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JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHRENBYW. K. TWEEDIE, D.D.,AUTIIOR OF "SEED-TIME AND HARVEST," "THE EARLY CHOICE,"" PARABLES OF OUR LORD," ETC.See the van victim of his brethren's scorn,In Pharaoh's dungeon, drooping, abject, lone 1But GOD is there, the friend of the forlorn,And Joseph's prison opes beside the throne.LONDON:T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.1872.
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HE story of Joseph is at once sosimple that childhood is arrestedand rivetted by it, and so profoundthat sages may deepen their wis-dom by meditating on the truths which itembodies. An attempt is here made topoint out some of the more importantlessons which the narrative teaches,-tomanifest the wisdom and the watchful-ness of Providence,-and show how Godon high exercises his prerogative of educ-ing good from what we are often tempted
vi PREFACE.to regard as only and hopelessly evil.While man displays his wickedness bycommitting sin, the Holy One displayshis goodness by restraining it; and thoughhis ways are confessedly "a great deep,"we get glimpses through the gloom,-we catch echoes amid the silence, whichenable us to know, that when the tangledweb of providence shall have been un-rolled in light, it will be seen that he"has done all things well." As thebones of Joseph were carried before theHebrews during all their wanderings,from Egypt to Canaan, till they founda resting-place in that land of promise,the truth of God here goes before us still,a very pillar of cloud and of fire._41 14
Oonttnts.I. JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT, ... ... ... 9II. JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES, ... ... ... 15III. JOSEPH IN PRISON, ... ... ... ... 21IV. JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS, ... ... 31V. JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT, ... .. ... ... 41VI. "YEARE SPIES," ... ... ... ... 48VII. THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK, ... ... ... 57VIII. THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN, ... ... 65IX. THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH, ... ... 73X. JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH, ... ... 79XI. THE DEATH OF JACOB, ... ... ... ... 85
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JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN.CHAPTER I.JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT.HEN Jesus would inculcate someof the deepest lessons which he- ever taught, he took a little child"and set him in the midst of hisdisciples (Matt. xviii. 2-4), and made thatchild his text. Truth thus found an inletinto the mind which even the GreatTeacher might have attempted in vainto impress, without some material illus-tration of his spiritual lessons.-Let us2
10 JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT.endeavour to imitate the Saviour's wis-dom, and seek some lessons to guide us inthe touching history of Joseph.It is well known, then, that on a certainoccasion that youth obtained permission tovisit his brothers at a part of Canaan some-what distant from their father's home. But,previous to that time, he had given themgreat offence; and their anger only waitedfor a fit occasion to break forth in violenceagainst him. And we should not fail tonotice what caused that anger. First,Joseph was a great favourite with hisfather, who testified his partiality to theboy by the gift of a coat of many colours,and thus unwisely laid a foundation forfeuds and divisions in his family (Gen.xxxvii. 3, 4). Moreover, Joseph haddreamed certain dreams which gave greatoffence to his brothers; for they indicatedthat the time would come when the other
JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT. 11children of Jacob would do homage toJoseph, who was one of the youngest(Gen. xxxvii. 5-11). The feelings whichrankled in the bosoms of his brothersbefore, now rankled more and more, andwere ripened by irritation for a violentoutbreak at last. It appears, further, thatJoseph had, at least on one occasion (ver. 2),complained to his father regarding the mis-deeds of his brothers; and all these thingsmade him "hated by them, so that theycould not speak peaceably to him."-Allthis suggests to us the strange lesson, thatthere are some men who "hate him thatrebuketh them, and abhor him thatspeaketh uprightly" (Amos v. 10). Menare so wedded to their own ways, evenwhen they lead down to death, that webecome their enemy if we tell themthe truth. How often did scribe, Phari-see, priest, and people break out in
12 JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT.violence against Jesus for his truthfulwarnings !No sooner, then, did they see Josephapproaching Dothan, where they fed theirflocks, than his brothers thought the timehad come at length for humbling theirfather's favourite. The first proposal wasto put him instantly to death; but Reu-ben interposed, and their sentence was, tothrow Joseph into a pit, and leave himto perish unpitied there! Blinded byenvy, or goaded by rage, they trampledon every tender feeling, and evil becametheir chief good.In the good providence of God, however,the youth was taken from that pit, in whichhe was to have been buried alive, and sentto a distant country, there to be the saviourof not a few, in a temporal sense. To covertheir wickedness, his brothers next resolvedto show to their father Joseph's coat of tar-
REUBEN'S DISTRESS AT NOT FINDING JOSEPH.GXm. IES29.
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JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT. 13tan, dipped in the blood of a kid, as if hehad been devoured by ravenous beasts.-Their brother might become a slave; theirfather's heart might be torn with anguish;their own souls might be deeply stainedwith sin piled above sin;-but what of allthese, when men are bent on indulgingtheir evil and malignant passions ? Letmisery be heaped upon misery, yet menwill not be diverted from their iniquity.But wicked as their deeds were, and anoutrage at once against a father and abrother, and, above all, against their God,he who makes the wrath of man to-praisehim employed that wrath remarkably towork out his purposes in this case. Andhe is doing the same at this hour. Thinkof the miseries, spread over many years ofagony, inflicted by fierce persecutors onthe Christians of Madagascar in our day,and then mark how they increase in num-
14 JOSEPH CAST INTO THE PIT.ber notwithstanding. Think of the bloodymassacres in India, the martyrdoms ofnative Christians there, with the butcheryof all who wear the Christian name; andyet mark how that is overruled to rousethe churches to spread the truth in thatdark-souled land. Think, above all, ofthe Cross of Jesus,-of the woes whichwere there endured, with all the malig-nant passions which nailed the Redeemerto the tree; and then see how God canmake our wickedness promote his ownglory,-can bring joy out of anguish, andlife out of death, and blessings unutterableout of the very curse (Gal. iii. 13).
