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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 46–57
Verses 46–57

Observe here, I. The building of Joseph’s family in the birth of two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, Gen. 41:50-52. In the names he gave them, he owned the divine Providence giving this happy turn to his affairs, 1. He was made to forget his misery, Job 11:16. We should bear our afflictions when they are present as those that know not but Providence may so outweigh them by after-comforts as that we may even forget them when they are past. But could he be so unnatural as to forget all his father’s house? He means the unkindness he received from his brethren, or perhaps the wealth and honour he expected from his father, with the birthright. The robes he now wore made him forget the coat of divers colours which he wore in his father’s house. 2. He was made fruitful in the land of his affliction. It had been the land of his affliction, and in some sense it was still so, for it was not Canaan, the land of promise. His distance from his father was still his affliction. Note, Light is sometimes sown for the righteous in a barren and unlikely soil; and yet if God sow it, and water it, it will come up again. The afflictions of the saints promote their fruitfulness. Ephraim signifies fruitfulness, and Manasseh forgetfulness, for these two often go together; when Jeshurun waxed fat, he forgot God his Maker.

II. The accomplishment of Joseph’s predictions. Pharaoh had great confidence in the truth of them, perhaps finding in his own mind, beyond what another person could, an exact correspondence between them and his dreams, as between the key and the lock; and the event showed that he was not deceived. The seven plenteous years came (Gen. 41:47), and, at length, they were ended, Gen. 41:54. Note, We ought to foresee the approaching period of the days both of our prosperity and of our opportunity, and therefore must not be secure in the enjoyment of our prosperity nor slothful in the improvement of our opportunity; years of plenty will end, therefore, Whatever thy hand finds to do do it; and gather in gathering time. The morning cometh and also the night (Isa. 21:12), the plenty and also the famine. The seven years of dearth began to come, Gen. 41:54. See what changes of condition we are liable to in this world, and what need we have to be joyful in a day of prosperity and in a day of adversity to consider, Eccl. 7:14. This famine, it seems, was not only in Egypt, but in other lands, in all lands, that is, all the neighbouring countries; fruitful lands are soon turned into barrenness for the iniquity of those that dwell therein, Ps. 107:34. It is here said that in the land of Egypt there was bread, meaning probably, not only that which Joseph had bought up for the king, but that which private persons, by his example, and upon the public notice of this prediction, as well as by the rules of common prudence, had laid up.

III. The performance of Joseph’s trust. He was found faithful to it, as a steward ought to be. 1. He was diligent in laying up, while the plenty lasted, Gen. 41:48, 49. He that thus gathers is a wise son. 2. He was prudent and careful in giving out, when the famine came, and kept the markets low by furnishing them at reasonable rates out of his stores. The people in distress cried to Pharaoh, as that woman to the king of Israel (2 Kgs. 6:26), Help, my lord, O king: he sent them to his treasurer, Go to Joseph. Thus God in the gospel directs those that apply to him for mercy and grace to go to the Lord Jesus, in whom all fulness dwells; and, What he saith to you, do. Joseph, no doubt, with wisdom and justice fixed the price of the corn he sold, so that Pharaoh, whose money had bought it up, might have a reasonable profit, and yet the country might not be oppressed, nor advantage taken of their prevailing necessity; while he that withholdest corn when it is dear, in hopes it will yet grow dearer, though people perish for want of it, has many a curse for so doing (and it is not a curse causeless), blessings shall be upon the head of him that thus selleth it, Prov. 11:26. And let the price be determined by that golden rule of justice, to do as we would be done by.