« PreviousContinue »
Jacob dwelt in the laud wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age ; and he made him a coat of many colours. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren; and they hated him yet more.
And Judah said unto his brethren, what profit is it if we slay him and conceal his blood ? come, let us sell him to the Medianites' merchantmen, and they sold him for twenty pieces of silver. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt, unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah's and captain of the guard. Led by the hand of God, the youthful sufferer, after the lapse of a few years, stands forward the preserver of the land of Egypt from famine ; and, advanced by the favour of God, high in the estimation of Pharoah the king. Jacob, the father of Joseph, heard that there was corn in Egypt,' and sent his sons to buy what was necessary for their preservation. The command arose from the occasion, and appeared not as an interpositon of providence; so little could they imagine, that this grievous visitation, which threatened almost universal destruction; that the patriarch should owe to it a re-union with the son of his heart, that dearly beloved son whom he supposed dead, and had never ceased to lament. We may conceive the delight with which, in answer to his enquiries respecting his father,: Joseph heard, Thy servant, our father is in good health ; he is yet alive. His plans were soon arranged, and he seems only to have waited till his astonished brothers had received an important lesson respecting
their own conduct, and had an opportunity to be convinced of his identity, and the high distinction he enjoyed ere he says to them; 'Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say to him; thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me Lord of all
Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not.' 160 He comes invited by a younger son, In times of dearth,
Was Joseph then elated with his high advancement, of being lord of all Egypt, and was he vainly desirous, that all his glory' should be represented to his father? No, let us not think so unworthily of him, it was dutiful concern. Jacob had much to fear from the Egyptians : they held the Canaanites in abhorrence. Joseph weighing this, ordered his brethren" to relate the glory he was in with Pharaoh king of Egypt, that the venerable man may rest in peace under his son's influence. Seventeen years did he enjoy the pleasing and pious conversation of Jacob; and, on being informed that he was ill, he hastened with his sons. Jacob, full of the divine spirit, pronounced a solemn blessing upon Joseph and his sons; and said, Behold I die ; but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of
your fathers 165 Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks
To stop their overgrowth,
It is not to be supposed, that because this Pharoah, which was the titular name of the Egyptian kings; "knew not Joseph ;' he was, therefore, ignorant of the great services of that illustrious statesman. The public records must
have recorded his name, and the prosperous condition of the colony in Goshen could not but excite such enquiry. It is improbable that the lapse of seventy years sbould obliterate all recollection of the splendid administration of Joseph; and of that visitation of providence, which, but for his foresight, would have desolated Egypt, as it did the neighbouring countries.
And Pharoah said, who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, neither will I let Israel go.' Exod. v. 2.
and kills their infant males Pharoah formed the horrid design of rooting out this hated people, by causing all the male children to be put to death as soon as they were born ; and by another mandate to his subjects, to cast all the male children, that should be born to the Hebrews, into the Nile. The sacred writer relates the circumstance to introduce the most signal instance of providential deliverance, that is to be found in history. Josephus informs us, that Amram was comforted in a vision, by an assurance, that the child should not only escape the malice of the tyrant, but prove at last the deliverer of the Israelites. The story is not unlikely; and St. Paul asserts, that Moses, when he was born, was hidden by his parents three months through faith,' (Heb. xi. 23.) which seems to imply, that they had been favoured with some promise concerning him. At the age of forty, he gave up all the prospects to which he was entitled, as the adopted heir of Pharoah's daughter ; choosing rather, as St. Paul expresses it, to endure affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the
pleasures of sin for a season : esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, having respect unto the recompense of reward. Moses, at Mount Horeb, was exceedingly reluctant to accept the high charge, and he was even guilty of obstinate resistance to the divine will; but after he entered upon the work, we find him prompt and vigorous in its exeoution. Leaving the Israelites, he and his brother boldly entered into the presence of Pharoah, and addressed him in this dignified strain : Thus saith the Lord God of Israel ; Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. Moses and Aaron were directed by the Almighty to appear before the tyrant, who treated them with impious contempt, and demanded of them a miracle to shew their power. His proposition was accepted, the rod in the hand of Aaron was cast on the ground, at the command of Moses, and became a serpent.
Pharoah treated it as a cheat, and sent for his magicians. The Almighty permitted their rods likewise to become serpents; but, that the power of Jehovah might be seen, the rod of Aaron swallowed up the rest ; still was Pharoah's heart hardened. Aaron stretched his rod, and their favourite river Nile became blood: The same river poured forth swarms of frogs, which entered the dwellings of the Egyptians and the palace. Then did he permit Moses, on condition of being freed from the frogs, to let the people go. Again he violated his word, on which, without warning him, the Almighty smote the dust of the earth ; and it became lice, throughout all the land of Egypt, upon man and beast. Next the swarm of Aies was so troublesome, that Pharoah was constrained to yield his consent; and again was his plighted word broken. Now a grievous disease of boils and blains' attack both man and beast. A dreadful storm of hail, mixed with fire, smote throughout the land of Egypt. Pharoah's fears were alarmed by this awful visitation, which threatened to desolate all the country, except the province inhabited by the Israelites: again he submitted to Moses, and again he deceived. The man of God knew the deceitfulness of his heart; but, to manifest the glory of Jehovah, Moses went out and stretched his hand to the Lord, and the storm ceased. No visitation is more alarming in those countries than that of locusts. Well, therefore, might the officers of Pharaoh tremble at the denunciation of so dreadful an invasion, and reproached him as being insensible to the calamities of his country. Let the men go that they may serve the Lord their God. Again was the rod of Moses stretched forth, and an east wind brought up the ministers of divine vengeance, which darkened all the land, and devoured all the herbs of the field. Again Moses stretched his hand, and a thick darkness covered the land three days; but the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. All these signs and wonders having failed to humble the haughty Pharoah, the Almighty proceeded to make a more terrible display of his power; and, therefore, he said to Moses, 'About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt. And at the awful hour of midnight, the avenging angel