CHAPTER II.JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES.E have just seen that Joseph'sbrethren, moved by envy, sold-.A- him to some Ishmaelite mer-S chants, by whom he was carriedinto Egypt, and there sold as a slave.Regardless of their brother's cries, anddeaf to all that affection might whisper,the future patriarchs would make him thevictim of their hatred; and it is deeplyinstructive to notice how many sins arecontained in this one transaction.1. There was a sin committed bybrothers against a brother. The ties of
16 JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES.nature were outraged. Affection wastrampled in the dust,-it was in truth castinto the pit beside Joseph,-it had nopower in the hearts of those hating andhateful men. Surely such a case occurringin the Bible so soon after the murder ofAbel by his brother Cain, was designedby God to show us the terrible ravageswrought by sin in the soul. Just as war,with its bloody work, has often defloweredthe fairest regions of the earth, does fiercepassion waste the soul of man.2. There was sin committed against theirfather. What although the patriarchshould suffer uttermost woe when bereftof his favourite son or what although hisheart should break when the tidings reachedhim that Joseph had been cruelly devouredby a wild beast! It was not to such thingsthat those men would listen: it was totheir own malicious hearts; and, cost what
JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES. 17it might to their father, their brother musteither die or become a slave. You mayassure the sinner that the wages of sin isdeath,-you may tell him that agony forever is attached to guilt by God's decree;but all that will not turn the wicked fromhis way. God must turn us, or we rushunchecked upon ruin.3. In the sin of Joseph's brethren therewas falsehood, and that to a parent. Thosemen deliberately plotted to deceive Jacob,by showing him the coat of Joseph dippedin the blood of a kid. They utterly forgotthat God saw them; they listened only totheir own hearts; and sin was added tosin, that their passion might be indulged.To the crime of murder-the murder of abrother-which some of them were willingto perpetrate, they added that of deception,deep in itself and sad in all its results.Now in all this they were just showing us3
18 JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES.more and more clearly what iniquity lurksor reigns in the heart of man, till theAlmighty Spirit make all things new.4. In that sin there was spite, and thatagainst a brother. We have seen thatthere is reason to believe (Gen. xxxvii. 2)that Joseph had formerly blamed some ofthe practices in which his brethren in-dulged while they were from under theirparent's eye, and that had provoked theirantipathy : "They hated him" when theysaw that his father loved him. And hereagain we see one reason why men havealways ranked envy among the vilest andthe meanest of the sins.5. It need scarcely be added that therewas cruelty in that crime. Those brotherswere deaf to the cries of the stripling; themajority of them were not unwilling toput him to death amid lingering agonies,-that is, to leave him to die of hunger in a
JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES. 19pit, unheeded and unrelieved. When wesee fools making a mock at sin, and multi-tudes seeking in it the only pleasure orthe only gratification which they know,surely that is because they do not knowthe dark depths into. which it sinks them !6. And, to name no more, there was inthat sin the love of money, which is theroot of all evil. Those unnatural brothers,blinded by hatred, and eager to get theoffender out of the way, actually sold himfor a slave. They valued gold or silvermore than their brother's life, his happiness,or his affection. He might have to wearchains, or carry burdens heavier than hecould bear; but what of all that, if theirhatred was indulged, and Joseph put outof their sight! Till then they could notbe at ease. ARis deportment was a rebuketo them. He seemed holier than they,and because of that he must suffer; they.
20 JOSEPH SOLD TO THE ISHMAELITES.must contract guilt upon guilt. Now, isnot this, in spirit, the very same kind ofsin as that which led Satan to tempt andruin man?Such are some of the views suggestedby this sad transaction-the selling ofJoseph. But little did his brothers knowthat these sins would find them out.Little did they expect that even uponearth they would see in Joseph all thathis dreams had predicted,-themselves athis feet, and doing him obeisance with alltheir heart. And little did they knowthat God was to be with their brother ofa truth, to bless him and make him ablessing. But so it was; and Josephbecame a type of Jesus, persecuted by hisbrothers, but exalted by his God; buriedout of sight, yet raised to " throne; thevictim of malignity at man's hand, butbeloved of God, and therefore set on high.
CHAPTER III.JOSEPH IN PRISON.OD has, in his holy providence,made great use of his people inprison. Jeremiah, Daniel, Paul,Silas, and Peter, were all honouredby him in such a place. Luther, while acaptive in Wartburg Castle, translated alarge portion of Scripture, and promotedthe spiritual emancipation of millions inChristendom. Bunyan in his prison, whereblinded persecutors had immured him,wrote a book,'second to no human produc-tion in its knowledge of the heart and itsdelineations of truth. And soofmanymore.
22 JOSEPH IN PRISON.Joseph's name is to be added to this list.Having been basely accused of a foul crimewhich he refused to commit, hewas cast intoprison, and pined there for years, the victimof malignity,-or apparently forgotten.Now this seemed the completion and thecope-stone of the machinations of Joseph'sbrethren. When he was immured in thatdungeon at On, in Memphis, in Thebes, orsome other of the royal cities of ancientEgypt, it might appear as if all hope con-cerning him were gone: his aspirations,whatever they were, now seemed to beblighted for ever. It was with him, tomortal eye, as it was with Jesus when hewas crucified, dead, and buried,-when astone was rolled to the door of thesepulchre,-when the entrance was sealedwith a seal, and a guard of Roman soldiersset, as if they could baffle Omnipotence,and make all escape hopeless.
JOSEPH IN PRISON. 23In truth, however, the imprisonmentof Joseph was meant and used by God asa step to his exaltation. If he was for aseason like one entombed, he had a resur-rection at last by the mighty power ofHim who sees the end from the beginning.It was like the planting of an acorn soonto become an oak, or like the bubbling upof a little stream from the depths of theearth soon to become a mighty river, whileall around exclaimed,-" The gloomy mantle of the night,Which on my sinking spirit steals,Will vanish at the morning lightWhich God, my East, my Sun, reveals."His God was with Joseph, then, as hissun and shield, even in the prison-house ofPharaoh, and friends were soon raised upto the Hebrew lad ; he was even advancedto a degree of honour akin to royalty itself.There was no Bible then to embody the
24 JOSEPH IN PRISON.mind of God to man, such as it is now ourmost blessed privilege to enjoy; and inthe absence of such a book, knowledge wassometimes mysteriously imparted bydreams. We are not able to explain howthat took place; but He who made themind can impress it as he wills, and heoften impressed it by dreams, by visions,or by voices. For his companions inprison, Joseph had the chief butler andthe chief baker of Pharaoh's household;and as they dreamed dreams which he wasenabled to interpret, that, in the providenceof God, led to his liberation. The chiefbutler was restored to his former place inthe royal household, as Joseph had fore-told; and though he forgot for a time hiscompanion in prison, yet when the king inhis turn was troubled by certain dreams,the butler remembered Joseph, pointedhim out to Pharaoh, and the captive
JOSEPH IN PRISON. 25slave was summoned into the monarch'spresence.There for the present we leave him, andobserve that Joseph is now on the high roadto dignity and honour. By one of thosesudden transitions far from being un-common in the East, where impulse oftentakes the place of principle, or wherewhat appears to be caprice does the workof system, the prison door is shut behindJoseph, and that of the palace is opened:he is soon to become the grand vizier ofan Oriental potentate. His brethren hadsought to bury him out of sight; for, totheir mind, selling him into Egypt wasequivalent to that doom. They had nodesign but to get rid of a troublesome oran offensive brothe&; but as God hadrestrained the remainder of their wrath,and in his providence prevented the per-petration of fratricide, so he had further4
