At this chapter begins the story of Joseph, Jacob's eldest son, by
his beloved wife Rachel. It is so remarkably divided between his
humiliation and his exaltation, that we cannot avoid seeing
something of Christ in it, who was first humbled and then exalted;
it also shews the lot of Christians, who must through many
tribulations enter into the kingdom.
In this chapter we have,
The malice his brethren bore against him: they hated him,
Because he informed his father of their wickedness, ver. 1, 2.
Because his father loved him, ver. 3, 4.
Because he dreamed of his dominion over them, ver. 5 - 11.
The mischiefs his brethren designed, and did to him.
His visit he made them gave an opportunity, ver. 12 - 17.
They designed to slay him, but determined to starve him,
ver. 18 - 24.
They changed their purpose, and sold him for a slave, ver. 25 - 28.
They made their father believe that he was torn in pieces,
ver. 29 - 35.
He was sold in Egypt to Potiphar, ver. 36:
And all this was working together for good.
2: These are the generations of Jacob - It is not a barren genealogy,
as those of Esau, but a memorable useful history. Joseph brought to
his father their evil report - Jacob's sons did that when they were
from under his eye, which they durst not have done if they had been at home
with him; but Joseph gave his father an account of their ill carriage,
that he might reprove and restrain them.
3: He made him a coat of divers colours - Which probably was
significant of farther honours intended him.
5: Though he was now very young, about seventeen years old, yet he
was pious and devout, and this fitted him for God's gracious discoveries to
him. Joseph had a great deal of trouble before him, and therefore God
gave him betimes this prospect of his advancement, to support and comfort
How truly they interpreted his dream? The event exactly answered this
interpretation, (Ge 42:6), &c.
How scornfully they resented it, Shalt thou that art but one, reign
over us that are many? Thou that art the youngest, over us that are elder?
The reign of Jesus Christ, our Joseph, is despised and striven against
by an unbelieving world, who cannot endure to think that this man should
reign over them. The dominion also of the upright in the morning of
the resurrection is thought of with the utmost disdain.
10: His father rebuked him - Probably to lessen the offence which his
brethren would take at it; yet he took notice of it more than he seemed to
18: And when they saw him afar off they conspired against him - It
was not in a heat, or upon a sudden provocation, that they thought to slay
him, but from malice propense, and in cold blood.
21: And Reuben heard it - God can raise up friends for his people,
even among their enemies. Reuben of all the brothers had most reason to
be jealous of Joseph, for he was the first - born, and so entitled to
those distinguishing favours which Jacob was conferring on Joseph,
yet he proves his best friend. Reuben's temper seems to have been soft
and effeminate, which had betrayed him to the sin of uncleanness, while the
temper of the two next brothers, Simeon and Levi, was fierce, which
betrayed them to the sin of murder, a sin which Reuben startled at the
thought of. He made a proposal which they thought would effectually destroy
Joseph, and yet which he designed should answer his intention of
rescuing Joseph out of their hands, probably hoping thereby to recover
his father's favour which he had lately lost; but God over - ruled all to
serve his own purpose of making Joseph an instrument to save much
people alive. Joseph was here a type of Christ. Though he was the
beloved Son of his Father, and hated by a wicked world; yet the Father sent
him out of his bosom to visit us; he came from heaven to earth to seek
and save us; yet then malicious plots were laid against him; he came
to his own, and his own not only received him not, but
consulted, This is the heir, come let us kill him. This he submitted
to, in pursuance of his design to save us.
24: They call him into a pit - To perish there with hunger and cold;
so cruel were their tender mercies.
25: They sat down to eat bread - They felt no remorse of conscience,
which if they had, would have spoiled their stomach to their meat. A great
force put upon conscience commonly stupifies it, and for the time deprives
it both of sense and speech.
26: What profit is it if we slay our brother? - It will be less guilt
and more gain to sell him. They all agreed to this. And as Joseph was
sold by the contrivance of Judah for twenty pieces of silver, so was our
Lord Jesus for thirty, and by one of the same name too, Judas.
Reuben it seems, was gone away from his brethren when they sold
Joseph, intending to come round some other way to the pit, and to help
Joseph out of it. But had this taken effect, what had become of God's
purpose concerning his preferment, in Egypt? There are many devices of
the enemies of God's people to destroy them, and of their friends to help
them, which perhaps are both disappointed, as these here; but the
counsel of the Lord that shall stand. Reuben thought himself undone
because the child was sold; I, whither shall I go? He being the eldest,
his father would expect from him an account of him; but it proved they had
all been undone, if he had not been sold.
35: He refused to be comforted - He resolved to go down to the
grave mourning; Great affection to any creature doth but prepare for so
much the greater affliction, when it is either removed from us, or
embittered to us: inordinate love commonly ends in immoderate grief.