Monday, March 27th, 2023
the Fifth Week of Lent
the Fifth Week of Lent
There are 13 days til Easter!
Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible Coke's Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 50". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tcc/ genesis-50.html. 1801-1803.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 50". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
- Henry's Complete
- Clarke Commentary
- Bridgeway Bible Commentary
- Coffman's Commentaries
- Barnes' Notes
- Bullinger's Companion Notes
- Calvin's Commentary
- College Press
- Smith's Commentary
- Dummelow on the Bible
- Expositor's Dictionary
- Hole's Commentary
- Meyer's Commentary
- Gaebelein's Annotated
- Morgan's Exposition
- Gill's Exposition
- Everett's Study Notes
- Haydock's Catholic Commentary
- Commentary Critical
- Commentary Critical Unabridged
- Gray's Concise Commentary
- Sutcliffe's Commentary
- Trapp's Commentary
- Kretzmann's Commentary
- Lange's Commentary
- Grant's Commentary
- Henry's Complete
- Henry's Concise
- Poole's Annotations
- Pett's Commentary
- Peake's Commentary
- Preacher's Homiletical
- Poor Man's Commentary
- Benson's Commentary
- The Biblical Illustrator
- Coke's Commentary
- The Pulpit Commentaries
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
- Wesley's Notes
- Whedon's Commentary
- Henry's Complete
- Keil & Delitzsch
- Hampton's Commentary
- Mackintosh's Notes
- Utley Commentary
- Kelly Commentary
Joseph, with the permission of the king, goes and buries his father in Canaan. The sons of Jacob apprehend the resentment of their brother Joseph, conscious of their offence towards him: Joseph comforts them. He gives commandment concerning his bones and dies.
Before Christ 1688 to 1635.
Genesis 50:1. And Joseph fell upon his father's face— Thus what God had promised, ch. Genesis 46:4. that Joseph should close his father's eyes, was fulfilled: and after having performed this last and tender office, he, according to the custom of those times, parted from the body with a kiss; expressing all the filial sorrow which such a loss could inspire.
Genesis 50:2. His servants the physicians— The profession of physic appears to have been carried on in ancient times by domestics; and Joseph, as viceroy of AEgypt, may well be supposed to have kept some of these in his retinue. Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus assure us, that it was the custom of the AEgyptians to embalm their dead by the hands of the physicians, or embalmers. Indeed, if we may believe Herodotus, every particular disease in AEgypt had its physician; and Homer describes AEgypt as a land of physicians, every individual pretending to some skill in the medical art. See Odyss. 4: The AEgyptians, says Calmet, ascribe to Isis the invention of medicine, particularly the medicine of immortality; whereby she rendered her son Orus immortal, which seems to be nothing else but the art of embalming, or preserving bodies from putrefaction. Be that as it may, this custom was of great antiquity in AEgypt. The overflowing of the Nile, it is said, put them upon the invention; for, during the time that the country was laid under water (which was for two months annually) they had not access to deposit the dead in their respective burying-places. That which was at first the effect of necessity, became afterwards a subject of pomp and ostentation: for so great is the inclination of man to vain-glory, that things the most proper in the world to humble and mortify him, are turned by him into subjects of vanity. See Saurin's Dissert. 42: We see great use, says Bishop Warburton, in the AEgyptians having a different physician to every distemper, it having been the best, nay, perhaps the only expedient [in those times] for improving medicine into an art. The physicians, who embalmed, were enabled, by inspecting the bodies, to instruct themselves in the causes of the occult diseases, which was the district of each class; and to improve their knowledge in anatomy, which was the business of them all. Pliny expressly says, that it was the custom of their kings to cause dead bodies to be dissected, to find out the origin and nature of diseases. See Jeremiah 46:11.
The AEgyptians excelled all other people in the art of embalming. Bodies remain to the present day preserved by this means, under the name of mummies. The practice was common to both rich and poor; though it was more or less costly according to the rank of the person. Diodorus tells us, that the method of embalming was, first to cure the whole body with a wash, or oil of cedar, and some other ingredients, for the space of more than thirty days: afterwards to mix myrrh and cinnamon, not only to preserve the body, but to make it send forth an agreeable smell. We are told in the third verse, that forty days was the time allotted for embalming, which agrees with Diodorus, who says, more than thirty; hence it appears, that Joseph had his father's body embalmed in the noblest manner.