26 JOSEPH IN PRISON.purposes to serve by that remarkableyouth; and Jehovah accordingly hid himin the hollow of his hand; he was withJoseph when he went out, and when hecame in.From this time forward, then, all wentwell with Joseph. He had refused toyield to temptation to sin. By the helpof God, he was steadfast and immovable;he became, as we shall see, the recognizedbenefactor of millions. And what wasthe secret of all this ? The Bible explainsit, in one brief clause: "The Lord waswith Joseph, and he was a prosperousman" (Gen. xxxix. 2). That is the basisof all true prosperity. With that, weneed not fear the face of man. "TheLord will provide," may then become ourassured confidence. In youth and in age,in sorrow and in joy, in temptation and insafety, in life and at death, all will be well,
JOSEPH IN PRISON. 27all will prosper, if "the Lord be with us."Some, indeed, try to prosper without theLord's guidance. They attempt by fraudwhat they can accomplish only by theLord's blessing upon honesty. Deceptionis systematized, and iniquity is drawn " aswith a cart rope." But all is like a build-ing upon the sand, or worse,-upon a sea-wave, unless the Lord be with us. Thewhole is found at last to be a mockery,like the mirage of the desert.But what were Joseph's prison thoughts?Perhaps hope deferred made the heartsick. Perhaps he sometimes desponded,and because the chief butler long forgothis promise, the prisoner might fear thatGod had also forgotten to be gracious.As year passed after year, till about thir-"teen had rolled away, who will wonderthough his heart sometimes failed Butafter all the Lord is not slack concerning
28 JOSEPH IN PRISON.his promise. A thousand years are withhim as one day. Joseph was liberatedprecisely at the moment best for him andfor all Egypt; and it is ever so with thosewho wait upon the Lord.Now, in connection with these events,it may be observed that we often hear ofrepresentative men-these are men whorepresent some great interest, or who arethe champions of some great cause. Oneman, for example, is the representative ofgreat learning; and we cannot hear himnamed without thinking of great scholar-ship, or all varied lore. Another man re-presents the cause of the people-not asa demagogue does, for selfish or for tur-bulent ends, but for man's social im-provement or social elevation-for man'shappiness, in short, in time and for ever.Knox, for example, or Chalmers-whatintelligent Christian, with the open Bible
JOSEPH IN PRISON. 29for his standard, can hear these nameswithout feeling that these were representa-tive men ? Or a third man representsthe martial spirit. We cannot hear hisname without thinking of wars, andbattles, and victory, and fame--that poorshadow which men pursue, and blindlyspeak of as glory. Or a fourth man isthe representative of science; his namealmost means science itself. And yetanother may be the representative offerocity unmatched-of blood-thirstinesswhich only a Feejee cannibal could sur-pass.Now we find the same thing in theBible,-it is there in singular prominenceand vigour. Abraham was one repre-sentative man; David was another; Isaiah,and Paul, and John, were others; andwe need not scruple to place Josephamong the rest. He was the representa-
30 JOSEPH IN PRISON.tive of a class upon whom Jehovah smileswhile mortals frown-whom the MostHigh exalts, while his creatures persecute,imprison, or destroy them-whom hecrowns with prosperity, while men wouldplunge them in misery here, and doomthem to endless endurance hereafter. ByJoseph's case we are taught that there isa God that judgeth in the earth, and en-couraged to commit ourselves in well-doing to him, assured that, though villanymay seem to prosper, there is a curse init-though God's people be cast down,they cannot be destroyed : His right handwill lift them up.
CHAPTER IV.JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS." EEST thou a man diligent inSbusiness? he shall stand beforeS kings: he shall not stand beforemean men" (Prov. xxii. 29).Such is one of the sayings of the wisestman, and we see it fulfilled to the letterin. Joseph's case. In the house of Poti-phar, in the prison where he was unjustlyimmured, and everywhere, he did whatwas just and right, and now we see him(in our Engraving) literally standing be-fore a king. In many a passage of Scrip-ture God is urgent with us to do with
32 JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS.diligence what he appoints us to do; andhe makes it plain that in every case-without exception, in every case-the pathto true honour, true promotion and pros-perity, is the path of duty. For a time,men may get success in iniquity; buttheir fall and their crash are the greater.Witness the penury and the shame of thefraudulent bankrupt-the lordly oppressor-the unjust dealer of every name. Thehistory before us illustrates all this.Pharaoh's rest had been troubled bydreams, and when summoned, as we havejust seen, into the royal presence, Josephwas able to read them-his God was withhim, and he prospered even in that. Heforetold seven years of plenty, to be fol-lowed by seven years of scarcity, accord-ing to a twofold emblem seen in the royalvisions; and counselled the king to pro-vide for the evil of famine by treasuring
JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS. 33up the produce of the years of abundance.The lean kine and the well-favoured, thegood ears of corn and the bad, helped himto avert a dire calamity. He became thebenefactor of millions; and, according tosome, Joseph introduced a practice intoEgypt regarding the tenure of land ofwhich there are vestiges to this day.But be that as it may, we see here howJoseph's advancement begins, and is pro-moted. He had honoured God, and ishonoured by him. He had held fast hisintegrity, and now found that to be thepath of peace as well as of prosperity;his equity is brought forth as the noon-day. His ways pleased the Lord, andeven Joseph's enemies were all at peacewith him. He had been in the furnace,and came forth pure. He had beentempted, bribed, allured to sin; but hisGod made him steadfast and immovable;5
34 JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS.and we are now to see the result. Letus, then, look at some details.It seems to be a law in God's world,that wherever good is to be done, it mustbe accomplished by woe. Think again ofthe highest good ever wrought out uponearth-the redemption of man by JesusChrist-and how was that accomplished?By tears, by agonies, and cries; by adeath whose horrors have never yet beentold! Or, when Paul would spread theblessings of redemption, how was that ac-complished ? By endurance at everystep, by buffetings, stripes, and persecu-tions! And when Luther would sweepaway some part of the rubbish which hadbeen heaped upon the truth, had he notto take his life in his hand, and clear hisway amid a thousand obstructions andtens of thousands of enemies, ere he couldadvance that work? Or, once more,
JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS. 35when God would make known his truthin heathen lands, how is it done ? As wehave already seen, it is amid throes, andpersecutions, massacres, mutinies, andfiendish cruelties.Now, Joseph's case comes under thisgeneral rule. He was to become in God'shand the instrument of preserving millionsfrom a terrible death; but, to achieve thatresult, he must surmount obstruction afterobstruction, and rise from a pit into whichhis brothers threw him, and a dungeon towhich false accusation led. He was toturn famine into plenty, and dearth intocomparative cheapness; and how was itdone? He must first be hated by hisbrethren; and then he must be sold as aslave; then he must be cast into a prison,and disciplined there for thirteen years;and only after all these things is he per-mitted to work the work which God had
