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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 41

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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. — After the butler was restored; by whose intercession Joseph hoped to have been presently delivered, but was fairly deceived. So are all such sure to be, as depend upon living men (never true to them that trust in them) or deceased saints to intercede for them to God. Deus O. M. pro ineffabili sua clementia dignetur, et in Tosterum Divo Kiliano intercessore, Amplitudinem tuam contra fidei et Ecclesiae hostes tueri fortiter, et fovere suaviter, saith Eckius, in a certain Espistle Epist. dedicat. ad Episcop. Herbipolens . to a Popish bishop. Such a prayer begs nothing but a denial, with a curse to boot.

Verse 2

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

There came up out of the river — Nile; which, by overflowing, fatteneth the plain of Egypt, filling it with fruits; and so fitly deciphering the seven years of plenty. Mercer. So far as this river watereth, there is a black mould so fruitful, that they do but throw in the seed, and have four rich harvests in less than four months, say travellers. Blunt’s Voyage, p. 37.

Verse 3

And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the [other] kine upon the brink of the river.

Seven other kine came up out of the river. — These, by their leanness, portended drought and dearth, though they came up out of Nile also. This river, when it overflows unto twelve cubits’ height only, causeth famine; when to thirteen scarcity; when to fourteen, cheerfulness; when to fifteen, affluence; when to sixteen, abundance, as Pliny tells us. The greatest increase ever known, was of eighteen cubits, under Claudius (we read of a general famine in his days, Acts 11:28 , mentioned also by Suetonius and Josephus); Suet., in Claudio. Joseph., Antiq., lib. xx. cap. 2. Luc., lib. v. cap. 9. the smallest of five cubits, in the history of the Pharsalian wars. Such a thing might happen now, to cause this sore famine. Or the river, for their sins, might be dried up, as God threatens them. Ezekiel 29:3 ; Ezekiel 29:9 Isaiah 19:5-6 And as it happened in the reign of Cleopatra, that prodigiously prodigal queen, the river overflowed not for two years together, saith Seneca: as at another time it overflowed not for nine years together, saith Callimachus; and after him Ovid. Sen., Nat. Quaest., lib. iv. cap. 2. How easy is it for God to starve us all, by denying us a few harvests! In case of famine, let us inquire the supernatural cause; as David did, 2 Samuel 21:1 when he knew the natural cause to be the drought.

Imbribus, atque annis sicca fuisse novem. - Ovid.

Verse 4

And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

Did eat up the seven, … — In famine is not only outward want, but a greedy dog-like appetite within ( Bουλιμια , appetitas caninus ), that an ordinary meal sufficeth not, Isaiah 9:20 but men are ready to eat one another: as they did at Potidea, in the Peloponnesian war; at Utica, when it was besieged by Hamilcar the father of Hannibal; at Jerusalem, when it was beleaguered by Vespasian; at Tunis, in the African war, when the soldiers were tithed, that is, every tenth man was cut in pieces and devoured. Such a famine there was at Rome in the days of Honorius the Emperor, that they were ready to eat one another; and this voice was heard in the place of public meeting, Pone precium humanae carni. At Antioch in Syria, many of the Christians, in the holy war, through famine, devoured the dead bodies of their recently slain enemies. At the siege of Scodra, they were well-nigh put to this extremity, when horses were dainty meat; yea, they were glad to eat dogs, cats, rats, and the skins of beasts sod. It exceedeth all credit, to tell at what exceeding great price a little mouse was sold, or puddings made of dogs’ guts. Thucyd.; Polyb.; Joseph.; Manlii., loc. com. 278; Alsted., Chronol., p. 300; Turk. Hist., fol. 18, 426. And if our relations deceived us not, such things as these we heard of lately, to have happened in Germany. Alterius perditio, tua cautio. Seest thou another man perish? see to thyself.

Verse 5

And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

And dreamed the second time. — Divine dreams use to be repeated, and to take deep impression, as this did. Genesis 41:8 "Pharaoh’s spirit was troubled"; Heb., behammered.

