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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 45

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 45:1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.

Ver. 1. Then Joseph could not refrain.] No more can Jesus, in the extreme afflictions of his brethren, [Isaiah 42:14] he must cry like a travailing woman; which, though she bite in her pain for a while, cannot long contain. As Croesus’s dumb son burst forth into, "Kill not King Croesus." (a) So when the Church is overlaid by Satan or his instruments, his bowels work, he can hold no longer, but cries, "Save my child, Do the young man Absalom no harm." "I was but a little displeased, and they have helped forward the affliction. Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies," or bowels. [Zechariah 1:15-16] Their groans and moans, as every word of Judah’s pathetical speech to Joseph, are as so many darts and daggers at his heart; he must take course for their relief and rescue. For he is a very tender-hearted Joseph, said that martyr, (b) and though he speak roughly to his brethren, and handle them hardly, yea, and threaten grievous bondage to his best beloved Benjamin, yet can he not contain himself from weeping with us, and upon us, with falling on our necks, and sweetly kissing us, &c.; - as he sweetly goes on in a letter to his wife, Pray, pray for us, everybody; we be shortly to be despatched hence to our good Christ. Amen, Amen.

Cause every man to go out from me.] That he might weep his fill, and not reveal his brethren’s faults to strangers. It is wisdom in plastering the wounds of others, to clap our hand on the place, that the world may be never the wiser. Mercer thinks that Joseph concealed from his very father the hard dealings of his brethren with him; for if he had known, he would likely have set some note upon them for their cruelty, as he did upon Simeon and Levi for their bloody butchering of the Shechemites.


Verse 2

Genesis 45:2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.

Ver. 2. He wept aloud.] And so gave vent to his passion, which else would have burst him. As hinds by calving, so men by weeping, "cast out their sorrows." [Job 39:3]


Verse 3

Genesis 45:3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I [am] Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.

Ver. 3. I am Joseph.] What a word was that! At the hearing thereof, what a strange conflict of contrary passions fell out in the hearts of the patriarchs! Wonder, doubt, reverence, fear, hope, guiltiness, joy, grief, struck them at once. Shall it not be so with the Jews at their glorious conversion, when they shall hear, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye have persecuted and pierced?" [Zechariah 12:10 Revelation 1:7] {See Trapp on "Genesis 38:27"}


Verse 4

Genesis 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I [am] Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

Ver. 4. I am Joseph your brother.] Therefore you are to expect no hard sentence from a brother’s mouth. Christ "is not ashamed," nor will be at the last day, "to call us brethren," He that was willingly judged for me, said that good woman, (a) will surely give no hard sentence against me. We may say boldly to him, as Ruth did to Boaz, "Spread thy skirt over me, for thou art a near kinsman" [Ruth 3:9]


Verse 5

Genesis 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

Ver. 5. Now therefore be not grieved, &c.] See here a lively image of Christ’s love toward his enemies, for whom he prayed and died, "to give them repentance and remission." [Acts 5:31] This Angel of the Covenant first troubles the waters, and then cures those cripples that step in. This Sun of Righteousness first draws up vapours of godly grief, and then dispels them. "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he bring forth judgment to victory"; [Matthew 12:20 Isaiah 42:3] that is, weak grace to perfection.

To preserve life.] Animantis euiusque vita in fuga est, saith the philosopher, and must be maintained by means. Hence it is called "the life of our hands," [Isaiah 57:10] because upheld by the labour of our hands.


Verse 6

Genesis 45:6 For these two years [hath] the famine [been] in the land: and yet [there are] five years, in the which [there shall] neither [be] earing nor harvest.

Ver. 6. {See Trapp on "Genesis 41:54"}


Verse 7

Genesis 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

Ver. 7. God sent me before you.] He it is that by a powerful providence orders all the disorders of the world, by a certain counsel, to his own ends, and at length to his own glory. The hands that nailed Christ to the cross were "wicked hands." [Acts 2:23] And Judas was sent to "his own place," for being "guide to them that took Jesus." [Acts 1:16] And yet they did no more than what "God’s hand and counsel determined before to be done" [Acts 4:28] for his glory, and the salvation of his elect. This Pliny derides as a strange doctrine, (a) but Plato hammers at it, when he saith, that God doth always φεωμετρειν. Indeed he doth all, in number, weight, and measure, as the wise man saith. He alters the property of his people’s afflictions, and by an almighty alchemy turns dross to gold, &c. As a skilful apothecary, he makes of a poisoness viper a wholesome antidote.


