Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 47

Joseph presents his brethren to Pharaoh. (1-6) Jacob blesses
Pharaoh. (7-12) Joseph's dealings with the Egyptians during the
Famine. (13-26) Jacob's Age. His desire to be buried in Canaan.

1-6 Though Joseph was a great Man, especially in Egypt, yet he
owned his brethren. Let the rich and great in the world not
overlook or despise Poor relations. Our Lord Jesus is not
ashamed to Call us brethren. In answer to Pharaoh's inquiry,
What is your Calling? they told him that they were shepherds,
adding that they were come to sojourn in the land for a time,
while the Famine prevailed in Canaan. Pharaoh offered to employ
them as shepherds, provided they were active men. Whatever our
business or employment is, we should aim to excel in it, and to
prove ourselves clever and industrious.

7-12 With the gravity of old Age, the Piety of a true believer,
and the authority of a Patriarch and a Prophet, Jacob besought
the Lord to bestow a blessing upon Pharaoh. He acted as a Man
not ashamed of his religion; and who would express gratitude to
the benefactor of himself and his family. We have here a very
uncommon answer given to a very common question. Jacob calls his
Life a pilgrimage; the sojourning of a Stranger in a foreign
country, or his Journey home to his own country. He was not at
home upon Earth; his Habitation, his inheritance, his treasures
were in Heaven. He reckons his Life By days; even By days Life
is soon reckoned, and we are not sure of the continuance of it
for a Day. Let us therefore number our days. His days were few.
Though he had now lived one hundred and thirty years, they
seemed but a few days, in comparison with the days of eternity,
and the eternal state. They were evil; this is true concerning
Man. He is of few days and full of trouble; since his days are
evil, it is Well they are few. Jacob's Life had been made up of
evil days. Old Age came sooner upon him than it had done upon
some of his fathers. As the young Man should not be proud of his
strength or beauty, So the old Man should not be proud of his
Age, and his hoary hairs, though others justly reverence them;
for those who are accounted very old, attain not to the years of
the patriarchs. The hoary head is only a Crown of Glory, when
found in the way of Righteousness. Such an answer could not fail
to impress the Heart of Pharaoh, By reminding him that worldly
prosperity and happiness could not last long, and was not enough
to satisfy. After a Life of vanity and vexation, Man goes down
into the Grave, equally from the Throne as the Cottage. Nothing
can make us happy, but the prospect of an Everlasting home in
Heaven, after our short and weary pilgrimage On Earth.

13-26 Care being taken of Jacob and his family, which Mercy was
especially designed By Providence in Joseph's advancement, an
account is given of the saving the kingdom of Egypt from ruin.
There was No Bread, and the people were ready to die. See how we
depend upon God's Providence. All our wealth would not keep us
from starving, if Rain were withheld for two or three years. See
how much we are at God's Mercy, and let us keep ourselves always
in his Love. Also see how much we smart By our own want of care.
If all the Egyptians had laid up Corn for themselves in the
Seven years of plenty, they had not been in these straits; but
they regarded not the warning. Silver and Gold would not feed
them: they must have Corn. All that a Man hath will he give for
his Life. We cannot Judge this matter By modern rules. It is
Plain that the Egyptians regarded Joseph as a public benefactor.
The whole is consistent with Joseph's character, acting between
Pharaoh and his subjects, in the fear of God. The Egyptians
confessed concerning Joseph, Thou hast saved our lives. What
multitudes will gratefully say to Jesus, at the last Day, Thou
hast saved our souls from the most tremendous Destruction, and
in the season of uttermost distress! The Egyptians parted with
all their property, and even their liberty, for the saving of
their lives: can it then be too much for us to count all but
loss, and part with all, at His command, and for His sake, who
will both save our souls, and give us an hundredfold, even here,
in this present world? Surely if saved By Christ, we shall be
willing to become his servants.

27-31 At last the time drew nigh that Israel must die. Israel,
a Prince with God, had power over the Angel, and prevailed, yet
must die. Joseph supplied him with Bread, that he might not die
By Famine, but that did not secure him from dying By Age or
sickness. He died By Degrees; his Candle gradually burnt down to
the socket, So that he saw the time drawing nigh. It is an
advantage to see the approach of Death, before we feel it, that
we may be quickened to do, with all our might, what our hands
find to do. However, Death is not far from any of us. Jacob's
care, as he saw the Day approach, was about his Burial; not the
pomp of it, but he would be buried in Canaan, because it was the
land of promise. It was a Type of Heaven, that better country,
which he declared plainly he expected, Heb 11:14. Nothing will
better help to make a Death-Bed easy, than the certain prospect
of Rest in the heavenly Canaan after Death. When this was done,
Israel bowed himself upon the Bed's head, worshipping God, as it
is explained, see Heb 11:21, giving God thanks for all his
favours; in feebleness thus supporting himself, expressing his
willingness to leave the world. Even those who lived On Joseph's
provision, and Jacob who was So dear to him, must die. But
Christ Jesus gives us the true Bread, that we may eat and live
for ever. To Him let us come and yield ourselves, and when we
draw near to Death, he who supported us through Life, will meet
us and assure us of Everlasting Salvation.