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stantine. She was welcomed at first, and the richest possessions of the empire bestowed on her ; yet was she soon persecuted and harassed. It is to be noticed, that when Joseph introduces his five brethren, they are taught to say, · To sojourn in the land are we come :' they were to be no fixed or settled inhabitants, but strangers craving a temporary residence. They also solicited Goshen, as a place of separation for their residence. Verses 7-10. we find Ja. cob himself introduced, and from his lips we have an admirable view of human life in general, and a very just one of his own. 11. we find the church enjoying her plenty, nourished by Joseph, when not only Canaan, but even the land of Egypt itself is fainting by reason of the famine. This gives occasion to introduce an account of Joseph's conduct and management as ruler of the land, which deserves noticę. Jacob and his family are fed and nourished by the bounty of Joseph without money and without price. The poor starving Egyptians first bring their money : when that fails they bring their cattle; then they sell their land, and then they become Pharaoh's bondmen. Whenever the food of Joseph's store becomes a matter of traffic, it is found to be a very expensive ware to deal in : soon will it exhaust all the stores of the poor Egyptians, and land them in the strictest and most cruel bondage. In opposition to all this, • Israel dwelt in Goshen, and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.' Revelation does not contain a more re. markable figure of the peace and prosperity of the church of God, contrasted with the spiritual famine, penury and bondage of AntiChrist, than this chapter sets before us. Is it possible to read it with. out thinking of Isaiah's words, chap. Ixv. 13. • Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry : behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye
shall be ashamed.' We ought not to leave this part of the subject without mentioning, that the Lord was careful, that in all after ages, Israel should never forget in what state he came to Egypt: when they were to bring their offer. ing of the first fruits, this was the confession they were to use : • Thus shalt thou speak and say before the Lord thy God, a Syrian seady to perish was my father ; and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few,' &c. see Deut. xxvi. 5. Jacob lived seventeen years with Joseph in Egypt, the same space of time which Ioseph spent in his house in childhood.
We come now to the last subject which occupied Jacob's mind in the view of death--the place of his burial. In chapter xlix. 29. we find him charging all his sons on this subject, and here he is solemnly swearing Joseph on the point. Are we to suppose that dying Ja. cob's mind is here occupied about this matter, merely from some foolish partiality for a place or particular spot? In that case, we must suppose that the Spirit of God is recording the effects of dot. age. But this anxiety about his burial-place was not peculiar to Jacob: • There,' said he to his sons, they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; there I buried Leah.' Nay Joseph was fully as particular on this head as
his father ; and what puts the subject beyond all doubt, is, that Paul, in selecting the instances of the faith, as it appeared in the OldTestament saints, when he comes to Joseph, does not make choice of many singular appearances, which we might have supposed more fit or proper to be selected, but says, “ By faith, Joseph gave commandment concerning his bones,' Heb. xi. 22. We have already attempted to elucidate the history of this burial-place, see chapter xxiii. pages 33, and 34. ; but something more seems necessary.. Abraham bought this burying place from Ephron (that is, dust) the Hittite, or son of Hith, fear or trembling. For this cause Abraham’s Antitype and Lord became obedient unto death, that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil ; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Christ purchased this burying place when he descended into the lower parts of the earth ; for, for this end Christ both died, rose and revived, that he might be Lord of the dead and living. It is often mentioned, when this purchase of Abraham is spoken of, that it might be made sure for a possession. Jesus Christ made the grave as it were his property; he holds the keys of the grase and of the separate state. This cave is therefore called Mache pelah, that is, doubling or folding back again, a proper name for the burial-place of Jesus Christ. When Christians die in the faith, they wish to be laid in that grave, which is Christ's property, because from it there shall be a returning back again. There is an expression in the last verse of this chapter, which is well entitled to notice ; • And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.' This circumstance is alluded to by Paul, Heb. xi. 21., when it is said, that · By faith Jacob worshipped, leaning (note, that the word leaning is entirely supplementary, there is no authority for it in the text) on the top of his staff.'' From this passage it is contended, that Jacob carried an image on the top of his staff, which he worshipped; and thus the Catholics adduce this passage in support of the practice of worshipping images. Nothing can be more absurd ; and the whole difficul. ty will be obviated, by attending to what is called his bed in Gen. xlvii
. 31., and his staff in Heb. xi. 21. A bed is a place of rest and refreshment ; a staff is a supporter. The original word includes both ideas, and is strongly expressive of his faith in Jesus Christ, as his supporter, his resting-place, in the view of being gathered to his fathers. What a beautiful view does this give us of the whole passage ! Hear him swearing Joseph as to his burial ; and, satisfied that what he wished on this head would be attended to, he bowed himself, that is, he worshipped the Supporter of his Head. The reader who takes the trouble of examining the original, will find the same character or attribute of Jesus Christ frequently introduced, particularly in such passages as the following: • But thou, Lord, art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifler up of my head.' Again, I laid me down and slept ; I awaked : for the Lord sustained me,' Psalm iii. 3. 5. In like manner we see the term bed misapplied, Psalm cxlix. 5. • Ler the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds;' viz. in their place of rest. When the saints are singing their song of triumph in glory, they will then be in a place of rest.
