Genesis xlvii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. The last. Extremos. Some interpret this word of the chiefest, and most sightly: but Joseph seems rather to have chosen out such as had the meanest appearance, that Pharao might not think of employing them at court, with danger of their morals and religion; (Challoner) or in the army, where they might be distracted with many cares, and be too much separated from one another. (Haydock) — He took such of his brethren as came first at hand. (Vatable)

Ver. 7. Blessed him, Pharao; saying, perhaps, God save the king; or, O king live for ever: thus wishing that he might enjoy all sorts of blessings. (Menochius) — It is generally taken in this sense, when men bless one another; but when they bless God, they mean to praise, supplicate, or thank him. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Pilgrimage. He hardly deigns to style it life, as he was worn out with labour and sorrows, and was drawing fast to an end, so much sooner than his ancestors. Isaac had lived 180 years, and was only dead the year before Joseph was made ruler of Egypt. Some had lived above 900 years. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Chanaan. The whole world that was inhabited, and known to the Hebrews, felt perhaps the effects of this raging famine; but the countries here mentioned were the most afflicted. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. Treasure, reserving nothing for himself. (Philo)

Ver. 15. Wanted. Or “failed both in Egypt and Chanaan,” as the Hebrew insinuates. (Haydock)

Ver. 18. Second; or the next year after they had sold their cattle; the fourth of the famine, or perhaps the last, since they ask for seed, ver. 19. In that year, Joseph gave back the cattle, &c., to the Egyptians, on condition that they should ever after pay the fifth part of the products of the land to the king, the sole proprietor, who had thus full authority to send them to till any part of his dominions. (Calmet)

Ver. 19. Servants. A person may part with his liberty, to preserve life. (Menochius)

Ver. 21. People, “he transplanted” from, &c., as the Hebrew, Arabic, &c., now read, by the change of one letter. Herodotus, ii. 108, says, the same person has never a field there two years together. Diodorus 1, also attests, that individuals have no property in Egypt, the land being divided among the priests, the king, and the military. Tradesmen always follow their father’s profession, which makes them very skilful.

Ver. 22. Priests. This was done by the king’s direction, as they were probably idolaters. (Menochius) — The immunities of the sacred ministers have been respected both by Pagans, Jews, and Christians; by all who have had any sentiments of religion. Reason dictates that they should live by the altar. They have to labour for the truest interests of the people, and consequently are worthy of their hire. — Which had been given, &c. Inasmuch as their wants were supplied, and the king forebore to claim their land. Hebrew, “only the land of the priests he, Joseph, bought not.” (Haydock) — If infidels did so much for their priests, ought we to do less for those of God? (St. Chrysostom, hom. 65.) (Worthington)

Ver. 26. This day. When Moses wrote, and long after, as we learn from Josephus, St. Clement of Alexandria, Diodorus, &c. (Calmet)

Ver. 29. Thigh. To swear, as the steward of Abraham did, chap. xxiv. 2. — Kindness and truth. This act of real mercy; or, shew me mercy, by promising freely to comply with my request; and truth, by fulfilling this oath. (Menochius)

Ver. 30. Place. Hebron, where Sara, Abraham, and Isaac reposed. (Calmet) — Thus he manifested his belief in a future resurrection with his Saviour, who should be born in that land; and he admonished his descendants never to lose sight of it, nor forfeit the promises by their wicked conduct, chap. xxiii. 17. (Menochius) — He teaches us likewise, to be solicitous to obtain Christian burial. (Worthington)

Ver. 31. To the bed’s head. St. Paul, (Hebrews xi. 21,) following the Greek translation of the Septuagint, reads adored the top of his rod. Where note, that the same word in the Hebrew, according to the different pointing of it, signifies both a bed and a rod. And to verify both these sentences, we must understand that Jacob, leaning on Joseph’s rod, adored, turning towards the head of his bed: which adoration, inasmuch as it was referred to God, was an absolute, and sovereign worship: but inasmuch as it was referred to the rod of Joseph, as a figure of the sceptre, that is, of the royal dignity of Christ, was only an inferior and relative honour. (Challoner) — St. Augustine proposes another very probable explanation. He adored God, supporting himself on the top of his staff, or of Joseph’s sceptre, q. 162. The Septuagint and Syriac intimate, that Jacob bowed down respectfully towards the sceptre of his son, and thus complied with the explication which he had given to his dream, chap. xxxvii. 10. Others, who understood the Hebrew Hamitta, in the sense given to it by St. Jerome, Aquila, and Symmachus, suppose that after he had given his last instructions to Joseph in a sitting posture, growing weaker, he laid his head again upon his pillow. (Calmet) — God was pleased to have this recorded in a language subject to such various interpretations; as he, perhaps, would have us to understand, that Jacob literally bowed down both to the bed-head and to the top of the sceptre. For many believe, that the Scripture has often several literal meanings. (Tirinus) — If the Massoretic points had been known to the Septuagint, we should not have had this variation. But the learned generally agree, that they are of human, and even of very modern invention.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Jacob and his sons are presented before Pharao: he giveth them the land of Gessen. The famine forceth the Egyptians to sell all their possessions to the king.

