Genesis 46:31
And Joseph said to his brothers, and to his father's house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say to him, My brothers, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come to me;
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46:28-34 It was justice to Pharaoh to let him know that such a family was come to settle in his dominions. If others put confidence in us, we must not be so base as to abuse it by imposing upon them. But how shall Joseph dispose of his brethren? Time was, when they were contriving to be rid of him; now he is contriving to settle them to their advantage; this is rendering good for evil. He would have them live by themselves, in the land of Goshen, which lay nearest to Canaan. Shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. Yet Joseph would have them not ashamed to own this as their occupation before Pharaoh. He might have procured places for them at court or in the army. But such preferments would have exposed them to the envy of the Egyptians, and might have tempted them to forget Canaan and the promise made unto their fathers. An honest calling is no disgrace, nor ought we to account it so, but rather reckon it a shame to be idle, or to have nothing to do. It is generally best for people to abide in the callings they have been bred to and used to. Whatever employment and condition God in his providence has allotted for us, let us suit ourselves to it, satisfy ourselves with it, and not mind high things. It is better to be the credit of a mean post, than the shame of a high one. If we wish to destroy our souls, or the souls of our children, then let us seek for ourselves, and for them, great things; but if not, it becomes us, having food and raiment, therewith to be content.The settlement in Goshen is now narrated. "Judah he sent before him." We have already seen why the three older sons of Jacob were disqualified for taking the lead in important matters relating to the family. "To lead the way before him into Goshen" - to get the requisite directions from Joseph, and then conduct the immigrants to their destined resting-place. "And went up." Egypt was the valley of the Nile, and therefore, a low country. Goshen was comparatively high, and therefore, at some distance from the Nile and the sea. "And he appeared unto him." A phrase usually applied to the appearance of God to men, and intended to intimate the unexpectedness of the sight, which now came before the eyes of Jacob. "I will go up." In a courtly sense, to approach the residence of the sovereign is to go up. Joseph intends to make the "occupation" of his kindred a prominent part of his communication to Pharaoh, in order to secure their settlement in Goshen. This he considers desirable, on two grounds: first, because Goshen was best suited for pasture; and secondly, because the chosen family would thus be comparatively isolated from Egyptian society.

The two nations were in some important respects mutually repulsive. The idolatrous and superstitious customs of the Egyptians were abhorrent to a worshipper of the true God; and "every shepherd was the abomination of Egypt." The expression here employed is very strong, and rises even to a religious aversion. Herodotus makes the cowherds the third of the seven classes into which the Egyptians were divided (Herodotus ii. 164). Others include them in the lowest class of the community. This, however, is not sufficient to account for the national antipathy. About seventeen or eighteen centuries before the Christian era it is probable that the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, were masters of the southern part of the country, while a native dynasty still prevailed in lower Egypt. The religion of these shepherd intruders was different from that of the Egyptians which they treated with disrespect. They were addicted to the barbarities which are usually incident to a foreign rule. It is not surprising, therefore, that the shepherd became the abomination of Egypt.

- Jacob in Goshen

11. רעמסס ra‛mesês, Ra'meses "son of the sun."

31. מטה mı̂ṭṭāh, "bed." מטה maṭṭeh "staff."

Arrangements are now made for the settlement of Israel in Goshen. The administration of Joseph during the remaining years of the famine is then recorded. For the whole of this period his father and brothers are subject to him, as their political superior, according to the reading of his early dreams. We then approach to the death-bed of Jacob, and hear him binding Joseph by an oath to bury him in the grave of his fathers.

