Genesis 40:19
Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. Then the birds will eat the flesh of your body."
Joseph and the Two PrisonersW. M. Taylor, D. D.Genesis 40:1-23
Joseph Ministering to the Comfort of OthersJ. S. Van Dyke.Genesis 40:1-23
LessonsR. Wardlaw.Genesis 40:1-23
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 40:1-23
Light Upon Joseph's DestinyT. H. Leale.Genesis 40:1-23
The Butler and the BakerJ. C. Gray.Genesis 40:1-23
The Same Prison is not the Same Thing to Good and BadG. Lawson, D. D.Genesis 40:1-23
The Inspired ManR.A. Redford Genesis 40

We cannot but notice the importance often assigned in the Bible to dreams, as channels of revelation from God. The dreams of Jacob and of Pharaoh, and passages such as Deuteronomy 13:1 and Joel 2:28, show this. It may be that in the absence of the written word, which in its completeness is our heritage, God's message was thus given to them in portions. Applying this thought to the circumstances of the text, we see men who had received a message from God which they believed was of importance; but they could not understand it, and they are sad because there is no interpreter.

I. THE DEEP IMPORTANCE OF GOD'S MESSAGE. How many questions does life present! What and where are we? Whither going? What lies beyond the present? I see that all things decay; yet on all sides life from death. Is there such revival for me? Can the active, thinking spirit be as though it had never been - passed from existence ere the frail body began to decay? And if there be a life beyond the present, what is its nature? and what the preparation for it? Vainly does human wisdom try to answer these questions. He who made all things alone can explain his works (Psalm 94:9-12), and the Bible is his answer to our questions, wherein he tells us what we are, for what created, and how to fulfill the object of our being (Psalm 119:105).

II. But WE NEED AN INTERPRETER. It may be asked, Why? The Bible is open. Its words are such as any one can understand. This is true, as far as regards facts, and precepts, and doctrines. There is a knowledge of the word which the natural man can attain to; but the Holy Spirit alone can so open it as to make it "the power of God." It is one thing to know the doctrines of sin and of salvation, and quite another to know ourselves as sinners, and Christ as the Savior. The one puffs up with pride of knowledge, the other leads to the one Foundation. There is no more dangerous snare than of ignoring this work of the Holy Spirit. Too often men do not believe their need of it, and do not believe in his help. And thus the Bible is found dull, and its teaching departed from in daily life.

III. How TO GET THE INTERPRETER'S HELP. "Tell me." Think of our Lord watching his disciples in the boat. So he watches over thee, ready to help. Hast thou found it so? Has the light of God's love entered thy heart? It is the special work of the Holy Spirit to guide into all truth (John 16:13); not in solving mysteries and hard questions, but in revealing Christ to the heart. Have you sought this; sought with expectation the full gift; sought to know Christ (Philippians 3:10), and the transforming power of belief in his love? Will you seek? There lies the difficulty - the want of earnestness. Men seem afraid of being earnest. But it is the earnest (Matthew 11:12, βιασται) who enter the kingdom of heaven. - M.

Am I my brother's keeper?
The feeling of our sonship to God in Christ is a topic which requires to be constantly dwelt upon, because our conventional acceptance of such a relationship is apt to be compatible with a life which has no real apprehension of it.

I. Of the dangers which are partly rooted in our animal nature and partly fostered and intensified by the drift of our time, the one likely to press most heavily on us is that of exaggerated Individualism. Where this is not tempered by an infusion of the religious spirit, we find it working with a disintegrating power, and in various ways vitiating both our personal and social life.

II. Almost every advance of civilization which distinguishes our century has tended to give this principle some new hold on the common life. There is no corner of society, commercial or social, political or artistic, which it does not invade. The volume of its force is intensified as wealth increases and easy circumstances become more common. Our time is preeminently a time of materialistic egoism.

III. The evolutionist, telling us of the growth of all our sentiments, taking us back to germinal forms and then leading us upward through struggle and survival, makes the ruling motive in every early life essentially egoistic. The question arises, Where and how is this motive to change its character? Is this last utterance to be still but an echo of the primeval question, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

IV. But we cannot rest in this conclusion. There is no possibility of rest until we have settled it with ourselves that our higher consciousness gives us touch of the reality of the Divine and everlasting, when it declares that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs, joint heirs with Christ. This we believe to be the last word for us on the mystery of our being and destiny.

(J. Percival.)

The first time the relationship of brotherhood is brought before us in Scripture does not present it in the most harmonious or endearing aspect, and yet the very rivalry and resentment which were engendered by it give an incidental sign of the closeness of the tie which it involves.

I. The brother tie is one whose visible and apparent closeness of necessity diminishes under the common conditions of life.

II. Although it is a link whose visible association vanishes, it ought never to be an association which fades out of the heart. There is always something wrong when a relationship like this disappears behind maturer attachments.

III. Whether from the hearth of home or from the wider range of brotherhood which the commonwealth supplies, the pattern and inspiration of true brotherhood is found in Christ, the Elder Brother of us all.

(A. Mursell.)

"Am I my brother's keeper?" This is the very gospel of selfishness, and a murderer is its first preacher. The gospel of selfishness is, that a man must take care of his own interests; and out of that universal self-seeking, provided it be wise and restrained, will come the well-being of all.

