Acts 7:11
Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
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(11-14) Now there came a dearth . . .—So far as we can trace the sequence of thought, there seems the suggested inference that as those who, in the history of Joseph, had persecuted him, came afterwards to be dependent on his bounty, so it might prove to be, in the last parallel which the history of Israel presented. In the coming famine, not of bread, but of sustenance for their spiritual life, they would have to turn to Him of whom they had been, in purpose and in act, the betrayers and murderers.

Acts 7:11. Now there came a dearth — According to the prediction of Joseph, when the seven preceding years of extraordinary plenty were past, which he had also predicted; over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan — A calamity which reduced the latter country to such distress, that, fruitful as it had generally been, our fathers found no sustenance — Or, not what was sufficient to support themselves and their families. But Jacob, hearing that there was corn in Egypt — Ordered his sons to go and fetch a supply from thence; and sent our fathers first — Namely, the ten without Benjamin. And at the second time — That they went, when Benjamin accompanied them; Joseph was made known to his brethren — Of which see on Genesis 44:1-15. And, as the matter was immediately made public, Joseph’s kindred — Greek, το γενος, his descent, or race, was discovered to Pharaoh, of which he had not been informed before. Then sent Joseph, and called his father — With Pharaoh’s full consent; and all his kindred — Now become numerous, amounting in the whole even to threescore and fifteen souls — So the Seventy interpreters, whom Stephen follows: one son and a grandson of Manasseh, and three children of Ephraim, being added to the seventy persons, mentioned Genesis 46:27. So Bengelius.

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.Now there came a dearth - A famine, Genesis 41:54.

And Chanaan - Jacob was living at that time in Canaan.

Found no sustenance - No food; no means of living.

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. A dearth; this is mentioned, Genesis 41:54, &c.

And great affliction; as seldom any mischief comes alone, rapine and many diseases follow famine.

Found no sustenance; any coarse diet, grass or herbs.

Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt, and Canaan,.... This dearth, or famine, is said to be in all lands, Genesis 41:54 though only Egypt and Canaan are mentioned here, because the history is concerned with no other. The Jewish writers (p) speak of three lands particularly, which were affected with it, Phenicia, Arabia, and Palestine; and this famine in the land of Israel, they say (q), which lasted seven years, was on account of the selling of Joseph into Egypt, as before observed. The Heathen writers make mention of this famine, particularly Justin (r), who speaking of Joseph says, that he foresaw many years before the barrenness of the fields; and all Egypt would have perished with famine, had not the king, through his advice, ordered by an edict, that corn should be laid up for many years: this was the fifth of the ten famines, the Jews say have been, or shall be in the world (s):

and great affliction; meaning the famine, which was very severe, and lasted a long time, even seven years: want of eating is called "affliction", by the Jews (t); by which they mean fasting, which is a voluntary want of eating, or abstinence from it; and if that is an affliction, then much more want of food, or abstinence through necessity; compare 1 Timothy 5:10.

And our fathers found not sustenance; Jacob and his family could not get sufficient provision for them in the land of Canaan, where they then were, but were obliged to go to Egypt for it.

(p) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 90. fol. 78. 1.((q) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. (r) Ex Trogo, l. 36. c. 2.((s) Targum in Ruth i. 1.((t) Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora pr. Affirm. 32.

Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.
Acts 7:11. λιμὸς, cf. Luke 4:25, where ἐπί follows.—χορτάσματα: sustenance, R.V., fodder, provender for their cattle, cf. Genesis 24:25; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 42:27, Jdg 19:19; only here in N.T., cf. Polyb., ix., 43. The want of it would be a most pressing need for large owners of flocks. Blass takes it as meaning frumentum, corn, food for man as well as for beasts, since χορτάζειν, both in LXX and N.T. (Mark 8:4; cf. Mark 7:27-28), is used of the food of man, cf. Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, pp. 82, 156.

11. Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, &c.] The oldest MSS. omit “the land of.”

our fathers found no sustenance] The noun in Greek is generally used of food for cattle rather than men. See LXX. Genesis 24:25; Genesis 24:32, &c. But we must suppose that, though in the history the sufferings of the people are most noticed, the famine also affected the supplies of cattle-food, and the one word is used to embrace all.

Verse 11. - Famine for dearth, A.V.; Egypt for the land of Egypt, A.V. and T.R.; Canaan for Chanaan, A.V. Acts 7:11Sustenance (χορτάσματα)

For their cattle: fodder. See on shall be filled, Matthew 5:6.

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