Verse 6

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

Blasted with the east wind. — Which is, Ventus urens et exsiccans, saith Pliny: The property of this wind is to burn and blast the fruits. Ezekiel 17:10 ; Ezekiel 19:12 ; Hosea 13:15

Verse 7

And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, [it was] a dream.

Behold, it was a dream. — That is, It was but a dream, and no more; yet a divine dream: whereof, See Trapp on " Genesis 20:3 "

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.

All the magicians. — Or, Natural philosophers, that studied the secrets of nature, and could give a ready reason of everything. Magus is a Persian word, and hath affinity with the Hebrew ôçðä , a contemplative person; συφος θεωρητικος : Such as was Aristotle among the heathens, and Augustine among Christians - the greatest and accuratest of men, after the apostles, in contemplation and argumentation, as many are of opinion. The Grecians were so delighted with his learned labours, that they have translated him wholly into their tongue. Planudes eum transtulit anis aliquot ante Constantinopolim captum. Manl., loc. com., p. 684. As for the deep theorems of natural philosophy, they make one learned indeed, but seldom better, ofttimes worse, nearly atheists; as these wise men of Egypt, elsewhere called enchanters, wizards. Exodus 7:11 Of these were "Jannes and Jambres" that "resisted Moses"; 2 Timothy 3:8 learned they were, and lewd, as were those philosophers. Romans 1:18-32

But there was none that could interpret. — Because God had smitten them with a spirit of dizziness, and made the "wisdom of the wise to perish"; Isaiah 29:14 for else, it had been easy for them to have seen plenty in the fat kine, and penury in the lean, … But God had reserved that honour to Joseph, as a step or stirrup to further preferment.

Verse 9

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

I do remember my faults this day.Oratio vere aulica, saith Pareus, - a right courtier’s speech. He so relates the history of his imprisonment, that he takes all the blame thereof to himself; gives Pharaoh the full commendation of his justice and clemency. As for Joseph, he mentions him to the king, lest, if any else should have done it before him, he should have been disgraced for his silence; but somewhat slenderly, and more for self-respects, than of any good affection to the innocent prisoner; whom he calls a young man, a bondman, and Hebrew; in whose behalf he neither adviseth, nor entreateth that he may be sent for. So very little is it that Joseph oweth to this patron! And such, for most part, are court commendations. There you have αναβολην και μεταβολην ; as one said of old, delays and changes good store: every man seeking and serving his own aims and ends; but little minding the good of others, further than subservient to their own.

Verse 10

Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, [both] me and the chief baker:

Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, … — It is wisdom in a man to confess his faults before the prince whom he hath offended; and to commend his clemency in pardoning them: as Cicero did Caesar’s; Orat. pro M. Marcello, et O. Ligario, … as Mephibosheth did David’s, … The Lord Cobham, the Lord Gray, Sir Griffin Markham, being condemned for treason, about the beginning of King James, anno 1603, and brought forth to execution, as they were upon the scaffold, the sheriff notified the king’s pardon, his Majesty’s warrant for the stay of the execution: at which unexpected clemency, besides the great shouts of the people, the condemned wished that they might sacrifice their lives to redeem their fault, and to repurchase so merciful a prince’s love. Bp. Carleton’s Thankful Remembrance of God’s Mercies , p. 181.

Verse 11

And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.

Each man according to the interpretation. — That is, no vain dream, but significant, and deserving an interpreter.

Verse 12

And [there was] there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.

And he interpreted to us our dreams. — And well you requited him! But better late than never, Praestat sero quam nunquam. though a ready despatch doubleth the benefit. Howbeit God had an overruling hand in it, for Joseph’s greatest good: he turneth the world’s ingratitude to the salvation of his servants.

Verse 13

And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.

As he interpreted to us, so it was. — Similiarily: as Christ foretold the two thieves with whom he suffered, so it happened; the one went to heaven, the other to hell. And so it shall fare with all men at the last day, according to Isaiah 3:10-11 .

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.

