Then there passed by Midianites, merchantmen
The same with the Ishmaelites before mentioned, as appears from the latter part of this verse; for as these were near neighbours, so they might join together in merchandise, and travel in company for greater safety, and are sometimes called the one, and sometimes the other, as well as they might mix together in their habitations and marriages; and are hence called Arabians by the Targums, as before observed, and so by Josephus, which signifies a mixed people:
and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit:
not the Midianites, but his brethren:
and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty [pieces] of silver;
for twenty shekels, which amounted to twenty five shillings of our money. The Jews F26 say, they each took two shekels apiece, and bought with them a pair of shoes, according to ( Amos 8:6 ) ; but there were but nine of them, Reuben was absent:
and they brought Joseph into Egypt;
some think these Midianites were different from the Ishmaelites, and that Joseph was sold many times, first to the Midianites, and then by them to the Ishmaelites, and by the latter to Potiphar. Justin F1, an Heathen writer, gives an account of this affair in some agreement with this history;
``Joseph (he says) was the youngest of his brethren, whose excellent genius they feared, and took him secretly, and sold him to "foreign merchants", by whom he was carried into Egypt.''
F26 Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F1 E. Trogo, l. 36. c. 2.