Genesis 50:3. And forty days were fulfilled for him— The reader will find, in the first volume of Univ. Hist. 8vo. p. 489, a minute account of the manner of embalming, which was done without disfiguring the body; so that the very hairs remained on the brows and eyelids, and the resemblance of the countenance was preserved. At the expiration of the days allowed for embalming, they washed the whole body, and bound fillets of fine linen round every part, covering it with gum, which the AEgyptians used instead of glue. The embalmers having performed their parts, the relations received the corpse, and put it into a wooden coffin, shaped like a man, which they set upright against the wall of the edifice designed for that purpose; for several of the AEgyptians kept their dead at home with them above ground in magnificent apartments, having, by this method, the pleasure of seeing the lineaments of their ancestors; and often they brought the dried corpse of a friend as a guest to their feasts. We must not hastily condemn Joseph for following the custom of the AEgyptians in this instance, by embalming his father; for nothing less would have appeared decent in the eyes of the AEgyptians, towards the memory of his deceased parent.
The AEgyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days— In forty days the embalming was finished: the body continued thirty days more in the pickle, till it was thoroughly seasoned; and these were the set days for mourning. During this time, as Diodorus informs us, it was the custom to daub the heart with mud, as the Jews sprinkled ashes on their heads, and to go about lamenting till the corpse was buried, or otherwise properly disposed of; abstaining from bathing, from wine, from all delicate food, and fine clothes. The female relations particularly went about making great lamentations, and beating themselves.
Genesis 50:4. Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh— Affliction and decorum forbidding Joseph to appear at court during the days of mourning; see Esther 4:1-2. he addresses himself to the great officers of Pharaoh, to inform the king of the death and last request of Jacob, concerning his burial. Those in a state of mourning were looked upon as in a state of defilement; and no one durst appear before the eastern kings in a mourning habit. Every thing which contributes to put the great men of the world in mind of death, is odious, says Saurin; and the princes of the East carried this nicety to the utmost excess.
Genesis 50:5. Which I have digged for me— Rather, according to the Hebrew, which I have cut out for me: alluding to the manner of laying the corpse in a niche cut out for that purpose in the cave, or place of burying. See ch. Genesis 23:9.
Genesis 50:7. All the servants of Pharaoh— All may be put here, as Mat 3:5 for a great number; the major part; all the principal officers of the court. The elders of his house, i.e.. the persons of first dignity, a title of honour used, 2
Sam. Genesis 12:17. and so in various languages, senator, senior, signior, signeur, are used as titles of distinction: so our first Saxon ancestors gave the name ealder-man to a governor of a province, as we do now to a magistrate of a city. Thus the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of AEgypt, signify, persons of the first authority and dignity, both in court and country. With these went all the family of Jacob, and a numerous cavalcade of chariots and horsemen, Genesis 12:9 a grand procession to travel so great a distance; for it was near three hundred miles. The splendor and magnificence of our patriarch's funeral, says Parker, seems to be without a parallel in history. What hitherto have most affected me in the comparison, were, indeed, the noble obsequies of Marcellus, as Virgil has described them: but how do even these, with all their parade of poetry about them, fall short of the plain and simple narrative before us! for what are the six hundred beds, for which the Roman solemnities, on this occasion, were so famous, in comparison of that national itinerant multitude, which swelled like a flood, and moved like a river;—to all Pharaoh's servants, to the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of AEgypt: i.e.. to the officers of his household, and the deputies of his provinces, with all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house, conducting their solemn sorrow, for near three hundred miles, into a distant country.
Genesis 50:10. They came to the threshing-floor of Atad— Atad is, according to some, the proper name of a person; according to others, the word is an appellative, and signifies brambles; and so should be rendered the threshing-floor of brambles. See Judges 9:14.Psalms 58:9; Psalms 58:9. The place is supposed to be about two leagues from Jericho, on the other side Jordan, at fifty miles distance from Hebron. Beyond Jordan, is, by Junius and others, translated, at the passage of Jordan, which agrees with some of the ancient persons. Those who justify our translation suppose these words to have been spoken in respect of the place where Moses was when he wrote this history, which was in the wilderness of Arabia, on the east of Jordan; Deuteronomy 1:1; Deuteronomy 25:19.
