|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
47:27-31 At last the time drew nigh that Israel must die. Israel, a prince with God, had power over the Angel, and prevailed, yet must die. Joseph supplied him with bread, that he might not die by famine, but that did not secure him from dying by age or sickness. He died by degrees; his candle gradually burnt down to the socket, so that he saw the time drawing nigh. It is an advantage to see the approach of death, before we feel it, that we may be quickened to do, with all our might, what our hands find to do. However, death is not far from any of us. Jacob's care, as he saw the day approach, was about his burial; not the pomp of it, but he would be buried in Canaan, because it was the land of promise. It was a type of heaven, that better country, which he declared plainly he expected, Heb 11:14. Nothing will better help to make a death-bed easy, than the certain prospect of rest in the heavenly Canaan after death. When this was done, Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head, worshipping God, as it is explained, see Heb 11:21, giving God thanks for all his favours; in feebleness thus supporting himself, expressing his willingness to leave the world. Even those who lived on Joseph's provision, and Jacob who was so dear to him, must die. But Christ Jesus gives us the true bread, that we may eat and live for ever. To Him let us come and yield ourselves, and when we draw near to death, he who supported us through life, will meet us and assure us of everlasting salvation.
Verse 31. - And he (i.e. Jacob) said, Swear unto me (in the manner indicated in ver. 29). And he (i.e. Joseph) sware unto him. And (having concluded this touching and impressive ceremonial) Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head. Though supported by many eminent authorities (Chaldee Pard. phrase, Symmachus, Vulgate, Calvin, Willet, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, &c., &c.), the present rendering is not entirely free from difficulty, since not until the next chapter is there any mention of Jacob's sickness; while in favor of the reading, "And Israel bowed himself on the top of his staff" (LXX.), it may be urged
(1) that it is adopted by the writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:21),
(2) that the Hebrew words for staff and bed differ only in the punctuation, and
(3) that the action of leaning on his staff was quite as suitable to Jacob's circumstances as turning over and bowing on his bed's head.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he said, swear unto me,.... This he required, not from any distrust of Joseph, but to show his own eagerness, and the intenseness of his mind about this thing, how much he was set upon it, and what an important thing it was with him; as also, that if he should have any objections made to it, or arguments used with him to divert him from it, by Pharaoh or his court, he would be able to say his father had bound him by an oath to do it, which would at once stop their mouths, and be judged a sufficient reason for what he did, see Genesis 50:5,
and he sware unto him; not only gave his promise, but confirmed it with an oath:
and Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head: not in a way of civil respect to Joseph, giving him thanks for the assurance he had given him, that he would bury him, not in Egypt, but in Canaan; but in a religious way to God, giving thanks to him that he had lived to see his son Joseph, who, according to the promise, would close his eyes, and that he had inclined his heart to fulfil his request; though some think that no more is meant, than that after Jacob had spent himself in discoursing with Joseph, he sunk down and reclined on his pillow at his bed's head, to take some rest; for as for what the apostle says in Hebrews 11:21; that refers to another thing at another time; See Gill on Hebrews 11:21.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head—Oriental beds are mere mats, having no head, and the translation should be "the top of his staff," as the apostle renders it (Heb 11:21).
Genesis 47:31 Parallel Commentaries
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