Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

interpretation of his dreams; but when they them out of the marshes, exceeding lean and hesitated about them the king was so much ill-favoured; which ate up the fat and large the more disturbed. And now it was that the kine, and yet were no better than before, and memory of Joseph's skill came into the mind not less miserably pinched with famine. of the king's cup-bearer, when he saw the After I had seen this vision I awoke out of confusion Pharaoh was in; so he came and my sleep; but being in disorder, and conmentioned Joseph to him, as also the vision sidering with myself what this appearance he had seen in prison, and how the event should be, I fell asleep again, and saw another proved as he had said; as also that the chief dream much more wonderful than the forebaker was crucified on the very same day; and going, which did still more affright and disthat this also happened to him according to turb me.* I saw seven ears of corn growing the interpretation of Joseph: that Joseph out of one root, having their heads borne himself was laid in bonds by Potiphar as a down by the weight of the grains, and bendslave, but he said he was one of the noblest ing down with the fruit, which was now ripe, of the stock of the Hebrews, and that his and fit for reaping: and near these I saw father lived in great splendour. “ If, there seven other ears of corn, meagre and weak fore,” said he, “ thou wilt send for him, and for want of rain, which fell to eating and connot despise him on account of his misfortunes, suming those that were fit for reaping, and thou wilt learn what thy dreams signify.” || put me into great astonishment.” The king, thereby, commanded that they Joseph replied; “ This dream, o king, should bring Joseph into his presence; and although seen under two forms, signifies one those who received the command came and and the same event of things; for when thou brought him with them, having taken care of sawest the kine, which is an animal made for his habit, that it might be decent, as the king the plough and for labour, devoured by the had enjoined them to do.

poorer kine; and the ears of corn eaten up The king took him by the hand, and said, by the smaller ears, they foretel a famine, “) young man, for my servant bears witness and want of the fruits of the earth for the that thou art at present the best and most same number of years, and equal with those skilful person I can consult with; vouchsafe when Egypt was in a happy state; and this me the same favours which thou bestowed so far, that the plenty of these years will be on this servant of mine, and tell me what spent in the same number of years of scarcity, events are predicted by the visions of my and that scarcity of necessary provisions will dreams: and I desire thee to suppress nothing be very difficult to be corrected: as a sign out of fear, nor to flatter me with lying words, whereof the ill-favoured kine, when they had or with what may please me, although the devoured the better sort, could not be satistruth should be of a melancholy nature. It fied. But still God foreshows what is to come seemed to me that as I walked by the river, upon men, not to grieve them, but that when I saw kine fat and very large, seven in num they know it beforehand, they may, by pruber, going from the river to the marshes; and dence, make the actual experience of what is other kine of the same number like them met foretold the more tolerable. If thou there

pretations of his dreams, made use of some, at least, if not all, these arts ; and the jewish doctors would make us believe, that after several attempts of divers kinds, they came at last to this exposition, that Pharaoh's daughters (for they suppose him to have seven) should die, and that he should have seven others born to him in their stead; but this being not at all satisfactory to their master, put the cupbearer in mind of Joseph's great abilities that way. Le Clerc's and Patrick's Commentary. B.

* In Barbary one stalk of wheat, or barley, will sometimes bear two ears, while each of these ears will as often shoot out into a number of less ones, thereby affording a most plentiful increase. May not these large prolific ears, when seven are said to come upon one stalk, explain what

is further mentioned of the seven fruitful years in Egypt, that is, that the earth brought forth by handfuls ?

This latter passage may, indeed, mean, that the earth brought forth handfuls of stalks from single grains, and not handfuls of ears from single stalks, agreeably to the following passage from Dr. Shaw: “In Barbary it is common to see one grain produce ten or fifteen stalks. Even some grains of the murwaany wheat, which I brought with me to Oxford, and sowed in the physic garden, threw out each of them fifty. But Muzeratty, one of the late kaleefas, or viceroys, of the province of Tlemsan, brought once with him to Algiers a root that yielded fourscore: telling us, that the prince of the western pilgrims sent once to the bashaw of Cairo one that yielded six score. Pliny mentions some that bore three or four hundred.” B.

0

VOL. 1. —NO. 2.