He made a mourning for his father seven days— We have here the most ancient monument of the mourning of seven days, which was afterwards observed among the Jews. See Numbers 19:19. 1 Samuel 31:13. Sir 22:12. And their rejoicing at weddings was of the same continuance. See ch. Genesis 29:27. Other passages however shew that their funeral mourning, on other occasions, lasted a month, or thirty days; Numbers 20:29. Deuteronomy 21:13; Deuteronomy 34:8. It is difficult to say why Joseph observed this ceremonial at the threshing-floor of Atad: the most probable reason is that which is given by Musculus, that they chose this place for the solemnity, as being a proper place for them to rest their weary cattle, which had travelled a long way through the solitary and sandy desert, and needed refreshment. See Calmet's Dissertation on the Funerals of the Hebrews. Note; 1. Those who have been eminent in their day deserve to be honourably attended to their grave. The death of a great good man is not only a loss to his family but to his country. 2. When we attend the funerals of others, it becomes us seriously to think of our own. 3. Who could have thought, that the nation who thus lamented the father could afterwards so sorely have afflicted the children? 4. We must not give way to over-much sorrow; the living call for our regard, and our tears cannot profit the dead.
Genesis 50:15. When Joseph's brethren saw— One cannot have a stronger proof of the restless anxiety of a guilty conscience, than in this message and address of Joseph's brethren to him; nor can any thing more finely describe the feelings of an ingenuous disposition, than the actions and words of Joseph on this occasion. Sensibly touched at the message, he wept, Gen 50:17 when it was delivered to him; while, with the utmost benignity and tenderness, he removed all their fears, when his brethren appeared before him. This single circumstance is sufficient to remove every imputation from the character of Joseph, who, it is certain, had he been a bad man, now enjoyed the fairest opportunity to wreak his revenge; whereas his whole conduct speaks nothing but tenderness, piety, (Genesis 50:20.) generosity, and affection.
Genesis 50:16. Thy father did command— It seems most probable, from the history, that this was a story feigned by the brethren, in order to influence Joseph the more; and this supposition well suits with that mean temper which they here shew; a temper which induced them to think Joseph capable of the most permanent and deep resentment, as well as to subject themselves in the most abject manner; Behold, we be thy servants, Genesis 50:18. It is no wonder that a great and generous soul, like Joseph's, could not bear such behaviour, or refrain from tears. Besides the request of their father, they urge their common religion, the servants of the God of thy father. This has always been reckoned one of the firmest bonds of affection, yea, even among the heathens themselves, per communes deos, per communia sacra, by their common gods, their common religion, was the most solemn manner of adjuring among the Greeks and Romans.
Genesis 50:17. And now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father— What a conjuration of pardon, says Bishop Hall, was this! What wound could be either so deep, or so festered, that this plaster could not cure? They say not the sons of thy father; for they knew Jacob was dead, and they had degenerated; but the servants of thy father's God: how much stronger are the bonds of religion than of nature? If Joseph had been rancorous, this deprecation had charmed him; but now it resolves him into tears! They are not so ready to acknowledge their old offence as he to protest his love; and if he chide them for any thing, it is for that they thought they needed to entreat him; since they might have known it could not stand with the fellow-servant of their father's God, to harbour maliciousness, or to purpose revenge.
Genesis 50:19. For am I in the place of God?— See ch. Genesis 30:2. where this same phrase occurs; the meaning of which seems to be the same in both places; as if Joseph had said, "Shall I presume to oppose myself to what is come to pass, as if I were God?" Or, shall I punish you for that which God hath turned so much to the advantage of us all? The words also may well be rendered affirmatively, I am in the place of God; i.e.. I have been the instrument, under God, of your preservation and support hitherto; and can you think that I should prejudice those whom Providence has enabled me so signally to bless? See ch. Genesis 45:5.
Learn hence, 1. They who would have forgiveness should humble themselves to ask it. 2. We are bound to treat them with especial kindness, who are worshippers of the same God and sharers in the same covenant. 3. God, though never the author of evil, can bring good out of evil; not that sin thereby is less malignant, but he appears more glorious. 4. Broken spirits need kind words. 5. A brotherly heart will be not only ready to forgive the injurious, but the first to comfort them when desponding.