And they brought him hastily. — Heb., They made him run: who haply knew not what this haste and hurry meant, but was betwixt hope and fear till he came to the king. It is God that "bringeth low, and lifteth up; that raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes," … 1 Samuel 2:7-8 In the year of grace 1622, the Turkish Janizaries, who have learned that damnable art of making and unmaking their king at pleasure, drew Mustapha, whom they had formerly deposed, out of prison: and when he begged for his life they assured him of the empire; and carrying him forth upon their shoulders, cried with a loud voice "This is Mustapha, Sultan of the Turks; God save Mustapha, …," with which sudden change the man was so affected that he fell into a swoon for joy, and they had much ado to keep life in him. Mustapha, subita illa mutatione qua ex carcere ad summam dignitatem et potentiam evectus erat, ita commotus fuit, ut animi deliquium pateretur ,& c. - Parei. Medul., p. 1165. Our Henry IV was crowned the very same day, that the year before he had been banished the realm Dan., Hist. of Engl., p. 48.

And changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. — And should not we get on our best when we are to come before God? Should we accost him in the nasty tattered rags of the old Adam; and not spruce up ourselves with the best of our preparation?

Verse 15

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.

I have dreamed a dream, and there is none, … — So men send not for the minister till given up by the physician. Then they cry out with him in the gospel: "Sir, if thou canst do anything, help us," … Mark 9:22 Whereunto what can we reply, but as that king of Israel did to the woman that cried to him for help, in the famine of Samaria; "If the Lord help thee not, whence shall I help thee? out of the barn floor, or out of the winepress?" 2 Kings 6:27 Did not I forewarn you, saying, "touch not the unclean thing," …, and ye would not hear? "Therefore is this thing come upon you." Genesis 42:21 2 Corinthians 6:17

And I have heard say, … — Pharaoh despiseth not wisdom, how meanly soever habited. Saepe sub attrita latitat sapientia veste: Paupertas est philosophiae vernacula, saith he in Apuleius: and Eumolpus in Petronius, being asked why he went so poorly apparelled, answered, "The study of wisdom never made any man wealthy." Amor ingenii neminem unquam divitem fecit. - Petron. And afterward he addeth, "However it comes to pass, poverty is the sister of piety, Nescio quomodo bonae mentis soror est paupertas. - Ibid. and virtue is forsaken of fortune." Nudus opum, sed cui coelum terraeque paterent, saith Silius of Archimedes, that great mathematician. And Aelian observes, that the best of the Greeks, Aristides, Phocion, Pelopidas, Epaminondas, Socrates, were very poor men: Lactantius, that Christian Cicero, as Jerome calls him, Lactantius quasi quidam fluvius Tullianae eloquentiae. - Jerome. was so needy that he wanted necessaries. All that Calvin left behind him, books and all, came scarcely to three hundred French crowns, as Beza his colleague witnesseth.

Verse 16

And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, [It is] not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh, … — This is the voice of all that have true worth in them: they are humble upon the knowledge of their perfections; they vilify and nullify themselves before God and men: like true balm, that put into water, sinks to the bottom; or like a vessel cast into the sea, which the more it fills, the deeper it sinks. And this is the bottom and bosom of humility, and very next degree to exaltation, as here.

Verse 17

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

And Pharaoh said unto Joseph. — Here begins Joseph’s rise. Being in prison, be struck not fire, though he had a good brain: but waited till it came down from heaven to him, first in the butler’s dream, and now in Pharaoh’s. Had he ravenously roamed after preferment, and ravished it, as in his mistress’s offer he might have done, it would have shunned him, …

Verse 18

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

See Trapp on " Genesis 41:2 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:3 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:4 "

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:

See Trapp on " Genesis 41:2 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:3 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:4 "

Verse 20

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

See Trapp on " Genesis 41:2 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:3 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:4 "

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.

See Trapp on " Genesis 41:2 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:3 " See Trapp on " Genesis 41:4 "

