in the alluvial soil of the delta, which men used to move about with cattle would be able to find.
Genesis 47:26And 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.
Genesis 47:27And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
Genesis 47:28And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
Genesis 47:29And 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:ISRAEL IN EGYPT.
(29) The time drew nigh that Israel must die—For seventeen years Jacob lived in Egypt, and saw the growing prosperity of his race under the fostering hand of Joseph. Placed at the entrance of Egypt, on the side of Arabia and Palestine, the clans of his sons would daily grow in number by the addition of Semitic immigrants, by whose aid they would make the vast and fertile region assigned them, and which had previously had but a scanty population, a well-cultivated and thriving land. But at last Jacob feels his end approaching, though apparently he was not as yet in immediate danger of death. But there was a wish over which he had long pondered; and desiring to have his mind set at rest, he sends for Joseph, and makes him promise that he will bury him in the cave at Machpelah. We find him again charging all his sons to grant him this request (Genesis 49:29-32); nor need we seek for any remote reason for it. Jacob’s whole nature was a loving one, and strongly influenced by home and domestic feelings; and at Machpelah his nearest relatives were buried. In the next chapter he dwells upon Rachel’s death, and his burial of her apart from the rest at Ephrath; and this seems to have increased his grief at her loss. At Machpelah, Abraham. whom he had known as a boy, his beloved father and mother, and Leah, who had evidently at last won his affections, all lay; and there, naturally, he too wished to lie among his own.
Put . . . thy hand under my thigh.—See Note on Genesis 24:2.