Genesis 47:1-31 . JOSEPH'S PRESENTATION AT COURT.
13-15. there was no bread in all the land--This probably refers to the second year of the famine ( Genesis 45:6 ) when any little stores of individuals or families were exhausted and when the people had become universally dependent on the government. At first they obtained supplies for payment. Before long "money failed.
16. And Joseph said, Give your cattle--"This was the wisest course that could be adopted for the preservation both of the people and the cattle, which, being bought by Joseph, was supported at the royal expense, and very likely returned to the people at the end of the famine, to enable them to resume their agricultural labors."
21. as for the people, he removed them to cities--obviously for the convenience of the country people, who were doing nothing, to the cities where the corn stores were situated.
22. Only the land of the priests bought he not--These lands were inalienable, being endowments by which the temples were supported. The priests for themselves received an annual allowance of provision from the state, and it would evidently have been the height of cruelty to withhold that allowance when their lands were incapable of being tilled.
23-28. Joseph said, Behold, &c.--The lands being sold to the government ( Genesis 47:19 Genesis 47:20 ), seed would be distributed for the first crop after the famine; and the people would occupy them as tenants-at-will on the payment of a produce rent, almost the same rule as obtains in Egypt in the present day.
29-31. the time drew nigh that Israel must die--One only of his dying arrangements is recorded; but that one reveals his whole character. It was the disposal of his remains, which were to be carried to Canaan, not from a mere romantic attachment to his native soil, nor, like his modern descendants, from a superstitious feeling for the soil of the Holy Land, but from faith in the promises. His address to Joseph--"if now I have found grace in thy sight," that is, as the vizier of Egypt--his exacting a solemn oath that his wishes would be fulfilled and the peculiar form of that oath, all pointed significantly to the promise and showed the intensity of his desire to enjoy its blessings (compare Numbers 10:29 ).
31. Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head--Oriental beds are mere mats, having no head, and the translation should be "the top of his staff," as the apostle renders it ( Hebrews 11:21 ).