Acts 7:9

9 "And the patriarchs, 1jealous of Joseph, 2sold him into Egypt; but 3God was with him

Acts 7:9 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 7:9

And the patriarchs, moved with envy
See ( Genesis 37:11 ) the sons of Jacob and brethren of Joseph were filled with envy, and enraged at him, because of the evil report of them he brought to his father; and because he had a greater share in his father's love than they had; and because of his dreams, which signified that he should have the dominion over them, and they should be obliged to yield obedience to him: wherefore they

sold Joseph into Egypt;
they sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, who were going down to Egypt, and who carried him thither with them: these twenty pieces of silver, the Jews say, the ten brethren of Joseph divided among themselves; everyone took two shekels, and bought shoes for his feet; to which they apply the passage in ( Amos 2:6 ) "they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes" F11: and they suggest, that the redemption of the firstborn among the Israelites on account of the selling of Joseph; they say F12,

``because they sold the firstborn of Rachel for twenty pieces of silver, let everyone redeem his son, his firstborn, with twenty pieces of silver; says R. Phinehas, in the name of R. Levi, because they sold the firstborn of Rachel for twenty pieces of silver, and there fell to each of them a piece of coined money (the value of half a shekel), therefore let everyone pay his shekel coined.''

They also affirm F13, that the selling of Joseph was not expiated by the tribes, until they were dead, according to ( Isaiah 22:14 ) and that on the account of it, there was a famine in the land of Israel seven years. There seems to be some likeness between the treatment of Joseph and Jesus Christ, which Stephen may have some respect unto; as Joseph was sold by his brethren for twenty of silver, so Christ was sold by one of his disciples, that ate bread with him, for thirty pieces of silver; and as it was through envy the brethren of Joseph used him in this manner, so it was through envy that the Jews delivered Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate, to be condemned to death: of this selling of Joseph into Egypt, Justin the historian speaks {n}; his words are,

``Joseph was the youngest of his brethren, whose excellent wit his brethren fearing, secretly took him and sold him to strange merchants, by whom he was carried into Egypt.''

And then follow other things concerning him, some true and some false; Stephen here adds,

but God was with him;
see ( Genesis 39:2 ) he was with him, and prospered him in Potiphar's house; he was with him, and kept him from the temptations of his mistress; he was with him in prison, and supported and comforted him, and at length delivered him from it, and promoted him as follows; and caused all the evil that befell him to work for good to him and his father's family.


F11 Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F12 T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 46. 4.
F13 Pirke Eliezer, ib.
F14 L. 36. c. 2.

Acts 7:9 In-Context

7 'But I will judge the nation that they serve,' said God, 'and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.'
8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9 "And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him
10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.
11 Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food.

Cross References 3

  • 1. Genesis 37:11
  • 2. Genesis 37:28; Genesis 45:4; Psalms 105:17
  • 3. Gen. 39:2, 21, 23
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