31-34. Joseph said, … I will go up, and show Pharaoh—It was a tribute of respect due to the king to inform him of their arrival. And the instructions which he gave them were worthy of his character alike as an affectionate brother and a religious man. No text from Poole on this verse. And Joseph said unto his brethren, and to his father's house,.... To them and their families, after he had paid his filial respects to his father, in honour, reverence, and affection:

I will go up and shew Pharaoh; acquaint him that his father and all his family were come to Egypt; he says, "I will go up"; which same phrase is used of him, Genesis 46:29; when he came, and carries some difficulty in it how to account for it, that he should be said to go up when he came, and to go up when he returned. Some have thought of upper Egypt, others of the upper part of the Nile, and others, that Pharaoh's palace was situated on an eminence; but then, as it is to be supposed he went the same road he came, it would have been said, that when he came, he came down; what Ben Melech suggests seems most agreeable, I will go up to my chariot, mount that, and return to Pharaoh, and give him an account of his father's arrival, which it was very proper, prudent, and politic to do:

and say unto him, my brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; not merely to pay him a visit, but to continue there.

And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
31. go up] Joseph speaks of the residence of Pharaoh as a place to which he must “go up.” The metaphor is probably taken from the idea of ascent to the residence of royalty; cf. “high station,” “people of eminence.” The words contain no geographical significance in the sense of “up the Nile.”Verses 31, 32. - And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up (employed in ver. 29 to describe a journey from the interior of the country to the desert, or Canaan, the verb עָלַה is here used in a courtly sense to signify a visit to a sovereign or superior), and show Pharaoh (literally, relate, or tell, to Pharaoh), and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; and the men are shepherds (literally, keepers of flocks), for their trade hath been to feed cattle (literally, they are men of cattle); and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. The size of Jacob's family, which was to grow into a great nation, is given here, with evident allusion to the fulfilment of the divine promise with which he went into Egypt. The list of names includes not merely the "sons of Israel" in the stricter sense; but, as is added immediately afterwards, "Jacob and his sons," or, as the closing formula expresses it (Genesis 46:27), "all the souls of the house of Jacob, who came into Egypt" (הבּאה for בּאה אשׁר, Ges. 109), including the patriarch himself, and Joseph with his two sons, who were born before Jacob's arrival in Egypt. If we reckon these, the house of Jacob consisted of 70 souls; and apart from these, of 66, besides his sons' wives. The sons are arranged according to the four mothers. Of Leah there are given 6 sons, 23 grandsons, 2-great-grandsons (sons of Pharez, whereas Er and Onan, the sons of Judah who died in Canaan, are not reckoned), and 1 daughter, Dinah, who remained unmarried, and was therefore an independent member of the house of Jacob; in all, therefore, 6 + 23 + 2 + 1 equals 32, or with Jacob, 33 souls. Of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, there are mentioned 2 sons, 11 grandsons, 2-great-grandsons, and 1 daughter (who is reckoned like Dinah, both here and Numbers 26:46, for some special reason, which is not particularly described); in all, 2 + 11 + 2 + 1 equals 16 souls. Of Rachel, "Jacob's (favourite) wife," 2 sons and 12 grandsons are named, of whom, according to Numbers 26:40, two were great-grandsons, equals 14 souls; and of Rachel's maid Bilhah, 2 sons and 5 grandsons equals 7 souls. The whole number therefore was 33 + 16 + 14 + 7 equals 70.

(Note: Instead of the number 70 given here, Exodus 1:5, and Deuteronomy 10:22, Stephen speaks of 75 (Acts 7:14), according to the lxx, which has the number 75 both here and Exodus 1:5, on account of the words which follow the names of Manasseh and Ephraim in Genesis 46:20 : ἐγένοντο δὲ οἱοὶ Μανασσῆ, οὓς ἔτεκεν αὐτῷ ἡ παλλακῆ ἡ Σύρα, τοὺ Μαχίρ· Μαχὶρ δὲ ἐγέννησε τὸν Γαλαάδ, υίοὶ δὲ Ἐφραΐ́μ ἀδελφοῦ Μανασσῆ Σουταλαὰμ καὶ Ταάμ. υίοὶ δὲ Σουταλαάμ. Ἐδώμ: and which are interpolated by conjecture from Genesis 1:23, and Numbers 26:29, Numbers 26:35, and Numbers 26:36 (33, 39, and 40), these three grandsons and two great-grandsons of Joseph being reckoned in.)

