Acts 7:15
So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Acts 7:15-16. Jacob went down into Egypt, and died — After having been supported there about seventeen years, by the filial gratitude and tenderness of his son Joseph; and our fathers — The patriarch’s children also ended their lives in the same country; and were carried over into Sychem — That is, as Jacob was immediately carried, with solemn funeral pomp and procession, to be buried in the cave of Machpelah, with Abraham and Isaac, (Genesis 50:13,) so the patriarchs also, having been embalmed, and put into coffins, in Egypt, (Genesis 50:26,) were, at the return of Israel from thence, carried over to Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre — Made in that field which Jacob bequeathed to Joseph, as a peculiar legacy; he having first, as Abraham had done in a like case, bought it for a sum of money, (that is, for one hundred pieces of silver,) of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sychem — From whom, in particular, the place was named; and the Amorites having afterward seized it, Jacob had by force recovered it out of their hands. See notes on Genesis 48:22; Joshua 24:32. It seems that St. Stephen, rapidly running over so many circumstances of history, had not leisure (nor was it needful, where they were so well known) to recite them all distinctly. Therefore he here contracts into one two different sepulchres, places, and purchases, so as, in the former history, to name the buyer, omitting the seller; in the latter, to name the seller, omitting the buyer. Abraham bought a burying-place of the children of Heth, Genesis 23. There Jacob was buried. Jacob bought a field of the children of Hamor. There Joseph was buried. You see here how St. Stephen contracts these two purchases into one. This concise manner of speaking, strange as it seems to us, was common among the Hebrews: particularly when, in a case notoriously known, the speaker mentioned but part of the story, and left the rest, which would have interrupted the current of his discourse, to be supplied in the mind of the hearer. And laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought — The first land which these strangers bought was for a sepulchre. They sought for a country in heaven. Perhaps the whole sentence might be rendered thus: So Jacob went down into Egypt and died, he and our fathers, and were carried over into Shechem, and laid by the sons [that is, descendants] of Hamor, the father of Shechem, in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money. So Bengelius and Wesley.

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.And died - Genesis 49:33.

He and our fathers - The time which the Israelites remained in Egypt was 215 years, so that all the sons of Jacob were deceased before the Jews went out to go to the land of Canaan.

And were carried over - Jacob himself was buried in the field of Macpelah by Joseph and his brethren, Genesis 1, 13. It is expressly said that the bones of Joseph were carried by the Israelites when they went into the land of Canaan, and buried in Shechem, Joshua 24:32; compare Genesis 50:25. No mention is made in the Old Testament of their carrying the bones of any of the other patriarchs, but the thing is highly probable in itself. If the descendants of Joseph carried his bones, it would naturally occur to them to take also the bones of each of the patriarchs, and give them an honorable sepulchre together in the land of promise. Josephus (Antiq., book 2, chapter 8, section 2) says that "the posterity and sons of these men (of the brethren of Joseph), after some time, carried their bodies and buried them in Hebron; but as to the bones of Joseph, they carried them into the land of Canaan afterward, when the Hebrews went out of Egypt." This is in accordance with the common opinion of the Jewish writers, that they were buried in Hebron. Yet the tradition is not uniform. Some of the Jews affirm that they were buried in Sychem (Kuinoel). As the Scriptures do not anywhere deny that the patriarchs were buried in Sychem, it cannot be proved that Stephen was in error. There is one circumstance of strong probability to show that he was correct. At the time when this defense was delivered, "Sychem" was in the hands of the Samaritans, between whom and the Jews there was a violent hostility. Of course, the Jews would not be willing to concede that the Samaritans had the bones of their ancestors, and hence, perhaps the opinion had been maintained that they were buried in Hebron.

Into Sychem - This was a town or village near to Samaria. It was called Sichar (see the notes on John 4:5), "Shechem," and "Sychem." It is now called "Naplous" or "Napolose," and is ten miles from Shiloh, and about forty from Jerusalem, toward the north.

That Abraham bought - The word "Abraham" here has given rise to considerable perplexity, and it is now pretty generally conceded that it is a mistake. It is certain, from Genesis 33:19 and Joshua 24:32, that this piece of land was bought, not by Abraham, but by "Jacob," of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. The land which "Abraham" purchased was the cave of Macpelah, of the sons of Heth, in Hebron, Genesis 23. Various solutions have been proposed of this difficulty, which it is not necessary to detail. It may be remarked, however:

(1) That as the text now stands, it is an evident error. This is clear from the passages cited from the Old Testament above.

(2) it is not at all probable that either Stephen or Luke would have committed such an error. Every consideration must lead us to the conclusion that they were too well acquainted with such prominent points of the Jewish history to commit an error like this.

(3) the "probability," therefore, is, that the error has arisen since; but how, is not known, nor is there any way of ascertaining. All the ancient versions agree in reading "Abraham." Only one manuscript reads "Abraham our father." Some have supposed, therefore, that it was written "which our father bought," and that some early transcriber inserted the name of Abraham. Others, that the name was omitted entirely by Stephen; and then the antecedent to the verb "bought" will be "Jacob," in verse 15, according with the fact. Other modes have been proposed also, but none are entirely satisfactory. If there was positive proof of Stephen's inspiration, or if it were necessary to make that out, the difficulty would be much greater. But it has already been remarked that there is no decisive evidence of that, and it is not necessary to make out that point to defend the Scriptures. All that can be demanded of the historian is, that he should give a fair account of the defense as it was delivered; and though the probability is that Stephen would not commit Such an error, yet, admitting that he did, it by no means proves that "Luke" was not inspired, or that Luke has committed any error in recording "what was actually said."

