Genesis 47:11
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.
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47:7-12 With the gravity of old age, the piety of a true believer, and the authority of a patriarch and a prophet, Jacob besought the Lord to bestow a blessing upon Pharaoh. He acted as a man not ashamed of his religion; and who would express gratitude to the benefactor of himself and his family. We have here a very uncommon answer given to a very common question. Jacob calls his life a pilgrimage; the sojourning of a stranger in a foreign country, or his journey home to his own country. He was not at home upon earth; his habitation, his inheritance, his treasures were in heaven. He reckons his life by days; even by days life is soon reckoned, and we are not sure of the continuance of it for a day. Let us therefore number our days. His days were few. Though he had now lived one hundred and thirty years, they seemed but a few days, in comparison with the days of eternity, and the eternal state. They were evil; this is true concerning man. He is of few days and full of trouble; since his days are evil, it is well they are few. Jacob's life had been made up of evil days. Old age came sooner upon him than it had done upon some of his fathers. As the young man should not be proud of his strength or beauty, so the old man should not be proud of his age, and his hoary hairs, though others justly reverence them; for those who are accounted very old, attain not to the years of the patriarchs. The hoary head is only a crown of glory, when found in the way of righteousness. Such an answer could not fail to impress the heart of Pharaoh, by reminding him that worldly prosperity and happiness could not last long, and was not enough to satisfy. After a life of vanity and vexation, man goes down into the grave, equally from the throne as the cottage. Nothing can make us happy, but the prospect of an everlasting home in heaven, after our short and weary pilgrimage on earth.Joseph announces to Pharaoh the arrival of his kindred. "Of the whole of his brethren," more exactly from the end of his brethren. Five men, a favorite number in Egypt. Shepherds, owners and feeders of sheep and other cattle. "Pasture." Hence, it appears that the drought had made the grazing extremely scanty. Men of ability, competent to take the oversight of others. "Jacob his father," he presents before Pharaoh, after he has disposed of all business matters. "Jacob blessed Pharaoh." This is the patriarch's grateful return for Pharaoh's great kindness and generosity toward him and his house. He is conscious of even a higher dignity than that of Pharaoh, as he is a prince of God; and as such he bestows his precious benediction. Pharaoh was struck with his venerable appearance, and inquired what was his age. "Pilgrimage" - sojourning, wandering without any constant abode or fixed holding.

Such was the life of the patriarchs in the land of promise Hebrews 11:13. "Few and evil." Jacob's years at this time were far short of those of Abraham and Isaac, not to speak of more ancient men. Much bitterness also had been mingled in his cup from the time that he beguiled his brother of the birthright and the blessing, which would have come to him in a lawful way if he had only waited in patience. Obliged to flee for his life from his father's house, serving seven years for a beloved wife, and balked in his expected recompense by a deceitful father-in-law, serving seven long years more for the object of his affections, having his wages changed ten times during the six years of his further toil for a maintenance, afflicted by the dishonor of his only daughter, the reckless revenge taken by Simon and Levi, the death of his beloved wife in childbed, the disgraceful incest of Reuben, the loss of Joseph himself for twenty-two years, and the present famine with all its anxieties - Jacob, it must be confessed, has become acquainted with no small share of the ills of life. "Blessed Pharaoh." It is possible that this blessing is the same as that already mentioned, now reiterated in its proper place in the narrative. "According to the little ones." This means either in proportion to the number in each household, or with all the tenderness with which a parent provides for his infant offspring.

11. Joseph placed his father and his brethren … in the best of the land—best pasture land in lower Egypt. Goshen, "the land of verdure," lay along the Pelusiac or eastern branch of the Nile. It included a part of the district of Heliopolis, or "On," the capital, and on the east stretched out a considerable length into the desert. The ground included within these boundaries was a rich and fertile extent of natural meadow, and admirably adapted for the purposes of the Hebrew shepherds (compare Ge 49:24; Ps 34:10; 78:72). The land of Rameses; a part of the land of Goshen, possibly that part where afterwards the city Rameses was built by the Israelites, Exodus 1:11 12:37, whence it is so called here by anticipation; for the Israelites were not now numerous enough to possess the whole land of Goshen, which was given to them, but contented themselves with a part of it, leaving the rest to the management of the Egyptians; and therefore when they increased greatly, they were forced to spread their habitations amongst the Egyptians. See Exodus 12:7,23,35,37.