36 JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS.given him to do. Satan's malice, andman's waywardness, impeded Joseph'sway; and only because the Lord was withhim did he prosper in the end against suchcombined opponents. Now, just in pro-portion to the difficulties encountered andsurmounted by him, are we called to re-cognize the hand of God in what befell.When he has a work to do, none canhinder; instruments will be found, andhis purposes on earth will be promoted,in spite of all that can resist or gainsay.As well may we expect to roll back theflowing tide by a word, or make somemighty river like the Amazon or the St.Lawrence run upward to its fountain, ascheck, divert, or even retard the purposesof the Eternal. He will work, and nonecan hinder : and the gland moral ofJoseph's touching story is just this,-Manand devils may combine to oppose the
JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS. 87cause of God, but on that cause advances,resistless because he is the Almighty.But while we glance at Joseph's pro-motion thus far, we cannot help advertingto the state of his unnatural brothers.No doubt they thought that their wickeddevice had succeeded; they tried to be atpeace, and rejoice in their form of pros-perity. They might see their aged fatherpining nearer and nearer to the gravefrom day to day, on account of the loss ofJoseph. They might have some com-punctions, and we can scarcely supposethat conscience would be altogether silent;it would be a rare case, indeed, had theysucceeded in stifling entirely the voicewithin. But we are told of no repen-tance, no confession of sin, no humiliationfor murder designed, for falsehood told,for a brother hated, and a father, reducedto life-long anguish, passing on unsoothed
38 JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS.to the grave! Oh, the power of sin!How it perverts man's nature! how ithardens his heart into stone how surelyis the power of an Almighty Spirit neededto renew it! and how blessed when thatSpirit has come to make us one spirit withthat Living One of whom Joseph was atype-Jesus, the Son of God !We say Joseph was a type of Jesus; atleast the life of the one strangely resembledthat of the other. Such resemblances aresometimes fanciful, and pushed furtherthan sober judgment can sanction, yetin many respects they are striking.Was Joseph, for example, hated by hisbrethren? Jesus also came to his own,and his own received him not. WasJoseph the favourite of his father ? Inlike manner Jehovah proclaimed concern-ing Jesus, "This is my beloved Son."Was Joseph sold by his brethren ? So
JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS. 39was Jesus. Was the former falselyaccused ? So was the latter. WasJoseph the saviour of many from deathby starvation ? Jesus was the saviour ofa multitude, whom no man can number,from sin. Was Joseph first degraded ordishonoured, and then highly exalted?The history of the Redeemer's earthlysojourn tells how wicked men dishonouredor derided him; but the Scriptures alsotell that God highly exalted him, andgave him a name which is above everyname. Was it a proclamation madebefore Joseph, "Bow the knee"? (Gen.xli. 43). In like mannner, "at the nameof Jesus every knee shall bow." DidJoseph feed multitudes ? In like mannerJesus gives us the bread which comesdown from heaven. Did Joseph forgivehis unnatural brethren at last ? Thedying Saviour prayed for his crucifiers:
40 JOSEPH INTERPRETING PHARAOH'S DREAMS."Father, forgive them; for they knownot what they do."We would not carry out this parallel,we repeat, to any fanciful extent; but thecoincidences now mentioned, and manymore, are often pointed out. In the esti-mation of some, they furnish a proof thatthe sufferings of the Saviour were pre-figured, or predicted, by those of Joseph;which at least show this-that he thatwill live righteously must suffer persecu-tion, whether he be one of the sons ofmen, or the only Son of God.
CHAPTER V.JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT.T is instructive to notice how manythings were combined, by theprovidential care of God, to pro-mote the advancement of Joseph:1. He dreamed; 2. He told his dreamsto his brethren; 3. He went and visitedthem at a distance from their father'shome-and, prior to that, he had beenenvied by them on account of his father'spartiality; 4. Reuben and Judah inter-posed to prevent his being murdered;5. The Ishmaelites passed opportunelythrough Dothan; 6. They bought him;6
42 JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT.7. They carried him into Egypt, and soldhim to Potiphar-not a person of minorinfluence; 8. Joseph was tempted to sin,but resisted the temptation, and wasthrown into prison on a false accusation;9. He had for his fellow-prisoners two ofPharaoh's household; 10. They dreameddreams; 11. Pharaoh did the same;12. A former fellow-prisoner of theHebrew lad was at hand, to remind thetroubled king of that lad's power. Andonly at the end of this long chain-towhich still other links might have beenadded-was Joseph raised from his degra-dation; only then did it appear that hewho chooses weak things to confound themighty had a great work to accomplish inEgypt by the instrumentality of that man.It seemed darkness without one ray oflight when Joseph was torn from hisfather and his father's country, and made
JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT. 43not merely a slave, but a close prisonerfor several years. But he who makes thewrath of man to praise him, neededJoseph in Egypt; and by terrible thingsin righteousness the purposes of theEternal were wrought out.Now this finely illustrates the exquisiteadaptations of the providence of God toaccomplish his designs. The links, howdelicate and manifold, yet how firm Theagents, how free, yet how perfectly con-trolled! The devices, how deep in somecases, how simple in others; yet howbeautifully all conspire to promote thedesired end! Is not this the finger ofGod ? Does he not vivify all, or restrainall, ever one in purpose as he is one inessence; and making all advance hisglory ?Contemplate Joseph now, then. He isat the right hand of Pharaoh for that
44 JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT.monarch has said to him, " See, I haveset thee over all the land of Egypt.Thou shalt be over my house, and accord-ing unto thy word shall all my people beruled; only in the throne will I be greaterthan thou." Joseph had power now to"bind even princes at his pleasure ;" andwe cannot help contrasting the recentslave and prisoner with the friend andcounsellor of royalty, united in the sameperson. He is adorned with Pharaoh'sring, and with a chain of gold. If he haslost his coat of many colours, he wears theroyal raiment of Egypt in its stead. Herides, moreover, in a chariot of state; andmen, as we have seen, now cry before him,"Bow the knee." Joseph is, in truth, allbut royal; and though such things wouldnot much affect him, if he was whatwe believe him to have been-that is,righteous before God-yet they do fur-
JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT. 45nish a vivid contrast to Joseph's recentcondition. They show us that when Godover all has work to do, he will both findagents and gift them with the means ofaccomplishing his purposes. Man seeksto withdraw himself and his affairs entirelyfrom the control of the Supreme; but hebridles, fetters, or gives liberty, accordingto his pleasure; and blessed are they whoare his willing people.And who could not quote a hundredsuch examples as that of Joseph from thehistory of the past ? Nay, may not everyman who has had wisdom to watch theways of God in dealing with his own soul,single out examples of similar wisdom inthe providence of the Holy One ? It maybe for retribution on the guilty, or for en-couragement to the men who fear God;but whatever be the design, many signalexamples are recorded, to show that God
46 JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT.watches over all human plans, guidingand controlling them, so as to promote thegood pleasure of his will. Man proposes,but God disposes; and he that is wise tomark the wisdom of the Supreme in suchthings, will not want for proof of theloving-kindness of the Lord. During arecent memorable siege in the East, forexample, it was the design of hordes ofdark-souled men to explode a mine, andblow their beleaguered victims into theair; but that mine was prematurely fired,and destroyed only those emissaries of evilwho dug it. Now, this is only a specimenof what takes place in the providence ofGod; at least that mine at Lucknow wasmorally anticipated in the selling ofJoseph by his brethren, and his exalta-tion to the right hand of Pharaoh byGod, compared with their humiliationbefore him at last.
