Genesis 47:6
The land of Egypt is before you; in the best of the land make your father and brothers to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if you know any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 47:6. Any man of activity — Literally, according to the Hebrew, If thou knowest, and there is among them men of strength or vigour, (חיל,) namely, of body or mind, fit for the employment. From which expression it seems rather probable that those five presented to Pharaoh were of the meaner sort of them.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. The land of Egypt is before thee, to view it, and take thy choice where thou pleasest, it is in thy power. See Genesis 13:9.

Any man of activity, or, of strength, or vigour of body and mind, fit for the employment. By which expression it seems probable that those five presented to Pharaoh were of the meanest sort of them. See Poole on "Genesis 47:2". The land of Egypt is before thee,.... To choose what part of it he should judge most suitable and agreeable to his father and brethren:

in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell, in the land of Goshen let them dwell; as is requested; and which was, as Pharaoh here suggests, the best part of the land, the most fertile and fruitful, and the fittest for cattle, being full of pastures through the river Nile and the canals of it, and Goshen being the most fertile portion in the land of Rameses, as in Genesis 47:11; this, Dr. Shaw observes (k), could be no other than what lay within two or three leagues at the most from the Nile, because the rest of the Egyptian Arabia, which reaches beyond the influence of this river to the eastward, is a barren inhospitable wilderness:

and if thou knowest any man of activity among them; strong in body, and of great parts, and endowments of mind, and of great skill, and diligence, and industry in the management of flocks and herds:

then make them rulers over my cattle; or "rulers of cattle over those that are mine" (l): that is, over his shepherds, to take care that they do their work well and faithfully: from whence it appears that Pharaoh had flocks and herds and shepherds; and therefore it cannot be thought that the Egyptians in those times abstained from eating of animals, or that all shepherds, without exception, were an abomination to them, only foreign ones that lived on spoil and plunder, and made excursions into their country for such purposes: the office he assigned to men of skill and industry was like that which Doeg the Edomite was in, who was the chief of the herdsmen of Saul, 1 Samuel 21:7.

(k) Travels, p. 306. (l) "magistros pecuariae super illos, qui sunt mihi", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Schmidt and Answorth.

The {b} land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

(b) Joseph's great modesty appears in that he would attempt nothing without the king's commandment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. in the test] Cf. Exodus 22:4. The land of Goshen was fertile and good for grazing: but only by Oriental courtesy could it be called “the best” land in Egypt.

able men] So LXX ἄνδρες δυνατοί. Cf. Exodus 18:21; Exodus 18:25. R.V. marg. men of activity as Lat. viri industrii.

rulers over my cattle] Pharaoh is ready to confer positions of authority, without further enquiry, upon the most capable of Joseph’s brothers. The mention of the royal herds shews us that the position of herdsmen was fully recognized among the Egyptians: see note on Genesis 46:34.At 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.
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