The wives of Jacob's sons are neither mentioned by name nor reckoned, because the families of Israel were not founded by them, but by their husbands alone. Nor is their parentage given either here or anywhere else. It is merely casually that one of the sons of Simeon is called the son of a Canaanitish woman (Genesis 46:10); from which it may be inferred that it was quite an exceptional thing for the sons of Jacob to take their wives from among the Canaanites, and that as a rule they were chosen from their paternal relations in Mesopotamia; besides whom, there were also their other relations, the families of Ishmael, Keturah, and Edom. Of the "daughters of Jacob" also, and the "daughters of his sons," none are mentioned except Dinah and Serah the daughter of Asher, because they were not the founders of separate houses.

If we look more closely into the list itself, the first thing which strikes us is that Pharez, one of the twin-sons of Judah, who were not born till after the sale of Joseph, should already have had two sons. Supposing that Judah's marriage to the daughter of Shuah the Canaanite occurred, notwithstanding the reasons advanced to the contrary in Genesis 38, before the sale of Joseph, and shortly after the return of Jacob to Canaan, during the time of his sojourn at Shechem (Genesis 33:18), it cannot have taken place more than five, or at the most six, years before Joseph was sold; for Judah was only three years older than Joseph, and was not more than 20 years old, therefore, at the time of his sale. But even then there would not be more than 28 years between Judah's marriage and Jacob's removal to Egypt; so that Pharez would only be about 11 years old, since he could not have been born till about 17 years after Judah's marriage, and at that age he could not have had two sons. Judah, again, could not have taken four sons with him into Egypt, since he had at the most only two sons a year before their removal (Genesis 42:37); unless indeed we adopt the extremely improbable hypothesis, that two other sons were born within the space of 11 or 12 months, either as twins, or one after the other. Still less could Benjamin, who was only 23 or 24 years old at the time (vid., pp. 200f. and 204f.), have had 10 sons already, or, as Numbers 26:38-40 shows, eight sons and two grandsons. From all this it necessarily follows, that in the list before us grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob are named who were born afterwards in Egypt, and who, therefore, according to a view which we frequently meet with in the Old Testament, though strange to our modes of thought, came into Egypt in lumbis patrum. That the list is really intended to be so understood, is undoubtedly evident from a comparison of the "sons of Israel" (Genesis 46:8), whose names it gives, with the description given in Numbers 26 of the whole community of the sons of Israel according to their fathers' houses, or their tribes and families. In the account of the families of Israel at the time of Moses, which is given there, we find, with slight deviations, all the grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob whose names occur in this chapter, mentioned as the founders of the families, into which the twelve tribes of Israel were subdivided in Moses' days. The deviations are partly in form, partly in substance. To the former belong the differences in particular names, which are sometimes only different forms of the same name; e.g., Jemuel and Zohar (Genesis 46:10), for Nemuel and Zerah (Numbers 26:12-13); Ziphion and Arodi (Genesis 46:16), for Zephon and Arod (Numbers 26:15 and Numbers 26:17); Huppim (Genesis 46:21) for Hupham (Numbers 26:39); Ehi (Genesis 46:21), an abbreviation of Ahiram (Numbers 26:38); sometimes different names of the same person; viz., Ezbon (Genesis 46:16) and Ozni (Numbers 26:16); Muppim (Genesis 46:21) and Shupham (Numbers 26:39); Hushim (Genesis 46:23) and Shuham (Numbers 26:42). Among the differences in substance, the first to be noticed is the fact, that in Numbers 26 Simeon's son Ohad, Asher's son Ishuah, and three of Benjamin's sons, Becher, Gera, and Rosh, are missing from the founders of families, probably for no other reason than that they either died childless, or did not leave a sufficient number of children to form independent families. With the exception of these, according to Numbers 26, all the grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob mentioned in this chapter were founders of families in existence in Moses' time. From this it is obvious that our list is intended to contain, not merely the sons and grandsons of Jacob, who were already born when he went down to Egypt, but in addition to the sons, who were the heads of the twelve tribes of the nation, all the grandsons and great-grandsons who became the founders of mishpachoth, i.e., of independent families, and who on that account took the place or were advanced into the position of the grandsons of Jacob, so far as the national organization was concerned.

