And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave to my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Into the grave.—Heb., Sheol, which, like Hades in Greek, means the place of departed spirits. Jacob supposed that Joseph had been devoured by wild beasts, and as he was not buried, the father could not have “gone down into the grave unto his son.” (Comp. Note on Genesis 15:15.)Genesis 37:35. All his sons and all his daughters — Namely, Dinah and his daughters-in-law, for several of his sons were married; rose up to comfort him — In this his excess of sorrow to which he had imprudently and sinfully abandoned himself. He refused to be comforted — Resolving to go down to, the grave mourning, And yet there was no foundation for all this sorrow. Joseph, whose supposed premature and violent death he thus deeply and inconsolably lamented, was still alive and in health; and God was preparing him for, and conducting him to, a state of felicity and glory much beyond what Jacob could reasonably have expected or desired for him. Nay, and God by these very means, which had deprived Jacob of him for a time, was pursuing the measures which his infinite wisdom had devised to make Joseph the instrument of preserving Jacob and all his family from perishing by famine! Thus do we often mourn, with the bitterest anguish, those very ways and acts of Providence, which are designed to be productive of the greatest good to us; and consider as the greatest evils those things which God intends to be real and lasting blessings! Let us then learn to resign ourselves and all our affairs to the disposal of that infinitely wise and gracious Being, who is engaged, by promise, to make all things work for good to them that love and trust in him. And let us be aware that great affection to any creature doth but prepare for so much the greater affliction, when it is either removed from us, or imbittered to us: inordinate love commonly ends in immoderate grief.
- The Family of Judah
1. עדלם ‛ǎdûllâm, 'Adullam, "righteousness." חירה chı̂yrâh Chirah, "nobility?"
2. שׁוּע shûa‛, Shua', "luck, riches, cry."
3. ער ‛êr, 'Er, "watching."
4. אונן 'ônân, Onan, "strong."
5. שׁלה shēlâh, Shelah, "request? rest." כזיב kezı̂yb Kezib, "falsehood."
6. תמר tāmār, Tamar, "palm."
12. תמנה tı̂mnâh, Timnah, "counted or assigned."
14. עינים 'êynayı̂m, 'Enaim, "two fountains."
29. פרץ perets, Perets, "breach."
This strange narrative is an episode in the history of Joseph; but an integral part of the "generations" of Jacob. It is loosely dated with the phrase "at that time." This does not indicate a sequel to the preceding record, the proper phrase for which is "after these things" (האלה חדברים אחר 'achar hadebārı̂ym hâ'ēleh Genesis 22:1). It implies rather a train of events that commenced at least in the past, some time before the closing incident of the previous narrative Genesis 21:22. But the sale of Joseph, which alone is recorded in the last chapter, only occupied some few weeks or months of a year. Hence, the circumstances contained in this memoir of Judah's family must have taken their rise before that event. The date "at that time," is rendered indefinite also by being attached to the phrase, "And it came to pass," which covers at least all the events in the first eleven verses of the chapter.
All this is in accordance with the customary mode of arranging parallel lines of events in Hebrew narrative. We shall see reason afterward for placing the birth of Er at as early a date as possible in the life of Judah Genesis 46:12. Now Judah, we conceive, was born when his father was eighty-seven, and Joseph when he was ninety-one, and hence, there is a difference about four years in their ages. We suppose Er to have been born in Judah's fourteenth year, when Joseph and Dinah were in their tenth, and therefore, about three years before the rape of Dinah, and shortly after Jacob arrived at the town of Shekem. The dishonor of Dinah, and the cruel treatment of Joseph, being of essential moment in the process of things, had to be recorded in the main line of events. The commencement of Judah's family, having no particular influence on the current of the history, is fitly reserved until the whole of the circumstances could be brought together into a connected narrative. And the private history of Judah's line is given, while that of the others is omitted, simply because from him the promised seed is descended. As soon as Jacob is settled in the promised land, the contact with Hebron and its neighborhood seems to have commenced. A clear proof of this is the presence of Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, in Jacob's family Genesis 35:8. The great thoroughfare from Damascus to Egypt runs through Shekem and Hebron, and we know that when Jacob was residing at Hebron, his sons fed their flocks at Shekem and Dothan, and the youthful Joseph was sent to inquire after their welfare.All his daughters; Dinah, and his daughters-in-law, and his sons’ daughters.
