Acts 7:9
And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,
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(9) The patriarchs, moved with envy.—This, interpreted by what follows, is the first step in the long induction which is to show that the elect of God had always been opposed and rejected by those who were for the time the representatives of the nation. Envy had actuated the patriarchs when they sold Joseph; envy had led their descendants to deliver up Jesus (Matthew 27:18). But man’s evil will had not frustrated God’s gracious purpose. Joseph was made ruler over a kingdom. A greater glory might therefore be in store for Him who had now been rejected by them.

Sold Joseph into Egypt.—The objection that Joseph’s brethren sold him not into Egypt, but to the Midianites and Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:25; Genesis 37:28), may well be dismissed as frivolous. They knew the trade which the Midianite slave-dealers carried on, and where their brother would be taken. So Joseph himself says of them “ye sold me hither” (Genesis 45:5).

Acts 7:9-10. And the patriarchs, moved with envy — The rest of the twelve sons of Jacob, though their relation to such holy ancestors might have taught them a much better lesson; yet, influenced by envy at the superior regard which Jacob showed to his favourite son, most inhumanly sold Joseph — Their brother; into Egypt — Where he became a slave, and suffered a great variety of calamities; but God was with him — In the midst of them, supporting him, though he was not in this land, and rendering that country a scene of very glorious providences toward him: for by these things God was working, in a mysterious and surprising manner, for the accomplishment of the prediction before mentioned. From what Stephen relates of the story of Joseph, it was obvious for the members of the council to infer that the greatest favourites of Heaven might suffer by the envy of those who were called the Israel of God; and might be exalted by him after having been rejected by them: a thought worthy of their consideration with respect to Jesus; but prudence would not allow Stephen, in the beginning of his defence, to say expressly what they could not have borne to hear; for that they could not, appears by the manner in which they resented his application of these premises, when, he was drawing toward a conclusion. And delivered him out of all his afflictions — To which he was exposed in consequence of his integrity and piety; and gave him favour and wisdom — That is, favour on account of his distinguished wisdom; in the sight of Pharaoh, who made him governor over Egypt — Committing all things in the palace, as well as elsewhere, to his direction and management. Thus did God, in the course of his providence, wonderfully exalt this despised Joseph, whom his brethren (then the whole house of Israel) had most outrageously insulted and abused, and even sold for a slave. And thus, Stephen insinuated, hath God exalted Jesus, whom ye treated as a slave, insulted, and abused, scourged, and hanged on a tree.

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.Moved with envy - That is, dissatisfied with the favor which their father Jacob showed Joseph, and envious at the dreams which indicated that he was to be raised to remarkable honor above his parents and brethren, Genesis 37:3-11.

Sold Joseph into Egypt - Sold him, that he might be taken to Egypt. This was done at the suggestion of "Judah," who advised it that Joseph might not be put to death by his brethren, Genesis 37:28. It is possible that Stephen, by this fact, might have designed to prepare the way for a severe rebuke of the Jews for having dealt in a similar manner with their Messiah.

But God was with him - God protected him, and overruled all these wicked doings, so that he was raised to extraordinary honors.

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. Moved with envy; enraged: the holy martyr accommodates his apology so, as that they may yet have occasion to reflect on themselves; for as they had sold our Saviour unto strangers, so had their fathers

sold Joseph. But God was with him, to favour and bless him; for God’s presence brings all good along with it: with this he comforts himself and others, that it was not without example or precedent that God should be with such whom their persecutors could not endure.

And the patriarchs, moved with envy,.... See Genesis 37:11 the sons of Jacob and brethren of Joseph were filled with envy, and enraged at him, because of the evil report of them he brought to his father; and because he had a greater share in his father's love than they had; and because of his dreams, which signified that he should have the dominion over them, and they should be obliged to yield obedience to him: wherefore they

sold Joseph into Egypt; they sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, who were going down to Egypt, and who carried him thither with them: these twenty pieces of silver, the Jews say, the ten brethren of Joseph divided among themselves; everyone took two shekels, and bought shoes for his feet; to which they apply the passage in Amos 2:6 "they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes" (k): and they suggest, that the redemption of the firstborn among the Israelites on account of the selling of Joseph; they say (l),

"because they sold the firstborn of Rachel for twenty pieces of silver, let everyone redeem his son, his firstborn, with twenty pieces of silver; says R. Phinehas, in the name of R. Levi, because they sold the firstborn of Rachel for twenty pieces of silver, and there fell to each of them a piece of coined money (the value of half a shekel), therefore let everyone pay his shekel coined.''

They also affirm (m), that the selling of Joseph was not expiated by the tribes, until they were dead, according to Isaiah 22:14 and that on the account of it, there was a famine in the land of Israel seven years. There seems to be some likeness between the treatment of Joseph and Jesus Christ, which Stephen may have some respect unto; as Joseph was sold by his brethren for twenty of silver, so Christ was sold by one of his disciples, that ate bread with him, for thirty pieces of silver; and as it was through envy the brethren of Joseph used him in this manner, so it was through envy that the Jews delivered Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate, to be condemned to death: of this selling of Joseph into Egypt, Justin the historian speaks (n); his words are,

"Joseph was the youngest of his brethren, whose excellent wit his brethren fearing, secretly took him and sold him to strange merchants, by whom he was carried into Egypt.''

