Verses 1–7

In these verses we have, 1. A recital of the names of the twelve patriarchs, as they are called, Acts 7:8. Their names are often repeated in scripture, that they may not sound uncouth to us, as other hard names, but that, by their occurring so frequently, they may become familiar to us; and to show how precious God’s spiritual Israel are to him, and how much he delights in them. 2. The account which was kept of the number of Jacob’s family, when they went down into Egypt; they were in all seventy souls (Exod. 1:5). according to the computation we had, Gen. 46:27. This was just the number of the nations by which the earth was peopled, according to the account given, Gen. 10:1-32 Forwhen the Most High separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel, as Moses observes, Deut. 32:8. Notice is here taken of this that their increase in Egypt might appear the more wonderful. Note, It is good for those whose latter end greatly increases often to remember how small their beginning was, Job 8:7. 3. The death of Joseph, Exod. 1:6. All that generation by degrees wore off. Perhaps all Jacob’s sons died much about the same time; for there was not more than seven years’ difference in age between the eldest and the youngest of them, except Benjamin; and, when death comes into a family, sometimes it makes a full end in a little time. When Joseph, the stay of the family, died, the rest went off apace. Note, We must look upon ourselves and our brethren, and all we converse with, as dying and hastening out of the world. This generation passeth away, as that did which went before. 4. The strange increase of Israel in Egypt, Exod. 1:7. Here are four words used to express it: They were fruitful, and increased abundantly, like fishes or insects, so that they multiplied; and, being generally healthful and strong, they waxed exceedingly mighty, so that they began almost to outnumber the natives, for the land was in all places filled with them, at least Goshen, their own allotment. Observe, (1.) Though, no doubt, they increased considerably before, yet, it should seem, it was not till after the death of Joseph that it began to be taken notice of as extraordinary. Thus, when they lost the benefit of his protection, God made their numbers their defence, and they became better able than they had been to shift for themselves. If God continue our friends and relations to us while we most need them, and remove them when they can be better spared, let us own that he is wise, and not complain that he is hard upon us. After the death of Christ, our Joseph, his gospel Israel began most remarkably to increase: and his death had an influence upon it; it was like the sowing of a corn of wheat, which, if it die, bringeth forth much fruit, John 12:24. (2.) This wonderful increase was the fulfillment of the promise long before made unto the fathers. From the call of Abraham, when God first told him he would make of him a great nation, to the deliverance of his seed out of Egypt, it was 430 years, during the first 215 of which they were increased but to seventy, but, in the latter half, those seventy multiplied to 600,000 fighting men. Note, [1.] Sometimes God’s providences may seem for a great while to thwart his promises, and to go counter to them, that his people’s faith may be tried, and his own power the more magnified. [2.] Though the performance of God’s promises is sometimes slow, yet it is always sure; at the end it shall speak, and not lie, Hab. 2:3.