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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 50

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 50:1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.

Ver. 1. And Joseph fell upon his father’s face.] As willing to have wept him alive again, if possible; yet more moderate than his father had been in the supposed death of him by an evil beast devouring him. But of mourning for the dead. {See Trapp on "Genesis 23:9"}


Verse 2

Genesis 50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.

Ver. 2. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians.] Physicians, (a) it seems, were formerly of no great esteem; perhaps it was because, through ignorance, they many times officiously killed their patients. We know who it was that cried out upon his death bed, Many physicians have killed the emperor. (b) And it is grown to a proverb, No physician can be his craftsmaster, till he have been the death of thirty men. (c) The Egyptians, to prevent this mischief, appointed fox every ordinary disease, a several physician; enjoining them to study the cure of that only. And till then, the fashion was to lay the sick man at his door, where every passenger was bound to inquire the nature of his disease; that if either himself or any within his knowledge had recovered of the like, he might tell by what means, or stay to make trial of that skill he had upon the patient. (d) Physic is, without question, the ordinance of God. [Exodus 21:19] He styles himself, "Jehovah Rophe," [Exodus 15:26] the Lord the physician. And a physician is more worth than many others, saith the heathen poet. (e) Use them we must, when there is need, [Mark 2:17 1 Timothy 4:4] but not idolise them, as 2 Chronicles 16:12.

And the physicians embalmed Israel.] According to the custom of that country; concerning which, he that will see more, may read in Herodotus and Pliny. (f) This custom continued also in after ages, as well among Jews as Gentiles. But the devil turned it, in time, into most vain superstition, both among the Greeks, whom Lucian frequently jeers for it, and among the Latins; witness that of Ennius, Tavquinii corpus bona faemina lavit, et unxit. Joseph embalmed his father’s corpse, partly to honour [2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19] him with this solemnity; and partly to preserve him for so long a journey; but principally to testify his faith of the resurrection, and that incorruption he hoped for at the last day. Some think the apostle hath relation to this, in that 1 Corinthians 15:29, and they read it thus; "Why do they then wash - βαπτιζονται, voce media - over the dead?" Compare Acts 9:37.


Verse 3

Genesis 50:3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.

Ver. 3. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.] Longer than Joseph mourned; they did it through "ignorance," and as men "without hope"; for both which, see 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Joseph could look through his own loss, and see his father’s gain beyond it. Besides, he could say, as Jerome (a) in like case, Tulisti, Domine, patrem, quem ipse dederas: Non coutristor quid recepisti; ago gratias, quod dedisti. And if epicures could comfort themselves in their greatest dejections, ex praeteritarum voluptatum recordatione; { b} how much more could Joseph now; not only by calling to mind this last seventeen years’ enjoyment of his dear father, beyond all hope and expectation; but chiefly, that happy change his father had made, from darkness to light, from death to life, from sorrow to solace; from a factious world, to a heavenly habitation, where he drinks of that torrent of pleasure, without let or loathing.


Verse 4

Genesis 50:4 And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,

Ver. 4. Speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh.]. He spake not to the king himself, but set others to work. Not because he was fallen out of favour, for he had the happiness to be favourite to five kings, (a) Onus, Amasis, Chebron, Amenophes, and Mephiris, in the eleventh year of whose reign he died, - but because he was now a mourner; and such were not wont to come before kings, [Esther 4:2] though none but such as mourn are suffered to come before God. [Matthew 5:4]


Verse 5

Genesis 50:5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.

Ver. 5. In my grave which I have digged for me.] A usual thing of old. [2 Chronicles 16:14 Matthew 27:60] {See Trapp on "Genesis 23:9"} Quintillus Plautianus, an ancient senator of Rome, in the days of Severus the Emperor, being wrongfully accused and condemned to die, desired before his death to see those things that he had long since laid by for his burial; (a) which when he saw to be little worth with long lying, Quid hoc rei est? inquit; itane cunctati sumus? What a thing is this? said he. Have we made no more haste to die than so? (b)


Verse 6

Genesis 50:6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

Ver. 6. As he made thee swear.] Oaths must be religiously kept, even those that are private, betwixt friend and friend. For, although whatsoever is more than yea and nay, in our ordinary communication, is evil, [Matthew 5:37] yet a private oath, as betwixt Boaz and Ruth, so it be sparingly and warily used, is not unlawful. For in serious and weighty affairs, if it be lawful in private to admit God as a judge, why may he not as well be called to witness and to avenge? But this only in case of necessity, when yea and nay will not be taken.