Genesis 50:22. Joseph lived an hundred and ten years— A shorter life than his ancestors; because he was the son, says Bishop Patrick, of his father's old age, and lived a great part of his time amidst afflictions and care, having the weight of a great kingdom's affairs lying upon him; for eighty of these years he spent in AEgypt, being but thirty years old when he first stood before Pharaoh. Shuckford says that he governed AEgypt during the reigns of four kings, and died in the twentieth year of the reign of Ramesse-Tubeate, fifty two years after his father, and in the year of the world 2367. He had the pleasure of seeing his father's prophetic blessing upon his two sons in part fulfilled; for he saw great-grandchildren from Ephraim; and grandchildren from one branch of Manasseh, Gen 50:23 were brought up upon Joseph's knees; that is, according to the Chaldee, were brought up or educated by Joseph. The phrase seems to allude to the natural custom of dandling children upon the knees. Job, in ch. Genesis 3:12. says, Why did the knees prevent me? i.e.. Why was I sustained or dandled on the nurse's or midwife's knee? See ch. Genesis 30:3.
Genesis 50:24. God will surely visit you— See ch. Genesis 21:1. The subsequent words, and bring you out of this land, evidently shew in what manner Joseph believed that GOD would visit the Israelites. Thus he died in the same faith with his ancestors, agreeable to what the apostle to the Hebrews says: By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones. Hebrews 11:22.
Genesis 50:25. Ye shall carry up my bones from hence— The word bones frequently in scripture means the same thing with corpse, as here Joseph's embalmed body (see Gen 50:26 and Exodus 13:19.) is called his bones. Thus the lying prophet terms his body, just become breathless, his bones: When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones, 1 Kings 13:31. This remark renders useless many things which have been said concerning the bones of Joseph, whose remains, according to this request, were carried up from AEgypt by the Israelites and buried in Shechem, Jos 24:32 where also the other patriarchs were laid, Acts 7:15-16. of whom we have no further account given us, though they seem all to have outlived Joseph. See Exodus 1:6. And, after his example, their remains seem all to have been carried to Shechem, where, St. Jerome tells us, he saw the sepulchres of the twelve patriarchs, and a most noble one of Joseph in particular. It has been asked by some, and with an invidious view, as if the Hebrews' credit was now upon the decline, why Joseph's bones were not immediately carried into Canaan, as his father's had been? Now it is most probable that the AEgyptians themselves were not willing to part with them. A people so remarkable for gratitude as they confessedly were, could not but have the highest esteem and veneration for their great patron and benefactor: they probably looked upon him as something more than human while alive, and weakly thought, perhaps, that his very bones preserved among them would, like an amulet, defend and protect their country from all future evils; or, perhaps, Joseph himself might not desire it, as he knew that the Lord would, in due time, surely visit his brethren, and bring them to the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and that then it would be soon enough for them to carry his bones from AEgypt, ver. 24, &c. It is a proof of his faith.
Genesis 50:26. And they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin— The same care of his body was taken as of that of his father Jacob; he was embalmed and put into a coffin, which was considered as a mark of distinction. With us the poorest people have their coffins; if the relations cannot afford them, the parish is at that expence. In the East, on the contrary, they are not at all made use of in our times. Christians and Turks, Thevenot assures us, part i. p. 58. agree in this. The ancient Jews seem to have buried their dead in the same manner; neither was the body of our Lord, it should seem, put into a coffin; nor that of Elisha, whose bones were touched by the corpse that was let down a little after into his sepulchre, 2 Kings 13:21. That they, however, were anciently made use of in AEgypt, all agree; and antique coffins of stone and sycamore wood are still to be seen in that country; not to mention those said to be made of a kind of pasteboard, formed by folding and gluing cloth together a great number of times, curiously plaistered, and then painted with hieroglyphics. Thev. part. 1: p. 137. Its being an ancient AEyptian custom, and its not being used in the neighbouring countries, were, doubtless, the cause that the sacred historian expressly observes of Joseph, that he was not only embalmed, but that he was put into a coffin also, both being managements peculiar in a manner at that time to the AEgyptians. Maillet apprehends that all were not inclosed in coffins who were laid in the AEgyptian repositories of the dead; but that it was an honour appropriated to persons of consequence; for, after having given an account of several niches that are found in those chambers of death, he adds, "But it must not be imagined that the bodies deposited in these gloomy apartments were all inclosed in chests and placed in niches. The greatest part were simply embalmed, and swathed after that manner which every one has some notion of; after which they laid them one by the side of another, without any ceremony. Some were even put into these tombs without any embalming at all, or such a slight one, that there remains nothing of them in the linen in which they were wrapped but the bones, and those half rotten. It is probable that each considerable family had one of these burial-places to themselves; that the niches were designed for the bodies of the heads of the family, and that those of their domestics and slaves had no other care taken of them than the laying them on the ground after having been embalmed, or even without that, which, without doubt, was also all that was done, even to the heads of families of less distinction." See Maillet's Letters, Leviticus 7:0: p. 281. After which he gives an account of a way of burial practised anciently in that country, which had been but lately discovered, and which consisted in placing the bodies, after they were swathed up, on a layer of charcoal, and covering them with a mat, under a depth of sand of seven or eight feet.
