Genesis 47:4
They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.
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(4) To sojourn.—Joseph’s brethren ask for permission only for a temporary stay. Apparently, too, in spite of the famine, there was pasture for cattle in Goshen. They had been able hitherto to keep them alive even in Canaan; and probably the Nile, though it did not overflow, yet on reaching the delta lost itself in swamps, which produced a great quantity of the marsh grass described in Genesis 41:2. We find in this chapter that not only were Pharaoh’s herds intact, but also those of the people.

Genesis 47:4. To sojourn in the land are we come — Not to settle there for ever; only to sojourn, while the famine prevailed so in Canaan, which lay high, that it was not habitable for shepherds, the grass being burned up much more than in Egypt, which lay low, and where the corn chiefly failed, but there was tolerably good pasture. But although Jacob and his sons intended only to sojourn in Goshen or Egypt till the famine should be over, yet first the kindness they received encouraged them to continue, and at last the Egyptians rendered their posterity slaves, and compelled them to stay.

47:1-6 Though Joseph was a great man, especially in Egypt, yet he owned his brethren. Let the rich and great in the world not overlook or despise poor relations. Our Lord Jesus is not ashamed to call us brethren. In answer to Pharaoh's inquiry, What is your calling? they told him that they were shepherds, adding that they were come to sojourn in the land for a time, while the famine prevailed in Canaan. Pharaoh offered to employ them as shepherds, provided they were active men. Whatever our business or employment is, we should aim to excel in it, and to prove ourselves clever and industrious.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.

4. For to sojourn … are we come—The royal conversation took the course which Joseph had anticipated (Ge 46:33), and they answered according to previous instructions—manifesting, however, in their determination to return to Canaan, a faith and piety which affords a hopeful symptom of their having become all, or most of them, religious men. To sojourn in the land are we come; not to defraud thy people of their lands and habitations, but only to be here for a season, as strangers and sojourners, till we can conveniently return to our own land.

Canaan being a higher ground than Egypt, and watered in a manner only by rain from heaven, must needs sooner and sorer feel the effects of a drought and scarcity than Egypt, which had relief from Nilus in that kind.

They said moreover unto Pharaoh, for to sojourn in the land are we come,.... Not to obtain possessions and inheritances, as if natives, and to abide there always, but to continue for a little time; for they kept in mind that the land of Canaan was given to them as an inheritance, and would be possessed by then, in due time, and therefore had no thought for the present of continuing here long:

for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks, for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: they say nothing of the want of corn for themselves, because they could have it from Egypt, fetching it, and paying a price for it, but of pasture for their cattle; for the land of Canaan lying higher, was so scorched with the heat of the sun, and parched with drought, that scarce any grass grew upon it; whereas Egypt, and especially the land of Goshen, lying lower, and being marshy and fenny places, near the Nile, had some grass growing on it, even when the Nile did not overflow to make it so fruitful as it sometimes was:

now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen: which request Joseph, no doubt, directed them to make, it being the spot he had chosen for them in his own mind, and even had promised it to his father; and which his brethren, by their short stay in it as they came along, saw would be very convenient for them, and was the true reason why Joseph instructed them to be particular in the account of their trade and business, that Pharaoh might be inclined of himself to propose it to them or however to grant it when requested.

They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.
4. And they said unto Pharaoh] Joseph’s brethren were the speakers in the last clause of Genesis 47:3 : it is natural to suppose that a question from Pharaoh has dropped out, to which they now give answer. They would hardly make the request in this verse without some invitation.

5, 6 (P). These verses interrupt the sequence of the narrative. They represent the account in P of the occupation of Goshen. The structure of the verses is a little different in LXX, where 5a is followed by 6b. 5a (J) “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Let them dwell in the land of Goshen, 6b and if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. 5b (P) And Jacob and his sons came into Egypt unto Joseph. And Pharaoh king of Egypt heard of it. And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee … to dwell. 7 And Joseph brought in Jacob, &c.” This probably represents an earlier text, combining J and P; and the obvious discrepancy between the accounts was subsequently modified.

Verse 4. - They said moreover (literally, and they said) unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; - an unconscious fulfillment of an ancient prophecy (Genesis 15:13) - for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks (it was solely the extreme drought that had caused them for a season to vacate their own land); for the famine is sore (literally, heavy) in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell (literally, and now might thy servants dwell, we pray, the future having here the force of an optative) in the land of Goshen. Genesis 47:4Pharaoh 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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