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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



GENESIS 37

 

CHAPTER XXXVII.

 

Ver. 1.  Sojourned at Hebron and the environs.  H.

 

Ver. 2.  Generations.  This connects his history with C. xxxv.  What happened to Jacob and his sons, and particularly to Joseph, forms the subject of the remaining part of Genesis.  H. --- Old; complete, or beginning "his 17th year," as the Heb. Chal. and Sept. have it.  "He was the son or boy of"---so many years always means the current year unfinished.  Bochart 1. R. xiii. 1. --- The sons.  Perhaps these were not so much enraged against Joseph, till he told his father of their scandalous behaviour, in order that he might put a stop to it. --- He accused.  Some editions of the Sept. read, "they accused him," &c.; but all others confirm the Vulgate and Hebrew.  C. --- Crime: perhaps of sodomy, or bestiality (S. Tho.); or of abusive language to Joseph himself.  C.

 

Ver. 3.  Old age, and therefore expected to have no more children; but he loved him still more, on account of his innocent and sweet behaviour (M.): in which sense the Sam. Chal. &c. have, "because he was a wise and prudent boy." --- Colours.  The nations of the East delight in gaudy attire, "hanging down to the heels" as the original passim is sometimes expressed, talaris & polymita, v. 3.  C.

 

Ver. 4.  Could not, through envy, which caused them to notice every little distinction shewn to Joseph.  They perceived he was the most beloved.  His accusing them, and insinuating by his mysterious dreams that he would be their lord, heightened their rage.  H.

 

Ver. 5.  A dream.  These dreams of Joseph were prophetical, and sent from God, as were also those which he interpreted, Gen. xl. and xli.; otherwise, generally speaking, the observing of dreams is condemned in the Scripture, as superstitious and sinful.  See Deut. xviii. 10. and Eccle. xxxiv. 2. 3.

 

Ver. 7.  Sheaf.  Joseph probably knew not what this portended, as the prophets were sometimes ignorant of the real purport of their visions. C. --- But it admirably foreshewed the famine, which would bring his brethren to adore him in Egypt.  M.

 

Ver. 9.  The sun.  This second dream confirmed the truth of the former.  Joseph relates it with simplicity, not suspecting the ill will of his brethren: but his father easily perceives what effect the narration would have, and desires him to be more cautious.  He even points out the apparent incoherence of the dream, as Rachel, who seemed intended by the moon, was already dead; unless this dream happened before that event.  S. Aug. (q. 123) observes, this was never literally verified in Joseph, but it was in Jesus Christ, whom he prefigured.  C. --- Some think that Bala, the nurse of Joseph, was intended by the moon.  T.

 

Ver. 10.  Worship.  This word is not used here to signify divine worship, but an inferior veneration, expressed by the bowing of the body, and that, according to the manner of the eastern nations, down to the ground.

 

Ver. 11.  With himself: not doubting but it was prophetical.  Thus acted the B. Virgin.  C.

 

Ver. 13.  In Sichem.  About ninety miles off.  The town had not probably been as yet rebuilt.  Jacob had a field there, and the country was free for any one to feed their flocks.  It was customary to drive them to a distance.  C.

 

Ver. 14.  Bring me.  He was afraid of letting him remain with them, and retained him mostly at home for company, and to protect him from danger.

 

Ver. 16.  My brethren.  The man was acquainted with Jacob's family, as he had dwelt in those parts for a long time.  H.

 

Ver. 17.  Dothain: twelve miles to the north of Samaria.  Euseb.

 

Ver. 19.  The dreamer.  Heb. Bahal hachalomoth, "the lord of dreams," or the visionary lord (C.); or one who feigns dreams: so the Jews say of our Saviour, this seducer.  H.

 

Ver. 20.  Pit: walled around to contain water: Heb. Bur.  Bar means a well that has no walls.  M. --- Shall appear.  They resolve to tell a lie, and easily believe that Joseph had been as bad as themselves in telling one first.  If they had believed the dreams were from God, they would hardly have supposed that they could prevent them from having their effect.  H.

 

Ver. 22.  His father.  Ruben wished to regain his father's favour.  C. xxxv. 22.

 

Ver. 25.  To eat bread.  How could they do this while their innocent brother was praying and lamenting!  C. xlii. 21.  H. --- Some: a caravan of merchants.  D. --- Balm, or rosin; "That of Syria resembles attic honey."  Plin. --- Myrrh, (stacten); Heb. Lot: "drops of myrrh or laudanum, or of the Lotus tree."  C.

 

Ver. 28.  Of silver.  Some have read, thirty pieces of gold or silver.  S. Amb. c. 3. --- The price was trifling: twenty sicles would be about 2 5s. 7½d. English.  The Madianites and Ismaelites jointly purchased Joseph.  H.

 

Ver. 29.  Ruben, who, in the mean time had been absent while his brethren hearkened to the proposal of Juda only, and therefore consented to this evil.  H.

 

Ver. 30.  I go to seek for him.  His brethren inform him of what they had done, and he consents to keep it a secret from his father.  M.

 

Ver. 33.  A beast.  So he might reasonably conclude from the blood, and from the insinuations of the messengers sent by his ten sons, (H.) whom he would not suspect of so heinous a crime.  Wild beasts infested that country.  M.

 

Ver. 34.  Sack-cloth, or hair-cloth, cilicio.  These garments were made very close, like a sack, of the hair taken from the goats of Cilicia, which grew long, rough, and of a dark colour.  The poorest people used them: Usum in Castrorum & miseris velamina nautis, (Virg. Geor. 3.); and the Ascetics, or monks, afterwards chose them for the sake of mortification and humility.  C. --- Jacob was the first, mentioned in Scripture, who put them on, and the Israelites imitated him in their mourning. --- Long time; twenty-three years, till he heard of his son being still alive.  M.

 

Ver. 35.  Into hell; that is, into limbo, the place where the souls of the just were received before the death of our Redeemer.  For allowing that the word hell sometimes is taken for the grave, it cannot be so taken in this place; since Jacob did not believe his son to be in the grave, (whom he supposed to be devoured by a wild beast) and therefore could not mean to go down to him thither: but certainly meant the place of rest, where he believed his soul to be.  Ch. --- Soal, or sheol, to crave, denotes the receptacle of the dead, (Leigh) or a lower region; the grave for the body; limbo, or hell, when speaking of the soul.  See Delrio, Adag. in 2 Kings, p. 209.  H. --- Protestants here translate it, "the grave," being unwilling to admit a third place in the other world for the soul.  See the contrary in S. Aug. ep. 99. ad Evod. de C. D. xx. 15.  W.

 

Ver. 36.  An eunuch.  This word sometimes signifies a chamberlain, courtier, or officer of the king: and so it is taken in this place.  Ch. --- Soldiers, cooks, or butchers.  Hebrew tabachim, executioners, mactantium.  He might also be chief sacrificer, governor of the prisons, &c. all these employments were anciently very honourable.  Dan. ii. 14.  The providence of God never shines more brightly in any part of the Scripture, than in this history of Joseph, except in that of Jesus Christ, of whom Joseph was a beautiful figure.  He was born when his father was grown old, as Jesus was in the last age of the world; he was a son increasing, as Jesus waxed in age and grace before God and men; both were beloved by their father, both comely, &c.  C.

 

 








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