CHAP. XLVIII.-In this chapter and the following, we are called to attend to Jacob's deathbed scenes. We have seen him, and that in a most interesting light, from his struggling in the womb before his birth. We have followed him in childhood, youth, manhood, and old age ; and have uniformly been led to see, that heaven was employing him in a most distinguished manner, to elucidate that gospel which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Last words and dying sayings have in all ages and nations been attended to: let us hear what the Spirit of God has left on record as to Jacob.
Joseph, hearing of his father's sickness, goes up to visit him, and takes his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, in his hand. The poor infirm old man, strengthened by his Supporter, sits up to receive him, and to pronounce that blessing, which by inspiration it was his office to communicate. We have already had occasion to notice this mode of inspiration ; Jacob himself had participated in it, in a very remarkable manner, from the lips of his dying father. This, like en very other branch of revelation, has been transplanted among the heathen, and the traces of it are not effaced in our own country. The blessings of the dying and the poor, have for ages been highly esteemed. It is very proper, on such occasions, to express their good wishes, and we believe this is all that is intended ; but the term blessing should be avoided; for this, in scripture, was very sacred. Before examining this blessing, which Joseph pronounced, we may remark, that it appeared to the apostle Paul in a very remarkable point of view, when he takes notice of it in the following manner,
By faith, Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph,' Heb. xi. 21.
He introduces the subject, by reminding Joseph of what took place with himself at Bethel, when God Almighty appeared to him, and blessed him. We have already examined that blessing, and find it contained that everlasting covenant, which David said, in his dying words, is well ordered in all things and sure.' Now, this is the blessing which Jacob, by inspiration, is about to communicate. And now,' says he, “thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in Egypt, shall be mine,' &c. As for me, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan, by the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath,' &c. Rachel, we have seen, was the figure of the Gentile church; she died when but a little way from Ephrath ; for during all the life of the Jewish church, that is, during the continuance of the temporal part of the Abrahamic covenant, the Gentile church was as it were dead in Jacob's fa. mily ; yet she left a seed. Little Benjamin always kept at home with his father, as his tribe afterwards kept close to Judah, even when the ten tribes were as it were lost. But in Joseph, the true seed of the Gentile mother were preserved ; and therefore, although born in Egypt, their mother a daughter of the priest of On, they
shall be mine, says dying Jacob. By faith he thus spake ; that faith which is the evidence of things not seen. Jacob, in so saying, is looking forward to that period, when the blessing of Abraham should come upon
the nations, and when a seed should serve him, born in the house of bondage, and from the family of idolatry. When his natural eye has waxen dim, so that Jacob could not discern with exactness those who stood before him, and found it necessary to say, Who are these ? the eyes of his understanding appear illuminated in. deed, and he looks forward, through ages and generations, to the eVents which the fulness of time only would bring to maturity.