I. This is an age of rights rather than of duties. It is very notable that there is almost nothing about rights in the teaching of Christ. The Lord seeks to train the spirit of His followers into doing and suffering aright. By preaching love and duty, the gospel has been the lawgiver of nations, the friend of man, the champion of his rights. Its teaching has been of God, of duty, and of love; and wherever these ideas have come, freedom and earthly happiness and cultivation have followed silently behind.

II. Our age needs to be reminded that in one sense each of us has the keeping of his brethren confided to him, and that love is the law and the fulfilling of the law. The rights of men to our love and consideration, rest upon an act of Divine love. Their chartered right to our reverence is in these terms: That God loved them, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for their sins; and the Saviour set to it His seal, and signed it with His blood.

(Archbishop Thomson.)

I. LET EVERY CHRISTIAN FULLY AND WILLINGLY RECOGNIZE THE FACT THAT HE IS HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER. There is an old French proverb to the effect that "nobility has its obligations," the neglect to remember and act upon which resulted in the rapine and blood of the French Revolution. Position has its special responsibilities, which can not safely be disregarded, and when one is fully convinced of the fact that he is "his brother's keeper," he will be anxious to meet the liabilities of the situation. And a right-minded person will not merely accept the fact under compulsion. He will be glad that things are as they are. What wide ranges of usefulness are open before him. What an opportunity he has to impress himself for good upon multitudes around him, and even upon times remote. And that empire of gracious influence is the lordliest and most satisfying of all sovereignties. How the world loves to keep alive the names of single men who have made their personality felt in helpful directions. Scores of Union generals deserved well of their country, but Sheridan, riding "from Winchester twenty miles away," and turning disaster into victory by the simple power of his presence, receives the applause of thousands who have forgotten the names of equally loyal leaders. It is a great thing to have an efficient part in determining the destiny of others, to have control of the rudder that may steer them away from dangerous coasts and out into wide seas of prosperity.

II. EVERY CHRISTIAN OUGHT TO MAKE THE DISCHARGE OF HIS DUTY AS HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER A MATTER OF CONSTANT THOUGHT AND PRAYER. It is not enough merely to accept our responsibility as an article of creed, and then lay it away on the shelf as a matter proved and concluded. How will this thing, if I do it, or leave it undone, affect others? is a question that ought to be asked and answered all the time. And especially ought we to take counsel of God, not as to how little we can consistently d ,, but as to how much we can possibly do in this direction.

III. IN MATTERS OF DOUBT, A CHRISTIAN SHOULD LEAN TO THE SAFE SIDE. It was a rule of President Edwards never to do anything about whose influence he had a question unless he was equally in doubt as to whether the not doing it might not have as bad, or a worse, effect. That is a hard rule to follow, but it is certainly a safe one. Men will never be turned away from God and religion because we deny ourselves what seem to us legitimate pleasures for fear of the evil influence we may exert. That very sacrifice will evidence a genuineness and depth of conviction which is the strongest of all arguments to the truth and worth of religion.

(E. S. Atwood, D. D.)

I. THAT EARTHLY RELATIONSHIPS INVOLVE THE DUTY OF SPIRITUAL CARE. Relation, taken in its widest sense, if not the ground of all moral obligation, is certainly intimately connected therewith. No man can be a parent, a son, or a master, without being specially bound to care for his own. Men have to provide for their households in earthly things, and ought to in spiritual. In proportion to the closeness of the relationship is the force of the obligation.

II. THAT EARTHLY RELATIONSHIPS AFFORD PECULIAR OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE DISCHARGE OF THIS DUTY. God has constituted the varied relationships of life for purpose of promoting the moral good of man. Opportunity and power should be voluntarily used. Families have little thought of the opportunity they have of bringing each other to Jesus.

III. THAT ACCORDING AS THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST OR OF SELFISHNESS IS POSSESSED, WILL THIS DUTY BE FULFILLED OR NEGLECTED. Sin, whose essence is selfishness, is a severing principle. But Christ's spirit is a spirit of love. We must come to Christ ourselves to get the incentive to this duty.

IV. THAT CONCERNING THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY AN ACCOUNT WILL BE REQUIRED. And the Lord said unto Cain, etc. Vain will be excuse. God will speak. So will conscience.



All men, the poor, the ignorant, the fallen, the heathen, are our brethren. Such is the Christian notion of humanity. We are, therefore, the keepers of our brethren. Man is two fold; he has a body and a soul. Thence for us a two-fold mission: we are called to alleviate the miseries of the body, and to save souls. Jesus Christ has been brought into contact with both these forms of suffering. Let us examine His conduct in reference to them.

I. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE BODY. Christ has come into contact with them under their two most common forms — sickness and poverty. What He has done for their victims all the gospel tells. We see Him ever surrounded by the poor and the sick. He has a partiality for their society. With what tender solicitude He treats them! And mark the results of this sublime teaching. The faithful Church has always regarded the poor as the representatives of Christ.

II. That is what Christianity has done towards alleviating the miseries of the body; but that is only a part of its mission. ABOVE THE BODY THERE IS THE SOUL. The soul is man eternal. If we must sympathize with the temporal interests of our fellow men, what shall it be when their souls are in question? But if I have understood what is my soul, if I have felt that it constitutes my dignity, my greatness, and my true life, then will I endeavour to awaken that life in others.

