And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God
Speak with a loud voice, lifting up the voice, as Jarchi interprets it; or "answer" F5, to the question the priest will ask, saying, what is this thou hast brought? as Aben Ezra remarks; and this being said in the tabernacle, and before the priest of the Lord, and as in the presence of the Lord, is represented as said before him, which is as follows:
a Syrian ready to perish [was] my father;
meaning Jacob, who though born in Canaan, his mother was a Syrian, and his grandfather Abraham was of Chaldea, a part of Syria; and Jacob married two wives in Syria, and all his children were born there but Benjamin, and where he lived twenty years; and sometimes persons are denominated, as from the place of their birth, so from the place of their dwelling, as Christ was called a Nazarene from Nazareth, where he dwelt, though he was born at Bethlehem, ( Matthew 2:23 ) ; and Jether, though an Israelite, as Aben Ezra observes, is called an Ishmaelite, perhaps because he dwelt some time among that people, ( 1 Chronicles 2:17 ) . Now Jacob might be said to be ready to perish when he fled for his life from his brother Esau, and was poor and penniless when he came to Laban; so the last mentioned writer interprets this phrase; to which may be added, that when in his service he was exposed to cold and heat, and had his wages frequently changed, and afterwards, when obliged to flee from Laban, was pursued by him with an intention to do him mischief, had not the Lord prevented him. The reason of this part of the confession was to show that it was not owing to the greatness of their ancestors from whence they sprung, whose condition was mean, but to the gift of God, and his goodness, that they enjoyed the land of Canaan. So every sensible soul, when he brings his sacrifice of praise to God for his mercies, especially spiritual ones, frankly acknowledges his lost perishing condition by nature, of which he is sensible; and that in order to magnify the riches of the grace of God in his salvation, to endear Christ as a Saviour the more, and to keep humble, and make thankful:
and he went down into Egypt;
not directly, but some years after his former afflicted circumstances; so the Targum of Jonathan expresses it,
``after these things he went down into Egypt;''after he had been in perishing circumstances in Syria, and when he was sore pressed with famine in Canaan:
and sojourned there with a few;
with seventy souls, as Jarchi:
and became there a great nation, mighty and populous;
insomuch that the king of Egypt was jealous of them, lest through their strength and numbers they should get away from them, when any favourable incident happened; they being when they came out from thence six hundred thousand men able to bear arms, besides women and children.
F5 (tynew) "et respondebis", Montanus, Vatablus; "et respondens dices", Munster.