Psalm 105:22
To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.
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105:8-23 Let us remember the Redeemer's marvellous works, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth. Though true Christians are few number, strangers and pilgrims upon earth, yet a far better inheritance than Canaan is made sure to them by the covenant of God; and if we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, none can do us any harm. Afflictions are among our mercies. They prove our faith and love, they humble our pride, they wean us from the world, and quicken our prayers. Bread is the staff which supports life; when that staff is broken, the body fails and sinks to the earth. The word of God is the staff of spiritual life, the food and support of the soul: the sorest judgment is a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Such a famine was sore in all lands when Christ appeared in the flesh; whose coming, and the blessed effect of it, are shadowed forth in the history of Joseph. At the appointed time Christ was exalted as Mediator; all the treasures of grace and salvation are at his disposal, perishing sinners come to him, and are relieved by him.To bind his princes at pleasure - Giving him absolute power. The power here referred to was that which was always claimed in despotic governments, and was, and is still, actually practiced in Oriental nations. Literally, "to bind his princes 'by his soul;'" that is, at his will; or, as he chose.

And teach his senators wisdom - This is now an unhappy translation. The word "senator" in fact originally had reference to "age" (see Webster's Dictionary), but it is now commonly applied to a body of men entrusted with a share in the administration of government - usually a higher body in a government - as the Senate of the United States. As these were usually "aged men," the word has acquired its present meaning, and is now ordinarily used without reference to age. But there was no such constituted body in the government of Egypt - for despotism does not admit of such an arrangement. The Hebrew word here means "aged men," and is employed with reference to those who were connected with the administration, or whom the monarch would consult - his counselors. The meaning of the phrase "to teach them wisdom" is, that he would instruct them "what to do;" literally, he would "make them wise," that is, in reference to the administration. He had the right of commanding them, and directing them in the administration. At the same time, it is doubtless true that Joseph was endowed with practical wisdom in the affairs of government far beyond them, and that in instructing them what to do, he actually imparted "wisdom" to them.

22. To bind—Not literally bind; but exercise over them absolute control, as the parallel in the second clause shows; also Ge 41:40, 44, in which not literal fettering, but commanding obedience, is spoken of. It refers to Ps 105:18. The soul that was once bound itself now binds others, even princes. The same moral binding is assigned to the saints (Ps 149:8).

teach … senators wisdom—the ground of his exaltation by Pharaoh was his wisdom (Ge 41:39); namely, in state policy, and ordering well a kingdom.

To bind his princes by his commands, and if they were refractory, to punish them.

Teach his senators; his wisest counsellors, whom he commanded to receive instructions from Joseph upon all occasions. To bind his princes at his pleasure,.... Not to lay them in prison, and bind them with fetters, as he had been bound; but to give laws unto them as he pleased, and bind and oblige them to observe them: for, according to his word, all the people of Egypt, high and low, rich and poor, were to be ruled; and, without his leave, no man was to lift up his hand or foot in all the land, Genesis 41:40. All Christ's people are princes, to whom he gives laws at his pleasure, as one having authority, though they are not grievous; and these he binds, obliges, and constrains his people by love to observe, and which they do. Jarchi's note is,

"this is an expression of love like that; and the soul of Jonathan was bound unto the soul of David: when he (Joseph) interpreted the dream, they all loved him.''

The Targum is,

"to bind his nobles as to his soul.''

And teach his senators wisdom; his elders, his privy counsellors: he made him president of his council; where he was a curb upon them, and restrained them from taking wrong or bad measures; so Schultens (i), from the use of the word in the Arabic language, renders it, "to bridle", or restrain his senators; which conveys an idea agreeable to the preceding clause. Nor were these the only persons he taught; he not only instructed the nobles and courtiers in politics, but the priests and men of learning in the arts and sciences; and all, no doubt, in the mysteries of the true religion, as he had an opportunity. And this is the source of the wisdom of the Egyptians, which Moses was afterwards brought up in; and for which that people were so famous, that many of the ancient philosophers, as Pythagoras, Plato, and others, travelled thither to acquire it. This they had from Joseph, and his people that dwelt in their land. Christ's senators are his apostles and ministers, the elders that rule well, and labour in the word and doctrine: these are taught wisdom by him; the knowledge of divine and spiritual things; the words and doctrines of the wise are all from him, that one Shepherd; that they, as undershepherds and pastors, may feed others with knowledge and understanding.