Coffins then were not universally used in AEgypt: that is undoubted from these accounts; and, probably, they were only persons of distinction who were buried in them. It is also reasonable to believe, that, in times so remote as those of Joseph, they might be much less common than afterwards; and, consequently, that Joseph's being put into a coffin in AEgypt might be mentioned to express the great honours the AEgyptians did him in death as well as in life, being interred after the most sumptuous manner of the AEgyptians, embalmed, and in a coffin.
REFLECTIONS.—Joseph was long spared through mercy, to fulfil his promise to his brethren. We have here,
1. His blessing in his children. It is the comfort of age to see an increasing and prosperous family.
2. His injunctions to his brethren when he perceived his death approaching. He confirms them in the fulfilment of God's promises; he bids them expect their removal, and neither be induced by prosperity to settle in AEgypt, nor faint under any adversity, for God would bring them up. He charges them to take his bones along with them, expresses his own faith, and strengthens theirs by this pledge, and the oath he required of them. He then expires content, in a good old age; and, after embalming, is laid in his coffin, ready for removal, when God's appointed time shall call them into the promised land. Note; (1.) When we lose our best friends, our comfort is, that God will surely bring them up again in a resurrection-day. (2.) A decent care ought to be had of the corpse, not for any effect it can produce on the departed soul, but in honour to its having been once the temple of the Holy Ghost, and in prospect of its rising again a glorious body, to be the companion of saints and angels to eternity.
Thus ends the admirable, instructive, and most ancient book of GENESIS; in which it is observable, that Moses confines himself to the history of the patriarchs, and of the holy line. Nothing further enters into his plan: for other circumstances we must refer to prophane authors. We shall now conclude our comment on this book with a short review of the character of Joseph, and more especially as he may be considered a type of our glorious Redeemer.
It is observable, that the sacred Writer is more diffuse upon the history of Joseph than upon that of any other of the patriarchs. Indeed, the whole is a master-piece of history. There is not only in the manner throughout such a happy, though uncommon mixture of simplicity and grandeur, which is a double character, so hard to be united, that it is seldom to be met with in compositions merely human; but it is likewise related with the greatest variety of tender and affecting circumstances, which might afford matter for reflections useful for the conduct of almost every part and stage of man's life.
For consider him in whatever point of view, or in whatever relation you will, and you will behold him amiable and excellent, worthy of imitation, and claiming the greatest applause. You see him spoken of in the sacred books with the highest honour; as a person greatly in the favour of God, and prospered by him wheresoever he went, even in so extraordinary a manner as to become the observation of others; as one of the strictest fidelity in every trust committed to him; of the most exemplary chastity, which no solicitations could overcome; of the most fixed reverence for God, in the midst of all the corruptions with which he was surrounded; of the noblest resolution and fortitude, which the strongest temptations could never subdue; of the most admirable sagacity, wisdom, and prudence, which made even a prince and his nobles look upon him as under Divine inspiration; of indefatigable industry and diligence, which made him successful in the most arduous attempts; of the most generous compassion and forgiveness of spirit, which the most malicious and cruel injuries could never weaken or destroy; as the preserver of AEgypt and the neighbouring nations, and as the stay and support of his own father and family; as one patient and humble in adversity; moderate in the use of power, and in the height of prosperity; faithful as a servant, dutiful as a son, affectionate as a brother; just and generous as a governor and ruler: in a word, as one of the best and most finished characters, and as an instance of the most exemplary and prosperous piety and virtue.
