Genesis 45:6
For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
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(6) Earing.—An old English word for ploughing, derived from the Latin arare, Anglo-Saxon erian, to plough.

Genesis 45:6-7. Five years there shall be neither earing (an old English word for ploughing, which is the meaning of the Hebrew) nor harvest — That is, except in a few places near the river Nile; for, understanding from Joseph that the famine would be of long continuance, and that their labour and seed, which they could ill spare, would be lost, people would neither plough nor sow, and, of course, could not reap. To preserve you a posterity in the earth — That you and your children might be sustained in this time of famine, and afterward abundantly multiplied as God hath promised. To save your lives by a great deliverance — Or, according to the Hebrew, for a great escaping, or, a great remnant; — that is, that you, who are now but a handful, escaping this danger, might grow into a vast multitude; the word evasion, or escaping, being put for the persons that escape, as 2 Chronicles 30:6, and Isaiah 10:20. Joseph reckoned that his advancement was not so much designed to save a whole kingdom of Egyptians, as to preserve a small family of Israelites; for the Lord’s portion is his people: whatever goes with others, they shall be secured. How admirable are the projects of Providence! How remote their tendencies! What wheels are there within wheels; and yet all directed by the eyes in the wheels, and the spirit of the living creature!

45:1-15 Joseph let Judah go on, and heard all he had to say. He found his brethren humbled for their sins, mindful of himself, for Judah had mentioned him twice in his speech, respectful to their father, and very tender of their brother Benjamin. Now they were ripe for the comfort he designed, by making himself known. Joseph ordered all his attendants to withdraw. Thus Christ makes himself and his loving-kindness known to his people, out of the sight and hearing of the world. Joseph shed tears of tenderness and strong affection, and with these threw off that austerity with which he had hitherto behaved toward his brethren. This represents the Divine compassion toward returning penitents. I am Joseph, your brother. This would humble them yet more for their sin in selling him, but would encourage them to hope for kind treatment. Thus, when Christ would convince Paul, he said, I am Jesus; and when he would comfort his disciples, he said, It is I, be not afraid. When Christ manifests himself to his people, he encourages them to draw near to him with a true heart. Joseph does so, and shows them, that whatever they thought to do against him, God had brought good out of it. Sinners must grieve and be angry with themselves for their sins, though God brings good out of it, for that is no thanks to them. The agreement between all this, and the case of a sinner, on Christ's manifesting himself to his soul, is very striking. He does not, on this account, think sin a less, but a greater evil; and yet he is so armed against despair, as even to rejoice in what God hath wrought, while he trembles in thinking of the dangers and destruction from which he has escaped. Joseph promises to take care of his father and all the family. It is the duty of children, if the necessity of their parents at any time require it, to support and supply them to the utmost of their ability; this is showing piety at home, 1Ti 5:4. After Joseph had embraced Benjamin, he caressed them all, and then his brethren talked with him freely of all the affairs of their father's house. After the tokens of true reconciliation with the Lord Jesus, sweet communion with him follows.Joseph now reveals to his brothers the astonishing fact that he himself, their long-lost brother, stands before them. "He could not refrain himself." Judah has painted the scene at home to the life; and Joseph can hold out no longer. "Have every man out from me." Delicacy forbids the presence of strangers at this unrestrained outburst of tender emotion among the brothers. Besides, the workings of conscience, bringing up the recollections of the past, and the errors, to which some reference is now unavoidable, are not to be unveiled to the public eye. "He lifted up his voice in weeping." The expression of the feelings is free and uncontrolled in a simple and primitive state of society. This prevails still in the East. And Mizraim heard. The Egyptians of Joseph's house would hear, and report to others, this unusual utterance of deep feeling. "I am Joseph." The natural voice, the native tongue, the long-remembered features, would, all at once, strike the apprehension of the brothers.