(i) De Defect. Hod. Ling. Heb. s. 215.

To bind his {m} princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.

(m) That the very princes of the countries would be at Joseph's commandment, and learn wisdom from him.

Verse 22. - To bind his princes at his pleasure. The kings of Egypt were despots, and could imprison any subject. Joseph, as the Pharaoh's alter ego (Genesis 41:40, 44), would, of course, be able to do the same. And teach his senators wisdom. As being wiser than any of them (Genesis 41:38, 39). "To call up a famine" is also a prose expression in 2 Kings 8:1. To break the staff of bread (i.e., the staff which bread is to man) is a very old metaphor, Leviticus 26:26. That the selling of Joseph was, providentially regarded, a "sending before," he himself says in Genesis 45:5. Psalm 102:24 throws light upon the meaning of ענּה ב. The Kerמ רגלו is just as much without any occasion to justify it as עינו in Ecclesiastes 4:8 (for עיניו). The statement that iron came upon his soul is intended to say that he had to endure in iron fetters sufferings that threatened his life. Most expositors take בּרזל as equivalent to בּבּרזל, but Hitzig rightly takes נפשׁו as an object, following the Targum; for ברזל as a name of an iron fetter

(Note: Also in ancient Arabic firzil (after the Aramaic פרזלא) directly signifies an iron fetter (and the large smith's shears for cutting the iron), whence the verb. denom. Arab. farzala, c. acc. pers., to put any one into iron chains. Iron is called בּרזל from בּרז, to pierce, like the Arabic ḥdı̂d, as being the material of which pointed tools are made.)

can change its gender, as do, e.g., צפון as a name of the north wind, and כבוד as a name of the soul. The imprisonment (so harsh at the commencement) lasted over ten years, until at last Joseph's word cam to pass, viz., the word concerning this exaltation which had been revealed to him in dreams (Genesis 42:9). According to Psalm 107:20, דברו appears to be the word of Jahve, but then one would expect from Psalm 105:19 a more parallel turn of expression. What is meant is Joseph's open-hearted word concerning his visions, and אמרת ה is the revelation of God conveying His promises, which came to him in the same form, which had to try, to prove, and to purify him (צרף as in Psalm 17:3, and frequently), inasmuch as he was not to be raised to honour without having in a state of deep abasement proved a faithfulness that wavered not, and a confidence that knew no despair. The divine "word" is conceived of as a living effectual power, as in Psalm 119:50. The representation of the exaltation begins, according to Genesis 41:14, with שׁלח־מלך

(Note: Here שׁלח is united by Makkeph with the following word, to which it hurries on, whereas in Psalm 105:28 it has its own accent, a circumstance to which the Masora has directed attention in the apophthegm: שׁלוחי דמלכא זריזין שׁלוחי דחשׁוכא מתינין (the emissaries of the king are in haste, those of darkness are tardy); vid., Baer, Thorath Emeth, p. 22.)

and follows Genesis 41:39-41, Genesis 41:44, very closely as to the rest, according to which בּנפשׁו is a collateral definition to לאסּר (with an orthophonic Dag.) in the sense of בּרצונו: by his soul, i.e., by virtue of his will (vid., Psychology, S. 202; tr. p. 239). In consequence of this exaltation of Joseph, Jacob-Israel came then into Egypt, and sojourned there as in a protecting house of shelter (concerning גּוּר, vid., supra, p. 414). Egypt is called (Psalm 105:23, Psalm 105:27) the land of Chaam, as in Psalm 78:51; according to Plutarch, in the vernacular the black land, from the dark ashy grey colouring which the deposited mud of the Nile gives to the ground. There Israel became a powerful, numerous people (Exodus 1:7; Deuteronomy 26:5), greater than their oppressors.

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