And then follow other things concerning him, some true and some false; Stephen here adds,

but God was with him; see Genesis 39:2 he was with him, and prospered him in Potiphar's house; he was with him, and kept him from the temptations of his mistress; he was with him in prison, and supported and comforted him, and at length delivered him from it, and promoted him as follows; and caused all the evil that befell him to work for good to him and his father's family.

(k) Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. (l) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 46. 4. (m) Pirke Eliezer, ib. (n) L. 36. c. 2.

{3} And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was {f} with him,

(3) Steven diligently recounts the horrible misdeeds of some of the fathers, to teach the Jews that they ought not rashly to rest in the authority or examples of the fathers.

(f) By these words are meant the peculiar favour that God shows men: for he seems to be away from those whom he does not help: and on the other hand, he is with those whom he delivers out of troubles, no matter how great the troubles may be.

Acts 7:9-13. Ζηλώσαντες] here of envious jealousy, as often also in classical writers. Certainly Stephen in this mention has already in view the similar malicious disposition of his judges towards Jesus, so that in the ill-used Joseph, as afterwards also in the despised Moses (both of whom yet became deliverers of the people), he sees historical types of Christ.

ἀπέδοντο εἰς Αἴγ.] they gave him away (by sale, comp. Acts 5:8) to Egypt (comp. Genesis 45:4, LXX.). For analogous examples to ἀποδ. εἰς, see Elsner, p. 390.

The following clauses, rising higher and higher with simple solemnity, are linked on by καί.

χάριν κ. σοφίαν] It is simplest (comp. Genesis 39:21) to explain χάριν of the divine bestowal of grace, and to refer ἐναντίον Φαρ. merely to σοφίαν: He gave him grace (generally) and (in particular) wisdom before Pharaoh, namely, according to the history which is presumed to be well known, in the interpretation of dreams as well as for other counsel.

ἡγούμ.] “vice regis cuncta regentem,” Genesis 41:43, Grotius.

κ. ὁλ. τ. οἰκ. αὐτ.] as high steward.

χορτάσματα] fodder for their cattle. So throughout with Greek writers, and comp.LXX. Genesis 24:25; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 42:27; Jdg 19:19; Sir 33:29; Sir 38:29. A scarcity of fodder, to which especially belongs the want of cereal fodder, is the most urgent difficulty, in a failure of crops, for the possessors of large herds of cattle.

ὄντα σιτία] that there was corn. The question, Where? finds its answer from the context and the familiar history. The following εἰς Αἴγυπτον (see critical remarks) belongs to ἐξαπέστ., and is, from its epoch-making significance, emphatically placed first. On ἀκούειν, to learn, with the predicative participle, see Winer, p. 325 [E. T.436]; frequent also in Greek writers.

ἀνεγνωρίσθη] he was recognised by his brethren (Plat. Pol. p. 258 A, Pharm. p. 127 A, Lach. p.181 C), to be taken passively, as also Genesis 45:1, when the LXX. thus translates הִתְוַדַּע.

τὸ γένος τοῦ Ἰωσήφ] the name (instead of the simple αὐτοῦ, as A E, 40, Arm. Vulg. read) is significantly repeated (Bornem. ad Xen. Symp. 7. 34; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 7. 11); a certain sense of patriotic pride is implied in it.

Acts 7:9. ζηλώσαντες, cf. Genesis 37:11, and so in Genesis 26:14; Genesis 30:1, Isaiah 11:13, Sir 37:10; used also in a bad sense in Acts 17:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Jam 4:2, and so in classical writers. It may be used here absolutely, as in A.V. (see Grimm, Nösgen), or governing Ἰωσήφ, as in R.V.—ἀπέδ. εἰς, cf. for construction Genesis 45:4.

9. the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph] The same word is used (Acts 17:5) of the hostile feelings of the Jews at Thessalonica against Paul and Silas. In the history (Genesis 37:4-5) it is said “his brethren hated him,” and (Genesis 37:11) “they envied him.”

sold Joseph into Egypt] See Genesis 37:28 for the way in which this was done.

but God was with him] Read, and God, &c. The conjunction is καί. The statement is from Genesis 39:2; Genesis 39:21; Genesis 39:23, and is used by Stephen here to give point to his argument that God’s presence is not circumscribed, and so neither should His worship be tied to place.

Acts 7:9. [Ζηλώσαντες, moved with envy) Stephen shows that the ancestors of the Jews were already at that early time stiff-necked.—V. g.]—ἀπέδοντο εἰς Αἴγυπτον, sold away into Egypt) removed (alienated) from them him who was presently after carried away into Egypt. An abbreviated expression: and so the LXX., Genesis 45:4, “I am Joseph, whom ἀπέδοσθε εἰς Αἴγυπτον.”

Verse 9. - Moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him, for moved with envy sold Joseph, A.V., more correctly, and in accordance with Genesis 37:11, LXX.; and for but, A.V. Moved with jealousy, etc. Here breaks out that part of Stephen's argument which went to show how the Israelites had always ill-used their greatest benefactors, and resisted the leaders sent to them by God. Acts 7:9Moved with envy (ζηλώσαντες)

Compare James 4:1; and see on envying, James 3:14.

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