Agreeable to this account, he is spoken of with the greatest honour and respect by other ancient writers. Artaphanus, an ancient Greek Writer, represents him as a person who excelled his brethren in wisdom and prudence, and therefore was betrayed and sold by them; and that when he came into AEgypt, and was presented to the king, he was made by him administrator of the whole kingdom; that whereas, before his time, the business of agriculture was in great disorder, because the country was not rightly divided, and the poorer sort of people were oppressed by the higher, Joseph first of all divided the lands, distinguished them by proper marks and bounds, recovered a good part of them from the waters, and made them fit for cultivation and tillage; that he divided some of them by lot to the priests, and found out the art of measurement; and that he was greatly beloved by the AEgyptians on these accounts. See Artaphan. apud Euseb. praep. Evang. l. ix. c. 23. Philo, an ancient poet, makes honourable mention of him, as the sort of Jacob, as an interpreter of dreams, as lord of AEgypt, and as conversant in the secrets of time, under the various fluctuations of fate. See Phil. apud Euseb. ib. c. 24.. Alexander Polyhistor, who made large extracts out of other authors, relating to the Jewish affairs, cites one Demetrius, as giving the character of the ancient Jewish patriarchs. He speaks honourably of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, who, he says, was sold to the AEgyptians at seventeen years of age; that he interpreted the king's dreams; that he was governor of all AEgypt, with other circumstances, agreeable to the sacred history. See Euseb. ib. c. 17, 18, 19, 21. The account of Joseph given by Justin, we have inserted on a former occasion. See ch. Genesis 41:55.
The name of Joseph is venerable also in the Eastern world. The Arabian writers, from ancient tradition, give, in many respects, the same history of him as Moses does; and, particularly, ascribe to him the useful invention of measuring the Nile, the cutting some of the principal canals, and other works of great use and advantage in AEgypt. In a word, they attribute to him all the curious wells, cisterns, aqueducts, and public granaries, as well as some obelisks, pyramids, and other ancient monuments, which are all called by his name, and which are also ascribed by the natives of AEgypt themselves to him, as well as all the ancient works of public utility throughout the kingdom; particularly, the rendering the province of Al-Tey-yum, from a standing pool or marsh, the most fertile and best cultivated land in all AEgypt. The Koran of Mohammed is very liberal in his commendation: we find there one whole chapter (the twelfth, entitled JOSEPH) concerning him: and the Eastern tradition of him is, that he not only caused justice to be impartially administered, and encouraged the people in industry and the improvement of agriculture, during the seven years of plenty; but began and perfected several works of great benefit. See Chandler's Vindication.
Such was Joseph: a careful perusal of whose history will fully exemplify this character, some of the excellencies of which we have briefly hinted in the course of our remarks. Upon the whole, this history of Joseph may be considered as an exact picture in miniature of the conduct of Providence: of that Providence, "which," as Lord Bacon observes, "in all its works, is full of windings and turnings; so that one thing seems to be a doing, when, in the mean time, quite another thing is really intended." Thus the lowest stage of misfortune, to which Joseph, by the mysterious conduct of Providence, was reduced, proved the immediate step by which he rose to honour. And those who would see the same method of Providence exemplified in a reverse of fortune, may consult the instructive history of Haman, beautifully contrasted with that of Mordecai, in the book of Esther: a consideration this, which should check our forwardness in censuring the ways of God, because they often appear to us crooked and irregular; for this is no more than what must happen, while the ends of all things are placed at a distance far beyond our reach: a consideration, which should teach us, that whatever vicissitudes befal us in this life, it is our truest wisdom, as well as our highest duty, cheerfully to acquiesce, and readily to submit ourselves: assured that the hand of God is in all, and that His wisdom, by ways and means unknown to us, will, unquestionably, cause every thing to work together for the good of those who truly and unfeignedly love and serve him. But we should not fail to observe, that as there is hardly any character in the Old Testament more worthy of imitation than that of Joseph, so are there few saints in whom God hath been pleased to express so many circumstances of resemblance with his BLESSED SON, as in Joseph.
For Jesus Christ may be said to be the true Joseph, if you view him as a beloved Son; an affectionate Brother; a trusty Servant; an illuminated Prophet; a Resister of temptations; a Forgiver of injuries; but chiefly if you consider him as an innocent Sufferer; an exalted Prince; and an universal Saviour.