And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt,.... Houses to dwell in, lands to till, and pastures to feed their flocks and herds in:

in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh commanded; according to Jarchi and Aben Ezra, the land of Rameses was a part of the land of Goshen: Jerom (o) says, that Rameses was a city the children of Israel built in Egypt, and that the province was formerly so called in which Jacob and his sons dwelt; but if it is the same with the city which was built by them, it is here called so by anticipation: but Aben Ezra is of opinion that it is not the same, and indeed the names are differently pointed and pronounced; that built by the Israelites is Raamses, and was one of the treasure cities of Pharaoh, and never inhabited by the Israelites; the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call this land the land of Pelusium; but this part of the country lay not in the Pelusiac, but rather in the Heliopolitan home: Sir John Marsham is of opinion (p) that Rameses is the name of Pharaoh, the then present king of Egypt, as there were several of the kings of Egypt of that name; and therefore he thinks this land was the king's land, the land of King Rameses, which Joseph placed his father and brethren in by the order of Pharaoh: but it seems rather to be the name of a place, and is thought by Dr. Shaw (q) to be the same with Cairo: a very learned man (r) takes this to be the name of the land of Goshen, after the coming of the Israelites into it, and observes, that, in the Egyptian language, "Remsosch" signifies men that live a pastoral life, and so this country was called Ramses or Remsosch, as being the country of the shepherds; and the same learned writer (s) is of opinion, that the land of Goshen is the same with the Heracleotic nome, or district, which lies in the great island the Nile makes above Memphis, and which is now called by the Arabs Fioum, it being the best and most fruitful part of all Egypt; which is confirmed by the testimony of Strabo, who says (t) it excels all the rest of the nomes, or districts; that it is the only one that produces olives, large and perfect, with fine fruit, which, if well gathered, make good oil, but all the rest of Egypt is without oil; moreover it produces wine not a little (whereas Herodotus says (u) vines were wanting in Egypt, i.e. in other parts of it), also corn and pulse, and other seeds: and that Fioum, as it is now called, is the most fruitful, and is the most pleasant part of all Egypt, having vines, olives, figs, and fruits of all sorts, the most excellent, and some of which are not to be found in other parts of the country, the same, writer proves from various travellers and historians (w); particularly Leo Africanus says (x), that the Sahidic nome, in which he places Fium, excels all the other parts of Egypt in plenty of pulse, as peas, beans, &c. and of animals and linen, though all Egypt is very fruitful: and Vansleb (y) says, the province of Fium has been always esteemed one of the most excellent in all Egypt, because of its fruitful fields, its great riches, and pleasant gardens,--all that grows here is of a better taste than in other provinces: here are fields full of rose trees, and woods of fig trees, which are not in other parts of Egypt; the gardens are full of all manner of trees, pears, oranges, lemons, peaches, plums, and apricots:--in Fium only, says he, of all the provinces of Egypt, are vineyards--nor is any province so much cut into channels as this: they all proceed from Joseph's river, and have bridges over them, made with burnt bricks very strong; and tradition says they were built in the days of the Pharaohs; and it is the opinion of the Coptics, that these kings employed the Israelites in making: bricks for those bridges, which is very probable, from the infinite number of men needful to make such a prodigious quantity: this part of Egypt where Israel dwelt, by all relations, being so excellent, the impudence of Celsus (z) the Heathen is very surprising, when he affirms that the nation of the Jews, becoming numerous in Egypt, were ordered to dwell apart as sojourners, and to feed their flocks in places vile and despicable.

