Imágenes de páginas

them respectfully for Joseph's sake; and demanding what they were bred to, they, according to their instructions answered that they were shepherds, and humbly begged leave to settle in Goshen. The king, turning to Joseph, graciously said, "The whole of the land is at thy disposal, place them in the best part of it, in Goshen, if they like that best; and if there be any among them of extraordinary skill in their way, let them have the care "and management of my cattle."

Joseph's project thus happily succeeding, he introduces his father to the king, whom Jacob reverently salutes, The king, graciously condescending to talk with him, enquired his age. He replied that he was an hundred and thirty years old, though his ancestors had lived to a longer period. Then taking leave of Pharaoh, Joseph placed his father and his brethren in Rameses, a city afterwards of Goshen, which was the most fertile part of Egypt; where he nourished them, and provided for them according to their families, with that care and tenderness, as if they had been his children.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Good old Israel, and his family, being thus happily settled, Joseph returns to his charge. And now the fa mine increasing, people from all parts of Egypt and Canaan repair to Joseph, who furnished them with provi sions, as long as their money held out; by which means he had collected all the money in the land, and brought it into the king's exchequer and when that failed, they brought their cattle, for which he gave them bread in exchange. Thus they went on till the sixth* year; and then the famine pressed them so extremely hard, that they were constrained to lay their condition before him, telling him that their money was all spent ; and having already parted with their cattle, they had now nothing left to offer him but their persons and their lands,

• Sixth. This generally is translated the second year; but it must not be understood to be the second year of the seven years of famine, but the second from the time that their money failed, which was indeed the sixth of the seven, Geň, xvii. 9. 18.

which they intreated him, in pity, to accept, or else they must perish. Joseph took them at their word; and, in the king's name, and for his use, bought all the land of Egypt, except the land of the priests, who having an allowance from the king, were not compelled to part with their possessions: but the rest of the Egyptians sold their estates; and thus the land became entirely the king's. Then Joseph, repeating the condition of the bargain, tells them : "Behold I have this day bought both you and "your land for Pharaoh now here is seed for you, and "ye shall sow the land. But upon these terms shall ye "hold your land; ye shall every year give the fifth part "of your increase to Pharaoh, and the other four parts "shall be your own for seed, and for food for yourselves " and families."

Thus Joseph settled it a standing law over all Egypt, that Pharaoh should have a fifth part of the yearly increase of the lands, except the lands of the priests. As for the common people, Joseph remoyed them from the places of their constant abode to a greater distance, whereby they in process of time, knew not where to claim. Thus the Egyptians saved their lives at the expence of their estates and liberties, and of freemen became bondmen; in which condition they yet rejoiced, and gratefully acknowledged Joseph's care, calling him their Preserver: and to shew how willingly they submitted to these terms, they assured their prince, notwithstanding this, of their duty and loyalty, and unanimously said to Joseph,

Let us find favour in thy sight [that those condi

Sow. This being the last year of the seven barren years, they might sow in hopes of plenty again.

+ Removed. "This Joseph probably did, with intent that by so displacing and unsettling them from their ancient seats and demesns, and shifting them to and fro one upon another's land, but leaving none upon their own, he might confirm Pharaoh's title to the whole. Besides, this changing of habitations shewed that they had nothing of their own, but received all of the king's bounty.”

"tions may be ratified,] and we will be the king's ser"vants."

The seven years of famine were succeeded by plentiful and seasonable years, the earth resuming its former fertility, and the whole land abounding in all the usual productions of nature. Twelye of these years of plenty Jacob lived to see; at the end of which the lamp of nature became dim, and was nearly extinguished; his decayed spirits warn him of approaching dissolution, and each drooping faculty became a prelude of death. He therefore sends for his son Joseph, and obliges him, by an oath, to bury him in the sepulchre of his fathers, which Joseph swears to do: upon this Jacob bowed himself to God, who, besides all his other mercies, had given him a fresh assurance, by Joseph's promise and oath, that he should be carried out of Egypt into the promised land.