III. THIS MISSION, HOW DO WE FULFIL IT? What, in the first place, shall we say of those who do not fulfil it at all? There are people who believe they are saved and who have never loved. If selfishness has never prompted you to utter the words of the text, have you never uttered them from discouragement? There are times when the thought of all that ought to be done pursues and paralyses us. Let us therefore learn of Christ. But I hear your final objection: Yes, say you, we are ready to work, but on condition that our labour shall produce some results. And then follows the sad story of those vain efforts, of those humiliating failures, of those discouragements which every Christian knows and might in his turn recount. To all these objections let me again reply, "Look to Jesus!" Did He succeed on earth?

(E. Bersier, D. D.)


1. For their temporal welfare.

2. For their moral condition.

3. For their religious well-being.


1. By attending to their bodily condition. Hospitals, almshouses, refuges, etc.

2. By caring for their souls.


Sketches of Sermons.
I. THAT THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE ARE ONE FAMILY AND STAND IN RELATION OF BRETHREN TO EACH OTHER. To prove this, it is necessary only to remark two things —

1. God has made us all of one blood.

2. We have all proceeded from the same pair.


1. The law of consanguinity requires it. This law dictates affection and sympathy.

2. The law of God requires it. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

3. Our common Christianity requires it. It enjoins love to God; but we cannot love God without loving our brother also (1 John 4:20). It enjoins an imitation of the example of Christ; but Christ so loved the world as to die for it. It enjoins obedience to Christ; but He commands His gospel to be preached in all the world.


1. That any of your brethren were compelled to perform a long and dangerous voyage, and that they were total strangers to navigation, and without a single chart or compass; and suppose that you abounded in charts and compasses, and in skilful navigators; and that you refused to grant them either the one or the other; and suppose these should all perish, to whom would their loss be ascribed? To you. Or suppose —

2. That they were compelled to journey through a land of pits and precipices, abounding in beasts of prey; and that they. were ignorant of the path to be pursued, and knew not where the pits and precipices were, and had nothing by which they could defend themselves from the beasts; and suppose you had it in your power to furnish them with a guide and a sufficient defence, but did not, and that they should in consequence perish; their blood would be upon your head. Or suppose —

3. That they were dying of disease, without the knowledge of any remedy; and suppose you were in possession of an infallible one, and that you withheld it; their death would be at your door. In each case the consequences would be as fatal as if you had by some positive act, as that of Cain, destroyed them.


(Sketches of Sermons.)

I. GOD'S QUESTION — "Where is Abel thy brother?" Has God a right to expect this knowledge at our hands? He has; and that on many accounts.

1. For instance, there is the constitution of our nature. When man was created, the whole race were involved in one parent, they all sprang from one root; so that there was provision made for forming a family, and for brotherly feeling among them. God, therefore, reasonably expects that we should all feel a kindly interest and concern in one another's welfare.

2. We might argue the same from the covenant in which we were all wrapped up, to stand or fall together; from the law, which requires us to love our neighbour; and, above all, from the gospel. Has the great God loved me, pitied me, been patient with me, and at a great, unspeakable cost saved me; and shall I not be ready to deny myself and make sacrifices, in order to save and bless my fellow men?

II. MAN'S ANSWER — "I know not; am I my brother's keeper?" Here is a two-fold plea — the first, ignorance; the second, an insinuation that God has no right to expect such knowledge at his hand.

1. Cain excused himself on the ground of ignorance. This is either true or false.(1) If true, then he is guilty, because he has had abundant opportunity of knowing, and ought to know. And so with yourselves. You know about your neighbour's outward estate; should you not know about his spiritual condition?(2) But Cain's plea, "I know not," was really false. He did know where Abel was. And so you do know that many around you, perhaps closely connected with you, are tempted, ensnared, perishing.

2. Cain denies that God has a right to expect that he should take trouble about Abel. "Am I my brother's keeper? Have I anything to do with him, any charge of him? Can he not take care of himself?" Is not this the feeling in many hearts? You say, Am I that poor wretch's keeper? What have I to do with him? He has no claim upon me. I have other work to do, other interests to attend to. But look again, Is he thy brother; and has he no claim upon thee?

(J. Milne.)

