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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 28–34
Verses 28–34

We have here, I. The joyful meeting between Jacob and his son Joseph, in which observe,

1. Jacob’s prudence in sending Judah before him to Joseph, to give him notice of his arrival in Goshen. This was a piece of respect owing to the government, under the protection of which these strangers had come to put themselves, Gen. 46:28. We should be very careful not to give offence to any, especially not to the higher powers.

2. Joseph’s filial respect to him. He went in his chariot to met him, and, in the interview, showed, (1.) How much he honoured him: He presented himself unto him. Note, It is the duty of children to reverence their parents, yea, though Providence, as to outward condition, has advanced them above their parents. (2.) How much he loved him. Time did not wear out the sense of his obligations, but his tears which he shed abundantly upon his father’s neck, for joy to see him, were real indications of the sincere and strong affection he had for him. See how near sorrow and joy are to each other in this world, when tears serve for the expression of both. In the other world weeping will be restrained to sorrow only; in heaven there is perfect joy, but no tears of joy: all tears, even those, shall there be wiped away, because the joys there are, as no joys are here, without any alloy. When Joseph embraced Benjamin he wept upon his neck, but when he embraced his father he wept upon his neck a good while; his brother Benjamin was dear, but his father Jacob must be dearer.

3. Jacob’s great satisfaction in this meeting: Now let me die, Gen. 46:30. Not but that it was further desirable to live with Joseph, and to see his honour and usefulness; but he had so much pleasure and satisfaction in this first meeting that he thought it too much to desire or expect any more in this world, where our comforts must always be imperfect. Jacob wished to die immediately, and lived seventeen years longer, which, as our lives go now, is a considerable part of a man’s age. Note, Death will not always come just when we call for it, whether in a passion of sorrow or in a passion of joy. Our times are in God’s hand, and not in our own; we must die just when God pleases, and not either just when we are surfeited with the pleasures of life or just when we are overwhelmed with its griefs.

II. Joseph’s prudent care concerning his brethren’s settlement. It was justice to Pharaoh to let him know that such a colony had come to settle in his dominions. Note, If others repose a confidence in us, we must not be so base and disingenuous as to abuse it by imposing upon them. If Jacob and his family should come to be a charge to the Egyptians, yet it should never be said that they came among them clandestinely and by stealth. Thus Joseph took care to pay his respects to Pharaoh, Gen. 46:31. But how shall he dispose of his brethren? Time was when they were contriving to get rid of him; now he is contriving to settle them to their satisfaction and advantage: this is rendering good for evil. Now, 1. He would have them to live by themselves, separate as much as might be from the Egyptians, in the land of Goshen, which lay nearest to Canaan, and which perhaps was more thinly peopled by the Egyptians, and well furnished with pastures for cattle. He desired they might live separately, that they might be in the less danger both of being infected by the vices of the Egyptians and of being insulted by the malice of the Egyptians. Shepherds, it seems, were an abomination to the Egyptians, that is, they looked upon them with contempt, and scorned to converse with them; and he would not send for his brethren to Egypt to be trampled upon. And yet, 2. He would have them to continue shepherds, and not to be ashamed to own that as their occupation before Pharaoh. He could have employed them under himself in the corn-trade, or perhaps, by his interest in the king, might have procured places for them at court or in the army, and some of them, at least, were deserving enough; but such preferments would have exposed them to the envy of the Egyptians, and would have tempted them to forget Canaan and the promise made unto their fathers; therefore he contrives to continue them in their old employment. Note, (1.) An honest calling is no disparagement, nor ought we to account it so either in ourselves or in our relations, but rather reckon it a shame to be idle, or to have nothing to do. (2.) It is generally best for people to abide in the callings that they have been bred to, and used to, 1 Cor. 7:24. Whatever employment or condition God, in his providence, has allotted for us, let us accommodate ourselves to it, and satisfy ourselves with it, and not mind high things. It is better to be the credit of a mean post than the shame of a high one.