(o) De locis Heb. fol. 94. A. (p) Canon. Chron. Aegypt, &c. p. 90. (q) Travels, p. 307. Ed. 2.((r) Jablonski de Terra Goshen, Dissert. 4. sect. 7. (s) Ib. Dissert. 3. sect. 2.((t) Geograph. l. 17. p. 556. (u) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 77. (w) Paulus Lucas, Wilhelm. Tyrius, &c. apud Jablonski, ibid. sect. 7. (x) Descriptio Africae, l. 8. p. 666, 669. (y) Relation of a Voyage to Egypt, p. 148, 154, 155. (z) Apud Origen. contr. Cels. l. 4. p. 195.

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 {c} Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.

(c) Which was a city in the country of Goshen, Ex 1:11.

11. placed] Lit. “caused to dwell”; as we should say, “settled.”

the land of Rameses] This description of the land of Goshen appears only here, and in the LXX of ch. Genesis 46:28. A town named Rameses is mentioned in Exodus 1:11; Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:3; Numbers 33:5. In Exodus 1:11 Rameses is the name of one of the two store cities built by the children of Israel on the east of the Delta, according to Petrie = Tel er-Reṭabeh. The name given to it was probably that of the Pharaoh of the oppression, Rameses II. If so, the description of this region, where Joseph’s brethren are settled, by the name of “the land of Rameses,” is, strictly speaking, an anachronism, i.e. a chronological anticipation of facts, the country being denoted by a name which it came to bear two centuries later. It is a very natural thing for the Israelite writer to do; and can hardly be regarded in the light of a literary error.

Verse 11. - And Joseph placed his father and his brethren (i.e. gave them a settlement, the import of which the next clause explains), and gave them a possession (i.e. allowed them to acquire property) in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, - either that district of Goshen in which Jacob and his family first settled (Michaelis, Rosenmüller), or, what seems more probable, the land of Goshen itself (LXX., Keil, Hengstenberg, Kalisch, et alii), being so named proleptically from the town Rameses, which was subsequently built (Exodus 1:11), or, if the town existed in the time of Joseph, and was only afterwards fortified by the Israelites, deriving its designation from the name of its chief city' - as Pharaoh had commanded. Genesis 47:11Joseph assigned to his father and his brethren, according to Pharaoh's command, a possession (אחזּה) for a dwelling-place in the best part of Egypt, the land of Ramses, and provided them with bread, "according to the mouth of the little ones," i.e., according to the necessities of each family, answering to the larger or smaller number of their children. כּלכּל with a double accusative (Ges. 139). The settlement of the Israelites is called the land of Ramses (רעמסס, in pause רעמסס Exodus 1:11), instead of Goshen, either because the province of Goshen (Γεσέμ, lxx) is indicated by the name of its former capital Ramses (i.e., Heroopolis, on the site or in the immediate neighbourhood of the modern Abu Keisheib, in Wady Tumilat (vid., Exodus 1:11), or because Israel settled in the vicinity of Ramses. The district of Goshen is to be sought in the modern province of el Sharkiyeh (i.e., the eastern), on the east side of the Nile, towards Arabia, still the most fertile and productive province of Egypt (cf. Robinson, Pal. i. 78, 79). For Goshen was bounded on the east by the desert of Arabia Petraea, which stretches away to Philistia (Exodus 13:17, cf. 1 Chronicles 7:21) and is called Γεσέμ Ἀραβίας in the Septuagint in consequence (Genesis 45:10; Genesis 46:34), and must have extended westwards to the Nile, since the Israelites had an abundance of fish (Numbers 11:5). It probably skirted the Tanitic arm of the Nile, as the fields of Zoan, i.e., Tanis, are said to have been the scene of the mighty acts of God in Egypt (Psalm 78:12, Psalm 78:43, cf. Numbers 13:22). In this province Joseph assigned his relations settlements near to himself (Genesis 45:10), from which they could quickly and easily communicate with one another (Genesis 46:28; Genesis 48:1.). Whether he lived at Ramses or not, cannot be determined, just because the residence of the Pharaoh of that time is not known, and the notion that it was at Memphis is only based upon utterly uncertain combinations relating to the Hyksos.
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