Genesis 47
Benson Commentary
Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.
Genesis 47:1. They are in the land of Goshen — Either to abide there, or to remove thence to any other place which thou shalt appoint for them.

And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.
Genesis 47:2. He took some of his brethren — The original words here, literally translated, are, He took from the end, extremity, or tail of his brethren, five men — And some have thought the sense is, He took five of the meanest of them, as to their persons and appearance, as the word קצהis used, 1 Kings 12:31, lest, if he had presented the goodliest of them, Pharaoh should have required their attendance upon him either at court or in the camp.

And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.
Genesis 47:3. What is your occupation? — Pharaoh takes it for granted they had something to do. All that have a place in the world should have an employment in it according to their capacity, some occupation or other. Those that need not work for their bread, yet must have something to do to keep them from idleness.

They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.
Genesis 47:4. To sojourn in the land are we come — Not to settle there for ever; only to sojourn, while the famine prevailed so in Canaan, which lay high, that it was not habitable for shepherds, the grass being burned up much more than in Egypt, which lay low, and where the corn chiefly failed, but there was tolerably good pasture. But although Jacob and his sons intended only to sojourn in Goshen or Egypt till the famine should be over, yet first the kindness they received encouraged them to continue, and at last the Egyptians rendered their posterity slaves, and compelled them to stay.

And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.
Genesis 47:6. Any man of activity — Literally, according to the Hebrew, If thou knowest, and there is among them men of strength or vigour, (חיל,) namely, of body or mind, fit for the employment. From which expression it seems rather probable that those five presented to Pharaoh were of the meaner sort of them.

And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
Genesis 47:7. Jacob blessed Pharaoh — Which is repeated, Genesis 47:10, as being a circumstance very remarkable. And remarkable surely it was that the greater, for such Pharaoh was in all external things, in wealth, power and glory, should be blessed of the less, Hebrews 7:7. But before God, and in reality, Jacob was much greater than Pharaoh. It is probable, therefore, that he not only saluted him, prayed for and thanked him for all his favours to him and his, all which the original word, here rendered blessed, often means; but that he blessed him with the authority of a patriarch and a prophet: and a patriarch’s blessing was a thing not to be despised, no, not by a potent prince.

And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?
Genesis 47:8. How old art thou? — A question usually put to old men, for it is natural to us to admire old age, and to reverence it. Jacob’s countenance, no doubt, showed him to be old, for he had been a man of labour and sorrow. In Egypt people were not so long-lived as in Canaan, and therefore Pharaoh looks upon Jacob with wonder.

And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
Genesis 47:9. Observe, 1st, Jacob calls his life a pilgrimage, looking upon himself as a stranger in this world, and a traveller toward another. He reckoned himself not only a pilgrim now he was in Egypt, a strange country in which he never was before, but his life, even in the land of his nativity, was a pilgrimage. 2d, He reckoned his life by days; for even so it is soon reckoned; and we are not sure of the continuance of it for a day to an end, but may be turned out of this tabernacle at less than an hour’s warning. 3d, The character he gives of them was, 1st, That they were few.

Though he had now lived one hundred and thirty years, they seemed to him but as a few days, in comparison of the days of many of his ancestors, and especially of the days of eternity, in which a thousand years are but as one day. 2d, That they were evil. This is true concerning man in general, Job 14:1, he is of few days and full of trouble: Jacob’s life particularly had been made up of evil days; the pleasantest days of his life were yet before him. 3d, That they were short of the days of his fathers; not so many, not so pleasant as their days. Old age came sooner upon him than it had done upon some of his ancestors.

And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.
And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
Genesis 47:12. With bread according to their families לחם לפי השׂŠ, literally, with bread to the mouth of the little one — That is, as much as every one desired, without any restraint, mouth being put for desire, as chap. Genesis 24:57; Isaiah 30:2; or, as a little child is nourished: he, as it were, put their meat into their very mouths: it was brought to them without any more care or pains of their own, than an infant takes for its food.

And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.
Genesis 47:13. The land fainted — So the Chaldee renders the word תלה. That is, the spirits of the people were depressed and sunk within them, and their flesh also wasted for want of food. But many critics prefer translating the words, The land raged, or became furious. This is commonly the case with the lower class of people in a time of scarcity and famine. Instead of being humbled under the chastening hand of God, they are filled with rage both against him and their governors, and become furious.

Genesis 47:19-25. Wherefore shall we die, we and our land? — Land may be said to die when it is desolate and barren; or when the fruits of it die, or, which is the same in effect, do not live and flourish. Buy us and our land for bread — The severity of the famine brought them to this. To obtain bread they not only readily parted with their money, their cattle, their lands, but even at last sold themselves nay, and thought themselves under great obligations to Joseph that they could, even on these apparently hard terms, obtain food! How thankful we ought to be in this country, that we seldom know, by experience, what either famine or scarcity means!

And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house.
And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.
And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.
And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.
When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:
Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.
And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh's.
And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
Genesis 47:21. He removed them, &c. — He transplanted them, to show Pharaoh’s sovereign power over them, and that they might, in time, forget their titles to their lands, and be the more easily reconciled to their new condition of servitude. How hard soever this seems to have been upon them, they themselves were sensible of it as a great kindness, and were thankful they were not worse used.

Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.
Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.
And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.
And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh's.
And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
Genesis 47:28. Jacob lived seventeen years after he came into Egypt, far beyond his own expectation: seventeen years he had nourished Joseph, for so old he was when he was sold from him, and now, seventeen years Joseph nourished him. Observe how kindly Providence ordered Jacob’s affairs; that when he was old, and least able to bear care and fatigue, he had least occasion for it, being well provided for by his son without his own forecast.

And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:
Genesis 47:29. And the time drew nigh that Israel must die — Israel, that had power over the angel, and prevailed, yet must yield to death. He died by degrees; his candle was not blown out, but gradually burned down, so that he saw, at some distance, the time drawing nigh. He would be buried in Canaan, not because Canaan was the land of his nativity, but in faith, because it was the land of promise, which he desired thus, as it were, to keep possession of until the time should come when his posterity should be masters of it: and because it was a type of heaven, that better country, which he was in expectation of. When this was done, Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head — Worshipping God, as it is explained, Hebrews 11:21, giving God thanks for all his favours, and particularly for this, that Joseph was ready to put his hand upon his eyes. Thus they that go down to the dust should, with humble thankfulness, bow before God, the God of their mercies.

But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.
And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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