|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:1-16 Stephen was charged as a blasphemer of God, and an apostate from the church; therefore he shows that he is a son of Abraham, and values himself on it. The slow steps by which the promise made to Abraham advanced toward performance, plainly show that it had a spiritual meaning, and that the land intended was the heavenly. God owned Joseph in his troubles, and was with him by the power of his Spirit, both on his own mind by giving him comfort, and on those he was concerned with, by giving him favour in their eyes. Stephen reminds the Jews of their mean beginning as a check to priding themselves in the glories of that nation. Likewise of the wickedness of the patriarchs of their tribes, in envying their brother Joseph; and the same spirit was still working in them toward Christ and his ministers. The faith of the patriarchs, in desiring to be buried in the land of Canaan, plainly showed they had regard to the heavenly country. It is well to recur to the first rise of usages, or sentiments, which have been perverted. Would we know the nature and effects of justifying faith, we should study the character of the father of the faithful. His calling shows the power and freeness of Divine grace, and the nature of conversion. Here also we see that outward forms and distinctions are as nothing, compared with separation from the world, and devotedness to God.
Verse 16. - And they were for and were, A.V.; unto Shechem for into Sychem, A.V., i.e. the Hebrew for the Greek form of the name (Genesis 34:2); tomb for sepulcher, A.V.; a price in silver for a sum of money, A.V.; Hamor for Erect, A.V. (Hebrew for Greek form); in Shechem for the father of Sychem, A.V. and T.R. As regards the statement in the text, two distinct transactions seem at first sight to be mixed up. One, that Abraham bought the field of Machpelah of Ephron the Hittite for a burial-place, where he and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah, were buried (Genesis 24:16, 17, 19; Genesis 25:9, 10; Genesis 35:27-29; Genesis 49:29-31); the other, that Jacob "bought a parcel of a field..., at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money," where the bones of Joseph were buried by Joshua (Genesis 33:19; Genesis 50:25; Joshua 24:32), and where, according to a tradition still surviving in the days of St. Jerome, the other patriarchs were also buried ('Epistol.'86," She came to Sichem, now called Neapolis (or Nablous), and from thence visited the tombs of the twelve patriarchs"). See also Jerome, 'De Optimo Genere Interpretandi. All Jewish writers, however, are wholly silent" about this tradition, perhaps from jealousy of the Samaritans (Lightfoot, vol. 8. p. 423). And Josephus affirms that all but Joseph were buried at Hebron ('Ant. Jud.,'2. 8:2); and that their beautiful marble monuments were to be seen at Hebron in his day. In the cave of Machpelah, however, there is no tomb of any of the twelve patriarchs except Joseph; and his so-called tomb is of a different character and situation from the genuine ones (Stanley's 'Lectures on Jewish Church,' 1st series, pp. 498-500. See also 'Sermons in the East': 'The Mosque of Hebron'). But on looking closer at the text it appears pretty certain that only Shechem was in Stephen's mind. For first he speaks of Shechem at once, And were carried over unto Shechem. And adds and were laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor in Shechem. Except the one word "Abraham," the whole sentence points to Shechem. What he says of Shechem is exactly in accordance with Genesis 33:18, 19. And what he says of their fathers being carried over and buried at Shechem is exactly true of Joseph's bones, as related in Joshua 24:32. So that the one difficulty is the word "Abraham." It seems much more probable that this word should have been interpolated by some early transcriber, who saw no nominative case to ὠνήσατο, and who had in his mind a confused recollection of Abraham's purchase, than that Stephen, who shows such thorough knowledge of the Bible history, should have made a gross mistake in such a well-known and famous circumstance as the purchase of the field of Machpelah, or that Luke should have perpetuated it had he made it in the hurry of speech. It cannot be affirmed with certainty that Stephen confirms the story of the other patriarchs being buried at Shechem, though possibly he alludes to the tradition. The plural, "they were carried," etc., might be put generally, though only Joseph was meant (as Matthew 27:44; Matthew 26:8 compared with Luke 23:39; John 12:4), or "the bones of Joseph" might possibly be the subject, though not expressed. Lightfoot - followed by Bishop Wordsworth, who thinks that Abraham really did buy a field of Ephron in Sychem, when he was there (Genesis 12:6)-would thus be right in supposing that the point of Stephen's remark was that the patriarchs were buried in Shechem.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And were carried over into Sichem,.... The Syriac version reads in the singular number, "and he was translated into Sichem, and laid", &c. as if this was said of Jacob only, whereas he is not spoken of at all, only the fathers, the twelve patriarchs; for Jacob, though he was carried out of Egypt, he was not buried in Sichem, but in the cave of Machpelah, Genesis 50:13. But Joseph and the rest of the patriarchs, who died in Egypt, when the children of Israel came out from thence, they brought their bones along with them, and buried them in Sichem: of the burial of Joseph there, there is no doubt, since it is expressly affirmed in Joshua 24:32 and that the rest of the patriarchs were buried there, and not in Hebron, as Josephus asserts (x), may be concluded from hence; because in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron, there are never mentioned more in Jewish writers (y), than these four couple; Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah; from whence, they say, Hebron was called Kirjath Arba, the city of four; as also, because it is the general consent of the Jews; and if they had not agreed in it, or said nothing about it, the thing is natural to suppose, that the children of Israel brought the bones of all the patriarchs out of Egypt, along with Joseph's (z); and since they buried the bones of Joseph in Sichem, it is most reasonable to believe, that the rest were buried there likewise; though it must be owned, that there is an entire silence about them, even when the sepulchre of Joseph is taken notice of: so R. Benjamin speaking of the Samaritans says (a),
"among them is the sepulchre of Joseph the righteous, the son of Jacob our father, on whom be peace, as it is said, Joshua 24:32.''
