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JACOB'S GOING DOWN INTO EGYPT.
The patriarch having resolved to go and see his beloved Joseph, soon gets ready for his journey, and takes with him all that he had. It was generous in Pharaoh to propose his leaving the stuff behind him, but Jacob was not elated with the riches of Egypt, and might wish to put his friends to as little expense as possible. Those things which Pharaoh would call stuff, might also have a peculiar value in his esteem, as having been given him in answer to prayer.* What is given by our best friend, should not be set at nought.
But does not Jacob acknowledge God in this undertaking? It is a very important one, to him and to his posterity. Surely he does not use lightness in such an affair ; and the thing which he
i purposeth, is not according to the flesh. No, he will solemnly invoke the divine blessing ; but not till he had gone one day's journey. He had doubtless privately committed his way to God, and we hope was satisfied as to the path of duty; but he might have a special reason for deferring his public devotions till he should arrive at Beersheba. This was a distinguished spot : what had there taken place would tend to assist him in his approaches to God. It was there that Abraham, after many changes and trials, called on the name of the everlasting God; and there that Isaac had the promise renewed to bim, built an altar, and called also
upon the name of Jehovah. This therefore shall be the place
Chạp. xviii. 20.
where Jacob will offer a solemn sacrifice, and invoke the divine blessing on himself and his children.
Arriving at the appointed place towards evening, he and all his company stop; and having reared an altar, or repaired that which had been built afcretime, offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Jacob, in his approaches to God, did not forget to avail himself of the covenant made with his forefathers, and of the promises already on record. His coming to this place seems to have been with the very design, that his eyes, in beholding the surrounding objects, might assist his mind, and affect his heart in the recollection. Nor must we in ours forget to avail ourselves of the covenant of God in Christ, in wbich is all our salvation. The remembrance of the godliness of our predecessors, also, in like circumstances with ourselves, may have a happy influence on our devotions. It is sweet to a boly mind to be able to say, He is my God, and I will exalt him : my father's God, and I will build him an habitation !
Ver. 2-4. Jacob having closed the day by a solemn act of worship, retires to rest ; and, as in a former instance, God appeared, and spake to him in visions of the night ; calling him twice by name, Jacob, Jacob ! To which the patriarch answers, Here am I, ready to hear what God the Lord will speak unto his servant. And he said, I am God. To one so well acquainted with the divine character as Jacob was, this would be cheering ; especially as it would indicate his acceptance of the sacrifice, and his being with him in the way he went. It would seem enough for a godly mind to know that God is with him. But, in compassion to Jacob it is added, the God of thy father. As such he had sought him, and as such he found him. This language amounted to a renewal of the covenant of Abraham, that God would bless, and make him a blessing ; and that in him and his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. And lest this should be thought too general, it is further added, Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes. Though Jacob's affection to Joseph made
. him resolve at first to go and see him, yet it is likely he had
afterwards some misgivings of mind upon the subject. Abraham went once into Egypt ; but he left it under a cloud, and never went again. Isaac in a time of famine was forbidden to go.* And though Jacob had sent his sons to buy corn, yet it did not seem to be the place for him. But God removes his fears, and intimates that Egypt is designed to be the cradle of that great nation which should descend from his loins. They were idolaters, and should prove in the end oppressors ; but the promise of God to go with him, was enough. Neither temptation nor persecution need dismay us, when we are led into it by the Lord : if he lead us into it, we may hope that he will keep us in it. The Lord, in promising Jacob that he would surely bring him up again, did not mean that he himself should come back again alive ; but that his posterity should, after becoming a great nation. With respect to himself, he was given to expect that his beloved Joseph should survive him, and be present at his death to close his eyes. But his descendants should be brought back with an high hand : and as what was spoken of bringing him up again respected them, so that of going down, with him extended to them also.
Ver. 5–7. After so signal an instance of mercy, Jacob can leave Beersheba with a cheerful heart. He is now so far advanced in life, however, as to be glad of a carriage to convey him, and of all the kind and dutiful assistance of his sons to accommodate him. Time was when he wanted no accommodation of this sort ; but set off on a much longer journey with only a staff ; but sixty years' toil and trouble, added to the seventy which had gone before, have reduced him to a state of feebleness and debility. Nature is ordained to decay : but if grace do but thrive, it need not be regretted. It is wisely and mercifully ordered, that the strong should bear the infirmities of the weak ; and that those who in infancy and childhood have been borne by their parents, should return the kindness due to them under the imbecility of age.
In taking all his substance, as well as all his kindred, he would cut off occasion from those who might be disposed, at least in after times, to reproach the family with baving come into Egypt empty handed, and to throw themselves upon the bounty of the country.
* Chap. xxvi. 2.
Ver. 8—27. The names of Jacob's descendants, who came with him into Egypt, are bere particularly recorded. Compared with the families of Abraham and Isaac, they appear to be numerous, and afford a prospect of a great nation : yet compared with those of Ishmael and Esau, they are but few. Three and twenty years ago there was a company of Ishmaelites, who bought Joseph: and as to Esau, he seems to have become a nation in a little time. We see from hence, that the most valuable blessings are often the longest ere they reach us. The just shall live by faith. .
There seems to be some difference between the account of Moses, and that of Stephen, in Acts vii. 14. Moses says, All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides his sons' wives, were threescore and six. (ver. 26.) And all the souls of the sons of Jacob which came into Egypt, that is first and last, including Jacob himself, his son Joseph, and his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, who came from his loins, were threescore and ten. (ver. 27.) But Stephen says, Joseph called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. Moses speaks of him and those who descended from his loins, to the exclusion of his sons' wives ; but Stephen of his kindred in general, which would include them.
Ver. 28. Drawing nigh to Egypt, Judah is sent before, to apprise Joseph of his father's arrival. Judah had acquitted himself well in a former case of great delicacy, and this might recommend him in the present instance. He who could plead so well for his father, shall have the honour of introducing him. It is fitting too, that the father of the royal tribe, and of the Messiah himself, should not be the last in works of honour and usefulness, but rather that he should have the pre-eminence. When inquiry was made in the times of the judges, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first to fight against them? The Lord said, Judah
shall go up:
Ver. 29. Joseph, on receiving the intelligence, makes ready his chariot to go and meet his father : for being in high office he must act accordingly; else another kind of carriage, or perhaps a staff only, would have satisfied him, as well as his father : but situations in life often impose that upon humble minds which they would not covet of their own accord. The interview is, as might