The world was yet young, and there were no judicatories to take cognizance of offences; therefore did God, who, though His creatures had rebelled against Him, still hold in His hands the government of the world, come forth from His solitude, and make "inquisition for blood." But why — omniscient as God was, and, by His own after statement, thoroughly cognizant of the guilt of Cain — why did He address the murderer with the question, "Where is Abel thy brother?" in place of taxing him at once with the atrocious commission? Assuredly there could have been no need to God of additional information: it was in no sense the same as at a human tribunal, where questions are put that facts may be elicited. And in following this course, God acted as He had done on the only former occasion when He had sat, as it were, in judgment on human offenders (see Genesis 3:9, 11, 13). But the method of question is again employed, so soon as there is again a human offender to be tried. "The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?" It can hardly be doubted that, in all these instances, the gracious design of God was to afford the criminals opportunity of confessing their crimes. You must be aware how, throughout Scripture, there is attached the greatest importance to confession of sin, so that its being forgiven is spoken of as though it depended upon nothing but its being acknowledged. "If we confess our sins," says the evangelist, "God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." And did the crime, then, of Cain come within the range of forgiveness? Supposing it to have been confessed, might it also have been pardoned? The crime had been fearful; and we must believe that, in any case, the moral Governor of the universe would have so treated the criminal as to mark His sense of the atrociousness of that which he had done. But there is no room for doubt that there was forgiveness even for Cain; even then there was blood which spake better things than that of Abel, the blood of Him who, on the cross, besought pardon for His murderers, and who, in thus showing that His death made expiation even for its authors, showed also that there was no human sin which its virtue would not reach. But if Cain might have been pardoned, had he been but penitent, where was the contrite sinner who need despair of the forgiveness of his sins? Ay, it is thus that the questions under review might have served as a revelation, during the infancy of the world, of the readiness of the Almighty to blot out our iniquities as a cloud, and as a thick cloud our sins. But let us now observe the manner in which Cain acted, whilst God was thus graciously endeavouring to lead him to repentance. If we had not abundant evidence, in our own day — yea, in our own cases — of the hardening power of sin, we might wonder at the effrontery which the murderer displayed. Did he, could he, think that denial would avail anything with God, so that, if he did not confess, he might keep his crime undetected? It may be that it was not in mere insolence that Cain affirmed to God that he knew nothing of Abel; he may have been so blinded by his sin as to lose all discernment of the necessary attributes of God, so that he actually imagined that not to confess would be almost to conceal. Under this point of view, his instance ought to serve as a warning to us of the deadening power of wrong-doing, informing us that there is no such ready way of benumbing the understanding, or paralysing the reason, as the indulging passion, and withstanding conscience. But Cain did more than assert ignorance of what had happened to Abel: he taxed God with the unreasonableness of proposing the question, as though it were a strange thing to suppose that he might concern himself with his brother. "Am I my brother's keeper?" There were then no brothers in the world but Cain and Abel; and he who could insolently ask, "Am I my brother's keeper?" when that brother was missing, might have been convicted, by those very words, of a fierceness which was equal to murder, and an audacity which would deny it even to God. But we wish to dwell for a moment on this question of Cain as virtually containing the excuse which numbers in our own day would give, were God to come visibly down, and make inquisition for blood. But we have how to consider to what God appealed in the absence of confession from the murderer himself: He had striven to induce Cain to acknowledge his guilt; but, failing in this, He must seek elsewhere for evidence on which to convict him. And where did He find this evidence? He made the inanimate creation rise up, as it were, against the assassin, and dumb things became eloquent in demanding his condemnation. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground." Who has not read, who has not heard, how murderers, though they have succeeded in hiding their guilt from their fellow men, have seemed to themselves surrounded with witnesses and avengers, so that the sound of their own foot tread has startled them as if it had been the piercing cry of an accuser, and the rustling of every tree, and the murmur of every brook, has sounded like the utterance of one clamorous for their punishment? It has been as nothing that they have screened themselves from those around them, and are yet moving in society with no suspicion attaching to them of their having done so foul a thing as murder. They have felt as though, in the absence of all accusation from beings of their own race, they had arrayed against themselves the whole visible creation, sun and moon and stars and forests and waters growing vocal that they might publish their crime. And I know not whether there may be anything more in this than the mere goading and imaging of conscience; whether the disquieted assassin, to whose troubled eye the form of his victim is given back from every mirror in the universe, and on whose ear there falls no sound which does not come like the dying man's shriek, or the thundering call of the avenger of blood — whether he is simply to be considered as haunted and hunted by his own evil thoughts, or whether he be indeed subjected to some mysterious and terrible influences with which his crime has impregnated and endowed the whole material system. I cannot help feeling, when I consider the language of our text, as though there might be more than the mere phantasms of a diseased and distracted mind in those forms of fear, and these sounds of wrath, which agitate so tremendously the yet undiscovered murderer. It may be that, fashioned as man is out of the dust of the earth, there are such links between him and the material creation that, when the citadel of his life is rudely invaded, the murderous blow is felt throughout the vast realm of nature; so that, though there be no truth in the wild legend that, if the assassin enter the chamber where the victim is stretched, the gaping wounds will bleed afresh, yet may earth, sea, air, have sympathy with the dead, and form themselves into furies to hunt down his destroyer. But it is not exclusively, nor even chiefly, as indicating a possible, though inexplicable. Sympathy between material things and the victim of the murderer, that we reckon the statement before us deserving of being carefully pondered. Setting aside this sympathy, there is much that is very memorable in the appeal of God to a voice from Abel's blood, when there were other witnesses which might have been produced. Had not the soul of Abel entered the separate state? was not his spirit with God? and might not the immortal principle, violently detached as it had been from the body, have cried for vengeance on the murderer? We read in the Book of Revelation of "the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held." And of those souls we are told that "they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" It may, therefore, be that the souls of the dead cry for judgment upon those who have compassed their death: why, then, might not the soul of Abel, rather than his blood, have been adduced by God? Even had it been silent, surely its very presence in the invisible world gave a more impressive testimony than the stream which had crimsoned the ground. In answer to this, we are to consider, in the first place, that it did not please God to vouchsafe any clear revelation of the invisible state, during the earlier ages of the world. That Abel had fallen by the hand of his brother was the most terrible of all possible proofs that the original transgression had corrupted human nature to the core. But it would have done much — not indeed to counterbalance this proof, but to soften the anguish which it could not fail to produce — had there been any intimation that the death of the body was not the death of the man, and that Cain had but removed Abel from a scene of trouble to one of deep repose. This, however, was denied them: they must struggle on through darkness, sustained only by a dim conjecture of life and immortality. Indeed, indeed, I know not whether there be anything more affecting in the history of our first parents. Oh, bless God, ye who have had to sorrow over dead children, that ye live when life and immortality have been brought to light by the gospel. Yours has not been the deep and desolate bitterness of those on whom fell no shinings from futurity. Unto you have come sweet whisperings from the invisible world, whisperings as of the one whom you loved, telling you of a better land, where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." But alas for Adam and Eve! theirs was grief, stern, dark, unmingled. But, indeed, there are better things to be said on the fact that it was Abel's blood, and not his soul, which found a voice to demand vengeance on the murderer. We know not how Abel, the first martyr, died. Oh, I cannot but think that in God's reference to the blood of Abel as the only accuser there was a designed and beautiful lesson as to the forgiveness of injuries. You know that, in the gospel, our obtaining forgiveness from God is made conditional on our forgiving those by whom we may be wronged. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." And was not the same truth taught, by example, if not by word, from the earliest days, seeing that, when God would bring an accusing voice against Cain, He could only find it in the dumb earth reeking with blood, though the soul of Abel was before Him, and might have been thought ready to give witness with an exceeding great and bitter cry? Abel forgave his murderer, otherwise could he not have been forgiven of God; and we learn that he forgave his murderer from the fact that it was only his blood which cried aloud for vengeance. Thus is there something very instructive in the absence of any voice but the voice from the ground. There is also matter for deep thought in the fact that it was blood which sent up so penetrating a cry. It was like telling the young world of the power which there would be in blood to gain audience of the Most High. What was there in blood that it could give, as it were, life to inanimate things, causing them to become vocal, so that the very Godhead Himself was moved by the sound? The utterance, we think, did but predict that when one, to whom Abel had had respect in presenting in sacrifice the firstlings of his flock, should tall, as Abel fell, beneath the malice of the wicked, there would go up item the shed blood a voice that would be hearkened to in the heavenly courts, and prevail to the obtaining whatsoever it should ask. Blessed be God that this blood does not plead for vengeance alone. It does plead for vengeance on the obdurate, who, like Cain, resist the invitation of God; but it pleads also for pardon of the murderers, so that it can expiate the crime which it proves and attests.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