Verse 8

Genesis 45:8 So now [it was] not you [that] sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Ver. 8. It was not you that sent me.] Joseph makes the best of an ill matter, that they may not be overwhelmed with grief, and so made a prey to the devil. [2 Corinthians 2:11] "After I was made known to myself," saith Ephraim, "I repented." (a) Get thee, saith Mr Bradford, (b) God’s law as a glass, to look in; so shalt thou see thy face foul arrayed, and so shameful, saucy, mangy, pocky, and scabbed, that thou canst not but be sorry at the contemplation thereof, &c. Especially if thou look to the tag tied to God’s law, the malediction, which is such as cannot but make us to cast our currish tails between our legs, if we believe it. But here, to clear our eyesight, and keep us upright, we must anoint our eyes with Christ’s eyesalve. [Revelation 3:17-18] We read of a sensible eyesalve made of Christ’s spittle and clay. [John 9:6] As it were, of the knowledge of Christ by his word which proceedeth out of his mouth, as also of the knowledge of ourselves; who being made of earth, do savour nothing else but earth. (c) Both of these two knowledges are to be joined and beaten together in a lump; else they help not. For our misery acknowledged, without Christ, breedeth desperation: and Christ, without sense of our vileness, presumption.


Verse 9

Genesis 45:9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:

Ver. 9. Come down unto me, tarry not.] Christ seems to send from heaven, and say unto us in like sort, God hath made me Lord of all; come up unto me, tarry not. Should the king call us to court, upon no other condition than to have and enjoy the pleasures and treasures there to be had, old Jacob never went so willingly into Egypt, as we should gladly accept and embrace such a motion.


Verse 10

Genesis 45:10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

Ver. 10 Thou shalt be near unto me.] So sweet a comfort to friends, that death itself is called but a departure. This the heathen persecutors knew, and therefore banished the Christian confessors far asunder (a) One man may be by his counsel an angel to another; [Ezra 10:3] as Bradford was to Dr Taylor in prison. Communion with such is the "being bound up in the bundle of life," [1 Samuel 25:29] which was the blessing of Abigail upon David. St John trusted to come unto the elect lady, and "speak face to face, that their joy might be full." [2 John 1:12] When one desired to see Alexander’s treasure, he bid one of his servants show him, not αργυριου ταλαντα, but τους φιλους; not his wealth, but his friends. (b) What an honour is that, that Christ should say to us, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you!" [John 15:14] And should say to his Father, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me!" [John 17:24] What could Joseph say more for his father and brethren?


Verse 11

Genesis 45:11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet [there are] five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.

Ver. 11. And there will I nourish thee.] To requite parents is "good and acceptable before God." [1 Timothy 5:4] At Athens, (a) it was death not to be kind to parents and cherish them. The stork nourisheth her old sire and dam with admirable piety, saith Pliny; (b) and is therefore called by the Hebrews Chasidah, or Merciful: and by the Latins Pietatis-cultrix. The cuckoo, on the other side, is worthily hated, for that she cruelly devoureth her own dam, the hedge sparrow, saith Melancthon. (c) Mice are said to nourish their old ones that cannot shift for themselves, insigni pietate, (d) Cornelius, among the Romans, got the name of Scipio, by his kindness to his blind father, to whom he was the staff of his old age; as Macrobius relateth. (e) And Aristotle (f) tells a strange story, how that, when from the hill Etna there ran down a torrent of fire that consumed all the houses thereabouts, in the midst of those fearful flames, God’s special care of the godly shined most brightly. For the river of fire parted itself, and made a kind of lane for those who ventured to rescue their aged parents, and pluck them out of the jaws of death. Our Saviour much distasted and detested that damnable doctrine of the Pharisees, teaching children to starve their parents, under pretence of devotion. [Matthew 15:4-6] And what would he have said to the Popish Pharisees, that say, that a monk may not leave his cloister to relieve his father, but rather let him die for hunger in the streets? Christ upon his cross, though as full of sorrow as heart could hold, commended his mother to be kept by the disciple whom he loved, with Iδου η μητηρ σου. [John 19:27] Agreeable whereunto was that speech of the Samians, "I give thee this woman for a mother," (g) when to the richer of the citizens the mothers of those who died in the wars were given to be maintained by them.


Verse 12

Genesis 45:12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that [it is] my mouth that speaketh unto you.

Ver. 12. That it is my mouth.] I speak not now, as before I did, by an interpreter: I speak Hebrew also. God seems to say the same to us concerning the whole word; those "ten words" especially.


Verse 13

Genesis 45:13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.

Ver. 13. And ye shall tell my father.] So the Lord Christ bade Mary Magdalene tell his "disciples and Peter," because he was most dejected for denying his Master, and in his dumps he must know with the first, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." [John 20:17]


Verse 14

Genesis 45:14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

Ver. 14. And he fell upon his brother, &c.] God’s people are not senseless stoics or flinty Nabals; but have natural affections in them, as others; yea, above others, that have banished good nature, and can weep as little as witches. The enemy hath stopped the wells, and stayed the watercourses, as Holofernes: what should hinder him now from taking the town?


