The days of the years of my pilgrimage - מגורי megurai, of my sojourning or wandering. Jacob had always lived a migratory or wandering life, in different parts of Canaan, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, scarcely ever at rest; and in the places where he lived longest, always exposed to the fatigues of the field and the desert. Our word pilgrim comes from the French pelerin and pelegrin, which are corrupted from the Latin peregrinus, an alien, stranger, or foreigner, from the adverb peregre, abroad, not at home. The pilgrim was a person who took a journey, long or short, on some religious account, submitting during the time to many hardships and privations. A more appropriate term could not be conceived to express the life of Jacob, and the motive which induced him to live such a life. His journey to Padan-aram or Mesopotamia excepted, the principal part of his journeys were properly pilgrimages, undertaken in the course of God's providence on a religious account.
Have not attained unto the - life of my fathers - Jacob lived in the whole one hundred and forty-seven years; Isaac his father lived one hundred and eighty; and Abraham his grandfather, one hundred and seventy-five. These were days of years in comparison of the lives of the preceding patriarchs, some of whom lived nearly ten centuries!
- Jacob in Goshen
11. רעמסס ra‛mesês Ra‹meses “son of the sun.”
31. מטה mı̂ṭṭāh “bed.” מטה maṭṭeh “staff.”
Arrangements are now made for the settlement of Israel in Goshen. The administration of Joseph during the remaining years of the famine is then recorded. For the whole of this period his father and brothers are subject to him, as their political superior, according to the reading of his early dreams. We then approach to the death-bed of Jacob, and hear him binding Joseph by an oath to bury him in the grave of his fathers.
Joseph announces to Pharaoh the arrival of his kindred. “Of the whole of his brethren,” more exactly from the end of his brethren. Five men, a favorite number in Egypt. Shepherds, owners and feeders of sheep and other cattle. “Pasture.” Hence, it appears that the drought had made the grazing extremely scanty. Men of ability, competent to take the oversight of others. “Jacob his father,” he presents before Pharaoh, after he has disposed of all business matters. “Jacob blessed Pharaoh.” This is the patriarch‘s grateful return for Pharaoh‘s great kindness and generosity toward him and his house. He is conscious of even a higher dignity than that of Pharaoh, as he is a prince of God; and as such he bestows his precious benediction. Pharaoh was struck with his venerable appearance, and inquired what was his age. “Pilgrimage” - sojourning, wandering without any constant abode or fixed holding.
Such was the life of the patriarchs in the land of promise Hebrews 11:13. “Few and evil.” Jacob‘s years at this time were far short of those of Abraham and Isaac, not to speak of more ancient men. Much bitterness also had been mingled in his cup from the time that he beguiled his brother of the birthright and the blessing, which would have come to him in a lawful way if he had only waited in patience. Obliged to flee for his life from his father‘s house, serving seven years for a beloved wife, and balked in his expected recompense by a deceitful father-in-law, serving seven long years more for the object of his affections, having his wages changed ten times during the six years of his further toil for a maintenance, afflicted by the dishonor of his only daughter, the reckless revenge taken by Simon and Levi, the death of his beloved wife in childbed, the disgraceful incest of Reuben, the loss of Joseph himself for twenty-two years, and the present famine with all its anxieties - Jacob, it must be confessed, has become acquainted with no small share of the ills of life. “Blessed Pharaoh.” It is possible that this blessing is the same as that already mentioned, now reiterated in its proper place in the narrative. “According to the little ones.” This means either in proportion to the number in each household, or with all the tenderness with which a parent provides for his infant offspring.
Joseph introduces remarkable changes into the relation of the sovereign and the people of Egypt. “There was no bread in all the land.” The private stores of the wealthy were probably exhausted. “And Joseph gathered up all the silver.” The old stores of grain and the money, which had flowed into the country during the years of plenty, seem to have lasted for five years. “And Joseph brought the silver into Pharaoh‘s house.” He was merely the steward of Pharaoh in this matter, and made a full return of all the payments that came into his hands. “The silver was spent.” The famishing people have no more money; but they must have bread. Joseph is fertile in expedients. He proposes to take their cattle. This was really a relief to the people, as they had no means of providing them with fodder. The value of commodities is wholly altered by a change of circumstances. Pearls will not purchase a cup of water in a vast and dreary wilderness. Cattle become worthless when food becomes scarce, and the means of procuring it are exhausted. For their cattle Joseph supplies them with food during the sixth year.
