Genesis 50:19
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
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(19) Am I in the place of God?—That is, am I to act as judge, and punish? Judges are sometimes in Hebrew even called God (as in Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9; 1Samuel 2:25), as exercising His authority.

Genesis 50:19. Am I in the place of God? — Dare I usurp the prerogative of God, to whom it belongs to take vengeance? Or, can I do what I please with you, without God’s leave? Fear him rather than me, and upon your experience of his wonderful care of and kindness to you, be persuaded he will still befriend you, and therefore I will. Or, perhaps, in his great humility, he thought they showed him too much respect, and saith to them, in effect, as Peter to Cornelius, “Stand up; I myself also am a man.” Make your peace with God, and then you will find it an easy matter to make your peace with me.

50:15-21 Various motives might cause the sons of Jacob to continue in Egypt, notwithstanding the prophetic vision Abraham had of their bondage there. Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought he would now avenge himself on those who hated and injured him without cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacob's God. Joseph was much affected at seeing this complete fulfilment of his dreams. He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek the Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Broken spirits must be bound up and encouraged. Those we love and forgive, we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.His brethren supplicate Joseph for forgiveness. "They sent unto Joseph," commissioned one of their number to speak to him. now that our common father has given us this command. "And Joseph wept" at the distress and doubt of his brothers. He no doubt summons them before him, when they fall down before him entreating his forgiveness. Joseph removes their fears. "Am I in God's stead?" that I should take the law into my own hands, and take revenge. God has already judged them, and moreover turned their sinful deed into a blessing. He assures them of his brotherly kindness toward them.15-21. When Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, &c.—Joseph was deeply affected by this communication. He gave them the strongest assurances of his forgiveness and thereby gave both a beautiful trait of his own pious character, as well as appeared an eminent type of the Saviour. It is God’s prerogative to take vengeance, which I dare not usurp. See Deu 32:35. Or, can I do what I please with you without God’s leave? Therefore fear him rather than me, and upon your experience of his wonderful care and kindness to you, believe that God will not, and therefore that I neither can nor will do you any hurt. But it is not unusual to put the Hebrew he for halo, as it is Genesis 27:36 1 Samuel 2:28 2 Samuel 23:19 1 Kings 16:31, &c.; and so the words may be very well rendered, Am not I under God, i.e. subject to his will, a minister of his providence? Dare I destroy those whom God so eminently designed to save? Dare I punish those whom God hath pardoned.

And Joseph said unto them, fear not,.... That any hurt would be done by him to them, or that he would use them ill for their treatment of him:

for am I in the place of God? to receive such homage from you, that you should be my servants, as Saadiah Gaon gives the sense; or rather to take vengeance for injury done, which belongs to God alone: or, "am I not under God" (u)? subject to him, a servant of his, and why should you be mine? nor is it in my power, if I had a will to it, to change his purposes, to alter his providences, or contradict his will, and do hurt to those whom God hath blessed; and so may have regard to the late patriarchal benediction of his father, under the direction of the Holy Spirit: or, "am I in the place of God?" and under him a father of them, as he had been a provider for them, and a supporter of them, and still would be.

(u) "annon enim sub Deo sum?" Vatablus.

And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of {s} God?

(s) Who by the good success seems to remit it, and therefore it should not be revenged by me.

19. am I in the place of God] i.e. “am I the person to punish for wrongdoing? God alone knows the hearts.” LXX mistakes the meaning, τοῦ γὰρ θεοῦ ἐγὼ εἰμί = “for do I belong to God”; Lat. Numbers Dei possumus resistere voluntati. Symmachus is correct, μὴ γὰρ ἀντὶ θεοῦ εἰμι ἐγώ. Cf. the occurrence of the same words in Genesis 30:2 and 2 Kings 5:7.

Verse 19. - And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? - i.e. either reading the words as a question, Should I arrogate to myself what obviously belongs to Elohim, viz., the power and right of vengeance (Calvin, Kalisch, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or the power to interfere with the purposes of God? (Keil, Rosenmüller); or, regarding them as an assertion, I am in God's stead, i.e. a minister to you for good (Wordsworth). Genesis 50:19After their father's death, Joseph's brethren were filled with alarm, and said, "If Joseph now should punish us and requite all the evil that we have done to him," sc., what would become of us! The sentence contains an aposiopesis, like Psalm 27:13; and לוּ with the imperfect presupposes a condition, being used "in cases which are not desired, and for the present not real, though perhaps possible" (Ew. 358). The brethren therefore deputed one of their number (possibly Benjamin) to Joseph, and instructed him to appeal to the wish expressed by their father before his death, and to implore forgiveness: "O pardon the misdeed of thy brethren and their sin, that they have done thee evil; and now grant forgiveness to the misdeed of the servants of the God of thy father." The ground of their plea is contained in ועתּה "and now," sc., as we request it by the desire and direction of our father, and in the epithet applied to themselves, "servants of the God of thy father." There is no reason whatever for regarding the appeal to their father's wish as a mere pretence. The fact that no reference was made by Jacob in his blessing to their sin against Joseph, merely proved that he as their father had forgiven the sin of his sons, since the grace of God had made their misdeed the means of Israel's salvation; but it by no means proves that he could not have instructed his sons humbly to beg for forgiveness from Joseph, even though Joseph had hitherto shown them only goodness and love. How far Joseph was from thinking of ultimate retribution and revenge, is evident from the reception which he gave to their request (Genesis 50:17): "Joseph wept at their address to him." viz., at the fact that they could impute anything so bad to him; and when they came themselves, and threw themselves as servants at his feet, he said to them (Genesis 50:19), "Fear not, for am I in the place of God?" i.e., am I in a position to interfere of my own accord with the purposes of God, and not rather bound to submit to them myself? "Ye had indeed evil against me in your mind, but God had it in mind for good (to turn this evil into good), to do (עשׂה like ואה Genesis 48:11), as is now evident (lit., as has occurred this day, cf. Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 4:20, etc.), to preserve alive a great nation (cf. Genesis 45:7). And now fear not, I shall provide for you and your families." Thus he quieted them by his affectionate words.
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