And says another of their writers (b),
"from Sichem about a sabbath day's journey, in a village, called Belata, there Joseph the just was buried;''
but of the rest, no mention is made:
and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sichem; the last clause, the father "of Sichem", is left out in the Syriac version; and the Alexandrian copy reads it, "in Sichem"; as if it was the name of a place, and not of a man: the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "the son of Sichem"; whereas it is certain, that Sichem was the son of Emmor, or Hamor, Genesis 33:19 unless it can be thought there were two Sichems, one that was the father of Emmor, and another that was his son: but the great difficulty is, how the sepulchre in which the fathers were laid at Sichem, can be said to be bought by Abraham of the sons of Emmor, when what Abraham bought was the field and cave of Machpelah; and that not of the sons of Emmor, but of the sons of Heth, and of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hitrite, Genesis 23:16. Whereas the parcel of ground in Sichem, bought of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sichem, was bought by Jacob, Genesis 33:19. Various things are suggested, to reconcile this; some think the word Abraham is an interpolation, and that it should be read, which he (Jacob) bought; but to support this, no copy can be produced: others observe, that it may be read, which he bought for Abraham; that is, which Jacob bought for Abraham and his seed, as a pledge of the inheritance of the whole land, promised unto him; others think that by Abraham is meant a son of Abraham, that is, Jacob; as children are sometimes called by their father's name; as the Messiah is called David, and the like; but what best seems to remove the difficulty is, that the words refer to both places and purchases; to the field of Machpelah bought by Abraham, and to the parcel of field is Sichem bought by Jacob, of the sons of Emmor; for the words with the repetition of the phrase, "in the sepulchre", may be read thus; "and were laid in the sepulchre, that Abraham bought for a sum of money", and in the sepulchre (bought by Jacob) "of the sons of Emmor", the father of Sichem; or the words may be rendered thus, "they were carried over into Sichem, and laid in the sepulchre which Abraham bought for a sum of money, besides" that "of the sons of Emmor", the father "of Sichem"; namely, which Jacob bought, and in which Joseph was laid, Genesis 33:19. And this agrees with Stephen's account and design, in the preceding verse; he observes, that Jacob died in Egypt, and all the twelve patriarchs; and here he tells us how they were disposed of, and where they were buried, both Jacob and his sons; they were removed from Egypt, and brought into the land of Canaan; Jacob, he was laid in the cave of Machpelah, in the sepulchre Abraham bought of the children of Heth; and Joseph and his brethren, they were laid in the sepulchre at Sichem, which Jacob bought of the sons of Emmor: upon the whole, the charge of several errors brought by the (c) Jew against Stephen appears to be groundless; the sum this sepulchre was bought for was an hundred pieces of money, Genesis 33:19.
(x) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 2.((y) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 13. 1. Cippi Heb. p. 4. R. Benjamin. Itinerar. p. 48, 49. (z) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 13. Bava Kama, fol. 92. 1. Maccot fol. 11. 1. & Gloss. in ib. Bereshit, fol. 89. 1. Sepher Jasher apud Gaulmin. not. in Vita Mosis, l. 2. c. 2. p. 287. (a) ltinerar. p. 39. (b) Cippi Heb. p. 34. (c) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 63. p. 450, 451.
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