Genesis 47:12
And Joseph nourished his father, and his brothers, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
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(12) According to their families.—Heb., according to the taf” This, as we have seen above, means “according to the clan or body of dependants possessed by each one.” Dan, with his one child, would have been starved to death if the allowance for himself and his household had depended upon the number of his “little ones,” which is the usual translation of this word in the Authorised Version. (See margin.)

Genesis 47:12. With bread according to their families לחם לפי השׂŠ, literally, with bread to the mouth of the little one — That is, as much as every one desired, without any restraint, mouth being put for desire, as chap. Genesis 24:57; Isaiah 30:2; or, as a little child is nourished: he, as it were, put their meat into their very mouths: it was brought to them without any more care or pains of their own, than an infant takes for its food.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). Or, according to the mouth of the family; mouth being put for their will or desire, as it is Genesis 24:57 Isaiah 30:2, as much as every one desired, without any restraint; or, according to the manner of a little child, he put their meat into their very months; it was brought to them without any more care or pains of theirs than an infant takes for its food. And. Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and his father's household, with bread,.... For though there might be in Rameses pasture sufficient for their cattle, yet not corn for their families, the famine still continuing; during which time Joseph, as a dutiful and affectionate son, and as a kind brother, supplied them with all necessary provision, signified by bread:

according to their families; according to the number of them, some of his brethren having more and others less in their families; and in proportion to their number he distributed food unto them, so that there was no want: or "according to the mouth of an infant" (a); he nourished them like infants, he put as it were the bread into their mouths, and fed them with as much care and tenderness as infants are fed; and they had no more care to provide food for themselves than children have, such a full and constant supply was handed forth to them: in this Joseph was an eminent type of Christ, who supplies the wants of his people.

(a) "ad os parvuli", Montanus, Schmidt.

And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, {d} according to their families.

(d) Some read that he fed them as little babies, because they could not provide for themselves against that famine.

12. according to their families] The margin, according to the number of their little ones, gives the literal rendering. Delitzsch comments, “little children being mentioned because they would require much food, and also because people would be less willing to see them in want.” Cf. Genesis 45:11.Verse 12. - And Joseph nourished - ἐσιτομέτρει (LXX.), i.e. gave them their measure of corn - his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families - literally, to, or according to, the mouth of the little ones, meaning either in proportion to the size of their families (LXX., Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), or with all the tenderness with which a parent provides for his offspring (Murphy), or the whole body of them, from the greatest even to the least (Calvin), or completely, down even to the food for their children ('Speaker's Commentary'). Pharaoh asked them about their occupation, and according to Joseph's instructions they replied that they were herdsmen (צאן רעה, the singular of the predicate, see Ges. 147c), who had come to sojourn in the land (גּוּר, i.e., to stay for a time), because the pasture for their flocks had failed in the land of Canaan on account of the famine. The king then empowered Joseph to give his father and his brethren a dwelling (הושׁיב) in the best part of the land, in the land of Goshen, and, if he knew any brave men among them, to make them rulers over the royal herds, which were kept, as we may infer, in the land of Goshen, as being the best pasture-land.
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