Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 47

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verses 5-6

Genesis 47:5-6

The land of Goshen may be designated as the Netherlands of Egypt. When the first settlers rested there, it was in the immediate neighbourhood of the court. The Israelitish life there must have been a life of villages. The Egyptian government, fearful of this people even scattered abroad, would never have permitted them to consolidate their strength in large towns. It was a region of coarse plenty, a rich pastoral country; it was also a frontier land and an exposed province. It formed the Delta of the Nile, and was well called "the best of the land."

I. The villages of Goshen illustrate the mysterious path of divine purposes. Without that residence in Goshen we cannot see how Israel could have inherited its holy land; for Israel was not to be like Ishmael, a mere horde of bandit warriors, or a wandering race of unsettled Bedouins. The race was to exist for a purpose on the earth, and from the years of the discipline of despotism a spirit would infiltrate itself into the vast multitude; a mind, a Hebrew mind, would be born, fostered, and transmitted.

II. It is to the villages of Goshen that believers may turn to find how, when circumstances look most hopeless and men are most helpless, they are not forgotten or forsaken of God; how in the night-time of a nation's distress the lamp of truth may somewhere be burning brightly.

III. There was safety in Goshen. There came a time when God in a very fearful manner arose for the deliverance of His Church. The firstborn throughout the land of Egypt died, and there was a great cry throughout the land; but Israel was safe.

E. Paxton Hood, The Preacher's Lantern, vol. iii., p. 405.

References: Genesis 47:8 . D. King, Memoir and Sermons, p. 265; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 280. Genesis 47:8 , Genesis 47:9 . M. Nicholson. Redeeming the Time, p. 108.

Verse 9

Genesis 47:9

Those who looked only on the outer life of Jacob would scarcely have thought that his days were either few or evil. It was conscience that spoke out in these words conscience, which so often throws a reflected sadness over our estimate of things.

I. The helpfulness of Jacob's character is this that it is the history of a bad man, of a man who started with every disadvantage of natural character and training, but who notwithstanding became eventually a good man.

II. The one redeeming point in Jacob's character that which (humanly speaking) made him capable of better things, and enabled him to rise above his brother Esau and above his former self was his faith. The great difference between Esau and Jacob was this: the former lived only in the visible and tangible world; his horizon was bounded by the narrow limits of our merely earthly life; but Jacob lived in a far wider world, a world which included spiritual interests and spiritual personages. This was why Esau sold his birthright Jacob bought it. The same faith which caused him to value the birthright afterwards was the means of his salvation. His long and painful schooling, his wrestling with the angel at the ford of Jabbok, would have been impossible but for his faith, his grasp of spiritual realities. If Esau had had a vision of God and of angels, and of a ladder reaching up to heaven, he might have been frightened for the moment, but he would have shaken off the thought of it directly he awoke; the keenness of his appetite, the necessity of getting breakfast, would have been to him the realities of the hour. If one had wrestled with him through the night he might have fled in wrath, or died in obstinacy; but he would never have divined that that strong foe was a friend in disguise he would never have thought of asking and extorting a blessing.

III. Jacob was saved by faith, and this is the way in which we are to be saved also. Faith is the handle whereby grace takes hold of us. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because unless we realise the unseen we are in fact shut up within the world of sense we are shut out from God and He from us.

R. Winterbotham, Sermons and Expositions, p. 36.

The patriarch called his days few and evil, not because his life was shorter than his fathers', but because it was nearly over. When life is past, it is all one whether it has lasted two hundred years or fifty. And it is the fact that life is mortal which makes it under all circumstances equally feeble and despicable.

I. This sense of the nothingness of life is much deepened when we contrast it with the capabilities of us who live it. Our earthly life gives promise of what it does not accomplish. It promises immortality, yet it is mortal; it contains life in death and eternity in time, and it attracts us by beginnings which faith alone brings to an end.

II. Such being the unprofitableness of this life viewed in itself, it is plain how we should regard it while we go through it. We should remember that it is scarcely more than an accident of our being that it is no part of ourselves, who are immortal; The regenerate soul is taken into communion with saints and angels, and its "life is hid with Christ in God." It looks at this world as a spectator might look at some show or pageant, except when called upon from time to time to take a part.

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iv., p. 214; also Selection from the same, p. 341.

References: Genesis 47:9 . A. Raleigh, Thoughts for the Weary, p. 241; J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 336; J. Van Oosterzee, The Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 377; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., pp. 535, 553.Genesis 47:11-28 . R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 254.Genesis 47:13-26 . W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 91; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 209. Genesis 47:27 . W. M. Taylor, Joseph the Prime Minister, p. 153.Genesis 47:29-31 . R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 259. Gen 47-49. Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 545; Parker, vol. i., p. 346.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 47". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/genesis-47.html.
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