Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt, and
This dearth, or famine, is said to be in all lands, ( Genesis 41:54 ) though only Egypt and Canaan are mentioned here, because the history is concerned with no other. The Jewish writers F16 speak of three lands particularly, which were affected with it, Phenicia, Arabia, and Palestine; and this famine in the land of Israel, they say F17, which lasted seven years, was on account of the selling of Joseph into Egypt, as before observed. The Heathen writers make mention of this famine, particularly Justin F18, who speaking of Joseph says, that he foresaw many years before the barrenness of the fields; and all Egypt would have perished with famine, had not the king, through his advice, ordered by an edict, that corn should be laid up for many years: this was the fifth of the ten famines, the Jews say have been, or shall be in the world F19:
and great affliction;
meaning the famine, which was very severe, and lasted a long time, even seven years: want of eating is called (ywnye) , "affliction", by the Jews F20; by which they mean fasting, which is a voluntary want of eating, or abstinence from it; and if that is an affliction, then much more want of food, or abstinence through necessity; compare ( 1 Timothy 5:10 ) .
And our fathers found not sustenance;
Jacob and his family could not get sufficient provision for them in the land of Canaan, where they then were, but were obliged to go to Egypt for it.
F16 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 90. fol. 78. 1.
F17 Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F18 Ex Trogo, l. 36. c. 2.
F19 Targum in Ruth i. 1.
F20 Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora pr. Affirm. 32.