Verse 7

Genesis 50:7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,

Ver. 7. And with him went up all the servants.] That is, most of them, as Matthew 3:5. In doing the patriarch this honour, they stand renowned for thankful men; and such, saith one, are worth their weight in gold. "Blessed be he of the Lord, who leaveth not off his kindness to the living and to the dead." [Ruth 2:20] But how base was Bonner, that railed so bitterly against his patron Cromwell, whose creature he had been, after his death; calling him the rankest heretic that ever lived, and that it had been good he had been despatched long ago! (a) And Cardinal Pool played the unworthy man, in having an intent to take up King Henry VIII’s body at Windsor, and to have burned it. (b) This the Papists did to Paulus Phagius, a learned German, that died at Cambridge, being sent for over by King Edward VI. And although they never heard him speak - for he died soon after his coming into the realm, having not time either to dispute or preach here - yet they unburied him, and burnt his bones. (c) Of all birds, we most hate and detest crows; and of all beasts, those called jackals, a kind of foxes in Barbary: because the one digs up the graves and devours the flesh; the other picks out the eyes of the dead. (d)


Verse 8

Genesis 50:8 And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.

Ver. 8. Only their little ones.] And some to look to them.


Verse 9

Genesis 50:9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

Ver. 9. A very great company.] This was for the honour of Jacob at his death, whose greatest care had been to honour God in his whole life.


Verse 10

Genesis 50:10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which [is] beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.

Ver. 10. And he made a mourning for his father.] Not seventy days, as those infidels did, Genesis 50:3. But why mourned he at all, since God had signified his will? So far forth as something concurs with God’s will that is grievous to us, we may mourn moderately without offence.


Verse 11

Genesis 50:11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This [is] a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which [is] beyond Jordan.

Ver. 11. Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.] A gracious providence of God, as Piscator well observeth, that for the confirmation of the Israelites’ faith, when they were to pass over Jordan, and afterwards, there should be a standing monument there of the transportation of Jacob’s body out of Egypt into Canaan, for burial’s sake. Thus, "all things work together for good to God’s beloved." [Romans 8:28]


Verse 15

Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.

Ver. 15. Joseph will peradventure hate us.] An ill conscience, we are sure, still haunts them as a hell-hag, and fills them with unquestionable conviction and horror. Better be langold [tied] to a lion than to an unquiet conscience. {See Trapp on "Genesis 4:14"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 42:21"} Such take no more rest than one upon a rack or bed of thorns. There were not many to kill Cain besides his father and his mother, and yet he cries, "Every one that finds me," &c.


Verse 16

Genesis 50:16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,

Ver. 16. Thy father did command, &c.] It is a just question, whether there were ever a true word of all this. For Jacob, probably, never knew how ill they had used Joseph, as is above said. But if this had been his command howsoever, as they pretend, would not Jacob have spoken himself for them to Joseph before he died? "Fear of man" causeth lying, [Zephaniah 3:13] and so "brings a snare to the soul." [Proverbs 29:25]


Verse 17

Genesis 50:17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

Ver. 17. Forgive, I pray thee now.] In this case a man is bound, not only to let fall all wrath and desire of revenge, but to make a solemn profession of hearty forgiveness. [Luke 17:4] If the wrongdoer say, "I repent," you must say, "I forgive," as ever you hope to be forgiven of God. Our Saviour [Luke 11:4] seems to make our forgiving our trespassers the intervenient cause - that which they call, sine qua non - of God’s forgiving us. Mark this, lest we be constrained to do, as Latimer reports of some in his days, that being not willing to forgive their enemies, would not say their pater noster, lest they should therein curse themselves, but instead thereof, took their lady psalter in hand, because they were persuaded that, by that they might obtain forgiveness of favour [ ex gratis] without the putting of so hard a condition as forgiveness of their enemies.