The seventh year is now come. The silver and cattle are now gone. Nothing remains but their lands, and with these themselves as the serfs of the soil. Accordingly they make this offer to Joseph, which he cannot refuse. Hence, it is evident that Pharaoh had as yet no legal claim to the soil. In primeval times the first entrants into an unoccupied country became, by a natural custom, the owners of the grounds they held and cultivated. The mere nomad, who roamed over a wide range of country, where his flocks merely cropped the spontaneous herbage, did not soon arrive at the notion of private property in land. But the husbandman, who settled on a promising spot, broke up the soil, and sowed the seed, felt he had acquired by his labor a title to the acres he had cultivated and permanently occupied, and this right was instinctively acknowledged by others. Hence, each cultivator grew into the absolute owner of his own farm. Hence, the lands of Egypt belonged to the peasantry of the country, and were at their disposal. These lands had now become valueless to those who had neither provisions for themselves nor seed for their ground. They willingly part with them, therefore, for a year‘s provision and a supply of seed. In this way the lands of Egypt fell into the hands of the crown by a free purchase. “And the people he removed into the cities.” This is not an act of arbitrary caprice, but a wise and kind measure for the more convenient nourishment of the people until the new arrangements for the cultivation of the soil should be completed. The priestly class were sustained by a state allowance, and therefore, were not obliged to alienate their lands. Hence, they became by this social revolution a privileged order. The military class were also exempted most probably from the surrender of their patrimonial rights, as they were maintained on the crown lands.
I have bought you. - He had bought their lands, and so they might be regarded, in some sort, as the servants of Pharaoh, or the serfs of the soil. “In the increase ye shall give the fifth to Pharaoh.” This explains at once the extent of their liability, and the security of their liberty and property. They do not become Pharaoh‘s bondmen. They own their land under him by a new tenure. They are no longer subject to arbitrary exactions. They have a stated annual rent, bearing a fixed ratio to the amount of their crop. This is an equitable adjustment of their dues, and places them under the protection of a statute law. The people are accordingly well pleased with the enactment of Joseph, which becomes henceforth the law of Egypt.
And they were possessed thereof. - They become owners or tenants of the soil in Goshen. The Israelites were recognized as subjects with the full rights of freemen. “They grew and multiplied exceedingly.” They are now placed in a definite territory, where they are free from the contamination which arises from promiscuous intermarriage with an idolatrous race; and hence, the Lord bestows the blessing of fruitfulness and multiplication, so that in a generation or two more they can intermarry among themselves. It is a remarkable circumstance that until now we read of only two daughters in the family of Jacob. The brothers could not marry their sisters, and it was not desirable that the females should form affinity with the pagan, as they had in general to follow the faith of their husbands. Here the twelfth section of the Pentateuch terminates.
Jacob lives seventeen years in Egypt, and so survives the famine twelve years. “He called his son Joseph.” Joseph retained his power and place near Pharaoh after the fourteen years of special service were completed; hence, Jacob looks to him for the accomplishment of his wishes concerning the place of his burial. “Put thy hand under my thigh” Genesis 24:2. He binds Joseph by a solemn asseveration to carry his mortal remains to the land of promise. “And Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.” On receiving the solemn promise of Joseph, he turns toward the head of the bed, and assumes the posture of adoration, rendering, no doubt, thanks to God for all the mercies of his past life, and for this closing token of filial duty and affection. The Septuagint has the rendering: ἐπί τὸ ἄκρον τῆσῥάβδον αὐτοῦ epi to ākron akron tēs rabdou autou “on the top of his staff,” which is given in the Epistle to the Hebrews Hebrews 11:21. This is obtained by a mere change in the vowel pointing of the last word.
