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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 41

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

At the end of two full years. It is not certain whether these years are reckoned from the beginning of Joseph's imprisonment, or from the events described in the preceding chapter-most likely the latter. What a long time for Joseph to experience the sickness of hope deferred! But the time of his enlargement was come when he had sufficiently learned the lessons God designed for him; and the plans of Providence were matured.

Pharaoh dreamed. Pharaoh, from an Egyptian word Phre, signifying the 'sun,' was the official title of the kings of that country. The prince who occupied the throne of Egypt was Aphophis, one of the Memphite kings, whose capital was On or Heliopolis, and who is universally acknowledged to have been a patriot king. Between the arrival of Abraham and the appearance of Joseph in that country, somewhat more than two centuries had elapsed, and great political changes had taken place. Kings sleep and dream as well as their subjects; but greater importance was attached to their dreams. (cf. Homer's 'Iliad,' 2:, 80). And this Pharaoh had two dreams in one night so singular and so similar, so distinct and so apparently significant, so coherent and vividly impressed on his memory, that his spirit was troubled.

Verses 2-7

And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

He ... called for all the magicians, [ charTumiym (H2748) (Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:3, etc.), probably from chereT, an iron stylus, whence they were called by Clemens Alexandrinus (6:, 633) hierogrammateis]. The Septuagint has exeegeetas, interpreters or explainers. They were the same as the magi of Babylon (Daniel 1:20; Daniel 11:2). But Havernick ('Historico Critical Introduction to Old Testament') considers it an Egyptian word; and Jablonski derives it from Chertom - i:e., thaumaturgus, a wonder-worker, a juggler.

The wise men, [ chªkaamiym (H2450)] - the magi. It is not possible to define the exact distinction between "magicians" and "wise men;" but they formed different branches of a numerous body, who laid claim to supernatural skill in occult arts and sciences; in revealing mysteries, explaining portents, and, above all, interpreting dreams. Doubtless, their knowledge rested on some scientific basis; but long practice had rendered them expert in devising a plausible way of getting out of every difficulty, and framing an answer suitable to the occasion. But the dreams of Pharaoh baffled their united skill. Unlike their Assyrian brethren (Daniel 2:4), they did not pretend to know the meaning of the symbols contained in them; and the providence of God had determined that they should all be non-plussed in the exercise of their boasted powers, in order that the inspired wisdom of Joseph might the more remarkably appear.

Verses 9-13

Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:

Chief butler ... I do remember my faults. This public acknowledgment of the merits of the young Hebrew would, tardy though it was, have reflected credit on the butler, had it not been obviously made to ingratiate himself with his royal master. It is right to confess our faults against God, and against our fellow-men, when that confession is made in the spirit of godly sorrow and penitence. But this man was not much impressed with a sense of the fault he had committed against Joseph; he never thought of God, to whose goodness he was indebted for the prophetic announcement of his release; and in acknowledging his former fault against the king, he was practicing the courtly art of pleasing his master. Me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged. A prophet or interpreter of dreams may be said to save and to kill, when he predicts the safety or death of any, as Joseph did of the chief butler and baker.

Verse 14

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph ... out of the dungeon, [ habowr (H953)] - (see the note at Genesis 40:15). Now that God's set time had come (Psalms 105:19), no human power nor policy could detain Joseph in prison. During his protracted confinement, he might have often been distressed with perplexing doubts; but the mystery of Providence was about to be cleared up, and all his sorrows forgotten in the course of honour and public usefulness in which his services were to be employed.

Shaved himself. The Egyptians were the only Oriental nation that liked a smooth chin. All slaves, and foreigners who were reduced to that condition, were obliged, on their arrival in that country, to conform to the cleanly habits of the natives, by shaving their beards and heads, the latter of which were covered with a close cap. Thus prepared, Joseph was conducted to the palace, where the king seemed to have been anxiously waiting his arrival.