JOSEPH'S ADVANCEMENT. 47Further: we need only to look forwardto the closing scene of all, the last andgreat Assize, to see examples countless ofthis general law What multitudes thenwill be seen to have been caught in theirown pitfall! How manifest will it thenbecome that God was over all, even whenmen were asking, like Pharaoh of old,"Who is the Lord, that I should fearhim ? " Now, this may well supplystrength to every tried one. God maypermit sorrow to assail; but do we,in godly sincerity, commit our way tohim ? Then glory will emerge from thatthreatened shame; and grief, as in Joseph'scase, will be found the precursor of joyeverlasting.
CHAPTER VI."YE ARE SPIES."9HE history of Joseph now becomesmore and more a history of theStriumph of faith over sight, orholiness over sin. Hitherto trans-gressors have seemed to prosper in theirway, and only the godly were depressed.But now we are to see the Holy Onevindicating the rights of injured innocence,and more and more plainly proclaimingthat the Judge of all the earth will doright. May we not exclaim, then,-"Stern daughter of the voice of God!0 Duty! if that name thou love,
"YE ARE SPIES." 49Who art a light to guide, a rodTo check the erring, and reprove;Thou who art victory and law,When empty terrors overawe;From vain temptations dost set free,And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity.""Be sure your sins will find you out,"is the fixed decree of God; and in thecase of Joseph's brethren the day of re-tribution now begins to dawn. If hithertoconscience had been at ease, or obliviousof their brother, it is now to be roused,and to speak out for the Holy One whois the Lord of conscience-the just Judgeof the skies. The great white throne andits work are now to be anticipated.From the narrative in Genesis we knowthat a famine had arisen in Egypt, asJoseph had predicted. Its influencespread from that land into the adjacentcountries, and the sons of Jacob wentthither to profit by the stores which the7
50 " YE ARE SPIES."wisdom of that brother whom they hadhated and sold had amassed. "All coun-tries came into Egypt to Joseph, for tobuy corn; because that the famine was sosore in all lands:" and among the rest,the future patriarchs came, and "boweddown themselves before him with theirfaces to the earth."In other words, Joseph's dream is nowfulfilled,-his brethren do obeisance tohim-they are prostrate in the Orientalmanner at his footstool! All their ma-chinations could not turn aside the pur-poses of Jehovah; and neither their pro-jected murder of Joseph, nor his beingsold into Egypt, nor his being a prisonerfor years, could interfere with the onwardmarch or the ceaseless flow of purposesformed in heaven. It cannot be toostrenuously enforced, for it is the burdenof the whole Bible, that every wish of
"YE ARE SPIES." 51man, every word and deed of the creature,must bend before the will of God. Joseph'swhole history is a proof; and the historyof the whole world, when read in the lightof eternity, will further demonstrate thesame truth. " Be still, and know that Iam God," is the profound but simplelesson which all must learn,-on earth, orin agony hereafter for ever.All obstructions, then, are made to pro-mote the designs of the Eternal; and thesons of Jacob are therefore now at thefeet of their hated younger brother. Fortheir trial, he spoke roughly unto them,and said, "Ye are spies." They werethus compelled to defend themselves inthe presence of him whom they had throwninto a pit, and plead for their lives beforeone for whom they had no better portionthan slavery and exile. Again and againwas the charge, "Ye are spies," produced
52 "YE ARE SPIES."against them; and again and again hadthey to declare that they were true men,.though Joseph knew that they were not.In short, they begin to discover that the"way of transgressors is hard; and to beassured that though hand join in hand,sin shall not escape under the governmentof the Holy One.It is sometimes not easy to speak or toact towards sinners under the influence ofthat pity which their sad case requires.The cutting sarcasm of Elijah to thepriests of Baal, and the irony of Isaiah tothe idolaters of his day, appear to be theright weapons to be used in such a case.Oh, how has reason been dethroned by sin!how has even conscience been warped andblinded, when men can hope to cope withOmnipotence and triumph-to plot againstOmniscience and escape-to rebel againstLove and be happy
" YE ARE SPIES." 53And the scriptural narrative is full uponthis point, for it is one of the main designsof the Bible to restore conscience to itsplace of power. When tribulation cameupon those men-when their sins beganto compass them about with sorrows-itwas then that conscience spoke out: " Theysaid one to another, We are verily guiltyconcerning our brother, in that we sawthe anguish of his soul, when he besoughtus, and we would not hear; therefore isthis distress come upon us. And Reubenanswered them, saying, Spake I not untoyou, saying, Do not sin against the child;and ye would not hear ? therefore, behold,also his blood is required" (Gen. xlii. 21,22). Their injured brother wept asidewhile they thus conferred; but, mean-while, conviction of sin has been wrought;and, in one point of view, these guiltymen are twice in the dust;-once before
54 "YE ARE SPIES."God, as detected in their iniquity; andagain before their brother, fulfilling theword of God upon their very knees.And this may vividly remind us ofwhat awaits the guilty at the last.Self-detected, they will also be self-con-demned. They will anticipate the ver-dict of the Judge, and call on the moun-tains to fall on them ere ever his sen-tence be uttered. But were it not wellto anticipate all this at an earlier stage ?"Were it not well to write bitter thingsagainst ourselves now, and not waitto be condemned with the wicked-tolisten to the voice of a condemning con-science, and so escape the condemnationof God?"His blood is required of us," then,-such was the confession of those men;and, in confessing that fact, they bowedbefore the majesty of conscience, as the
"YE ARE SPIES." 55trees of the forest bow before the storm.Now, it were well could the men of everyname, and class, and age, be brought torecognize that majesty, and in time to doobeisance before it. It were well were itwritten up in every place of business, inevery church, in every home, nay, inevery heart,-"There is a God thatjudgeth in the earth;" "Hie will bringevery work into judgment, with everysecret thought." Were that remembered,surely it would tend to check man'sproneness to sin, unless he were pre-pared openly to conflict with Omni-potence. True, nothing but God's al-mighty grace can subdue our waywardhearts, or make his will our law; yetcould we remember Joseph's brethren,as we are directed to remember Lot'swife, it would be well with us : theSpirit of God would bless it for our
56 "YE ARE SPIES."good; and both young and old-bothviceroys like Joseph and shepherds likehis brethren-would be wiser and happiermen.