On no other hypothesis can we explain the fact, that in the time of Moses there was not one of the twelve tribes, except the double tribe of Joseph, in which there were families existing, that had descended from either grandsons or great-grandsons of Jacob who are not already mentioned in this list. As it is quite inconceivable that no more sons should have been born to Jacob's sons after their removal into Egypt, so is it equally inconceivable, that all the sons born in Egypt either died childless, or founded no families. The rule by which the nation descending from the sons of Jacob was divided into tribes and families (mishpachoth) according to the order of birth was this, that as the twelve sons founded the twelve tribes, so their sons, i.e., Jacob's grandsons, were the founders of the families into which the tribes were subdivided, unless these grandsons died without leaving children, or did not leave a sufficient number of male descendants to form independent families, or the natural rule for the formation of tribes and families was set aside by other events or causes. On this hypothesis we can also explain the other real differences between this list and Numbers 26; viz., the fact that, according to Numbers 26:40, two of the sons of Benjamin mentioned in Genesis 46:21, Naaman and Ard, were his grandsons, sons of Belah; and also the circumstance, that in Genesis 46:20 only the two sons of Joseph, who were already born when Jacob arrived in Egypt, are mentioned, viz., Manasseh and Ephraim, and none of the sons who were born to him afterwards (Genesis 48:6). The two grandsons of Benjamin could be reckoned among his sons in our list, because they founded independent families just like the sons. And of the sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim alone could be admitted into our list, because they were elevated above the sons born to Joseph afterwards, by the fact that shortly before Jacob's death he adopted them as his own sons and thus raised them to the rank of heads of tribes; so that wherever Joseph's descendants are reckoned as one tribe (e.g., Joshua 16:1, Joshua 16:4), Manasseh and Ephraim form the main divisions, or leading families of the tribe of Joseph, the subdivisions of which were founded partly by their brothers who were born afterwards, and partly by their sons and grandsons. Consequently the omission of the sons born afterwards, and the grandsons of Joseph, from whom the families of the two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who were elevated into tribes, descended, forms only an apparent and not a real exception to the general rule, that this list mentions all the grandsons of Jacob who founded the families of the twelve tribes, without regard to the question whether they were born before or after the removal of Jacob's house to Egypt, since this distinction was of no importance to the main purpose of our list. That this was the design of our list, is still further confirmed by a comparison of Exodus 1:5 and Deuteronomy 10:22, where the seventy souls of the house of Jacob which went into Egypt are said to constitute the seed which, under the blessing of the Lord, had grown into the numerous people that Moses led out of Egypt, to take possession of the land of promise. From this point of view it was a natural thing to describe the seed of the nation, which grew up in tribes and families, in such a way as to give the germs and roots of all the tribes and families of the whole nation; i.e., not merely the grandsons who were born before the migration, but also the grandsons and great-grandsons who were born in Egypt, and became founders of independent families. By thus embracing all the founders of tribes and families, the significant number 70 was obtained, in which the number 7 (formed of the divine number 3, and the world number 4, as the seal of the covenant relation between God and Israel) is multiplied by the number 10, as the seal of completeness, so as to express the fact that these 70 souls comprehended the whole of the nation of God.

(Note: This was the manner in which the earlier theologians solved the actual difficulties connected with our list; and this solution has been adopted and defended against the objections offered to it by Hengstenberg (Dissertations) and Kurtz (History of the Old Covenant).)

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