But it is worth our while to attend more particularly to the man. ner in which Jacob communicates this blessing. He desires Joseph to bring them near to him; he guides his hands wittingly, laying his right hand on the head of Ephraim, and the left on Manasseh. We should observe Joseph's disapprobation of this, and, lastly, the words of the blessing itself. Each of these particulars are highly interest. ing. We have already shewn, that the blessing which Jacob was now to communicate, was not only the gospel itself, but that gospel in its peculiar aspect to the fulness of it to the Gentiles, that blessing which lay with Rachel, but was not buried in her grave, but still lived in her seed, through whom it was to run. Manasseh was the oldest, and his was naturally the birth-right. Ephraim (the fulness of the nations, or a multitude of nations ) was the youngest ; yet, when Jacob names then, he says Ephraim and Manasseh : when he blesses them, he places the right hand on the head of the younger, guiding his hands wittingly. Ås Ephraim's name then intimates, to him the Gentiles' blessing was conveyed; and accordingly we see Manasseh, according to Jacob's words, mine, succeeding Joseph among the Jew. ish tribes, and Ephraim representing the Gentile church. In the sealing of the tribes, Rev. vii. 6. we find Manasseh supplying the place of Dan; and in verse 9. Ephraim appears under the designa. tion of • a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,' &c.
We find that this wittingly guiding of Jacob's hands displeased Joseph very much. It is astonishing how truly it is said, that as face answereth to face in water, so does the heart of man to man.! One would have supposed, that after all that Joseph had seen of divine sovereignty, he would not now have spurned at it. He no doubt well knew the appearance which his grandfather Isaac had made in resisting the divine will ; yet, when it appeared in his own family, and affecting his own children, he spurned at it; it displeased him ; • Not so, my father,' said he, poor short-sighted worm ! What avails his not so ? or what power had his father to change the incontrovertible counsels of Him who worketh all things after his own will? Jacob's answer is admirable. • I know it, my son. I know it. Manasseh shall be great, but truly his brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall be the multitude of the nations.'
The words of the blessing are most remarkable. Every sentence would require a volume to illustrate it. • God, before whom my faEhers Abraham and Isaac did walk. We have already seen, that
the God before whom they walked, was the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they walked before him, as Enoch did, by faith. He was the God who fed Jacob, as well as all the other Old Testament saints, both their natural bodies in all their wanderings, and their spirits. But that there might be no mistake, he then adds, "THE ANGEL who redeemed me from all evil.' Here is a character which can never be misunderstood, The redeeming angel, who in all ages of the church has been known by the suffering people of God under the same character. From him all blessing flows ; for in him shall men be blessed, and all nations shall call him blessed. • Let my name,' says Ja. cob, • be named upon them, and the names of Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow up into a multitude in the midst of the earth.' Here is a most direct and specific promise respecting the Gentiles. We have already traced several remarkable prefigures of the subject; and to Abraham it was said, “A father of many nations shalt thou be called ;' but here the increase of the nations, in the fulness of the gospel, is most forcibly expressed. It is from this blessing of Ephraim, that the expression, the fulness of the Gentiles, is borrowed.
There is still another circumstance, which well deserves attention, recorded in the last verse of this chapter,---Joseph's portion above his brethren. This portion was a burial-place, which he had obtain. ed by conquest, as his father had by purchase. But of this we have already spoken particularly.
CHAP. XLIX.We now enter upon one of the most remarkable, important, and, we are sorry to add, little understood portions of scripture which the sacred volume contains, -Jacob's blessing of his twelve sons. That these blessings have a primary, or literal meaning, there can be no doubt; but that they have a secondary, and more important application, can still less be called in question. Were it not so, of what moment is it to us, on whom the ends of the world are come, to know which of the tribes had a rich, and which a poor inheritance ? Jacob's words put the subject beyond a doubt, Ga. ther yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall befal you in the last days.' We see here Jacob appearing under the immediate influence and operation of the Spirit, and opening up things to
REUBEN, behold a son! as the first born, had the primogeniture, the double portion, the priesthood, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power. The true first born enjoyed all these, and from him they were, properly speaking, unalienable. When Jesus Christ, the first born of the Highest appeared, to him all these belonged, and of him it might he said, Reu-Ben, Behold the Son! Jacob compares Reuben to water; and as it always runs to a lower situation, so Reuben, from the most exalted among the tribes, became the lowest of the whole, because he defiled his father's bed, and lay with Bil. hah. Reuben in all this was a figure of the first-born church of God : she forfeited her privileges by her spiritual whoredoms, and defiling her father's bed, making God's law of none effect; teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. She was divorced ; lost