I. TESTIMONY TO POWER OF CHARACTER. Joseph's influence. The five brethren selected perhaps with a view to their appearance, and in the number five, which was regarded as a significant number among the Egyptians. The monarch's reception of the strangers due to Joseph's influence. Generally diffused. There is much graciousness in the heathen monarch, although partly to be ascribed to national characteristics, for the Egyptians were a very different race from the Canaanites; still we may believe that the conduct of Pharaoh was mostly due to the effect of Joseph's ministry and personal exemplification of the religious life. One true man is a great power in a country.
II. A conspicuous EXAMPLE of Divine grace. The old patriarch is presented. He plainly impressed the monarch as extremely aged, perhaps indicating that the centenarian was a great rarity then among heathen nations. His long life was a long course of gracious dealings. The effect of a religious life in prolonging the years is exemplified. It is said that since Christianity obtained its legitimate, or more of its legitimate influence in Europe, the average length of human life has been doubled. Yet, as Jacob confesses, he is not as old as his fathers. His life had been a pilgrimage in a wilderness. His days few and evil, compared with what they might have been. Seventeen years longer they were lengthened out - a testimony to the effect of peace and prosperity in preserving life when it is under the blessing of God. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. The less is blessed of the greater. The two princes stood face to face - the prince of God - the prince of Egypt.
III. A PROPHETIC PACT: the world shall be blessed through the heirs of the Divine promise. Jacob had much to be thankful for; and although he thanked God first, he teaches us by his example not to forget the claims of fellow-creatures in our gratitude, even though they be separated from us in faith and religion. - R.
And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt.I. IT MARKS THE COMMENCEMENT, AND GIVES THE OUTLINE OF, THE NATION'S HISTORY.
II. IT MARKS THE TRIBE OF THE MESSIAH.
III. THE NAMES ARE SIGNIFICANT. Thus the names of Reuben's sons signify: "teacher," "distinguished," "beautiful one," "noble one." These express a sanguine hope. Also the names of Levi's sons signify: "expulsion of the profane," "congregation of the consecrated," "practiser of discipline." These are the leading principles and proper characteristics of priestly rule. We hasten rapidly over Biblical names, but much instruction may be gathered from them.
IV. THE FACTS CONNECTED WITH SOME OF THE NAMES ARE SUGGESTIVE. Thus Dinah, though condemned to a single life, is yet reckoned among the founders of the house of Israel in Egypt. This points to the elevation of woman, and to the idea of female inheritance. Again, Judah was the father's minister to Joseph. By his faithfulness, strength, and wisdom he rises in the opinion of his father. His distinguished place in the annals of the nation comes out, at length, in the grandeur of that prophetic word which declares God's loving purpose in this great history (Genesis 49:10).
V. THE NUMBER OF THE NAMES IS ALSO SUGGESTIVE. "It is remarkable that it is the product of seven, the number of holiness; and ten, the number of completeness. It is still more remarkable that it is the number of the names of those who were the heads of the primitive nations. The Church is the counterpart of the world, and it is to be the instrument by which the kingdom of the world is to become the kingdom of Christ. When the Most High bestowed the inheritance on the nations, "when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8). This curious sentence may have an immediate reference to the providential distribution of the human family over the habitable parts of the earth, according to the number of His church and of His dispensation of grace: but, at all events, it conveys the great and obvious principle, that all things whatsoever, in the affairs of men, are antecedently adapted with the most perfect exactitude to the benign reign of grace already realized in the children of God, and yet to be extended to all the sons and daughters of Adam.
(T. H. Leale.)
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