Verses 15-16

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

Pharaoh said ... I have dreamed a dream. The king's brief statement of the service required brought out the genuine piety of Joseph. Disclaiming all merit, he ascribed whatever gifts or sagacity he possessed to the Divine Source of all wisdom-declared his own inability to penetrate futurity, but, at the same time, his confident persuasion, that God would reveal what was necessary to be known. The dreams were purely Egyptian-founded on the productions of that country, and the experience of a native. The fertility of Egypt being wholly dependent on the Nile, the scene is laid on the banks of that river; and oxen being in the ancient hieroglyphics symbolical of the earth and of food, animals of that species were introduced in the first dream.

Verse 17

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:

I stood upon the bank of the river, [ ha-Yª'or (H2975), in Coptic Yaro, or Jero (blue, Wilkinson; so also Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 35,36), the Nile; Greek, Neilos, a word of Semitic origin = nachal (H5158), a valley watered by a torrent, a wady].

Verse 18

And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:

There came up out of the river. Cows, now of the buffalo kind, are seen daily plunging into the Nile; when their huge form is gradually emerging, they seem as if rising "out of the river."

Fed in a meadow, [ baa'aachuw (H260); Septuagint, en too achei] - cf. Job 8:11 - Nile grass, the aquatic plants that grow on the marshy banks of that river, particularly the lotus kind; on which cattle were usually fattened.

Verse 19

And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:

Behold, seven other kine ... poor and ill-favoured. The cow being the emblem of fruitfulness, the different years of plenty and of famine were aptly represented by the different condition of those kine; the plenty, by the cattle feeding on the richest fodder; and the dearth, by the lean and famishing kine, which the pangs of hunger drove to act contrary to their nature.

Verse 20

And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 21

And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.

It could not be known that they had eaten them - literally, 'it could not be seen that they had come into their bellies.'

Verse 22

And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:

And I saw in my dream ... seven ears - that is, of Egyptian wheat (triticum compositum), which, when "full and good," is remarkable in size-a single seed sprouting into seven, ten, or fourteen stalks, and each stalk bearing an ear. Perhaps it might be spelt (see the note at Exodus 9:32). The vision exhibited samples of grain marked by extraordinary characteristics. But the natural tendency of the spelt to branch out into distinct ears creates a presumption in favour of its being the cereal which Pharaoh saw.

Verse 23

And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:

Blasted by the east wind - destructive everywhere to grain, but particularly so in Egypt, where, sweeping over the sandy deserts of Arabia, it comes in the character of a hot, blighting wind, that quickly withers all vegetation (cf. Ezekiel 19:12; Hosea 13:15). But the east wind may be taken here as used in a loose sense for any burning wind, as the Arabs now call such (Shurkiyeh) the east wind, though it blows in spring from the south, and Robinson ('Biblical Researches,' vol. 1:, p. 305: cf. 287) says that he encountered that wind blowing in a southerly direction not far from Beer-sheba. The Septuagint translates the word in this passage by Notos, the south wind.

Verse 24

And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.

Devoured the seven rank and full ears. Devoured is a different word from that used, Genesis 41:4, and conveys the idea of destroying, by absorbing to themselves all the nutritious virtue of the soil around them.

Verse 25

And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Joseph said ... The dream ... is one. They both pointed to the same event-a remarkable dispensation of seven years of unexampled abundance, to be followed by a similar period of unparalleled dearth. The characteristics of the supernatural were obvious in the number seven; and the repetition of the dream in two different forms was designed to show the absolute certainty and speedy arrival of this public crisis (cf. Job 40:5; Psalms 62:11; also Numbers 5:22).

What he is about to do ... The name God, not Yahweh, is used in speaking to foreigners and pagans. The calm and unpretending, yet confident manner of the interpreter, who, speaking of a dispensation extending over fourteen years, displayed the consciousness of a man gifted with higher prophetic foresight than that of mere natural sagacity, formed a most striking contrast to the bewildered and helpless magi. The interpretation was accompanied by several suggestions of practical wisdom for meeting so great an emergency as was impending.

Verses 26-32

The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 33

Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.

Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man. The explanation given, when the key to the dreams was supplied, appears to have been satisfactory to the king and his courtiers; and we may suppose that much and anxious conversation would arise, in the course of which Joseph might have been asked whether he had anything further to say. No doubt the providence of God provided the opportunity of his suggesting what was necessary.

Verse 34

Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

Appoint officers over the land - overseers, equivalent to the beys of modern Egypt.

Take up the fifth part of the land - i:e., of the land produce to be purchased or levied as a tax and stored by government, instead, of being sold to foreign grain merchants.

Verse 35

And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

Under the hand of Pharaoh - i:e., under royal and official direction.

Verses 36-37

And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 38

And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?

Pharaoh said unto his servants. The kings of ancient Egypt, though autocrats, were assisted in the management of state affairs by the advice of the most distinguished members of the priestly order (cf. Genesis 50:7; Isaiah 19:11; Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt,' vol. 2:, p. 23); and accordingly, before admitting Joseph to the new and extraordinary office that was to be created, those ministers were consulted as to the expediency and propriety of the appointment.

Can we find such a one as this is? - literally, Can we find a man like this man?

A man in whom the Spirit of God is. An acknowledgment of the being and power of the true God, though faint and feeble, continued to linger among the higher classes long after idolatry had come to prevail.

Verses 39-40

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

Thou shalt be over my house - i:e. the prefect of the palace, the marshal of the court (1 Kings 4:6; 2 Kings 10:5; 2 Kings 15:5; Isaiah 22:15; Daniel 2:1; Daniel 2:9). But Joseph was elevated to higher honours, and invested with greater powers, than such an officer usually possessed.

According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled - literally, kiss. This refers to the edict granting official power to Joseph, to be issued in the form of a firman, as is common in Oriental countries; and all who should receive that order would kiss it, according to the usual Eastern mode of acknowledging obedience and respect for the sovereign.

Verse 41

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh said ... See, I have set thee ... These words were preliminary to investiture with the insignia of office, which were these,-the signet-ring, used for signing public documents, and its impression, was more valid than the sign-manual of the king; the khelaat, or dress of honour (the ring, Esther 3:10, and the mantle from the hands of the sovereign, denoted elevation to the highest offices of state) - a coat of [ sheesh (H8337)] byssus, finely-worked linen, or rather, cotton, worn only by the highest personages on being admitted into the sacred order; the gold necklace, a badge of nobility;-the plain or ornamental form of it indicating the degree of rank and dignity, as is seen from the decorated necks of the royal officers depicted on the monuments of Thebes; the privilege of riding in a state carriage, the second chariot; and lastly,

Verse 42

And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 43

And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

They (heralds) cried ... Bow the knee, [ 'abreek (H86). If viewed as a Hebrew word, it might be the infinitive absolute Hiphil from baarak (H1288), used here as an imperative, "bow the knee." 'More probably, however,' says Gesenius, 'it is an Egyptian term, changed and inflected by the Hebrew writer, so that, although foreign, it might yet have a Hebrew sound, and be referred to a Hebrew etymology. The true form of the Egyptian word, which lies hid in 'abreek (H86), is either Au-rek] - i:e., let everyone bow himself; or, better Aperek - i:e., bow the head. Others consider this word 'abrech' as one of Joseph's titles. The Targum of Onkelos interprets it, 'the father of the king.' Osburn says, 'this was the title under which Joseph was first inaugurated, and that it is written in hieroglyphics on his cenotaph at Sakkarah, signifying royal priest or prince,' and is not to be found among the distinctions of any other princes of Egypt.

Verse 44

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh - a proverbial form of expressing sovereign power. These ceremonies of investiture were closed in usual form by the king in council solemnly ratifying the appointment. But the expression, "I am Pharaoh, implies that the rulers of Egypt were regarded as in some mysterious way the progeny and vicegerents of the national deity, and they accordingly embodied his name Rƒ, or with the article Ph' Ra, in their official title.