Verse 25

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

The dream of Pharaoh is one. — One in signification, but diverse in respect of vision. Why it was doubled, Genesis 41:32 Repetitions in Scripture are not tautologies, but serve to set forth to us the necessity, excellency, or difficulty of the thing so reinforced. "To write" to the Philippians "the same things," to St Paul, "it is not grievous, and for them it is safe." Philippians 3:1 Nunquam satis dicitur, quod nunquam satis discitur. Seneca. Occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros. - Juven. Away then with those nice novelists that can abide to hear nothing but what is new minted. Ministers meet with many that are slow of heart and dull of hearing; these must have "precept upon precept, line upon line," …; many also of brawny breasts and horny heart strings; that, as ducklings stoop and dive at any little stone thrown by a man at them, yet shrink not at the heaven’s great thunder, … Here a minister must beat and inculcate; turn himself into all fashions of spirit and speech, to win and work upon his hearers. He must so long pursue and stand upon one and the same point, saith Austin, till, by the gesture and countenance of his auditors, he perceives they understand and assent to it. Aug., De Doct. Christ, and, in Psalm. x. "Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world," saith the Psalmist; "both low and high, rich and poor, together." Psalms 49:1-2 Quid dignum tanto feret hle promissor hiatu, Horat. will some proud spirit say? what so great matter is there delivered in this Psalm, that so much attention is called for? Is it not an ordinary argument, such as we have heard of a hundred times - viz., the happy and secure estate of the saints, though in trouble, and the miserable and slippery condition of the wicked, though they prosper in the world? True, saith the Holy Ghost; this is the subject of this Psalm; and this, how common a theme soever, is the great wisdom, and the dark saying, that I will here open unto you, and that calls for your utmost attention.

Verse 26

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

Seven good kine are.See Trapp " Genesis 40:12 "

Verse 32

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; [it is] because the thing [is] established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

The dream was doubled.See Trapp on " Genesis 41:25 "

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, … — This was good counsel, and it proved best to the counsellor. The Jews injuriously charge him with ambitious self-seeking: so they did Noah, as is above noted, with hard-heartedness and incompassionateness to the old world. These made the worst of things, and so condemned the generation of God’s children. How much better had it been to have followed that golden rule of Epictetus! Take every man by that name whereby he may best be held; Ea quemque ansa prehendamus qua commode teneri queat. - Epictet. as Virgil dealt by Ennius, Cyprian by Tertullian, Jerome by Origen, Augustine by Tichonius. If an action had a hundred various faces, we should always cast our sight upon the fairest; and make the best of everything. What Joseph did here, he did doubtless by divine direction. Fran. de Sales, cap. 28.

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.

And take up the fifth part of the land. — For so much money as it is worth. The Egyptians might well spare it, and the king might as well buy it, since he should sell it again for very good profit. Neither would Joseph advise, nor Pharaoh be advised, to take his subjects’ goods by violence. When Samuel tells the people that their king, whom they called for, would take their fields and vineyards, the best of them, and give them to his servants, …, loquitur non tam de iure quam de more, he speaks not of the right of kings, as if all were theirs, and no man had anything of his own, but of the manner, and illimited power that some kings take over their subjects’ goods; as in Turkey, Persia, … Let it be the voice of a Nero, whensoever he put any one in office, Scis quid mihi opus sit, et hoc agamus, nequis quicquam habeat: Sueton., in Nerone. of a Seleucus, to proclaim that the king’s pleasure is the only law; Dικαιον ειναι το προς βασιλεως οριζομενον . - Appian. as if it were not enough to be above men, but above mankind: as those princes would be, saith our English chronicler, Dan., Hist. of Eng., fol. 144. that would have their will to be law. Melancthon tells us of a certain prince in those parts, that extorted money from his miserable subjects, by knocking out their teeth. First he knocked out one tooth, Primo unum dentem evellebat, minitans, … - Manl., loc. com., 636. threatening to do so by the rest, unless they brought him in such a sum, by such a time, as he demanded. The same author elsewhere d relates, that he was at a sermon on the birthday of our Saviour. The preacher took his text out of Luke 2:1 , "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." And whereas the audience expected that the preacher should have discoursed of Christ’s nativity, of the hypostatical union, …, he spent his whole hour (the weather being extremely cold) in this subject, that obedience must be yielded to the higher powers; that they must have as much money given them as they call for; with a great deal of such like stuff, little to the purpose, but much to the pleasure of some princes then and there present. Such court parasites many times do much mischief in a state; as well by seducing good princes, qui essent alii, si essent apud alios, as by stickling against them, when the world doth not favour them. When Edward II, surnamed Carnarvan, was pursued by his Queen and son, the Bishop of Hereford being to preach before her at Oxford, and to deliver the cause of her proceeding, took for his text, "My head acheth, my head acheth"; 2 Kings 4:19 and concluded most undivinely, that an aching and sick head of a kingdom, was, of necessity, to be taken off, and no otherwise cured. Dan., Hist. of Engl, fol. 216.