Of the sons of Emmor - In the Hebrew Gen 33:19, "the children of Hamor" - but different ways of rendering the same word.

14. threescore and fifteen souls—according to the Septuagint version of Ge 46:27, which Stephen follows, including the five children and grandchildren of Joseph's two sons. Which St. Stephen puts them in mind of the rather, that he might insinuate, no country, nor place, nor temple, were so necessary, but that (notwithstanding they had none of them) their forefathers did live and die in the fear and favour of God, although in Egypt, out of the Promised Land, &c.

So Jacob went down into Egypt,.... At the invitation of his son Joseph:

and died, he, and our fathers; both Jacob and his twelve sons died in Egypt, though we have no account of the death of any of them, but Jacob and Joseph, particularly; only in general, that Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation, Genesis 49:33 Exodus 1:6 the Syriac version adds "there", that is, in Egypt.

So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 7:15. The frequent mention of Egypt may perhaps indicate that Stephen meant to emphasise the fact that there, far away from the land of promise, God’s Presence was with the chosen race (who were now all in a strange land) and His worship was observed.—μετετέθησαν: only here in this sense in N.T. Some have supposed that only οἱ πατέρες and not αὐτός is the subject; this would no doubt avoid the first difficulty of the verse, viz., that Jacob was buried in Shechem, whereas according to Genesis 50:13 he was laid to rest in the cave of Machpelah. But a further difficulty must be met. Joseph is the only son of the Patriarch who is expressly stated to have been buried in Shechem, Joshua 24:32, and of the removal of the bodies from Egypt nothing is said. But the silence as to the latter fact need not trouble us, as whether we accept the tradition mentioned by Josephus or by St. Jerome, they both presuppose the removal of the bodies of the Patriarchs to the promised land, cf. the discussion on Exodus 13:19. Mechilta (Lumby, p. 164), Wetstein, in loco, and see also the tradition in the Book of Jubilees, chap. xlvi., that the children carried up the bones of the sons of Jacob, and buried them in Machpelah, except those of Joseph. But another tradition is implied in Sot. 7 b. According to Josephus, who probably repeats a local tradition, Ant., ii., 8, 2, they were buried at Hebron. But according to St. Jerome their tombs were shown at Shechem, and the Rabbinical tradition mentioned by Wetstein and Lightfoot places their burial there, a statement supported by a Samaritan tradition existing to this day (Palestine Exploration Fund, December, 1877, see Felten and Plumptre, in loco). When we consider the prominent position of Shechem as compared with Hebron in the time of Joshua, there is nothing strange in the fact that the former place rather than Machpelah should have been chosen as the resting-place not only of Joseph but also of his brethren. Plumptre has ingeniously contended that St. Stephen might have followed the Samaritan tradition, cf. Acts 6:5, and see Expositor, vol. vii., first series: “The Samaritan element in the Gospels and Acts,” p. 21 ff., although we need not suppose that in this reference to the hated Samaritans Stephen proposed to show that not even they had been rejected by God. There is certainly no difficulty in supposing that here and elsewhere Stephen might easily have adopted some popular tradition, and at all events the fact that the mistake, if it is one, is left unnoticed by the historian is a plain proof of the truthfulness of the record. But a further difficulty. Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah, but from Ephron the Hittite, Genesis 23:16. The sons of Hamor sell a field, but to Jacob—a field at Shechem, Genesis 33:19, Joshua 24:32. How can we explain this with reference to the statement in the text? Shechem was the earliest settlement of Abraham when he entered Canaan, and there he built an altar, Genesis 12:6-7. But no devout Hebrew worshipper, with all his reverence for holy places, would be content to see the altar so consecrated belonging to others, and so exposed to desecration; the purchase of the ground on which an altar stood would therefore seem to follow as a kind of corollary from the erection of an altar on that ground. This is at all events a more satisfactory solution than omitting the word Ἀβραάμ or exchanging it for Ἰακώβ (see Hackett). Of course the reading of R.V., W.H[200] (as above), prevents a further difficulty as to the rendering of τοῦ Συχέμ if the reading τοῦ Συχέμ is retained, cf. Wendt, critical note, p. 157 (edition 1899), who follows A.V. in supporting “the father of Sichem,” so Hackett, but see on the other hand Plumptre, Acts, in loco, and Felten, in loco. For the way in which the two purchases and the two burials may have been confused in popular tradition, see Zöckler, Apostelgeschichte, p. 302, 2nd edit. (cf. Bengel, Stier, Nösgen).

[200] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

15. So Jacob went down into Egypt] Now the whole race whom God had chosen to Himself was in Egypt, away from the land of promise, and remained there for a long period, yet God was with them in their exile, and His worship was preserved for the whole time. This seems the point which Stephen desires to emphasize by so frequent a repetition of the words “into Egypt.”

and died, he, and our fathers] Better, and he died, himself, and our fathers. Of the transportation of the bodies of the patriarchs to Canaan we have no record in Holy Writ. Josephus (Antiq. ii. 8. 2) says “the posterity and sons of these men, after some time, carried their bodies and buried them at Hebron.” In the discussion of Exodus 13:19, Carry up my bones away hence with you, it is said (Mechilta, ed. Weiss, 1865, Vienna, 8vo p. 30) that the bodies of the patriarchs were carried out of Egypt with the returning Israelites, and it is argued that this is implied in the expression with you, which Moses quotes as uttered by Joseph, who must have known that his brethren to whom he was speaking would all be dead before the Exodus. Therefore with you could only be used if their bodies were to be transported as well as his own.

Verse 15. - And for so, A.V.; he died, himself for died, he, A.V. Acts 7:15
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