Acts 7:12
But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Was corn in Egypt - The word "corn" here rather denotes "wheat." See the notes on Matthew 12:1.

Our fathers - His ten sons; all his sons except Joseph and Benjamin, Genesis 42:Stephen here "refers" only to the history, without entering into details. By this general reference he sufficiently showed that he believed what Moses had spoken, and did not intend to show him disrespect.

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. The history is known, Genesis 42:1-38. Our fathers; our progenitors, Jacob’s sons, from whom we are descended. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt,.... Not then growing, or gathering in there, or that was of that year's produce; for the famine was strong in the land of Egypt, as well as in Canaan; but was what had been laid up, and preserved in the seven years of plenty, by the order and care of Joseph; which by some means or another, Jacob had heard of; see Genesis 42:1 the Jews suggest (u), that it was by divine revelation:

he sent out our fathers first; the first time, or the first year of the famine; or he sent them first, he laid his commands on them, or they had not gone; these were the ten sons of Jacob, and brethren of Joseph, who were sent the first time, for Benjamin stayed with his father: see Genesis 42:3.

(u) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 91. fol. 78. 1, 2.

But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 7:12. σῖτα, but σιτία in R.V. (Blass follows T.R.), cf. LXX, Proverbs 30:22 = properly food made of corn opposed to χόρτος (σῖτα not elsewhere in N.T., but in LXX τὰ σῖτα, corn, frumenta). In Genesis 42:2 we have σῖτος. But as Wendt points out, in the words which follow: πρίασθε ἡμῖν μικρὰ βρώματα we have what may well correspond to σιτία.—ὄντα: on the participle after verbs of sense, e.g., ὁρῶ, ἀκούω, οἶδα, in classical Greek, construction same as here—especially in Luke and Paul in N.T., cf. Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 196 (1893).—πρῶτον = “the first time,” R.V. = τὸ πρότερον to opposed to ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ, Acts 7:13, which is only found here in N.T.: generally δεύτερον (cf. ἐκ δευτέρου, 1Ma 9:1 and Daniel 2:7 (LXX)).12. he sent out our fathers first] i.e. before he himself went away from Canaan into Egypt.Acts 7:12. Ἰακὼβ, Jacob) Even believers experience the common miseries of life, but to their own good.Verse 12. - Sent forth for sent out, A.V.; the first time for first, A.V. In Egypt (ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ)

But the best texts read εἰς Αἴγυπτον, into Egypt, and construe with sent forth: "he sent forth our fathers into Egypt."

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