? — The cool impudence of Cain is an indication of the state of heart which led up to his murdering his brother; and it was also a part of the result of his having committed that terrible crime. He would not have proceeded to the cruel deed of bloodshed if he had not first cast off the fear of God and been ready to defy his Maker. Having committed murder, the hardening influence of sin upon Cain's mind must have been intense, and so at last he was able to speak out to God's face what he felt within his heart, and to say, "Am I my brother's keeper?" This goes a long way to explain what has puzzled some persons, namely, the wonderful calmness with which great criminals will appear in the dock. I remember to have heard it said of one who had undoubtedly committed a very foul murder, that he looked like an innocent man. He stood up before his accusers as calmly and quietly, they said, as an innocent man could do. I remember feeling at the time that an innocent man would probably not have been calm. The distress of mind occasioned to an innocent man by being under such a charge would have prevented his having the coolness which was displayed by the guilty individual. Instead of its being any evidence of innocence that a man wears a brazen front when charged with a great crime, it should by wise men be considered to be evidence against him. Save us, O God, from having our hearts hammered to the hardness of steel by sin; and daily keep us by Thy grace sensible and tender before Thee, trembling at Thy word. The very same thing, no doubt, lies at the bottom of objections to Bible truths. There are some who do not go to Scripture to take out of it what is there, but seeing what is clearly revealed, they then begin to question and judge and come to conclusions according to their notions of what ought to have been there. Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? If He says it, it is so. Believe it. Now, let us look quietly at what Cain said. He said to the Lord, "Am I my brother's keeper?" May the Holy Spirit guide us in considering this question.

I. First it is to be noted that MAN IS NOT HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER IN SOME SENSES. There is some little weight in what Cain says.

1. For instance, first, every man must bear his own responsibility for his own acts before Almighty God. It is not possible for a man to shift from his own shoulders to those of another his obligations to the Most High.

2. And again, no one can positively secure the salvation of another, nay, he cannot even have a hope of the salvation of his friend, so long as that other remains unbelieving.

3. And here let me say, in the next place, that those do very wrongly who enter into any vows or promises for others in this matter, when they are quite powerless.

4. It is proper here to say that the most earnest minister of Christ must not so push the idea of his own personal responsibility to such an extreme as to make himself unfit for his work through a morbid view of his position. If he has faithfully preached the gospel, and his message is rejected, let him persevere in hope, and not condemn himself.

II. So now, secondly, IN A HIGH DEGREE WE ARE, EACH ONE OF US, OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER. We ought to regard ourselves in that light, and it is a Cainish spirit which prompts us to think otherwise, and to wrap ourselves up in hardheartedness and say, "It is no concern of mine how others fare. Am I my brother's keeper?" Far from that spirit let us be.

1. For, first, common feelings of humanity should lead every Christian man to feel an interest in the soul of every unsaved man.

2. A second argument is drawn from the fact that we have all of us, especially those of us who are Christians, the power to do good to others. We have not all the same ability, for we have not all the same gifts, or the same position, but as the little maid that waited on Naaman's wife had opportunity to tell of the prophet who could heal her master, so there is not a young Christian here but what has some power to do good to others. Converted children can lisp the name of Jesus to their sires and bless them. We have all some capacity for doing good. Now, take it as an axiom that power to do good involves the duty of doing good.

