Genesis 46:33
And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
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 it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you,.... Order them to come before him, to see them, and have some conversation with them:

and shall say, what is your occupation? or your works (c), their business and employment, whether they exercised any manufacture or handicraft, and what it was.

(c) "opus vestrum", Pagninus, Montanus, "opera vestra", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius.

And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
Verses 33, 34. - And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? Pharaoh's inquiry was characteristically Egyptian, being rendered necessary by the strict distinction of castes that then prevailed. According to a law promulgated by Amasis, a monarch of the 26th dynasty, every Egyptian was obliged to give a yearly account to the monarch or State governor of how he lived, with the certification that if he failed to show that he possessed an honorable calling (δικαίην ζόην) he should be put to death (Herod., 2:177). That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle (literally, men of cattle arc thy servants) from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen. Joseph probably desired his brethren to settle in Goshen for three reasons.

(1) It was suitable for their flocks and herds;

(2) it would secure their isolation from the Egyptians; and

(3) it was contiguous to Canaan, and would be easier vacated when the time arrived for their return. For every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. These are obviously the words not of Joseph, but of the historian, and their accuracy is strikingly corroborated by Herodotus (2. 47, 164), who affirms that the swine-herds, one of the seven castes, classes, or guilds into which the Egyptians were divided, were regarded with such abhorrence that they were not allowed to enter a temple or contract marriage with any others of their countrymen; and by existing monuments, which show that though the statement of Josephus ('Ant.,' 2:07, 5) is incorrect that "the Egyptians were prohibited from meddling with the keeping of sheep,' yet those, who tended cattle were greatly despised, Egyptian artists evincing the contempt in which they were held by frequently representing them as either lame or deformed, dirty and unshaven, and sometimes of a most ludicrous appearance (vide Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 2. p. 444, ed. 1878). It has been thought that the disrepute in which the shepherd guild was held by the Egyptians was attributable partly to the nature of their occupation, and partly to the feeling excited against them by the domination of the shepherd kings (Wilkinson, Wordsworth, Murphy, and others); but

(1) while this might account for their dislike to foreign shepherds, it would not explain their antipathy to native shepherds;

(2) if, as some think, Joseph's Pharaoh was one of the shepherd kings, it is not likely that this rooted prejudice against shepherds would then be publicly expressed, however violently it might afterwards explode;

(3) there is good reason for believing that the descent into Egypt occurred at a period much earlier than the shepherd kings. Hence the explanation of this singular antipathy to shepherds or wandering nomads has been sought in the fact that the Egyptians were essentially an agricultural people, who associated ideas of rudeness and barbarism with the very name of a shepherd (Hengstenberg, Keil, Kurtz), perhaps because from a very early period they had been exposed on their Eastern boundary to incursions from such nomadic shepherds (Rosenmüller), and perhaps also because from their occupation shepherds were accustomed to kill the animals held sacred by the other classes of the community (Kalisch).

Genesis 46:33At the same time Joseph gave these instructions to his brethren, in case Pharaoh should send for them and inquire about their occupation: "Say, Thy servants have been keepers of cattle from our youth even until now, we like our fathers; that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination of the Egyptians." This last remark formed part of Joseph's words, and contained the reason why his brethren should describe themselves to Pharaoh as shepherds from of old, namely, that they might receive Goshen as their dwelling-place, and that their national and religion independence might not be endangered by too close an intercourse with the Egyptians. The dislike of the Egyptians to shepherds arose from the fact, that the more completely the foundations of the Egyptian state rested upon agriculture with its perfect organization, the more did the Egyptians associate the idea of rudeness and barbarism with the very name of a shepherd. This is not only attested in various ways by the monuments, on which shepherds are constantly depicted as lanky, withered, distorted, emaciated, and sometimes almost ghostly figures (Graul, Reise 2, p. 171), but is confirmed by ancient testimony. According to Herodotus (2, 47), the swine-herds were the most despised; but they were associated with the cow-herds (βουκόλοι) in the seven castes of the Egyptians (Herod. 2, 164), so that Diodorus Siculus (1, 74) includes all herdsmen in one caste; according to which the word βουκόλοι in Herodotus not only denotes cow-herds, but a potiori all herdsmen, just as we find in the herds depicted upon the monuments, sheep, goats, and rams introduced by thousands, along with asses and horned cattle.
Genesis 46:33 Interlinear
Genesis 46:33 Parallel Texts

Genesis 46:33 NIV
Genesis 46:33 NLT
Genesis 46:33 ESV
Genesis 46:33 NASB
Genesis 46:33 KJV

Genesis 46:33 Bible Apps
Genesis 46:33 Parallel
Genesis 46:33 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 46:33 Chinese Bible
Genesis 46:33 French Bible
Genesis 46:33 German Bible

Bible Hub

Genesis 46:32
Top of Page
Top of Page