Genesis 47

* Joseph presents his brethren to Pharaoh. (1-6) Jacob blesses

Pharaoh. (7-12) Joseph's dealings with the Egyptians during the

famine. (13-26) Jacob's age. His desire to be buried in Canaan.

(27--31)

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.
7-12 With the gravity of old age, the piety of a true believer,

and the authority of a patriarch and a prophet, Jacob besought

the Lord to bestow a blessing upon Pharaoh. He acted as a man

not ashamed of his religion; and who would express gratitude to

the benefactor of himself and his family. We have here a very

uncommon answer given to a very common question. Jacob calls his

life a pilgrimage; the sojourning of a stranger in a foreign

country, or his journey home to his own country. He was not at

home upon earth; his habitation, his inheritance, his treasures

were in heaven. He reckons his life by days; even by days life

is soon reckoned, and we are not sure of the continuance of it

for a day. Let us therefore number our days. His days were few.

Though he had now lived one hundred and thirty years, they

seemed but a few days, in comparison with the days of eternity,

and the eternal state. They were evil; this is true concerning

man. He is of few days and full of trouble; since his days are

evil, it is well they are few. Jacob's life had been made up of

evil days. Old age came sooner upon him than it had done upon

some of his fathers. As the young man should not be proud of his

strength or beauty, so the old man should not be proud of his

age, and his hoary hairs, though others justly reverence them;

for those who are accounted very old, attain not to the years of

the patriarchs. The hoary head is only a crown of glory, when

found in the way of righteousness. Such an answer could not fail

to impress the heart of Pharaoh, by reminding him that worldly

prosperity and happiness could not last long, and was not enough

to satisfy. After a life of vanity and vexation, man goes down

into the grave, equally from the throne as the cottage. Nothing

can make us happy, but the prospect of an everlasting home in

heaven, after our short and weary pilgrimage on earth.
13-26 Care being taken of Jacob and his family, which mercy was

especially designed by Providence in Joseph's advancement, an

account is given of the saving the kingdom of Egypt from ruin.

There was no bread, and the people were ready to die. See how we

depend upon God's providence. All our wealth would not keep us

from starving, if rain were withheld for two or three years. See

how much we are at God's mercy, and let us keep ourselves always

in his love. Also see how much we smart by our own want of care.

If all the Egyptians had laid up corn for themselves in the

seven years of plenty, they had not been in these straits; but

they regarded not the warning. Silver and gold would not feed

them: they must have corn. All that a man hath will he give for

his life. We cannot judge this matter by modern rules. It is

plain that the Egyptians regarded Joseph as a public benefactor.

The whole is consistent with Joseph's character, acting between

Pharaoh and his subjects, in the fear of God. The Egyptians

confessed concerning Joseph, Thou hast saved our lives. What

multitudes will gratefully say to Jesus, at the last day, Thou

hast saved our souls from the most tremendous destruction, and

in the season of uttermost distress! The Egyptians parted with

all their property, and even their liberty, for the saving of

their lives: can it then be too much for us to count all but

loss, and part with all, at His command, and for His sake, who

will both save our souls, and give us an hundredfold, even here,

in this present world? Surely if saved by Christ, we shall be

willing to become his servants.
27-31 At last the time drew nigh that Israel must die. Israel,

a prince with God, had power over the Angel, and prevailed, yet

must die. Joseph supplied him with bread, that he might not die

by famine, but that did not secure him from dying by age or

sickness. He died by degrees; his candle gradually burnt down to

the socket, so that he saw the time drawing nigh. It is an

advantage to see the approach of death, before we feel it, that

we may be quickened to do, with all our might, what our hands

find to do. However, death is not far from any of us. Jacob's

care, as he saw the day approach, was about his burial; not the

pomp of it, but he would be buried in Canaan, because it was the

land of promise. It was a type of heaven, that better country,

which he declared plainly he expected, #Heb 11:14|. Nothing will

better help to make a death-bed easy, than the certain prospect

of rest in the heavenly Canaan after death. When this was done,

Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head, worshipping God, as it

is explained, see #Heb 11:21|, giving God thanks for all his

favours; in feebleness thus supporting himself, expressing his

willingness to leave the world. Even those who lived on Joseph's

provision, and Jacob who was so dear to him, must die. But

Christ Jesus gives us the true bread, that we may eat and live

for ever. To Him let us come and yield ourselves, and when we

draw near to death, he who supported us through life, will meet

us and assure us of everlasting salvation.
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