3. Another argument is very plainly drawn from our Lord's version of the moral law. What is the second and great commandment according to Him? "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

4. Yet again, without looking to other men's souls, we cannot keep the first of the two great commands in which our Lord has summarised the moral law.

5. Once more. To the Christian man, perhaps, the most forcible reason will be that the whole example of Jesus Christ, whom we call Master and Lord, lies in the direction of our being the keeper of our brother; for what was Jesus' life but entire unselfishness? What was said of Him at His death but that "He saved others: Himself He could not save"?

6. Let the thought next rise in our minds that we are certainly ordained to the office of brother keeper, because we shall be called to account about it. Cain was called to account. "Where is Abel thy brother?"(1) Take first those who are united to us by the ties of flesh, who come under the term "brethren," because they are born of the same parents, or are near of kin. Where is John? Where is Thomas? Where is Henry thy brother? Unsaved? Without God? What have you ever done for him? How much have you prayed for him? How often have you spoken to him seriously about his state? What means have you used for his instruction, persuasion, conviction? See to this, that ye begin at once earnestly seeking the salvation of relatives.(2) But, beloved, we must never end there, because brotherhood extends to all ranks, races, and conditions; and according to each man's ability he will be held responsible about the souls of others whom he never saw. Where is Abel thy brother? Down in a back street in London. He is half-drunk already. Have you done anything, friend, towards the reclaiming of the drunkard? Where is your sister? — your sister who frequents the midnight streets? You shrink back and say," She is no sister of mine." Ay, but God may require her blood at your hands, if you thus leave her to perish. Have you ever done anything towards reclaiming her? City merchant, where are the poor men that earned your wealth?(3) One thing more upon this calling to account. The more needy, the more destitute people are, the greater is their claim upon us; for according to the account book — need I turn to the chapter? I think you recollect it — they are the persons for whom we shall have mainly to give an account: "I was an hungered, and ye gave Me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink; I was sick and in prison, and ye visited Me not; naked, and ye clothed Me not."

7. Now, I close this second head about our really being our brother's keeper by saying this — that there are some of us who are our brother's keeper voluntarily, but yet most solemnly, by the office that we hold. We are ministers. O brother ministers, we are our brother's keepers.


1. I will set it very briefly in a strong light. It will be denying the right of God to make a law, and to call upon us to obey it, if we refuse to do as we are bidden.

2. Notice, next, that you will be denying all claim on your part to the Divine mercy; because if you will not render mercy to others, and if you deny altogether your responsibility to others, you put yourself into the position of saying, "I want nothing from another" — consequently, nothing from God. Such mercy as you show, such mercy shall you have.

3. Indeed, there is this about it too — that your act is something like throwing the blame of your own sin upon God if you leave men to perish. When Cain said, "Am I my brother's keeper?" he meant, probably, "You are the preserver of men. Why did You not preserve Abel? I am not his keeper." Some throw on the sovereignty of God the weight which lies on their own indolence.

4. And again, there is to my mind an utter ignoring of the whole plan of salvation in that man who says, "I am not going to have any responsibility about others," because the whole plan of salvation is based on substitution, on the care of another for us, on the sacrifice of another for us; and the whole spirit of it is self-sacrifice and love to others. If you say, "I will not love" —well, the whole system goes together, and you renounce it all. If you will not love, you cannot have love's benediction.

5. Last of all, it may turn out — it may turn out — that if we are not our brother's keeper, we may be our brother's murderer. Have any of us been so already?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. That an enlightened regard to the spiritual and eternal interests of others is recognized as a duty by nature and revelation, none of you, I trust, is disposed to question. You have only to look into the law, written by the finger of God, to know that six out of the ten requirements are based upon this very principle. Nor must this interest in the well-being of others be confined to the narrow circle of relatives and friends. How different is the world — contracted, selfish, and reckless of the misery of others, inasmuch as it does not regard the sufferings it may produce, provided its own imagined interests are secured!

II. That all are furnished with means and opportunities less or more available for the discharge of this duty. This duty, as enjoined on human beings, presupposes many evils to be removed, many wants to be supplied, and much suffering to be mitigated and relieved. And where is the individual to whom God has not, in some degree, imparted the means of promoting this great end?

(J. MacGilchrist.)

I. One of the most terrible effects of sin on humanity is the obliteration of the sense of personal responsibility.

II. The tendencies of infidel science in our day are strongly in the line of this perverse and morally stultifying effect of depravity.

III. The family institution was ordained as the first and fundamental condition of society, in order to imbed the idea of responsibility in the very foundation and structure of society.

IV. The strongest tendencies of the times are antagonistic to the sense of personal responsibility.

V. Jesus came into the world to restore and enthrone again in the human mind and conscience the great doctrine of strict individual accountability to God on high.

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

The person who first asked this question was a man whose heart was, at the time, filled with evil passions, and his hands stained with a brother's blood. It was Cain. Yes, thou guilty Cain, thou art thy brother's keeper. He was given thee to love. He was given thee that thou mightest do him good.