CHAPTER VII.THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK.HERE can be little doubt that theevents recorded in Scripture aredesigned to illustrate its moralmaxims and its religious principles.Distinguishing aright between what theGod of the Bible approves and what hecondemns, we find much light shed. uponhis truth by the conduct of those whoselives are recorded there. Truth is neverpresented in abstract forms, such as onlythe studious or the learned can compre-hend. On the contrary, it is embodiedin life, now to awe us, and anon to allure;8
58 THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK.at one time a beacon to warn, at anothera signal to encourage or guide.But there are many facts mentioned, orcustoms referred to, in Scripture, withwhich we are now but little acquainted.The next incident in Joseph's history towhich we refer belongs to this class. Hisbrethren were returning the second timefrom Egypt with sacks of corn; but inorder to stay, or to test them further, heordered the cup "whereby he divined"(Gen. xliv. 5) to be privately deposited inthe sack of Benjamin, .who had been sentby his father with extreme reluctanceto Egypt, at the imperative demand ofJoseph. His steward was then orderedto follow them, and seize the party inwhose sack the drinking-cup was found.It was discovered, of course, in Benjamin's;and now began consternation to the utter-most among the sons of Jacob. "They
THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK. 59rent their clothes, and laded every manhis ass, and returned to the city." Theyhad hoped to escape from the effects of asin committed many years ago, but nowthey must suffer and be in great trepida-tion for a sin which they did not commitat all. If conscience has hitherto beendormant or dead, it is about to be rousedto a terrible activity. It is soon to bewith them as with the thief who "dreadsan officer in every bush."The first thing that the guilty brothersdid, when they reached the abode ofJoseph, was to "fall before him on theground," and so fulfil once more that pre-diction concerning them and their doingobeisance which had at first excited theirenmity or their envy. They had to pleadtheir cause with all the force of Easternpathos before Pharaoh's viceroy-theirown brother; and their pleading contains
60 THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK.some exquisitely tender appeals, thoroughlyEastern in their style, but as thoroughlyhuman in their nature. Their father'sgrief now occupied their thoughts: theywere not heartless as before; for whenthe conscience was once roused it beganto stir the better feelings of the heart.Days of adversity and trial have at lengthaccomplished some favourable results. Asthe great I AM had work for Joseph in theworld, he had also work for his brethrento do, and they are reclaimed from theirself-inflicted degradation.But what is meant by Joseph's diviningcup ? When his brethren appeared beforehim to answer for the theft alleged againstthem, the ruler of Egypt said, "Know yenot that such a man as I am can certainlydivine ? " And does that mean thatJoseph had adopted the practices of heathenpriests, pretending to forecast the future,
THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK. 61and so far usurp the prerogative ofGod ?"Without going further, the margin ofour Bibles may help us to reply to thatquestion. The word "divine," in Gen.xliv. 5 and 15, is translated on the margin"make trial;" and we are thus, perhaps,referred to some method adopted in Egyptfor testing doubtful cases, by some pe-culiar use of a cup. According to others,the word means no more than that Josephwould make strict scrutiny upon such apoint. He would sift and test the charac-ter of the men before him. He would notlet them go as innocent, when he had triedthem and found them criminal. By suchan announcement Joseph would re-enforcethe claims of conscience; he would deepenthe alarms that had already risen in theirminds; he was in God's hands to workout God's purposes in those long dormant
62 THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK.hearts; for if Joseph could make strictinquiry, those men knew of One whocould make stricter still-the God wholooks upon the heart, whose eyes are as aflame of fire, and who cannot look on sinwithout abhorrence.But however we may interpret whatour Bible calls Joseph's power to divine,we have no difficulty in understanding themoral lessons of such events, or tracingthe hand of heavenly wisdom, " fromseeming evil still educing good." WhenJoseph demanded Benjamin to be broughtdown, and when that was reported to hisfather, we know how he was affected.Joseph, he believed, was lost; Simeonwas detained in Egypt as an hostage;Benjamin is now demanded; and the pat-riarch exclaimed, "Me have ye bereavedof my children; Joseph is not, and Simeonis not, and ye will take Benjamin away.
THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK. 63All these things are against me" (Gen.xlii. 36). Now, little did the man whomade that sore complaint understand theways of God, even after all the experiencehe had had : he judged like a short-sightedmortal, as we are ever prone to do, andnot as a believer in "the mighty God ofJacob." He took counsel of flesh andblood, and not of the God of all grace.He listened to the whispers of his ownheart; and what can follow such a coursebut woe ? The patriarch would have beennearer the truth-he would have utteredthe very truth-had he said the reverseof what he here declares. And the sameis true of us all. We are ever prone tomisinterpret the ways of God. We putfalse constructions upon his most wise andloving providences: we judge by sense,and not by faith. When he chastens forour profit, we think that it .is for our ruin ;
64 THE CUP IN BENJAMIN'S SACK.we conclude that we are to be destroyed,when we are only corrected: and thuslive in misery when we might joy in God,as David did when he said, "In veryfaithfulness doth he afflict me." Con-science whispers to many a soul what wedeserve from God; and when sorrowscome, conscience generally concludes thatthey are the first drops of the vials ofwrath.
CHAPTER VIII.THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN.","OSEPH fell upon his brotherBenjamin's neck and wept; andSBenjamin wept upon his neck"^' (Gen. xlv. 14). Such is theword-picture of which one of our Engrav-ings is a copy. There is much that islovely and of good report as between manand man in our natures, notwithstandingof the fall, and one of the fountains of theheart is here broken open. We see howbrother loves brother, and, by contrastwith that scene, are enabled to understandhow far the minds of Joseph's brethren9
66 THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN.must have been warped and deadened byhatred or envy, when they could trampleas they did upon the affection whichshould knit brother to brother. Suchbeautiful displays of brotherly love wereperhaps made in this case just to showmore clearly by contrast the hateful natureof envy in every case, but most of allamong brothers.Prior to this stage of these proceedings,indeed, Joseph had given some manifesta-tions of his affection to Benjamin. Heshowed that his elevation to the righthand of a throne had neither alienatednor chilled his love; and the fivefoldmess which he sent to Benjamin (Gen.xliii. 34), according to the Eastern modeof showing affection, made it plain thatthe external change in Joseph's positionhad not altered his heart. When he firstset eyes on Benjamin, he could not refrain
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THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN. 67his tears, but "sought where to weep;and he entered into his chamber, and weptthere" (verses 29-31). According to thecalmer temperament of Western nations,where self-command in such cases is morestudied, such affection may appear ex-cessive in a high and mighty ruler; itmay seem weak or womanish thus to dis-solve into tears, even in the retirementof one's chamber. But in less phleg-matic temperaments, and especially amongOrientals, nature takes its own mode ofexpression-at once the most pathetic andthe most powerful; and the gushings ofnatural affection, its tenderness, its beauty,and its force, rank among the finest por-tions of the Word of God. Jesus weptbecause Jerusalem would none of him:it would rather rush upon ruin. Thedeep yearnings of his loving heart wereoutraged, and he wept in anguish there,
68 THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN.as in Gethsemane his sweat was as it weregreat drops of blood. Again, Paul couldtell, even weeping, of some who were theenemies of the cross of Christ, who gloriedin their shame, and drew forth pity for menwho had no pity on themselves. In short,wherever man is not hardened into callous-ness by the power of the world, or chilledby conventional usage, he will be asprompt to weep with them that weep asto rejoice with them that rejoice. It istrue, whether poetry record it or not,that-"Not the bright stars which night's blue arch adorn,Nor rising sun which gilds the vernal morn,Shines with such lustre as the tears that break,For other's woes, down Virtue's manly cheek."But the scene at which Joseph madehimself known to his brethren deservesour closer attention. He wept sore, andso loudly that the Egyptians heard him.
THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN. 69A strange thing that day had happened intheir land; and it is not easy to conceive ofthe feelings of those brethren when theruler, so royal-like, beside them, exclaimed," I am Joseph !" Surely no lightning flashever startled more. The words of Nathanto David, "Thou art the man!" couldproduce no profounder emotion. In thatone clause the memory of years long pastwas awakened; and surely the consciencesof those men were busier now than theyhad ever been before: surely the blush ofconfusion might well crimson their cheeks,and the recollection of all their baseness-their cruelty to their father, their brother,and their own souls-would rush upontheir minds with the vividness of a yester-day's event. "They were troubled at hispresence "-the margin says "terrified."And well they might; it was as if onehad risen from the dead, or as if a miracle
70 THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN.had been wrought to confront them withtheir sin. When he said, " I am Josephyour brother, whom ye sold into Egypt! "would not the words sound like the firstportion of a sentence of death and execu-tion ? But he hastened to relieve theirfears. "Be not grieved," he said, "norangry with yourselves, that ye sold mehither; for God did send me before youto preserve life." And when he "kissedall his brethren, and wept over them,"they no doubt felt a mountain-load liftedfrom their minds. Joseph had forgiventhem; nay, more, he had found an excuseor palliation for their sin. But could theyforgive themselves? If they were notutterly abandoned to guilt-and we knowthat they were not-could they find restanywhere but in the dust at that solemn,searching moment ? Oh, how would many,now undone and beyond hope for ever, re-
THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN. 71joice could such an hour of contrition begranted to them here !Here, then, we may contemplate thestate of these detected men, when theirsin was pressed upon their notice by theirbrother, all kind and forgiving as were hiswords. The chief sin of all-the sale intoslavery-had been committed many yearsbefore: it seemed over and forgotten, likea thing buried and out of sight. But no;sin has a vitality in it which defies alikeoblivion and death; it is enduring, as thenature of God is unchanging; and theguilty brothers are thus confronted withtheir sin, fresh and vigorous, as if yester-day had seen it perpetrated. And is notthis but a rehearsal or a foreshadowing ofthe great and final day, when the Judge ofthe quick and the dead is to set our sinsin array against us, or when it will seema relief if the mountains would fall on us
72 THE MEETING OF JOSEPH AND BENJAMIN.and cover us from the wrath of the Lamb ?Happy the man who has his soul washedin the Lamb's blood preparatory to thatday We should never forget that thereis to be a resurrection of our deeds as wellas of our bodies, and should live so as tobe ready to render our account with joy.
CHAPTER IX.THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.F we have witnessed one scene ofaffection when Joseph embracedhis brother Benjamin, we are nowto behold another, when the patri-arch Jacob meets with his long lost son.We are often permitted, even in this life,to see joy and gladness according to thedays in which we have seen grief; and anexample of that is at hand.After the interview between Joseph andhis brethren, matters were soon arrangedfor transferring them and all their retinueto Egypt,-another important stage in the10
74 THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.development of God's plans with our world.Pharaoh confirmed the request of his vice-roy to that effect, so that the patriarchsand their father with them were invited tosettle in one of the richest portions ofEgypt. Among these migratory tribes ofherdsmen-who literally had no continu-ing city-such a removal was not so re-markable as a similar thing would be inour country of more fixed habits; and thewhole house of Jacob was accordingly soonin motion toward Egypt. " It is enough,"he exclaimed, when the invitation reachedhim; "Joseph my son is yet alive: I willgo and see him before I die;" and thethreescore and six souls, who composedhis household, of course followed in histrain.Now, had we been there to witness thatmigration, it would never have occurredto us to think that the future history of
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THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH. 75the sons of men would be largely affectedby the movement; yet it was so. Thatwas no ordinary change of abode: Godwas in it of a truth; and, blind or dark asman might be, God was there in the actof "calling things that are not as thoughthey were."As he journeyed toward Egypt, Jacobmet with much to gladden him by theway. In a vision of the night, he wasencouraged from on high to go fearlesslyforward, for blessings great and manifoldawaited him and his descendants in thefuture, But our present topic leads uspast the different stages of the journey, tothe meeting of the father and the son.When Joseph learned that his parent wasapproaching, he hastened forth to meethim, and, with the ardent affection, aswell as the profound respect, of the East,welcomed the aged man to Egypt. He
76 THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.did not think it beneath his dignity, asvice-king of that country, to offer lowlyreverence to his father, shepherd or hus-bandman as he was, and following a pro-fession which made him "an abominationunto the Egyptians." Nay, when Josephmet his father in the land of Goshen, weread that "he fell on his neck, and wepton his neck a good while " (Gen. xlvi. 29);while the father exclaimed, " Now, let medie, since I have seen thy face, becausethou art still alive."-It was an interviewand an hour which compensated, in agreat measure, for the sorrows and separa-tion of years; it was one of the scenes bywhich God, in his holy providence, fore-shows how intense will be the joy whenthe great family are all gathered home,from every country, and tribe, and tongue,to their Father's house on high. Theexile returning to the home of his fathers,
THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH. 77or the soldier revisiting the scenes of hisboyhood after many a bloody field, mayunderstand such emotions in some degree.They are green spots in the desert of life-a Tadmor in the wilderness-a lilyamong thorns.Yet there, also, the feelings would beof a mixed nature, like all things human.Scarcely any of the parties present-Jacob, Joseph, or his brethren-could failto glance in thought at the strange pro-ceedings which had separated them solong. There might be neither envy norhatred now-neither spite upon the oneside, nor a desire of retaliation on the other.The dealings of Providence had been tooremarkable to admit of such feelings; andwe rather suppose that they were all sup-pressed, as much as possible, amid thegeneral joy. But be that as it may, wesee the patriarch happy for a season. His
78 THE MEETING OF JACOB AND JOSEPH.children, who were really the hope of theworld (strange as the remark may seemwhen applied to such men), were nowgathered around him; and as it then ap-peared that he had little to do but to die,he might at length put a different construc-tion on his own words : " All these thingsare against me." He had providence nowinterpreted to him by its God, and sawwith his bodily eyes, as all the ransomedwill yet see in glory, that " all things worktogether for good to them that love God,and that are the called according to hispurpose." Flesh and blood may fear andquake under trial, but faith rises to ahigher level, and walks with a firmer step,-it can endure as seeing him who is in-visible.