Verse 15

Genesis 45:15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Ver. 15. Kissed all his brethren.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 39:11"}


Verse 16

Genesis 45:16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

Ver. 6. It pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.] And therefore his servants, because Pharaoh. For, Aulici sunt instar speculi, saith Pareus. Courtiers are their prince’s looking glasses; if he laugh, so do they; where he loves, they love, in pretence, at least; for all is but counterfeit. And here, Potest Augur Augurem videre, et non ridere? saith Cato, in Cicero. (a) The senate gave public thanks to the gods for all that Nero did, even when he had killed his mother, though they never so much abhorred it. When he sang at any time, though it were never so ill, for he had a small harsh voice, his courtiers would soothe him up with, Quam pulcher Caesar, Apollo, Augustus, εις ως πυθιος, μα σε Kαισαρ ουδεις σε νικα, &c. (b) And because he hated the senate, notwithstanding all their flatteries, Vatinius was greatly in favour with him, for saying, Odi te Caesar, quod Senator es. Parasiti principum sputa, instar canum lingunt.


Verse 17

Genesis 45:17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;

Ver. 17. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph.] Pharaoh is good to Jacob and his house, for Joseph’s sake; so is God to us and ours, for Jesus’ sake. As any man was intimate with Sejanus, so he found favour with Tiberius. As if any were at odds with him, they lived in continual danger and durance, saith Tacitus; (a) so here.

O miserabilis humana conditio, et sine Christo, vanum omne quod vivimus, saith Jerome. - Epitaph. Nep., tom. i. p. 25.

O the misery of those that be without Christ in the world!


Verse 18

Genesis 45:18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

Ver. 18. Come unto me: and I will give your, &c.] So saith Christ, "Come unto me, and ye shall find rest to your souls," [Matthew 11:28] health to your bones, all the blessings of this life and a better. Say, you meet with some trouble by the way, as haply Jacob had foul weather ere he came down to Egypt. Non sunt condignae passiones ad praeteritam culpam quae remittitur, ad praesentis consolationes gratium, quae immittitur, ad futuram gloriam, quae promittitur, saith Bernard, sweetly. What is a drop of vinegar put into an ocean of wine? No country hath more venomous creatures than Egypt, none more antidotes. So godliness, saith one, hath many troubles, and as many helps against trouble.


Verse 19

Genesis 45:19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

Ver. 19. Take you wagons out of the land of Egypt.] Christ also will send his wagons for us, his cherubims, and clouds to fetch us up to heaven, at the last day, [1 Thessalonians 4:15] as they did Moses and Elias. [Matthew 17:3] This David foresaw, and therefore envied not the pomp and state of those men of God’s hand, that are whirled here up and down in wagons and chariots, &c. [Psalms 17:14-15]


Verse 20

Genesis 45:20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt [is] yours.

Ver. 20. Also regard not your stuff.] The same saith God to his; Care not for your lumber and trumpery; suffer with joy the loss of your goods: Come, come away in your affections; I have far better things for you above: the good of all the land of the living is yours, &c. And should we not cheerfully follow the divine call? Many play loath to depart, because they have treasure in the world, as those ten men had in the field. [Jeremiah 12:8] But all that this world affords is but trash to the truly religious. Alexander, hearing of the riches of the Indies, divided his kingdom of Macedon among his captains and soldiers. And being asked what he had left for himself; he answered, Hope. And should not the hope of heaven make us slight all earthly vanities? Spes in terrenis, incerti nomen boni: spes in divinis, nomen est certissimi. Hebrews 11:1.


Verse 21

Genesis 45:21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

Ver. 21. And gave them provision for the way.] So doth God give all his; meat that the world knows not of; joy that the natural heart never tasted of; the white stone; the hidden manna; the continual feast; the foretaste of eternal life, to hold up their hearts till they come home to heaven. On the cares of a good conscience, he goes on feeding, as Samson did on his honeycomb, till he came to his parents; as Joseph’s brethren here did on their venison, till they came to their father Jacob.


Verse 22

Genesis 45:22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred [pieces] of silver, and five changes of raiment.