1. "Am I my brother's keeper?" each one should say to himself. It is answered, "Yes, you are." But how? Take the following as some of the instances in which your brother has a claim upon your kindly offices. You are your brother's keeper, inasmuch as you are bound by ties, both of humanity and religion, to care for him, and to do him all the good you can. The humblest and the poorest can, in some way or other, help forward every agency for good, in the prosperity of which they take a hearty interest. Money may be given — if ever such a trifle, it betokens the mind of the giver. Trouble may be given — wherever pains are bestowed with a good intent, God will return some fruit. And the most destitute can always give prayer — when this comes from a fervent heart, it does great things. In your private sphere you can do much for your brother's good. You can show him little acts of kindness: you can relieve some of his smaller wants: you can help him in one or more of those numberless ways which readily suggest themselves to a benevolent disposition. You are your brother's keeper in the exercise of your influence. Every man has influence. The good man has influence, and the bad man has influence. The rich man has influence, and the poor man has influence. The aged person has influence, and the veriest child has influence.

2. But we will pass on to notice, secondly, the good results which may reasonably be expected to follow a more general and more conscientious observance of this Christian duty. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." A little moral, godly principle constantly manifested before the eyes of those with whom you mix, could not fail of diffusing itself, even though it should be your manner of life rather than your words that indicated your possession of it. Your brother would be made to feel that you are his keeper, although he might not openly acknowledge you to be so. You would be the best of preachers, the best of patriots, the best of philanthropists; and many whom your silent influence had won would be sure, at the judgment day, to rise up with you and confess their obligation.

(F. W. Naylor, B. A.)

Such was the answer of the first Deist, the first infidel, and the first murderer, to God's inquiry, "Where is thy brother?" It was not only a lie (for the father of Cain was a liar from the beginning), but it was a daring jest upon his brother's employment. "Am I his shepherd? Am I answerable for his life? Am I to take care of him as he does of his sheep?" Such is infidelity. It is sin that makes the infidel. He does not believe, not because he cannot, but because he will not. He may talk of morality, and sport himself in his own deceiving, when, like Cain, he says he can worship God as well with the flowers of the field and the fruits of the earth as through the blood of atonement; but when we cut into the core of his heart, we shall find the worm of all rottenness still there, the love of self — we shall find that the only principle of true morality is wanting, the love of God and our brother — we shall find the very element of murder there, the dislike of God and those who love and are like Him. And is not the truth he denied and the principle he rejected this: that man is answerable for his brother's life and his brother's soul. as far as his positive acts can injure, or his neglect destroy? I will not stay to prove this. Cain's rejection of it is a proof. Parents, how nearly does this principle affect you in your important relation! — the very relation in which God Himself is pleased to place Himself with regard to His own obedient people, His redeemed ones from earth; for while the angels are called "the sons of God," "the Father hath bestowed on us" this wonderful love, "that we should be called the sons of God" also; and His Spirit — the Spirit of His Son — teaches us to cry, "Abba, Father." God has made you parents. Beings who can never die are entrusted to your care. Your children's character is greatly in your hands. Their eternal destiny hangs on your discharge of duty. Watch for their souls as those who must give account. Masters and mistresses, the principle of which we have spoken bears powerfully on your relation.

(W. W. Champney.)

1. The first question is this: Is there no one who stands related to you as a brother? —

(1)By kindred.

(2)By religion.

(3)By civil community.

(4)By the common claims of nature.Have we not all, says Malachi, "one father," Adam? and have we not all one mother, Eve? Have we not all the same animal wants? Are we not all exposed to the same infirmities and diseases? Are we not all capable of the same improvements? Are we not all to turn to the same dust? Are we not all heirs of the same immortality? Are we not all redeemed by the same blood of the Lamb? Nothing, therefore, that is human should ever be deemed or felt alien with regard to you.

2. The second question: If you were asked, Where is thy brother? what would truth compel you now to answer? We know what truth would have constrained Cain to answer — "Oh! I hated him, I envied him; I drew him into a field, and I murdered him; and he lies there dead." What would you say, if you spoke truth, in answer to this question, Where is thy brother? Perhaps you would be constrained to say, "Living a few doors off from the subject of want and indigence and hunger, and I having all this world's goods, and more than heart could wish, I never send him any supplies." Or perhaps you would say, "I have calumniated, I have run down his religion; I have called him a hypocrite, or an enthusiast, or a mercenary." Or perhaps you would say, "Oh! I have poisoned his mind with error"; or, "I have seduced him by my wicked example." Or perhaps you would say, "He hath sinned, and instead of reproving him, I have 'suffered sin upon him'"; "Hellas been a stranger to the advantages of religion, while I was well acquainted with it; and I have never gone to him and said, 'Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him'"; "Oh! he is ignorant, and I have not been trying to enlighten him." Where is he? Why, living in such and such a dark village, where they are perishing for lack of knowledge; or living in the sister island, enslaved by a vile superstition.

3. The third question: Will not your conduct towards your fellow creatures be inquired into as well as Cain's? Can you imagine that you are to live as you please even with regard to your fellow creatures? Is not God your Governor as well as your Maker? Are you not God's subjects as well as God's creatures?

4. The fourth question: If you are guilty, will not your guilt be followed by punishment? Why should God deal with Cain, and suffer you to escape?

5. The last question we have to ask is, If you are guilty and exposed to all this, what should be your concern now? Should it be to seek to deny or to palliate your transgressions? Should you not rather confess your sin, and exclaim with Joseph's brethren, "We are verily guilty concerning our brother"?

