« PreviousContinue »
Remarks on the Forty-first Chapter of Genesis.
V.8.“ And it came to pass in the morning, that Pharaoh's spirit was troubled.”—He who made us "knoweth our frame," and can work upon our minds by wbat means he chooses. “ God thundereth marvellously with bis voice, he directeth it under the whole beaven, and his lightning onto the ends of the earth;" and many a sinner's heart melts at the sound, as if it warned," the Lord is at hand." He sends the burning fever, or strong pain, or pining sickness, and makes the hardened sinner feel that " it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Even by a dream in the night, He could disturb Pharaoli's peace, and send him for relief to the prisoner in the dungeon. The first thing, however, which Pharaoh did, was to send for the Magicians.
“Magicians” were cunning men, who pretended to interpret dreams, and find out secrets, and do wonders, by the help of some evil spirit, by the appearance of the stars, and by other vain and ungodly means. They were often applied to by the heathen, both in Egypt and elsewhere : see Ex. vii. 8. Dan. ii. 2. but the Israelites were expressly forbidden to bave recourse to these arts; (Deut. xviii. 10-14) and, in the law of God, death was the punishment of those who practised them. Lev. xx. 27. No. 10.-VOL. VI.
V.9. The chief butler said, “ I do remember my faults this day.” What faults ? His forgetfulness of the distressed, and bis ingratitude towards the friend who had been his comforter in adversity, Two full years had passed away, and there had been no thought of Joseph—but now, circumstances forced his mind to think upon the past, and conscience compelled him to confess his criminal neglect.The remembrance of past wickedness will sting the sinner's conscience sooner or later.
V. 13. “Me, be restored onto mine office, and him, he hanged.” This is not the only place wbere the prophet who revealed the will of God respecting a thing, is said to be the doer of the thing. See Jer. i. 10.
V. 16. Joseph said, “ It is not in me; God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”. Nothing so much marks the difference between the children of light and the children of this world, as that the former seek the glory of God, while the latter aim at being honoured themselves. The Lord of Hosts hath purposed to stain the pride of all glory.” He will make us feel that we depend upon Him.When we attempt what is right, “it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure," - if we succeed in the undertaking, “it is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Whoever, therefore, ascribes bis success, whether in temporal or spiritual matters to his own skill, prudence, wisdom, foresight, courage, diligence, or goodness, refuses to God the honour due unto His name:-and let such persons remember, that He “will not give His glory to another,” (Isa. xlviii. 11.) sooner or later they will find that His name is Jealous.” (Ex. xxxiv. 14.) We are all sadly inclined to this sinChristians should keep a strict watch over their minds and tongues, lest vain glory creep in.--"O that was owing to my good advice; "-"If I had not been a little more considerate than some people, I don't
know where I should bave been now;"2"I always manage so and so, and that is why people are so fond of me:"-thus, He“ who hath put wisdom in the inward parts, who hath given understanding to the heart," is forgotten :--and we commit the same sin,—though not in the name degree, that Herod Was guilty of (Acts xxi. 23.) when he allowed the people to say of him, " It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” But what was the consequence? * And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not GOD the glory."
V. 32. « For that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice, it is because the thing is established by God.”—The repetition of a thing, or of words, is frequent in Scripture, to shew the certainty of what is declared. Thus Joseph's advancement to honour was twice foreshewn in dreams, the Seraphim, cried, " Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts,”-and David tells us, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth onto God."
V. 33–37. Joseph was probably inspired to give the advice recorded in these verses, whilst God wrought in the beart of the king a willingness to hearken to the stranger's counsel : and no envy was suffered to arise in the minds of his servants.
V. 38–44. What a sudden change we read of in the fortunes of Josepb ! it seems as if he was destined to endure every sort of temptation. By allurements to sin, adversities, and disappointments of various kinds, bis steadfastness, patience and submission were tried: then, by an unexpected rise to great power and authority, his humility, moderation, and temperance, were put to the proof.-We shall see how he endured his trials. The words, “I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his band or foot in all the land of Egypt,” strongly express the full and unlimited authority given to Joseph over all the king's subjects.
V. 46. Then Joseph had been thirteen years
in Egypt, for he was only seventeen when his brethren sold him,-a long time for adversity to last; but the longer the time, the more plainly was it shewn that his faith and hope were in God. See Jer. xvii. 7,8.
V. 45. Zaphnath Paaneah, Joseph's new name, signifies, a "revealer of secrets."
V. 47–49. “ The earth brought forth by handfuls," - in such great abandance.- Egypt was usually a fertile country, but its fruitfulness during the seven plenteous years, was astonishingly great.
Joseph had recommended (ver. 34.) that a fifth part of the produce should be taken up by Pharaoh's officers: this was, probably, as a tax. But besides this, it appears that he went through the land and bought up the corn, when it was so plentiful and cheap, storing it in the different cities, where the people might, in years of famine, resort to buy food for their families.
V.51, 52. “ Manasseh” signifies " forgetful. ness."—He contentedly rested in the land which had been to bim a house of bondage; forgetful of his past toils; and without desiring to return to bis family.-" Ephraim ” means “fruitfulness.”
V. 57. "Dearth” means famine, scarcity of food, or positive want of it. When there is too much rain in harvest time, we know that the corn is injured, and what is left of last year's crop becomes very dear. If, after this, the next harvest should quite fail, there would be a famine of bread, the price of other things would rise very bigh, and many poor people would die of hunger. With us, a scarcity is generally owing to too much rain; but in hot countries the contrary is generally the case ;where the sun is so burning, and the sky without a cloud, want of moisture destroys the corn. ID some parts of America and Africa, however, there are no refreshing showers of rain; and the country
is a frightful desert, without a single green thing in it. In Egypt the land is not moistened by rain, but, instead of it, the river Nile, which runs quite through it, overflows every year, watering every part, and leaving a sediment of mud, which serves for manure. The dearth in Joseph's time might be caused by the failure of this yearly overflow,-or the Lord might shew that fruitful seasons are of Him, by not suffering the flood to have its usual effect, of refreshing and fertilizing the country,
NO. VI.-JOSHUA. On the death of Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, (whose character we have considered) Joshua was appointed of the Lord to be leader of the people of Israel to the promised land of Canaan. He had been the intimate companion of Moses, through a long pil. grimage. It was he who fought with, and conquered, Amalek, wbile the hands of Moses were held up, and his voice raised in earnest supplications for victory *. To him was the peculiar distinction granted of going up with Moses to the mount of God, where he abode in devout retirement forty days t. He was one of those sent to take a survey of the land of Canaan ; and, when the other spies were terrified, he was still bold and persevering: and, in the first chapter of the book that bears his name, we find him commissioned by the Almighty to command the army of Israel. Coltage reader! thou mayest, perhaps, be disposed to say to thyself, “ What benefit can I, in my lowly walk of life, derive from reading and meditating upon the character of one whose station was so exalted ? My curiosity may be gratified, my mind amused; * Exod. xvii, 10. | Ibid. xxiv, 13. | Namba xiii, 16.