IN EGYPT, AND

[ocr errors]

fore carefully dispose of the plentiful crops ting as much to every one as would be suffi-
which will come in the former years, thou cient for seed and for food; but without dis-
wilt procure that the future calamity will not covering to any one the reason why he did so.
be felt by the Egyptians.”
Hereupon the king wondered at the dis-

CHAP. VI.
cretion and wisdom of Joseph; and asked
him by what means he might so dispense the OF THE ARRIVAL OF JOSEPH'S BRETHREN
plentiful crops in the happy years, as to make

HIS CONDUCT TOWARDS THEM. the miserable crops more tolerable: Joseph OSEPH was now grown up to thirty years then added this advice; to spare the good of age, and enjoyed great honours from crops, and not permit the Egyptians to spend the king; who called him Psothom Phanech, them luxuriously; but to reserve what they out of regard to his prodigious degree of wiswould have spent in luxury beyond their dom; for that name denotes a revealer of necessity against the time of want. He also secrets. He also married a wife of very high exhorted him to take the corn of the husband quality: she was the daughter of Petephres, men, and give them only so much as might one of the priests of Heliopolis, and her name suffice for their food. Accordingly Pharaoh, was Asenath. By her he had children before being surprised at Joseph, not only for his the scarcity came on, Manasseh, the elder, interpretation of the dream, but for the coun which signifies forgetful; because his present sel he had given, entrusted him with dis- happiness made him forget his former misforpensing the corn; with the power to do what tunes. And Ephraim, the younger, which he thought would be for the benefit of the signifies restored; because he was restored people of Egypt, and for the benefit of the to the freedom of his forefathers. King: as believing that he who first disco Now after Egypt had happily passed over vered this method of acting would prove the seven years, according to Joseph's interprebest overseer of it. Joseph having this power

tation of the dreams, the famine came upon given him by the king, * with leave to make them on the eighth year: and because this use of his seal, and to wear purple, drove in misfortune fell upon them when they had no his chariot through all the land of Egypt;f sense** of it before-hand, they were all sorely and took the corn of the husbandmen, allot afflicted by it, and came running to the king's

* Joseph had his name changed on this occasion. It what we call a prime minister: or strictly the first, or was an ancient custom among eastern princes, upon their prince of the lords. Bibliotheca Bibl. occas. annot. 41. B. promotion of any favourite, to give him a new name. Nebu † To be arrayed in a rich dress, and to ride in great chadnezzar, we read, Dan. i. 7. imposed new names upon pomp and

ceremony, were the ancient modes of investing Daniel, and his companions in Babylon; and to this very with the highest degree of subordinate power in Egypt; day Mogul never advances a man, but he gives him a new and with a small variation still remain so. The history of naine, and that significative of something belonging to bim ; the revolt of Ali Bey, (p. 43.) informs us, that on the but here the question is, what is the meaning of the name election of a new sheik bellet, the pasha who approves of which Pharaoh gave Joseph ? In the Hebrew text it is him invests him with a valuable fur, treats him with sherZaphnah paaneah, but in the Egyptian and Greek Penta bet, and when the sheik bellet departs, the pasha presents teuch it is Pion-thonphanech. The oriental versions, him with a horse richly caparisoned. however, are pretty unanimous in rendering it, a revealer

HARMER, vol. iii. p. 308. B. of secrets ; but there are some reasons why this should | Gen. xlv. 42—3. not be its true interpretation. For the time that Pharaoh || That is, bought it for Pharaoh at a very low price. gave the patriarch this name, was when he advanced him § This Potiphar, or as in Josephus, Petephres, who from the condition of an imprisoned slave to that of a ruler was now a priest of On or Heliopolis, is the same name in throughout all the land of Egypt! and therefore, it is Josephus, and perhaps in Moses also, with him who is bereasonable to suppose that he gave it in commemoration fore called the Head Cook or Captain of the Guard ; and of such promotion, rather than of his expounding dreams : to whom Joseph was sold. See Gen. xxxvii. 36. xxxix. because to have called him an interpreter of dreams only, 1. with xli. 50. They are also affirmed to be one and the had been degrading him to the level of magicians. Now same person in the Testament of Joseph, for he is there if Pharaoh gave him this name in memory of his promo said to have married the daughter of his master and mistion, it was very likely that this name was strictly and tress. Nor is this a notion peculiar to that Testament; properly Egyptian, otherwise the common people could but as Dr. Bernard confesses, common to Josephus, to the not have understood it,) though Moses, in his recording it, Septuagint interpreters, and to other learned Jews of old might endeayour to accommodate to the Hebrew idiom ; time. and if it was Egyptian, the word in that language signifies

