|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
47:13-26 Care being taken of Jacob and his family, which mercy was especially designed by Providence in Joseph's advancement, an account is given of the saving the kingdom of Egypt from ruin. There was no bread, and the people were ready to die. See how we depend upon God's providence. All our wealth would not keep us from starving, if rain were withheld for two or three years. See how much we are at God's mercy, and let us keep ourselves always in his love. Also see how much we smart by our own want of care. If all the Egyptians had laid up corn for themselves in the seven years of plenty, they had not been in these straits; but they regarded not the warning. Silver and gold would not feed them: they must have corn. All that a man hath will he give for his life. We cannot judge this matter by modern rules. It is plain that the Egyptians regarded Joseph as a public benefactor. The whole is consistent with Joseph's character, acting between Pharaoh and his subjects, in the fear of God. The Egyptians confessed concerning Joseph, Thou hast saved our lives. What multitudes will gratefully say to Jesus, at the last day, Thou hast saved our souls from the most tremendous destruction, and in the season of uttermost distress! The Egyptians parted with all their property, and even their liberty, for the saving of their lives: can it then be too much for us to count all but loss, and part with all, at His command, and for His sake, who will both save our souls, and give us an hundredfold, even here, in this present world? Surely if saved by Christ, we shall be willing to become his servants.
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Only the land of the priests bought he not,.... Not from any special affection for them, or any superstitious veneration of them, which can never be thought of so good a man, but for a reason following, which shows they had no need to sell them:
for the priests had a portion assigned them, by Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them; they had a certain allowance by the day of provision granted them, on which they lived; so Herodotus says (i) of the priests of Egypt, that they spend nothing of their own, but sacred food is provided for them, and great plenty of the flesh of geese and oxen is given daily to everyone of them. And this was a delicate affair, which Joseph could not intermeddle with, but in prudence must leave it as he found it, and do as had been used to be done; this depending on the will and pleasure of Pharaoh, if not upon the constitution of the land, as it seems to be from Diodorus Siculus (k), who divides Egypt into three parts; and the first part he assigns to the priests, who, according to him, were maintained out of their own revenues. Some understand this of "princes" (l), the word sometimes being used of them, and interpret it of the officers and courtiers of Pharaoh, his nobles, that dwelt in his palace, and had their portion of food from him; but the former sense seems best:
wherefore they sold not their lands; they were not obliged to it, having provision from the king's table, or by his appointment.
(i) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 37. (k) Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 1.) p. 66. (l) "agros praesidum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
22. Only the land of the priests bought he not—These lands were inalienable, being endowments by which the temples were supported. The priests for themselves received an annual allowance of provision from the state, and it would evidently have been the height of cruelty to withhold that allowance when their lands were incapable of being tilled.
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