|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 9. - Moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him, for moved with envy sold Joseph, A.V., more correctly, and in accordance with Genesis 37:11, LXX.; and for but, A.V. Moved with jealousy, etc. Here breaks out that part of Stephen's argument which went to show how the Israelites had always ill-used their greatest benefactors, and resisted the leaders sent to them by God.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the patriarchs, moved with envy,.... See Genesis 37:11 the sons of Jacob and brethren of Joseph were filled with envy, and enraged at him, because of the evil report of them he brought to his father; and because he had a greater share in his father's love than they had; and because of his dreams, which signified that he should have the dominion over them, and they should be obliged to yield obedience to him: wherefore they
sold Joseph into Egypt; they sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, who were going down to Egypt, and who carried him thither with them: these twenty pieces of silver, the Jews say, the ten brethren of Joseph divided among themselves; everyone took two shekels, and bought shoes for his feet; to which they apply the passage in Amos 2:6 "they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes" (k): and they suggest, that the redemption of the firstborn among the Israelites on account of the selling of Joseph; they say (l),
"because they sold the firstborn of Rachel for twenty pieces of silver, let everyone redeem his son, his firstborn, with twenty pieces of silver; says R. Phinehas, in the name of R. Levi, because they sold the firstborn of Rachel for twenty pieces of silver, and there fell to each of them a piece of coined money (the value of half a shekel), therefore let everyone pay his shekel coined.''
They also affirm (m), that the selling of Joseph was not expiated by the tribes, until they were dead, according to Isaiah 22:14 and that on the account of it, there was a famine in the land of Israel seven years. There seems to be some likeness between the treatment of Joseph and Jesus Christ, which Stephen may have some respect unto; as Joseph was sold by his brethren for twenty of silver, so Christ was sold by one of his disciples, that ate bread with him, for thirty pieces of silver; and as it was through envy the brethren of Joseph used him in this manner, so it was through envy that the Jews delivered Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate, to be condemned to death: of this selling of Joseph into Egypt, Justin the historian speaks (n); his words are,
"Joseph was the youngest of his brethren, whose excellent wit his brethren fearing, secretly took him and sold him to strange merchants, by whom he was carried into Egypt.''
And then follow other things concerning him, some true and some false; Stephen here adds,
but God was with him; see Genesis 39:2 he was with him, and prospered him in Potiphar's house; he was with him, and kept him from the temptations of his mistress; he was with him in prison, and supported and comforted him, and at length delivered him from it, and promoted him as follows; and caused all the evil that befell him to work for good to him and his father's family.
(k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. (l) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 46. 4. (m) Pirke Eliezer, ib. (n) L. 36. c. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9-16. the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt, but God was with him—Here Stephen gives his first example of Israel's opposition to God's purposes, in spite of which and by means of which those purposes were accomplished.
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