Genesis 46:34

34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd* is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Genesis 46:34 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 46:34

That ye shall say, thy servants' trade hath been about
Breeding, feeding, and selling them:

from our youth, even until now:
this had been their constant employment, they never followed any other:

both we, [and] also our fathers;
their father, grandfather, and great grandfather, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were all of the same occupation:

that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen;
Joseph instructed his brethren to be very particular in the account of their occupation to Pharaoh, that it might be a direction to him how to dispose of them, and where to settle them, namely, in the land of Goshen; which was a country that abounded with good pasture, and so the fittest place for them to be fixed in: and besides this, Joseph had some other reasons for placing them there, as that they might be near to him, who might dwell at On or Heliopolis, to which place, or province, Goshen belonged; and that being also the nearest part of the land to Canaan, they might the more easily and sooner get away when there was an occasion for it; as well as he was desirous they should not be brought into the heart of the land, lest they should be corrupted with the superstition, and idolatry, and vices of the people; and being afar off, both from the court, and the body of the people, might be less subject to their contempt and insults, since it follows:

for every shepherd [is] an abomination unto the Egyptians;
not because shepherds ate of the milk and flesh of the creatures they fed, which the Egyptians abstained from; for the Egyptians in those times did eat the flesh of slain beasts, see ( Genesis 43:16 Genesis 43:32 ) ; nor because they fed, and slew, and ate those creatures, which the Egyptians worshipped as gods, as Jarchi; for it does not appear that the Egyptians were so early worshippers of such creatures; nor is this phrase, "every shepherd", to be understood of any other than foreign shepherds; for one of the three sorts of the people of Egypt, as distinct from, and under the king, priests, and soldiers, according to Diodorus Siculus F4, were shepherds, and were not despised on that account; for, as the same writer says, all the Egyptians were reckoned equally noble and honourable F5; and such it is plain there were in Egypt, in the times of Joseph, see ( Genesis 47:6 Genesis 47:16 Genesis 47:17 ) ; and goat herds were had in esteem and honour by those about Mendes, though swine herds were not F6: wherefore this must be understood of foreign shepherds, the Egyptians having been greatly distressed by such, who either came out of Ethiopia, and lived by plunder and robbery F7, or out of Phoenicia or Arabia; for, according to Manetho F8, it was said that they were Arabians or Phoenicians who entered into Egypt, burnt their cities and set up kings of their own, called their Hycsi, or pastor kings: and therefore Joseph might the rather fear his brethren and father's family would be the more contemptible in that they came from Canaan, which was near to Arabia and Phoenicia; but Dr. Lightfoot F9 is of opinion, that the Egyptians, being plagued for Abraham's and Sarah's sake, made a law, that for the future none should converse with Hebrews, nor with foreign shepherds, so familiarly as to eat or drink with them.


F4 Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 67.
F5 lbid. p. 83.
F6 Herodot. Euterpe, sive, l. 2. p. 46, 47.
F7 Gaulmin. Not. in Dfore Hayamim, p. 267.
F8 Apud Joseph. contr. Apion. l. 1. sect. 14.
F9 Works: vol. 1. p. 694.

Genesis 46:34 In-Context

32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.
33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
The King James Version is in the public domain.