And without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt - i:e., Joseph was appointed vizier, or prime minister of state. The sudden elevation of a person from a humble and obscure condition to the highest dignity has been frequently exemplified, both in ancient and modern times, in the East. In 1852 the prime minister of Persia was the son of a donkey-driver, who rose by the strength and energy of his character to be the second man in rank, but really the first in power. Nowhere, however, have such promotions been so common as in Egypt; and Joseph's elevation was one instance only of many which the history of that country furnishes.

The Pharaoh who promoted Joseph was one of those rare specimens of an absolute prince who had the discernment to discover merit, as well as the wisdom to patronize it; and had all who are invested with despotic power displayed the same amiable and patriotic spirit, there would have been fewer objections to admit the principle of the 'right divine.' But the special providence of God had determined to make Joseph governor of Egypt; and the way was paved for it by the deep and universal conviction produced in the minds both of the king and his counselors, that a divine spirit animated his mind, and had given him such extraordinary knowledge.

Verse 45

And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-pa'aneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Zaphnath-paaneah. The imposition of other names upon persons promoted to high offices, or placed in new circumstances, appears to have been a practice of the Egyptians in common with the Babylonians, derived in both cases from an Assyrian, or, it may be, a patriarchal source. The name given by Pharaoh to Joseph has been variously interpreted, 'a revealer of secrets.' The Septuagint, which may be presumed to have with fidelity transmitted the genuine form of the Egyptian name, has Psonthomfaneech, according to Jablonski ('Opusc.,' 1: p. 207-216) and Rosellini ('Mon. Storici,' 1:, p. 185), which signifies 'the salvation or saviour of the world,' or, according to Jerome, 'the sustainer of the age.' [`This,' says Gesenius, 'in Hebrew letters would be properly expressed by patsnat pa`neeach; but the letters -pats- (of the first word) are transposed, in order to bring it nearer to Hebrew etymology.' Osburn ('Mon. Hist.,' 2:, p. 89), gives an entirely different signification to this compound name.] 'The first half, Tsaphnath, signifies,' according to him, 'near to (one with) Neith, the goddess of wisdom,' the exact echo of Pharaoh's address in conferring it on him (Genesis 41:39, last clause). The other half of the name refers to Joseph's acquittal from the false charge under which he had suffered imprisonment: "Paaneah" - `he who flees from adultery'-a title borne by one of the courtiers of a former Pharaoh ('Mon. Hist.,' 1:, p. 301).

And he gave him to wife Asenath, [Septuagint, Aseneth] - a name derived, according to Jablonski ('Opusc.,'

ii., p. 208), either from Asshe-Neith, 'the worshipper of Neith, or from As-Neit,' 'she belongs to Neith' [the Atheenee of the Greeks, and Minerva of the Romans].

Daughter of Poti-pherah, [Septuagint, Petefree] - a variation of Potiphar. It was an official title (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt,' 4:, p. 301). Pet-ph-re, 'he who worships (offers to the sun.' But Dr. Hincks ('Eng. Rev.,' p.

101) explains it by Phont-Phra, priest of the sun.

Priest, [ koheen (H3548)]. The Chaldee Targum translates the word here, and in Psalms 110:4, by a term that denotes prince or chieftain (cf. 2 Samuel 8:18 with 1 Chronicles 18:17; 1 Kings 4:5; 2 Kings 10:11, where it is applied to counselors of the king. No obstacle existed to Joseph's marriage with a lady of this family, because there were no castes in Egypt. The priests formed the highest order of nobility. But there was no absolute separation between them and other classes.

Of On, [ 'Own (H204) or 'On (H204)]. The Hebrew form of the name is only a transcript of an ancient Coptic word, which, according to Champollion, comes from a root signifying 'to enlighten.' On = light, was the original Mizraimite name of the god worshipped in the temple; hence, called Beth-aon; the Aven of Ezekiel 30:17; Amos 1:5; the Bethshemesh of Jeremiah 43:13 [where, in the Septuagint, it stands Oon]; Arabic, Ain Shems. This place was the center of the worship of Ra or Re, the sun-god, the chief deity in the Egyptian astro-mythological Pantheon. Its hieroglyphic name was Re-ci, house, or abode of the sun (Wilkinson's 'Modern Egypt and Thebes,' vol.1:, p. 293.