Ver. 22. But to Benjamin he gave, &c.] God gives his best blessings to his Benjamins. "He is the Saviour of all men, but specially of them that believe." [1 Timothy 4:10] "The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind, the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down"; - these are common favours: but behold a better thing; - "the Lord loveth the righteous." [Psalms 146:8] This is more than all the rest. Outward things God gives to the wicked also, but as Joseph put his cup into their sack to pick a quarrel with them; or at best, as he gave them here change of raiment, to show his general love to them: but three hundred silverlings and five suits none but a Benjamin shall have the honour and favour of. Artabazus, in Xenophon, complained, when Cyrus had given him a cup of gold, and Chrysantas a kiss, in token of his special respect and love, saying, that the cup that he gave him was not so good gold as the kiss that he gave Chrysantas. When David said to Ziba, "All is thine that pertained to Mephibosheth"; Ziba answereth, "I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight." [2 Samuel 16:4] As who should say, I had rather have the king’s favour than the lands. Valde protestatus sum, said Luther, me nolle sic ab eo satiari. He would not be put off with lands and large offers. And Moses would not hear of an angel to go along with them. He would have God himself, or none. [Exodus 33:12-17] The blessings that come "out of Sion," are choice, peculiar, even above any that come out of "heaven and earth." [Psalms 134:3]


Verse 23

Genesis 45:23 And to his father he sent after this [manner]; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.

Ver. 23. After this manner.] Not the same that he gave Benjamin, as some sense it; but as followeth in the text.


Verse 24

Genesis 45:24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.

Ver. 24. Fall not out by the way.] Such a charge layeth Christ upon all his, to love one another, and to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Si collidimur, frangimur; If we clash, we are broken; according to the old fable of the two earthen pots swimming in the sea. The daughter of dissension is dissolution, said Nazianzen. And every subdivision in point of religion is a strong weapon in the hand of the contrary party, as he upon the Council of Trent wisely observed. (a) Castor and Pollux, if they appear not together, it presages a storm.


Verse 25

Genesis 45:25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,

Ver. 25. They came unto Jacob their father.] Who had looked many a long look for them: and now had far more joy of their return than before. [Genesis 42:29]


Verse 26

Genesis 45:26 And told him, saying, Joseph [is] yet alive, and he [is] governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.

Ver. 26. Joseph is yet alive.] This was the most joyful news that ever Jacob heard, and the sincerest pleasure that ever he had; which therefore God reserves for his age. How did his good heart, after he had recollected himself, dance Levaltoes in his bosom, to hear of Joseph’s honour, but especially of his life! What shall ours do, when we see Christ in his kingdom!

Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.] They had told him a tale before; and he that once hath cracked his credit is hardly, after, believed. Besides, he thought the news was too good to be true. Tarda solet magnis rebus inesse fides. The joy of heaven is so great, that we must "enter into it"; it cannot enter into us. "Enter into the joy of thy Lord." [Matthew 25:21]


Verse 27

Genesis 45:27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

Ver. 27. When he saw the wagons.] Such assurance have deeds above words, (a) Nos non eloquitour magna, sed vivimus, said those primitive Christians. And no Christian is an ill-lived man, unless he be a pretender only to that religion, saith Athenagoras, in his apclogy for them. (b) For as one said of David’s words in the ll9th Psalm, that they are verba vivenda non legenda; so is religion to be credited, by the power and practice of it. Christians should lead convincing lives: and, by their piety and patience, muzzle the malevolent, throttle envy itself. I have read (c) of a woman, who, living in professed doubt of the Godhead, after better illumination and repentance, did often protest that the vicious life of knowing man in that town did conjure up those damnable doubts in her soul. The difference between divinity and other sciences is, that it is not enough to know, but you must do it; as lessons of music must be practised, and a copy not read only, but acted.

The spirit of Jacob their father revived.] How will our spirits exult and triumph when we shall hear the last trump, see the messengers and wagons sent for us! Consider the crowns, sceptres, kingdoms, glories, beauties, angelical entertainments, beatifical visions, sweetest varieties, felicities, eternities, that we are now to be possessed of! Surely, as Aeneas and his company, when they came within view of Italy, after long tossing in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, joyfully cried out -

“Italiam, Italiam primus conclarnat Achates;

Italiam socii laeto clamore salutant.” - Virg.

And as when Godfrey of Bulloin and his company went to Jerusalem, as soon as they saw the highi turrets they gave a mighty shout, that the earth: rang. So when we shall see the battlements of the New Jerusalem, what acclamations will it ring of!

Quam quae sunt oculis subiecta fidelibus, &c.


Verse 28

Genesis 45:28 And Israel said, [It is] enough; Joseph my son [is] yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Ver. 28. It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive.] Jacob rejoiceth more for his life than his honour. "Why is living man sorrowful?." [Lamentations 3:39] Yet he is alive; that is a mercy, amidst all his miseries.

Before I die.] This he speaks after the manner of old men, whose song is, "My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me." [Job 17:1]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 45:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-45.html. 1865-1868.

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