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.

And let them gather all the food. — This text warranteth providence in laying up for a rainy day. Solomon sends us to school to the ant to learn this lesson. Proverbs 6:6 And it is well observed, that our Saviour had a purse for common store for himself and those about him. Neither was this a penny pouch, but a bag so big as needed a bearer. God would have us to be good husbands, and see that Condus be fortior promo, our comings in more than our layings out. "Parents" must "lay up for their children," 2 Corinthians 12:14 yea, "leave inheritance to children’s children," Proverbs 13:22 playing the good husbands abroad and at home. Proverbs 27:26-27

Verse 36

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.

For store. — He not only foretelleth Egypt’s misery, but showeth the means to mitigate it. This is the right method, and must be made use of.

Verse 37

And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh. — The devil, no doubt, by the magicians and politicians of those times, did his utmost to hinder the king’s purpose of preferring Joseph; as he did here for Cromwell, that great reformer, whom King Henry VIII, of a smith’s son, made Earl of Essex. Act. and Mon., 1070. But "there is neither counsel nor wisdom against the Lord." Proverbs 21:30

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]?

And Pharaoh said unto his servants. — He would resolve nothing without the advice of his Council. He was not like the Persian monarchs, who gave their peers no freedom nor liberty of advice; a nor that wilful King James of Scotland, that reigned in our Edward IV’s time, that would seldom ask counsel, but never follow any: so wedded he was to his own opinion, saith the historian, that he could not endure any man’s advice, how good soever, that he fancied not. b Pharaoh heard what his servants could say to it; who all at length consented when the ill-affected saw it was no profit to dissent.

Can we find such a man as this? — Hence some collect that Joseph preached many more things to the king, of God, his power, providence, goodness, …, than are here recorded; and was therefore so admired, and advanced to the office of teaching his senators wisdom. "To bind his princes to his soul, and make wise his elders," Psalms 105:22 as the original hath it.

Verse 39

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

Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this. — Pharaoh at first took him for no other than a cunning soothsayer and conjecturer of dreams. Now he finds better worth in him, a spirit of wisdom and discretion: he took him to be a man spiritually rational, and rationally spiritual; one that seemed to see the insides of nature and grace, and the world and heaven, by those perfect anatomies he had made of them all. Briefly, such a heart so well headed, nor such a head better hearted, he had never met with. Wherefore he resolves to set him at the head of the state; there being not anything that makes a man so good a patriot, as true religion; which admits not of that distinction between a good man and a good citizen.

Verse 40

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

Thou shalt be over my house, … — Pharaoh prefers him, because he found good parts in him. They that bestow places of charge in church or commonwealth upon undeserving persons, for by-consideration, shall have Pharaoh to rise up in judgment against them. In King Edward VI’s minority, dignity waited upon desert, saith the historian, which caused it again to be waited upon by respect The Life of King Edward VI, by Sir Jo. Heywood, pp. 6, 115. Order also was taken that no man should have any benefice from the king, but first he should preach before him. Tamerlane never bestowed his preferments upon such as ambitiously sought them; as deeming them, in so doing, unworthy thereof: but upon such as whose modesty or desert he thought worthy of those his great favours Turk. Hist., fol. 227.

Verse 41

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

See, I have set thee over all, … — So Antoninus, the emperor, made Pertinax, Pertinax ob res praeclare gestas consul est factus: caius causa multi indignati sunt, … - Dio, in Vita Pertinacis. a lowly man, but well qualified, consul, which many murmured at. But he was afterwards became emperor; and finding the public treasure woefully wasted by his predecessor Commodus, he restored it by his good husbandry, which many prominent men laughed at; caeteri, quibus virtus luxuria potior erat, laudabamus, saith the historian.