The remembrance of their crime, the absolute power of Joseph, and the justice of revenge, would rush upon their minds. No wonder they were silent and troubled at his presence. "Is my father yet alive?" This question shows where Joseph's thoughts were. He had been repeatedly assured of his father's welfare. But the long absence and the yearning of a fond heart bring the question up again. It was reassuring to the brethren, as it was far away from any thought of their fault or their punishment. "Come near unto me." Joseph sees the trouble of his brothers, and discerns its cause. He addresses them a second time, and plainly refers to the fact of their having sold him. He points out that this was overruled of God to the saving of life; and, hence, that it was not they, but God who had mercifully sent him to Egypt to preserve all their lives. "For these two years." Hence, we perceive that the sons of Jacob obtained a supply, on the first occasion, which was sufficient for a year. "To leave to you a remnant in the land."

This is usually and most naturally referred to a surviving portion of their race. "Father to Pharaoh;" a second author of life to him. Having touched very slightly on their transgression, and endeavored to divert their thoughts to the wonderful providence of God displayed in the whole affair, he lastly preoccupies their minds with the duty and necessity of bringing down their father and all their families to dwell in Egypt. "In the land of Goshen." This was a pasture land on the borders of Egypt and Arabia, perhaps at some distance from the Nile, and watered by the showers of heaven, like their own valleys. He then appeals to their recollections and senses, whether he was not their very brother Joseph. "My mouth that speaketh unto you;" not by an interpreter, but with his own lips, and in their native tongue. Having made this needful and reassuring explanation, he breaks through all distance, and falls upon Benjamin's neck and kisses him, and all his other brothers; after which their hearts are soothed, and they speak freely with him.

6. and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest—"Ear" is an old English word, meaning "to plough" (compare 1Sa 8:12; Isa 30:24). This seems to confirm the view given (Ge 41:57) that the famine was caused by an extraordinary drought, which prevented the annual overflowing of the Nile; and of course made the land unfit to receive the seed of Egypt. Neither sowing nor reaping, except in a few places near Nilus, because the people could not spare seed-corn, and would not lose it; understanding from Joseph that their cost and labour would be lost, and that the famine would be of long continuance.

For these two years hath the famine been, in the land,.... In the land of Egypt and in the countries round about:

and yet there are five years; still remaining, which he knew by the above dreams and the interpretation of them:

in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest; that is, no tillage of land, neither ploughing nor sowing, and so no reaping, or gathering in of the fruits of the earth, as used to be in harvest; at least, there would be very little ground tilled, only it may be on the banks of the Nile, since they had no corn to spare for seed; and besides, as the Egyptians knew by Joseph's prediction that the Nile would not overflow, it was to no purpose to attempt to plough their land, which through seven years of drought was become very difficult, or to sow, could they get the seed into the ground, since there was no likelihood of its springing up again.

For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
6. yet five years] Cf. Genesis 41:30.

neither plowing nor harvest] A general phrase for agricultural operations, as in Exodus 34:21; Deuteronomy 21:4; 1 Samuel 8:12. There was not even corn enough for sowing purposes. The drought made the ground too hard for ploughing. A.V. has the Old English “earing” = “plowing.” Cf. A.V. Exodus 34:21, “in earing time and in harvest.” “Let them go to ear the land,” Shakespeare, Rich. II, iii. 2.

Genesis 45:6Joseph then bade his brethren approach nearer, and said: "I am Joseph, your brother, whom he sold into Egypt. But now be not grieved nor angry with yourselves (בּעיניכם אל־חר as in Genesis 31:35) that ye sold me hither; for God hath sent me before you to preserve life." Sic enim Joseph interpretatur venditionem. Vos quidem me vendidistis, sed Deus emit, asseruit et vindicavit me sibi pastorem, principem et salvatorem populorum eodem consilio, quo videbar amissus et perditus (Luther). "For," he continues in explanation, "now there are two years of famine in the land, and there are five years more, in which there will be no ploughing and reaping. And God hath sent me before you to establish you a remnant (cf. 2 Samuel 14:7) upon the earth (i.e., to secure to you the preservation of the tribe and of posterity during this famine), and to preserve your lives to a great deliverance," i.e., to a great nation delivered from destruction, cf. Genesis 50:20. פּליטה that which has escaped, the band of men or multitude escaped from death and destruction (2 Kings 19:30-31). Joseph announced prophetically here, that God had brought him into Egypt to preserve through him the family which He had chosen for His own nation, and to deliver them out of the danger of starvation which threatened them now, as a very great nation.
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