Verse 17. He sent a man before them, even Joseph. He was the advance guard and pioneer for the whole clan. His brethren sold him, but God sent him. Where the hand of the wicked is visible God's hand may be invisibly at work, overruling their malice. No one was more of a man, or more fit to lead the van than Joseph: an interpreter of dreams was wanted, and his brethren had said of him, "Behold, this dreamer cometh."
Who was sold for a servant, or rather for a slave. Joseph's journey into Egypt was not so costly as Jonah's voyage when he paid his own fare: his free passage was provided by the Midianites, who also secured his introduction to a great officer of state by handing him over as a Slave. His way to a position in which he could feed his family lay through the pit, the slaver's caravan, the slave market and the prison, and who shall deny but what it was the right way, the surest way, the wisest way, and perhaps the shortest way. Yet assuredly it seemed not so. Were we to send a man on such an errand we should furnish him with money -- Joseph goes as a pauper; we should clothe him with authority -- Joseph goes as a slave; we should leave him at full liberty -- Joseph is a bondman: yet money would have been of little use when corn was so dear, authority would have been irritating rather than influential with Pharaoh, and freedom might not have thrown Joseph into connection with Pharaoh's captain and his other servants, and so the knowledge of his skill in interpretation might not have reached the monarch's ear. God way is the way. Our Lord's path to his mediatorial throne ran by the cross of Calvary; our road to glory runs by the rivers of grief.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 17. -- Joseph may be a fit type to us of our spiritual deliverance. Consider him sold into Egypt, not without the determinate counsel of God, who preordained this to good; "God did send me before you to preserve life," Genesis 45:5 . Here is the difference, the brethren sold Joseph, we sold ourselves. Consider us thus sold unto sin and death; God had a purpose to redeem us; there is election. Joseph was delivered out of prison, and we ransomed out of the house of bondage; there was redemption. Joseph's cause was made known, and himself acquitted; we could not be found innocent ourselves, but were acquitted in Christ; wherein consists our justification. Lastly, Joseph was clothed in glorious apparel, and adorned with golden chains, and made to ride in the second chariot of Egypt: so our last step is to be advanced to high honour, even the glory of the celestial court; "This honour have all the saints," Psalms 149:9 . --Thomas Adams.
Verse 17. -- In many circumstances concerning Joseph -- in his being beloved of his father -- in his being hated of his brethren -- in his sufferings and deep abasement -- in his being brought out of prison -- in his advancement and exaltation -- in his wisdom and prudence - - in his providing for his father's family -- in his free forgiveness of the injuries he had sustained from his brethren -- it maybe truly said, we have Christ delineated therein, and set forth thereby, in type, figure, and representatively. But I have nothing to do with this here; I only give this hint to the reader. --Samuel Eyles Pierce, 1817.