Like Joseph, he was a beloved Son, whom God the Father has blessed above all his brethren. Jacob made for Joseph a garment of divers colours; and God prepared for Christ a body curiously wrought in the lower parts of the earth. Like Joseph, he is an affectionate Brother. He came to seek his brethren in the wilderness of this world, though they received him not. He knows them, when they know not him; and his bowels yearn towards them, even when he seems severe. He may deal roughly with them at first, but his heart is full of mercy. He liberally supplies their wants without money and without price, and at last, when they have known him, and faithfully adhered to him, brings them to dwell with him in the heavenly Canaan, where they shall behold his glory, and be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house. Like Joseph, he was a trusty servant, acquitting himself dexterously in every part of the work which was given him to do: even as the prophet also foretels, "Behold, my Servant shall deal prudently; he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high," Isaiah 52:13. Like Joseph, he is a most illuminated Prophet, in whom the Spirit of God is: none is so discreet and wise as he, the true Zaphnath-paneah, or Revealer of secrets, who is worthy to take the sealed book of God, and open its seven seals. Like Joseph, he was a Resister of temptations; for he was solicited in vain to spiritual adultery by the great enemy of salvation, when he said unto him, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me," Matthew 4:9. Though this harlot world hath cast down, wounded, and slain many strong men, our Joseph overcame her: his heart declined not to her ways: he went not astray in her paths, though in the encounter he was stripped of his mortal life, which he willingly resigned, Like Joseph he was and is a Forgiver of injuries: for as on the cross he implored forgiveness to his murderers with his expiring breath; so on the throne he gave repentance unto Israel and remission of sins; many of them whose hand had been very deep in that bloody tragedy of his crucifixion being brought to a sincere profession, that, "Verily, they were guilty concerning their brother," and the blood which they impiously shed, spoke better things than that of Abel.
But chiefly let us view him as an innocent Sufferer, whose sufferings issued in glory to himself, and universal good to men. Joseph was mortally hated of his brethren, and the butt of their envy, because, he exposed their wicked courses, and foretold his own advancement. For these same reasons was Jesus Christ hated by the Jews; and Pilate knew that for envy they delivered him. Joseph was derided of his brethren as an idle fantastic dreamer; and Jesus Christ was esteemed a doting enthusiast, a madman, and one beside himself. Joseph's brethren conspired against him to take away his life: and of Jesus Christ it is prophesied, "Why do the Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing, to plot against the Lord, and against his Anointed?" Psalms 2:1-2. Joseph was cast into a pit, but he did not remain there long: Jesus Christ was laid in the grave, but he saw no corruption. Joseph was sold for a servant by the advice of the patriarch Judah; and Jesus Christ was, by the apostle Judas, sold for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave; a goodly price he was prized at by them! Joseph was unjustly accused in AEgypt, and cast into a dungeon with two noted criminals, Pharaoh's butler and baker; Jesus Christ was unjustly condemned in Canaan, and crucified between two thieves. Joseph adjudged the one criminal to death, and the other to life; Jesus Christ adjudged one of the thieves to everlasting life, while the other perished. Joseph entreated the person whom he delivered to remember him when he came to his glory; and the person whom Jesus Christ delivered, prayed him, "O Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom." Joseph indeed could but foretel his companion's deliverance; but Christ Jesus effected, by his own power, what he foretold—"To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise."
Such were the patriarch's almost unparalleled afflictions; but as he soon emerged from these deep plunges of adversity, becoming, instead of a forlorn prisoner, a prime minister of state; so Jesus Christ was taken from prison and from judgment, and "receives from God the Father honour and glory, and a name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11. Behold, ye mistaken Jews, how vain were all your machinations to frustrate his predictions! Even you yourselves became subservient to fulfil the grand design, when you killed the Prince of life, who was, by suffering death, to enter into his glory. Here the patriarch's speech to his penitent brethren may fitly be applied: "As for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as at this day, to save much people alive."
For, as the sufferings and glory of Joseph issued in the common salvation of the lives of Pharaoh's subjects and of the family of Jacob, who was a Syrian ready to perish; even so thy sufferings, and thy glory, O thou once humbled, but now exalted Redeemer, were ordained for the salvation of the world, both Jews and Gentiles, from a far more dreadful destruction than a famine of bread or water! Go unto this Joseph for a supply of your numerous wants, ye that are ready to perish. His fulness shall never be exhausted, be their number ever so great who receive out of it. O that his glory might be the joy of our heart, and the grand theme on every tongue! With what cheerfulness ought we to forsake the stuff of all terrestrial things, when Joseph is alive, that we may be with him where he is, and enjoy those blessings which are "on the head of Jesus Christ, and on the crown of the head of Him who was separated from his brethren!"