** This intire ignorance of the Egyptians of these years

man.

gates; and he called upon Joseph, who sold breed up so many sons, and those of so great the corn to them; being become confessedly a beauty of countenance as they were: such a saviour to the whole multitude of the Egyp an education of so many children being not tians. Nor did he open this market of corn easily obtained by kings themselves. Now for the people of that country only: but stran

this he did in order to discover what congers had liberty to buy also, Joseph being cerned his father; and what happened to him willing that all men, who are naturally akin after his own departure from him; and as deto each other, should have assistance from siring to know what was become of Benjamin those that lived in happiness.

his brother; for he was afraid that they had Jacob also when he understood that ventured on the like wicked enterprise against foreigners had this privilege, sent all his sons him, that they had done to himself, and had into Egypt to buy corn; for the land of Ca taken him off also.* naan was grievously afflicted with the famine: Now these brethren of his were under disand this great misery touched the whole traction and terror, and thought that very continent. He only retained Benjamin, who great danger hung over them; yet not at all was born to him by Rachel; and was of the reflecting upon their brother Joseph, and same mother as Joseph. These sons of Jacob standing firm under the accusations laid against then came into Egypt, and applied them them, they made their defence by Reubel, the selves to Joseph, to buy corn, for nothing of | eldest of them, who now became their spokesthis kind was done without his approbation!

66 We come not hither," said he, “ with since even the honour that was paid the king any unjust design, nor in order to bring any himself, was only advantageous to the per harm to the king's affairs; we only want to sons that paid it when they took care to be preserved, as supposing your bumanity honour Joseph also. Now when he well knew might be a refuge for us from the miseries his brethren, they thought nothing of him; for which our country labours under; we have he was but a youth when he left them, and heard that you proposed to sell corn, not only was now come to an age much greater, that to your own countrymen, but to strangers the lineaments of his face were changed, and also; and that you determined to allow that he was not known to them; besides this, the corn in order 10 preserve all that want it. greatness of the dignity wherein he appeared But that we are brethren, and of the same suffered them not so much as to suspect the common blood, the peculiar lineaments of truth. He therefore now made trial what our face, and those not much different from sentiments they had about the affairs of the one another, plainly shew. Our father's name greatest consequence; for he refused to sell is Jacob, an Hebrew; who had twelve sons, them corn, and said they were come as spies by four wives, which twelve of us while we of the king's affairs; and that they came from were all alive, were a happy family. But several countries, and joined themselves when one of our brethren, whose name was together, and pretended they were of kin; it | Joseph, died, our affairs changed for the not being possible that a private man should worse, for our father could not forbear to of famine before they came, told us before, as well as here, tinues in the East. Mr. HANWAY says, the most sacred by Josephus, seems almost incredible. It is in no other oath among the Persians is " by the king's head ;" (Trav. copy that I know of.

vol. i. p. 313.) and among other instances of it we read in * In scripture Joseph is represented as swearing by the the travels of the Ambassadors, p. 204, “there were but life of Pharavh. Most authors take this for an oath, the sixty horses for ninety-four persons. The Mehemander original of which is well explained by Mr. Selden, (in his (or conductor) swore by the head of the king (which is the Titles of Honour, p. 45.) where he observes, that the greatest oath among the Persians) that he could not posnames of gods being given to kings very early, from the sibly find any more.” And Thevenot says, (Trav. p. excellency of their heroic virtue, which made them an 97, part 2.) “ his subjects never look upon him but with ciently great benefactors to mankind ; thence arose the fear and trembling; and they have such respect for him, custom of swearing by them: which Aben Ezra saith, and pay so blind an obedience to his orders, that how uncontinued in his time, (about 1170,) when Egypt was just soever his commands might be, they perform them, governed by caliphs. If any man swore by the king's though against the law both of God and nature. Nay, if head, and were found to have sworn falsely, he was they swear by the king's head, their oath is more authentic, punished capitally. Extraordinary as this kind of oath and of greater credit, than if they swore by all that is most which Joseph made use of may appear to us, it still con sacred in heaven and upon earth.”

« PreviousContinue »