1 Then Joseph went in and told Pharao, saying: My father and brethren, their sheep and their herds, and all that they possess, are come out of the land of Chanaan: and behold they stay in the land of Gessen.

2 Five men also, the last of his brethren, he presented before the king:

3 And he asked them: What is your occupation? They answered: We, thy servants, are shepherds, both we and our fathers.

4 We are come to sojourn in thy land, because there is no grass for the flocks of thy servants, the famine being very grievous in the land of Chanaan: and we pray thee to give orders that we thy servants may be in the land of Gessen.

5 The king therefore said to Joseph: Thy father and thy brethren are come to thee.

6 The land of Egypt is before thee: make them dwell in the best place, and give them the land of Gessen. And if thou knowest that there are industrious men among them, make them rulers over my cattle.

7 After this Joseph brought in his father to the king, and presented him before him: and he blessed him.

8 And being asked by him: How many are the days of the years of thy life?

9 He answered: The days of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years, few and evil, and they are not come up to the days of the pilgrimage of my fathers.

10 And blessing the king, he went out.

11 But Joseph gave a possession to his father and his brethren in Egypt, in the best place of the land, in Ramesses, as Pharao had commanded.

12 And he nourished them, and all his father’s house, allowing food to every one.

13 For in the whole world there was want of bread, and a famine had oppressed the land, more especially of Egypt and Chanaan;

14 Out of which he gathered up all the money for the corn which they bought, and brought it in to the king’s treasure.

15 And when the buyers wanted money, all Egypt came to Joseph, saying: *Give us bread: why should we die in thy presence, having now no money?

16 And he answered them: Bring me your cattle, and for them I will give you food, if you have no money.

17 And when they had brought them, he gave them food in exchange for their horses, and sheep, and oxen, and asses: and he maintained them that year for the exchange of their cattle.

18 And they came the second year, and said to him: We will not hide from our lord, how that our money is spent, and our cattle also are gone: neither art thou ignorant that we have nothing now left but our bodies and our lands.

19 Why therefore shall we die before thy eyes? we will be thine, both we and our lands: buy us to be the king’s servants, and give us seed, lest for want of tillers the land be turned into a wilderness.

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt, every man selling his possessions, because of the greatness of the famine. And he brought it into Pharao’s hands:

21 And all its people from one end of the borders of Egypt, even to the other end thereof,

22 Except the land of the priests, which had been given them by the king: to whom also a certain allowance of food was given out of the public stores, and therefore they were not forced to sell their possessions.

23 Then Joseph said to the people : Behold, as you see, both you and your lands belong to Pharao; take seed and sow the fields,

24 That you may have corn. The fifth part you shall give to the king; the other four you shall have for seed, and for food for your families and children.

25 And they answered: Our life is in thy hand; only let my lord look favourably upon us, and we will gladly serve the king.

26 From that time unto this day, in the whole land of Egypt, the fifth part is paid to the kings, and it is become as a law, except the land of the priests, which was free from this covenant.

27 So Israel dwelt in Egypt, that is, in the land of Gessen, and possessed it; and grew, and was multiplied exceedingly.

28 And he lived in it seventeen years: and all the days of his life came to a hundred and forty-seven years.

29 *And when he saw that the day of his death drew nigh, he called his son Joseph, and said to him: If I have found favour in thy sight,** put thy hand under my thigh; and thou shalt shew me this kindness and truth, not to bury me in Egypt.

30 But I will sleep with my fathers, and thou shalt take me away out of this land, and bury me in the burying-place of my ancestors. *And Joseph answered him: I will do what thou hast commanded.

31 And he said: Swear then to me. And as he was swearing, Israel adored God, turning to the bed’s head.



15: Year of the World 2300, Year before Christ 1704.

29: Year of the World 2315, Year before Christ 1689. — ** Genesis xxiv. 2.

30: Genesis xxiii. 17.