The Septuagint in this place translates it Eelioupolis, 'the city of the sun' (cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 2:, ch.

vi., sec. 1). 'It was, says Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' b. 2:, ch. 4, 8, 'the great seat of learning and the university of Egypt; and that it was one of the oldest cities is proved by the obelisk of Osirtasen-first of the twelfth dynasty. Its site is still marked by its massive, though now crumbling walls, supposed to have been reared by the hands of the Hebrew bondmen (Exodus 1:11, Septuagint). And yet it was comparatively small. 'Heliopolis was the Oxford of ancient Egypt;' or rather, perhaps, the college, gathered round the temple of the Sun, as Christ Church round the old cathedral or shrine of Frideswide' (Stanley, 'Jewish Church,' p. 87). It stood on the eastern bank of the Nile, a little north of Memphis, and is identified with the modern town Keliub, the same as Heliopolis. 'The province in which it stands is also named Keliubie (Kelyubiyah), and answers to the ancient nomos (prefecture) of Heliopolis; bounded by the Nile and its Pelusiac branch on the west and north' (Rennell's 'Geography of Herodotus,' p. 495).

In looking at this profusion of honours heaped suddenly upon Joseph, it cannot be doubted that he would humbly yet thankfully acknowledge the hand of a special Providence in conducting him through all his chequered course to almost royal power; and we who know more than Joseph did, can not only see that his advancement was subservient to the most important purposes relative to the Church of God, but, learn the great lesson that a Providence directs the minutest events of human life.

Verse 46

And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

Thirty years - seventeen when brought into Egypt, probably three in prison, and thirteen in the service of Potiphar.

Went out ... throughout all the land of Egypt - made an immediate survey, to determine the site and size of the storehouses required for the different quarters of the country, as well as to provide channels for the irrigation of the whole land, and by a proper distribution of the water supply, to use all the appliances of human effort and machinery for taking advantage of the Providence-sent inundation.

Verse 47

And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

Brought forth by handfuls, [ liqmaatsiym (H7062)] - in fistfuls, in sheaves. A singular expression, alluding not only to the luxuriance of the crop, but the practice of the reapers grasping the ears, which alone were cut.

Verse 48

And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

Gathered up all the food. This general expression must be viewed as limited to the proportion of one-fifth of the crop (Genesis 41:34). It gives a striking idea of the exuberant fertility of this land, that, from the superabundance of the seven plenteous years, grain enough was laid up for the subsistence, not only of its home population, but of the neighbouring countries, during the seven years of dearth.

Verse 49

And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

Joseph gathered corn ... until he left numbering; for it was without number. It appears from the paintings that the Egyptian officers kept an account of the quantity of grain stored in the magazines, because at the side of the windows of one of them there are figures indicating the amount deposited in that storehouse (Rosellini, vol. 2: p. 234; Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and Books of Moses,' pp. 34, 35),

Verse 50

And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

Unto Joseph were born two sons. These domestic events, which increased his temporal happiness, develop the piety of his character in the names conferred upon his children.

Verse 51

And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.

Manasseh - one who forgets [from the Piel of naashaah (H5382), for nashaniy (H5382) to correspond with the proper name, Mªnasheh (H4519); Septuagint, Manassees].

Verse 52

And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Ephraim, [ 'Epraayim (H669)] - i:e., 'double fruitfulness,' referring either to the increase of Joseph's family or to the years of extraordinary plenty, from the verb [ paaraah (H6509)], to bear fruit. [Hiphil hipªraniy (H6509), hast made me fruitful in offspring; Septuagint, Efraim.]

Verses 53-56

And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

The seven years of plenteousness ... ended. Over and above the proportion purchased for the government during the years of plenty, the people could still have husbanded much for future use. But improvident as men commonly are in the time of prosperity, they found themselves in want, and must have starved in thousands, had not Joseph anticipated and provided for the protracted calamity. The overflowing of the Nile being nature's substitute for rain in Egypt, has rendered the system of agriculture pursued special; and when the river is low, the irrigation is continued by artificial means.

