For these two years has the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be ripening nor harvest.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Earing.—An old English word for ploughing, derived from the Latin arare, Anglo-Saxon erian, to plough.Genesis 45:6-7. Five years there shall be neither earing (an old English word for ploughing, which is the meaning of the Hebrew) nor harvest — That is, except in a few places near the river Nile; for, understanding from Joseph that the famine would be of long continuance, and that their labour and seed, which they could ill spare, would be lost, people would neither plough nor sow, and, of course, could not reap. To preserve you a posterity in the earth — That you and your children might be sustained in this time of famine, and afterward abundantly multiplied as God hath promised. To save your lives by a great deliverance — Or, according to the Hebrew, for a great escaping, or, a great remnant; — that is, that you, who are now but a handful, escaping this danger, might grow into a vast multitude; the word evasion, or escaping, being put for the persons that escape, as 2 Chronicles 30:6, and Isaiah 10:20. Joseph reckoned that his advancement was not so much designed to save a whole kingdom of Egyptians, as to preserve a small family of Israelites; for the Lord’s portion is his people: whatever goes with others, they shall be secured. How admirable are the projects of Providence! How remote their tendencies! What wheels are there within wheels; and yet all directed by the eyes in the wheels, and the spirit of the living creature!
The remembrance of their crime, the absolute power of Joseph, and the justice of revenge, would rush upon their minds. No wonder they were silent and troubled at his presence. "Is my father yet alive?" This question shows where Joseph's thoughts were. He had been repeatedly assured of his father's welfare. But the long absence and the yearning of a fond heart bring the question up again. It was reassuring to the brethren, as it was far away from any thought of their fault or their punishment. "Come near unto me." Joseph sees the trouble of his brothers, and discerns its cause. He addresses them a second time, and plainly refers to the fact of their having sold him. He points out that this was overruled of God to the saving of life; and, hence, that it was not they, but God who had mercifully sent him to Egypt to preserve all their lives. "For these two years." Hence, we perceive that the sons of Jacob obtained a supply, on the first occasion, which was sufficient for a year. "To leave to you a remnant in the land."
This is usually and most naturally referred to a surviving portion of their race. "Father to Pharaoh;" a second author of life to him. Having touched very slightly on their transgression, and endeavored to divert their thoughts to the wonderful providence of God displayed in the whole affair, he lastly preoccupies their minds with the duty and necessity of bringing down their father and all their families to dwell in Egypt. "In the land of Goshen." This was a pasture land on the borders of Egypt and Arabia, perhaps at some distance from the Nile, and watered by the showers of heaven, like their own valleys. He then appeals to their recollections and senses, whether he was not their very brother Joseph. "My mouth that speaketh unto you;" not by an interpreter, but with his own lips, and in their native tongue. Having made this needful and reassuring explanation, he breaks through all distance, and falls upon Benjamin's neck and kisses him, and all his other brothers; after which their hearts are soothed, and they speak freely with him.
and yet there are five years; still remaining, which he knew by the above dreams and the interpretation of them:
in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest; that is, no tillage of land, neither ploughing nor sowing, and so no reaping, or gathering in of the fruits of the earth, as used to be in harvest; at least, there would be very little ground tilled, only it may be on the banks of the Nile, since they had no corn to spare for seed; and besides, as the Egyptians knew by Joseph's prediction that the Nile would not overflow, it was to no purpose to attempt to plough their land, which through seven years of drought was become very difficult, or to sow, could they get the seed into the ground, since there was no likelihood of its springing up again.For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. yet five years] Cf. Genesis 41:30.
neither plowing nor harvest] A general phrase for agricultural operations, as in Exodus 34:21; Deuteronomy 21:4; 1 Samuel 8:12. There was not even corn enough for sowing purposes. The drought made the ground too hard for ploughing. A.V. has the Old English “earing” = “plowing.” Cf. A.V. Exodus 34:21, “in earing time and in harvest.” “Let them go to ear the land,” Shakespeare, Rich. II, iii. 2.
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