For they did unto thee evil.] Joseph had long ago seen their sorrow; never, till now, heard their confession, and is abundantly satisfied. Think the same of God. Do but confess, and he must forgive, upon his faithfulness. [1 John 1:9] In the courts of men, it is the safest plea, saith Quintilian, to cry, Non feci; not so here. "Take away the iniquity of thy servant," saith David and to prove himself so, he adds, "For I have done foolishly." [2 Samuel 24:10] Acknowledge the debt, and God will forthwith cross the book.

Forgive the trespass of the servants of the God, &c.] Nothing should more persuade to unity than religion. [Ephesians 4:3-5] Others may cleave together, as the clay in Nebuchadnezzar’s image, but the saints only incorporate into each other.


Verse 18

Genesis 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we [be] thy servants.

Ver. 18. Behold, we be thy servants.] Oh that God might hear such words fall from us, prostrate at his feet! How soon would he take us up and embrace us! Deus redire nos sibi, non perire, desiderat, saith Chrysologus; φοβειθαι βουλεται ου φονευσαι, saith Basil; suffundere sanguinem quam effundere, saith Tertullian. I agnized my sin, and the amends was soon made, saith David. [Psalms 32:5]


Verse 19

Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for [am] I in the place of God?

Ver. 19. Am I in the place of God?] q.d., Can I hurt you when God intends good to you? Is it for me to cross his decree?


Verse 20

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.

Ver. 20. But God meant it unto good.] God altereth the property, as of his people’s sufferings, which in themselves are the fruit of sin and a piece of the curse, so of their misdoings, which also he turns to the best unto them and others; according to that sweetest text, Romans 8:28.


Verse 21

Genesis 50:21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Ver. 21. I will nourish you.] To requite your kindness, that consulted to starve me in the waterless pit. This was a noble way of revenging; this was heroical, and fit for Christian imitation. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." [Romans 12:20]


Verse 22

Genesis 50:22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.

Ver. 22. And Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.] Fourscore of these he lived in great wealth, and all of them, perhaps, in very good health; as Pliny (a) reports of one Xenophilus, that he lived a hundred and five years without sickness, which yet was a rare thing, and few men’s happiness.


Verse 23

Genesis 50:23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third [generation]: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees.

Ver. 23. Brought up upon Joseph’s knees.] Who with great joy danced and dandled them. So God is said to do his people, [Deuteronomy 33:3] as some understand it. (a)


Verse 24

Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Ver. 24. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die.] A sad saying to them, poor souls. For now began their misery and slavery in Egypt. When Epaminondas died, his whole country died with him; the Thebans were never after known by their victories, but by their overthrows. When Augustus died, the sun seemed to the Romans to fall from heaven: such an alteration presently followed in that state. When Louis XII departed this world, saith Budaeus, (a) he that erewhile seemed to touch heaven with his finger, lay grovelling, as if he had been thunderstruck. All Israel’s prosperity died with Josiah; and so did their liberty and worldly felicity with Joseph. His nephews, the Ephraimites, attempted, before the time, their own deliverance, not long after Joseph’s death, even while their father Ephraim was yet alive, but with ill success, to his great grief and regret. [1 Chronicles 7:22 Psalms 78:9] Hasty work seldom ends well: how this of mine will do, I know not, made up, as it might be, in little more than four month’s space, amidst manifold fears and distractions, at spare hours; and bearing date from mine enlargement, July the llth, Anno Dom. 1643, that happy day that saw me both a prisoner and a free man, by the good hand of my God upon me; to whom be glory and praise for ever. As for this my book, made (b) purposely to testify my thankfulness to God, mine Almighty Deliverer, and to those whom he was pleased to use as instruments of my much endeared liberty; such as it is, Eχετε, κρινατε; as he said of his rhetoric: and, if I shall cast in my verdict,

Cum relego, scripsisse pudet, quia plurima cerno,

Me quoque, qui [scripsi] iudice, digna lini. ”{c}

repente serpere sideratos esse diceres. - Bud.

Evangel.

{c} Ovid., De Pont., eleg. i. 6.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 50:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-50.html. 1865-1868.

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