(W. Jay.)

1. The falsehood of it — "I know not." We feel astonished that a man can dare to lie in the presence of his Maker; yet how many lies are uttered before Him by formalists and hypocrites 1

2. The insolence of it — "Am I my brother's keeper?" This man had no fear of God before his eyes; and where this is wanting, regard to man will be wanting also. Even natural affection will be swallowed up in selfishness.

(A. Fuller.)

Man is ever a questioner. Man even questions God. But there are different kinds of questioners, as there are of questions. There are docile questioners, there are defiant questioners. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

1. Human sin says mournfully, "Yes." See how this was confirmed by Cain's vile action. If you have a right (assumed) to sin against a man, you have a right to love him. If he comes into your life and sphere, all reasonable law claims for him blessing rather than blows.

2. Human sorrow says pathetically, "Yes." We have a common heritage of sorrow.

3. Human joy says hopefully, "Yes!" We cannot tell how much of the joy of life depends upon others.

4. Human success says triumphantly, "Yes!" No such thing as independence. We only succeed so far as our fellow man will let us succeed.

5. Human philanthropy says benevolently, "Yes." Look at the development of philanthropy!

6. Human conscience says righteously, "Yes!" Conscience is the voice of God within us. But no "quiet conscience" for him who denies that he is his "brother's keeper."

(J. E. Smallow.)

Am I my brother's keeper? The success or failure of this world turns on the question, Is the law of self or the law of love adopted? The same is true of individuals. Is it mutual help of all, or every man for himself against all? Is it Ishmael, hand against every man, or Jesus, bearing others' burdens, that gives the law of being? Man is constitutionally made to work for and with others. He is full of sympathy, finds in union strength; hence families, railroads, civilization. A thousand minister to the comfort of every breakfast table. Mutual help is the law of angelic nature — they are ministering spirits. Christ carries our sickness and our sins. God is love, and the whole outgoing of love is service. Heaven, the greatest product of the universe, is the outcome of the united effort of men, angels, and God. Cain tries the other way; he destroys what differs from him, that his littleness need not appear, instead of joining the great, and becoming a part of it. That act not only puts away the ideal, destroys the possibility of its help, but also dwarfs him still more. Cain slays himself more than Abel. Sin ravages him more than he can bear. An aristocrat requires a thousand serfs to support him, but slavery harms the master more than the slaves. The latter is simply arrested in his development, the former is developed awry. He cannot see that all art, architecture, agriculture, and literature perishes. So Cain sees not sin, thinks nothing of separation, asks not for pardon, but says, I am punished more than I can bear. He goes from God; all his own nobility is murdered, all his possibility of aspiration after God lies slain. Of the two, the one to be envied is Abel. It is better to have our bodies slain by others, than to slay our own souls. In every relation of life, to servants, workmen, neighbours, households, our nation, all nations, envy must be banished, lest we dwarf ourselves; murder in every degree must be spurned, lest we murder ourselves; love and mutual help must be exercised; for thereby we greaten ourselves.

(H. W. Warren, D. D.)

A writer in one of the English reviews relates that during a conversation with George Eliot, not long before her death, a vase toppled over on the mantelpiece. The great writer quickly and unconsciously put out her hand to stop its fall. "I hope," said she, replacing it, "that the time will come when we shall instinctively hold up the man or woman who begins to fall as naturally and unconsciously as we arrest a falling piece of furniture or an ornament."

Joseph, Pharaoh
Birds, Eat, Eaten, Flesh, Hang, Hanged, Hanging, Lift, Pharaoh, Prison, Tree, Within, Yet
1. The chief butler and baker of Pharaoh are also imprisoned.
5. Joseph interprets their dreams.
20. They are accomplished according to his interpretation.
23. The ingratitude of the butler, in forgetting Joseph.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 40:19

     5157   head
     7346   death penalty

Genesis 40:1-22

     5222   baking

Genesis 40:6-19

     7730   explanation

Genesis 40:12-22

     1652   numbers, 3-5

Genesis 40:16-19

     1409   dream

Genesis 40:18-22

     5331   hanging

Genesis 40:19-22

     5485   punishment, legal aspects

The Political Constitution of Egypt
The king, the queen, and the royal princes--Administration under the Pharaohs--Feudalism and the Egyptian priesthood, the military--The citizens and country people. Between the Fayum and the apex of the Delta, the Lybian range expands and forms a vast and slightly undulating table-land, which runs parallel to the Nile for nearly thirty leagues. The Great Sphinx Harmakhis has mounted guard over its northern extremity ever since the time of the Followers of Horus. Illustration: Drawn by Boudier,
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 2

Goodness in a Dungeon
'And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Evil Thoughts.
19th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. ix. 4. "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" INTRODUCTION.--Thoughts are only thoughts! who is to beheld accountable for them? They are clouds blown about by fancy, taking various shapes. God is not so hard as to judge us for our thoughts; He will try us by what we have done, not by what we have dreamed. No garden is without weeds; there are tares in every cornfield. Who speak thus? Is it those who are conscientious and scrupulous to drive away evil thoughts?
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

The Resurrection
'Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.' John 5:58, 29. Q-38: WHAT BENEFITS DO BELIEVERS RECEIVE FROM CHRIST AT THE RESURRECTION? A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgement, and made perfectly blessed in the
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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