CHAPTER X.JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH.jE have seen that the son stood be-fore kings, and the father is nowto do the same. If we have be-held not a little in former scenesto commend Joseph to our love, we arehere to see yet more. As soon as hemet his father, he communicated his pur-pose to apply to Pharaoh to sanction thesojourn of the patriarch and his tribe inEgypt. This was easily arranged; andat the close of the proceedings, Joseph"brought in Jacob his father, and set himbefore Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pha-
80 JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH.raoh" (Gen. xlvii. 7). When this wasaccomplished, we can suppose that thehighest wishes of one so affectionate asJoseph were gratified. For about seventeenyears his parent lived to bless him with hiscompany and his counsel; and though wehave not many details of their intercourseduring that period, we may easily imaginethat the tenderness of those seventeen yearslargely compensated for the long andviolentseparation which had kept the father andthe son so far apart, and even made themthe citizens of different kingdoms.But we may notice here, in passing, thequestion of Pharaoh, and the answer ofJacob, at their interview. " How old artthou ?" was the monarch's inquiry; andJacob's reply was a picture in words ofthe weary life of man: "The days of theyears of my pilgrimage are an hundredand thirty years: few and evil have the
JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH. 81days of the years of my life been, andhave not attained unto the days of theyears of the life of my fathers, in the daysof their pilgrimage " (Gen. xlvii. 9). Fewand evil! Behold the history of a lifewhose days were protracted even beyondthe ordinary span! Few and evil, becauseman is born to trouble as the sparks flyupward. Few and evil, because it iswritten, "Dust thou art, and unto dustshalt thou return." Few and evil, be-cause, in this special case, there hadbeen morethan common grief endured,where those who should have been a solaceor a stay were transformed by sin intocauses of anguish, first to their agedparent, and at last also to themselves.And how sad must the reply of Jacobhave sounded in the ears of the king! Itrarely happens that monarchs are per-mitted to hear unpleasant truths. Every-11
82 JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH.thing around them seems to proclaim orto whisper that to-morrow will be as to-day;or if different, only more joyous and morethoughtless still! For once, however, thehoary-headed patriarch tells the monarch thetruth, and indirectly reminds him, Thou, too,must die. Therewas anotherking, the Kingof Terrors, mightier than Pharaoh, andslowly approaching to lay him in the dust.And perhaps there is nothing in all thehistory or the life of man which showsmore clearly the effects of sin, or the ruinof the fall, than his wilful igporance, orat least his want of feeling, on the greatsubject of his mortality. Of no truth is itpossible for man to be more convincedthan this-I must die. It is not so abso-lutely certain that the sun will rise onany given day, as that man may die anymoment or any breath. Yet who ismoved by that conviction to prepare for
JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH. 83dying ? Who is stirred up by all thefunerals which he sees, or all the opengraves which he visits, to prepare formeeting God ? Not one. It is not thatkind of influence : it is the grace and theSpirit of God that make man wise to con-sider his latter end. For example, theplaintive sentiment, "Few and evil,"uttered by the patriarch, most probablypassed through the monarch's mind likewater through a sieve. A sigh, or a wish,or a hope, perhaps, and all was over!The thought was dashed aside as an un-welcome intruder amid the gorgeous scenesof a palace. And if that was the case,Pharaoh was only a specimen of the uni-versal race of man. The fleeting nature oflife is forgotten amid its cares, its engross-ments, and trifles. But happy they whomthe Spirit of God makes wise in this andother respects! Happy they who cling,
84 JACOB IN THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH.as Jacob did, to Him who is the life, andover whom death has no power for ever !In the African desert there is a bird,known as the honey-guide, which oftenconducts the traveller to some hive, whosesweet stores form a staple article of foodin those dreary parts. By a peculiarinstinct, provision is thus made to supplythe wayfarer's wants; or, in some cases,to rescue him from death. Now God hasyet more wisely and surely provided forour escape from the second death, if welisten to the warnings of his Word or theguidance of his Spirit; and happy arethey who are thus guided They are ledto a portion sweeter far than honey from thehoney-comb. The few and weary days ofour earthly pilgrimage then conduct us tothe house of the Lord-the city of the GreatKing-the abode to which the palace of'Pharaoh was as a dungeon or a cell.
CHAPTER XI.THE DEATH OF JACOB.E have now reached the closing stageof all. For about seventeen yearsJacob sojourned in Egypt, andabout one hundred and forty-sevenhere below; but the "evil" of which hecomplained to Pharaoh is drawing to anend. The patriarch is about to die.Joseph was summoned into his father'spresence, along with his two sons, Man-asseh and Ephraim, who were adopted ashis own by the dying. patriarch; they re-ceived his blessing along with their father(Gen. xlviii.); and after the aged man had
86 THE DEATH OF JACOB.prophetically sketched the history or char-acter of each of the future patriarchs, "hegathered up his feet into the bed, andyielded up the ghost, and was gatheredunto his people."And in concluding these sketches, wemay glance again at the mode in whichthe mighty God brought good to allnations and all times out of the misdeedsof the sons of Jacob. In our world thereis much to perplex and bewilder us instudying the ways of Providence, and itis not always easy-for us, at least-to"justify the ways of God to man;" buthe will sooner or later justify them himself,and make it plain to all that his ways, likehis Word, are pure.For example, we have already seen whatbenefits accrued to Joseph himself fromthe cruelty of his brethren, and how fullyhe recognized the hand of God in all that
THE DEATH OF JACOB. 87had befallen him. Just as Jehovah willmake it plain at last, before the assembledworld, that the very wrath of man haspraised him, in the present instance hemade the evil passions of those brothersremarkably advance the eternal purposesof the God of heaven. The promises madeto Adam and to Abraham are here helpeda stage forward to their fulfilment in spiteof all that seems to oppose. Somehow orother, though we cannot see it, or explainit at all, even sin-the abominable thingwhioh God hates-will be made to pro-mote his glory; and of that result we havea specimen in the events of this remark-able family.To Jacob, also, as well as to the landof Egypt, we see what benefits resultedfrom the sin of his sons. All the guilt ofthat sin lay upon them, and was not in theleast jot mitigated by the manner in which
88 THE DEATH OF JACOB.God overruled it for good; but it is -full ofencouragement to a child of God, to see itworking out the purposes of his Father.Jacob was saved from death by starva-tion; his family, and myriads besides,were the same: and thus he who soughtonly to do evil by stirring up the envyof Joseph's brethren, was compelled to dogood thereby again and again.
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