Upon reaching Egypt the company proceeded directly to the land of Goshen. Thither came Joseph in his chariot of state, attended by a princely retinue. The splendor of his surroundings and the dignity of his position were alike forgotten; one thought alone filled his mind, one longing thrilled his heart. As he beheld the travelers approaching, the love whose yearnings had for so many long years been repressed, would no longer be controlled. He sprang from his chariot and hastened forward to bid his father welcome. “And he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.” PP 233.1
Joseph took five of his brothers to present to Pharaoh and receive from him the grant of land for their future home. Gratitude to his prime minister would have led the monarch to honor them with appointments to offices of state; but Joseph, true to the worship of Jehovah, sought to save his brothers from the temptations to which they would be exposed at a heathen court; therefore he counseled them, when questioned by the king, to tell him frankly their occupation. The sons of Jacob followed this counsel, being careful also to state that they had come to sojourn in the land, not to become permanent dwellers there, thus reserving the right to depart if they chose. The king assigned them a home, as offered, in “the best of the land,” the country of Goshen. PP 233.2
Not long after their arrival Joseph brought his father also to be presented to the king. The patriarch was a stranger in royal courts; but amid the sublime scenes of nature he had communed with a mightier Monarch; and now, in conscious superiority, he raised his hands and blessed Pharaoh. PP 233.3
In his first greeting to Joseph, Jacob had spoken as if, with this joyful ending to his long anxiety and sorrow, he was ready to die. But seventeen years were yet to be granted him in the peaceful retirement of Goshen. These years were in happy contrast to those that had preceded them. He saw in his sons evidence of true repentance; he saw his family surrounded by all the conditions needful for the development of a great nation; and his faith grasped the sure promise of their future establishment in Canaan. He himself was surrounded with every token of love and favor that the prime minister of Egypt could bestow; and happy in the society of his long-lost son, he passed down gently and peacefully to the grave. PP 233.4Read in context »
Joseph counselled his brethren, that when Pharaoh should ask of their occupation, to tell him frankly that they were shepherds, although such an occupation was regarded by the Egyptians as degrading. Joseph loved righteousness, and feared God. He did not wish his brethren to be exposed to temptation, therefore would not have them in the king's special services, amid the corrupting idolatrous influence at court. If they should tell the king that they were shepherds, he would not seek to employ them in his service, and exalt them to some honorable position for Joseph's sake. When the king learned that they were shepherds, he gave Joseph permission to settle his father and his brethren in the best part of the country of Egypt. Joseph selected Goshen as a suitable place provided with good pastures, well watered. Here also they could worship God without being disturbed with the ceremonies attending the idolatrous worship of the Egyptians. The country round about Goshen was inhabited by the Israelites, until with power and mighty signs and wonders God brought his people out of Egypt. 3SG 169.1
Joseph brought Jacob before Pharaoh, and introduced his much honored father to the king. Jacob blessed Pharaoh for his kindness to his son Joseph. “And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” 3SG 169.2Read in context »
The children of Israel were not slaves. They had never sold their cattle, their lands, and themselves to Pharaoh for food, as many of the Egyptians had done. They had been granted a portion of land wherein to dwell, with their flocks and cattle, on account of the service Joseph had been to the kingdom. Pharaoh appreciated his wisdom in the management of all things connected with the kingdom, especially in the preparations for the long years of famine which came upon the land of Egypt. He felt that the whole kingdom was indebted for their prosperity to the wise management of Joseph; and as a token of his gratitude he said to Joseph, “The land of Egypt is before thee. In the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell. In the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread according to their families.” 3SG 177.1Read in context »
Although Joseph was exalted as a ruler over all the land, yet he did not forget God. He knew that he was a stranger in a strange land, separated from his father and his brethren, which often caused him sadness, but he firmly believed that God's hand had overruled his course, to place him in an important position. And, depending on God continually, he performed all the duties of his office, as ruler over the land of Egypt, with faithfulness. SR 103.1
Joseph walked with God. He would not be persuaded to deviate from the path of righteousness and transgress God's law, by any inducement or threats. His self-control and patience in adversity and his unwavering fidelity are left on record for the benefit of all who should afterward live on the earth. When Joseph's brethren acknowledged their sin before him, he freely forgave them and showed by his acts of benevolence and love that he harbored no resentful feelings for their former cruel conduct toward him. SR 103.2Read in context »
If you cling to self, refusing to yield your will to God, you are choosing death. To sin, wherever found, God is a consuming fire. If you choose sin, and refuse to separate from it, the presence of God, which consumes sin, must consume you. MB 62.1
It will require a sacrifice to give yourself to God; but it is a sacrifice of the lower for the higher, the earthly for the spiritual, the perishable for the eternal. God does not design that our will should be destroyed, for it is only through its exercise that we can accomplish what He would have us do. Our will is to be yielded to Him, that we may receive it again, purified and refined, and so linked in sympathy with the Divine that He can pour through us the tides of His love and power. However bitter and painful this surrender may appear to the willful, wayward heart, yet “it is profitable for thee.” MB 62.2
Not until he fell crippled and helpless upon the breast of the covenant angel did Jacob know the victory of conquering faith and receive the title of a prince with God. It was when he “halted upon his thigh” (Genesis 32:31) that the armed bands of Esau were stilled before him, and the Pharaoh, proud heir of a kingly line, stooped to crave his blessing. So the Captain of our salvation was made “perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10), and the children of faith “out of weakness were made strong,” and “turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:34). So do “the lame take the prey” (Isaiah 33:23), and the weak become “as David,” and “the house of David ... as the angel of the Lord” (Zechariah 12:8). MB 62.3Read in context »