The Nile begins to rise about the summer solstice, and the overflow commences two months after. Its greatest height is reached about the autumnal equinox, after which it gradually decreases, lasting in all three months. A 'good,' 'great,' or 'high' Nile is the precursor of an abundant season. A low inundation is followed by a deficient crop or a dearth. Too rapid a rise excites apprehension.

Last summer it was fourteen feet higher than the preceding year at the same date, when it had yet forty-five days to rise. The government despatched by rail a great quantity of timber and piles to different point, to be ready to dam the gaps, in case the dykes gave way; and men were employed in raising the banks along the river.

The hopes of the country depend upon the proper economy and distribution of the water. Dearths from a failure of inundation are far from being unfrequent in the history of modern Egypt. One famine is recorded of seven years' duration, A.D. 1064 AD - 1071 AD, when the greatest misery prevailed. From such a frightful state of destitution the heaven-inspired foresight of Joseph preserved his age.

We now know (Burton and Speke's 'Journal') that the source of the Nile is Lake Nyanza, which is fed by streams that issue from the 'Montes Lunae,' and that the rise and fall of that river is owing not, as was supposed to the melting of mountain snows, but to the tropical rains which periodically fall in the lake region. In the time of Joseph there was a disturbance of the overflow.

'The waters of the flood, for seven years together, very far exceeded all that had ever before been known in Egypt; so that an extent of surface was brought under cultivation in the Delta unparalleled at any former or subsequent period. This again was followed by seven years, during which "there was neither earing nor harvest" - expressions which leave us surely to infer that in the course of them the phenomenon never appeared at all. The discharge or bursting of the Lake of Ethiopia may have been the natural cause of the seven years' plenty, and the re-action produced by the entire drainage of the lake, which would leave a vast expanse of mud exposed to the tropical sun the consequent occasion of the seven years' famine. When it is further explained that this hypothesis, as to the condition of the bottom of the lake, is exactly that which the present state of the plain of Darfur clearly indicates to have actually prevailed, a strong case, prima facie, is made out, that the proximate natural cause of the seven years of plenty and famine was the bursting of the Lake of Ethiopia. When we state, in addition, that one of the obscure contemporary and rival kings of Aphophis, the patron of Joseph, registered the rise of the lake in Nubia and Ethiopia up to the very year of its disruption, as it would seem, we find that the plenty and famine were like the rest of the divine dealings in Egypt, actual occurrences, the natural causes of which were foreknown and predisposed' (Osburn's 'Mon. Hist.,' vol. 2:, pp. 135-9).

Verse 57

And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

The famine was so sore in all lands - i:e., the lands contiguous to Egypt-Canaan, Syria, and Arabia. As to Canaan and Syria, see the note at Genesis 42:4 and in proof that the seven years' famine was "sore" in Arabia also, see direct allusions made in Himyarite inscriptions, supposed to be of the age of Joseph (Foster's 'Historical Geography of Arabia;' Carey's 'Job.' p. 448).

Remarks: In the still immature state of Egyptian chronology, the most eminent Egyptologers are divided as to the Pharaoh who was the patron of Joseph. Wilkinson, Bunsen, etc., ascribe that honour to Osirtasen or Sesertesen I. of the twelfth dynasty. Others, who deem it incredible that a Hebrew slave would have been so highly promoted by any native princes, who, like the Chinese, were strongly prejudiced against all foreigners, conclude that the reigning Pharaoh was of the race of Hyk-Shos or Shepherd kings, who, successfully invaded Lower Egypt, and long held sovereign authority in the Delta. But they differ as to the royal person who patronized Joseph. Poole considers him to have been Assa or Assis, the fifth king of the fifteenth dynasty of Shepherds. Lepsius fixes on Sethos or Sethosis I., of the nineteenth dynasty; Osburn ('Mon. Hist.'), on Aphophis, of the seventeenth dynasty. With this opinion we are disposed to coincide, as the reign of Aphophis meets all the conditions of this history more fully than any other period.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 41". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-41.html. 1871-8.
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