The grave; this Hebrew word sheol is taken sometimes for hell, as Job 11:8 Proverbs 15:11, but most commonly for the grave, or the place or state of the dead, as Genesis 42:38 44:29,31 Psa 6:5 16:10, &c. And whether of those it signifies, must be determined by the subject and the circumstances of the place. Here it cannot be meant of hell, for Jacob neither could believe that good Joseph was there, nor would have resolved to go thither; but the sense is, I will kill myself with grief, or I will never leave mourning till I die.
Unto my son; or, for my son: so the preposition el is oft used for al, as 1 Samuel 1:27 4:19,21,22 2 Samuel 21:2.
but he refused to be comforted; to attend to anything that might serve to alleviate his mind, and to abstain from outward mourning, and the tokens of it; he chose not to be interrupted in it:
and he said, for I will go down into the grave unto my son, mourning; the meaning is, not that he would by any means hasten his own death, or go down to his son in the grave, strictly and literally taken; since, according to his apprehension of his son's death he could have no grave, being torn to pieces by a wild beast; but either that he should go into the state of the dead, where his son was, mourning all along till he carne thither; or rather that he would go mourning all his days "for his son" (e), as some render it, till he came to the grave; nor would he, nor should he receive any comfort more in this world:
thus his father wept for him; in this manner, with such circumstances as before related, and he only; for as for his brethren they hated him, and were glad they had got rid of him; or, "and his father", &c. (f); his father Isaac, as the Targum of Jonathan, he wept for his son Jacob on account of his trouble and distress; as well as for his grandson Joseph; and so many Jewish writers (g) interpret it; and indeed Isaac was alive at this time, and lived twelve years after; but the former sense seems best.And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)35. his daughters] Either a different version from that in chap. 30 where Dinah is his only daughter; or referring to his sons’ wives.
the grave] Heb. Sheol, the name of the abode of the dead, answering to the Greek ᾅδης, e.g. Acts 2:27. Sheol, as the region of the dead, is, according to Hebrew ideas, the locality beneath the ground, where the disembodied spirits led a shadowy existence. See Isaiah 14:9-20. Jacob thinks that he will arrive in Sheol, as he had been on the earth, in mourning for his lost son. See Genesis 42:38. The shade of his son will there recognize the signs of his father’s grief for his sake. “To bring a man’s gray hairs with sorrow to the grave” (here and Genesis 42:38, Genesis 44:29; Genesis 44:31) does not, therefore, only mean “to bring a man prematurely aged to his grave,” but also “to bring an old man to the place of departed spirits in a state of lamentation for bereavement.”Verse 35. - And all his sons - the criminals become comforters (Lange)- and all his daughters - either Jacob had other daughters besides Dinah (Kalisch, Gerlach, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or these included his daughters-in-law, the word being employed as in Ruth 1:11, 12 (Willet, Bush, Murphy), or the term is used freely without being designed to indicate whether he had one or more girls in his family (Augustine) - rose up to comfort him (this implies the return of Jacob's brethren to Hebron); but he refused to be comforted; and he said (here the thought must be supplied: It is vain to ask me-to be comforted), For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning - or, retaining the order of the Hebrew words, which is almost always more expressive than those adopted by our translators, I will go down to my son mourning to, or towards, in the direction of, Sheol. The term שְׁאֹל - more fully שְׁאול, an inf. absol, for a noun, either
(1) from שָׁאַל = שָׁעַל, to go down, to sink (Gesenius, Ftirst), signifying the hollow place; or,
(2) according to the older lexicographers and etymologists, from שָׁאַל, to ask, and meaning either the region which inexorably summons all men into its shade, the realm that is always craving because never satisfied (Keil, Murphy, Lange), or the land that excites questioning and wonder in the human heart, "the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns" (T. Lewis) - is not the grave, since Jacob's son had no grave, but the place of departed spirits, the unseen world (Ἅδης, LXX.) into which the dead disappear, and where they consciously exist (2 Samuel 12:23). Thus (literally, and) his father (not Isaac) wept for him. Proverbs 30:15-16; Isaiah 5:14; Habakkuk 2:5). How should his sons comfort him, when they were obliged to cover their wickedness with the sin of lying and hypocrisy, and when even Reuben, although at first beside himself at the failure of his plan, had not courage enough to disclose his brothers' crime?
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