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;

And Pharaoh took off his ring. — Pliny therefore is mistaken, who thinks the use of rings came not up before the Trojan war. How happy had he been, that was so great a book devourer, Helluo librorum. had he lit upon the Bible. He was insighted in all the secrets of nature, as appears by his works, which is non minus varium quam ipsa return natura, saith Erasmus: he never read anything but he excerpted it; neither in his library only, but in his couch: and while he was on horseback, he either wrote or dictated somewhat to be written. Nihil unquam legit, quin excerperet: nec in Bibliotheca tantum, sed in lectica; sed equitans quoque vel scribebat vel scribendum aliquod dictabat. - Textor Officina. When he saw his nephew walk out some hours without studying, he said to him, Poteras has horas non perdere. He lived in the days of Vespasian, and was a great dealer under him. What pity it was that neither by Jews nor Christians he came to the knowledge of the Scriptures, where he might have met with many antiquities, as this of the use of the ring, an ornament of honour, not elsewhere to be read of. But God had "hid these things from the wise and prudent, because it so seemed good in his sight." Matthew 11:25-26

And put a gold chain about his neck. — Behold, saith a learned interpreter, D. Hall. one hour hath changed his fetters into a chain of gold, his rags into robes, his stocks into a chariot, his jail into a palace; Potiphar’s captive to his master’s lord; the noise of his chains into Abrech. God commonly exalts his people to the contrary good to that evil he had cast them into; as Joseph here, of a slave to be a ruler; Christ judged, to be Judge of all. So Gaius, so soon as he came to the empire, the first thing he did was to prefer Agrippa, who had suffered imprisonment for wishing him emperor: he made him king of Judea (this was that Herod that was eaten with worms, Acts 12:23 ), and gave him a chain of gold, as heavy as the chain of iron that was upon him in prison.

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.

Bow the knee. — Or, Tender father, because he was young in years, but old in wisdom, μειρακιογιρων , as Micarius was called. Not the ancient are wise, but the wise ancient.

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.

I am Pharaoh. — Of a root ( ôøò ) that signifieth to make bare, because, say some, he was to be bared - that is, sifted and manifested by Joseph.

Without thee shall no man lift up his hand. — And yet the Egyptians, in Seneca’s time, however, were a proud peremptory people, apt to cast contempt and contumely upon their governors, were they never so upright and unblamable. Aegyptus loquax et ingeniosa in contumeliam praefectorum provincia: in qua qui vitaverit culpam, non effugit infamiam. - Seneca. Joseph had said, Without me, God shall answer Pharaoh; and now he heareth, Without thee shall no man, …

Verse 45

And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; 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. — That is, saith Jerome, the Saviour of the world. A high style; so the Greeks, when Flaminius, who had freed them from bondage, came among them, called him Saviour, Saviour, with such a courage, that the birds that flew over their heads, amazed at the noise, fell to the ground. Hunniades, having overthrown Mesites, the Turks’ general, at his return into the camp a wonderful number of the poor captives came, and falling at his feet and kissing them, gave God thanks for their deliverance by him. Some called him father, some the defender of his country; the soldiers, their invincible general; the captives, their saviour; the women, their protector; the young men and children, their tender father. He again, with tears standing in his eyes, courteously embraced them, rejoicing at the public good; and himself giving most hearty thanks unto God, commanded the like to be done in all the churches of that province. Turk. Hist., fol. 269.

The daughter of Potipherah priest of On. — Called Aven, Ezekiel 30:17 , that is, "wickedhess," because there they sacrificed to the sun; whence it was called Heliopolis. The chief ruler here under Pharaoh was Priest of the Sun: belike, priests were no small men in those days among the Eygptians. Among the Ethiopians, their neighbours, the priests of Jupiter were grown to that height of insolency, and had so bewitched the people with their superstitions, that they would sometimes take upon them to depose and kill their kings. This had been often done there; till at length, when they attempted the same upon Erganes, king of that country, he slew them all, and took away their priesthood. Nullo detrectante, donec ad Erganem regem perventum est, qui omnes occidit et saterdotium sustulit. - Alex. ab Alexandro. Oh that God would once put into the hearts of Christian kings to deal so by that high priest of Rome, who hath so long usurped authority to depose and abuse them at his pleasure!