Joseph, leaving his father perfectly satisfied in the assurance he had given him, returns home; but is soon recalled by the sad message of his sickness: upon which he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim, and went to visit him. The feeble patriarch summoned up all his spirits, and exerted them so far as to sit up in his bed to receive his favourite son. And when Joseph came near him, he recounted to him the promise which God had made to him of the land of Canaan: "God Almighty (said he)" appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, "and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold I will make "thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and will make of thee


a multitude of people, and will give this land to thy "seed for an everlasting possession, "* Then taking Joseph's two sons into a peculiar participation of this promise, he adopted them as his own immediate offspring: "As Reuben and Simeon (says he) they shall be "mine," [so as to become each of them head of a distinct tribe in Israel, and to enjoy the privilege of primogeni

* Possession. Perhaps Joseph might not know of this before, he having been separated from his father's family when he was but a boy.

ture in right of their father Joseph, to whom the birthright was transferred from Reuben, because of his incestuous transgression against his father:] "But as for "the issue thou shalt beget after them, they shall be thine, and shall be called by the name of their bre"thren in their inheritance," And proceeding, he gave Joseph a short account of the death and burial of Rachel his mother.


While Jacob was talking to Joseph concerning himself and his sons, he had not taken notice that Joseph's sons were with him, but spoke of them as if they had been absent; but turning to Joseph, and seeing somebody with him, though he could not well discern who they were, for (his eyes being dim with age, and the children standing between their father's knees, he could not distinguish them,) he asked, "Who are these ?" Joseph immediately and piously answers, "These are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place." Then Jacob bids him bring them near him that he might bless them and kissing and embracing them, said to Joseph in a transport of joy, "I was out of hopes of ever seeing thy face again, and now God hath doubled that blessing; for he hath suffered me to live to see thee and thy "children!"



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Joseph placing the children according to the order of their birth, had set Manasseh so as to receive the blessing of his father's right-hand and Ephraim that of his left, guiding his hand at the same time: but Israel stretching out his right-hand laid it upon the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left upon Manasseh's head; and he blessed Joseph in blessing his children, saying, "God, "before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, "the God which fed me all my life-time to this day, and "the Angel* which redeemed me from all evils, bless the "lads: and let my name be named on them, and the

• Angel. That is, Christ, who is called the Angel or Messenger of the Covenant, Mal. iii. 1.

+ Name. That is, let them be reckoned into my family, equally with the rest of my sons.

"name of my fathers; and let them grow into a multi“tude in the midst of the earth." Joseph was uneasy that his father laid his right-hand (which carried with it the preference) on the head of the youngest; and supposing it had been done through inadvertence, he held up his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's to Manasseh's head, saying, "Not so, my father; for this is the "first-born, therefore put thy right-hand upon his head." But Israel, actuated by divine direction, refused, saying, "I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a "people and shall be great; but truly his younger bro"ther shall be greater than he, and his posterity shall become a multitude." Then, adding to his former bless66 ing, he said, "In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God "make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh :" still setting Ephraim before Manasseh. Finding himself then grow weaker, he said to Joseph, "I am now near my end; but though I leave you, God shall be with you, and bring you again into the land of your fathers: and as for thee, my Joseph, as a distinguishing mark of my love, I have given thee one portiont above thy brethren, which I





[ocr errors]

• In thee, &c. That is when any of the people of Israel shall bless their chil dren, they shall say, "Be thou multiplied as Ephraim and Manasseh are multiplied." From hence it was the custom in Israel, that children should be brought to men eminent for piety, that they might bless them, and pray over them: thus they brought little children to Jesus. But when the blessing was given by imposition of hands, if it was to a son, he that blessed said "God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh;" if it was a daughter, "God make thee as Sarah and Rebecca."


+ Portion. Since Jacob was so peaceable a man, that he never, as we read of, engaged in any martial enterprize, it may be enquired, how and when he took this portion of land, which he here gave to Joseph, from the Amorite with his sword and bow, or by force of arms? Some refer it to that act of Simeon and Levi, in destroying the inhabitants of Shechem, Gen. xxxiv. But that cannot be for, first, Jacob disavowed that act, and blamed them for it both then and now, Gen. xlvi. 5, 6, 7. Secondly, Those people of Shechem, whom they slew, were not Amorites, but Hivites, descended from Hivi, the sixth son of Canaan, Gen. x. 17. whereas the. Amorites came from the fourth son of Canaan, v. 16. Others take

« AnteriorContinuar »