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.

And Joseph was thirty years old. — This is mentioned, to show what wonderful graces he had attained at those years; what rare endowments both of piety and policy. Julius Caesar beholding the picture of Alexander in Hercules’s temple at Gades, wept, that he had done no worthy act at those years, wherein Alexander had conquered the whole world. Behold, Joseph, at thirty, showed more wisdom and virtue than either of them; as Parerius, on this text, well observeth: and hath for his thirteen years’ service and imprisonment, fourscore years’ liberty, prosperity, and honour. God is a liberal paymaster.

Verse 47

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

By handfuls.Manipulatim. Every grain of corn yields a handful of increase. Ex uno grano integer manipulus colligebatur. Thus God "filled their hearts with food and gladness"; Acts 14:17 and so "left not himself without witness" amongst those infidels.

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.

And laid up the food in the cities. — He provided storehouses for every city; so they needed not to travel far. It is our happiness that we have the Word, that bread of life, brought homo to us. Yet some are so wretched, that unless God will set up a pulpit at the ale house door, they will not come to hear him. They will run to hell as fast as they can; and if God cannot catch them they care not, they will not return.

Verse 49

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

And Joseph gathered corn. — Against the future famine; mentioned also by Justin, lib. xxxvi., out of Trogus Pompeius. It happened, as Orosius computeth it, in the year before Rome was built, 1048. Ussher dates this about 1715 BC.

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.

Asenath the daughter of Potipherah. — This was not Potiphar, Joseph’s master. Joseph would not marry the daughter of such a housewife. Partus fere siquitur ventrem. Ingenlum ipsum atque indoles (veluti conclusio sequitur inferiorem partem) plerumque matrissat.

But what a jest is that of Jonathan the Chaldee Paraphrast, Asenath quam pepererat Dina Sichemo, … Asenath was Sichem’s daughter by Dinah, but adopted and bred up by the wife of Potiphar! Audi hoc et ride, saith Drusius.

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: For God, said he, hath, … — He writes God’s mercies to himself upon the names of his two children; that might be as so many monitors to thankfulness and obedience. The stork is said to leave one of her young ones where she hatches, as it were, out of some instinct of gratitude. Doves, at every grain they pick, look upward, as giving thanks.

And all my father’s house. — Even that toil and those indignities that were offered me in my father’s house, so Jnnius; the grief whereof his preferment allayed and mitigated.

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.

See Trapp on " Genesis 41:51 " This Ephraim was afterwards, by Jacob, set before his older brother.

Verse 53

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

And the seven years of plenteousness, … — All earthly felicities will determine; they are called "a sea of glass mingled with fire"; Revelation 15:2 that is, with affliction. Henry VI, that had been the most potent monarch for dominions that ever England had, was, when deposed, not the master of a molehill nor owner of his own liberty; so various are the changes and chances of this mortal life. Dan., Hist. of England, contin. by Trussel, 189.

Verse 54

And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

According as Joseph had said. — Joseph foresaw and foretold the famine, but caused it not: so God’s prescience, …

In all the land of Egypt. — Such a revenue is thrift and parsimony, Optimum vectigal parsimonia. - Cic.

Verse 55

And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

Cried to Pharaoh. — Though they knew he had deputed Joseph: so 1 Kings 6:27 . Iσοθεοι ημεν ; We should be as gods, if we had not businesses, cares, and fears, above any of our subjects, ει μη και πραγματα, και φροντιδας, και φοβους, υτερ παντας τους ιδιοτευοντας, ειχομεν - Dio. said Augustus to his wife Livia.

Verse 56

And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

Sold. — Heb., Brake, shivered, parcelled it out.

Verse 57

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

All countries came to Joseph, … — Foreigners also should be relieved so much as may be. King Edward VI sent five thousand pounds to relieve Protestants beyond the seas. Hi frondibus et gramine vescebantur. - Scultet., Annal., p. 315. Geneva received our fugitives for religion in Queen Mary’s time: and Strasburg, the poor banished Lorrainers, that were well nigh famished, being forced to feed on hips and haws, …

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 41". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/genesis-41.html. 1865-1868.
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