(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 22)

means of bringing a sorrow upon their father which would prove fatal; 
and secondly, that he had bound himself individually, by covenant, to 
bring the youth back. With respect to the grief of his father, it is a 
sign of no common filial piety, that he wished himself to be put in 
Benjamin's place, and to undergo perpetual exile and servitude, rather 
than convey to the miserable old man tidings which would be the cause of 
his destruction. He proves his sincerity by offering himself as a 
surety, in order that he may liberate his brother. Because "chata" among 
the Hebrews, sometimes signifies to be in fault, and sometimes to be 
under penalty; some translate the passage, "I shall have sinned against 
my father;" or, "I shall be accused of sin;" while others render it, "I 
shall be deemed guilty, because he will complain of having been deceived 
by my promise." The latter sense is the more appropriate, because, 
truly, he would not escape disgrace and censure from his father, as 
having cruelly betrayed a youth committed to his care. 
Chapter XLV. 
1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by 
him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no 
man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. 
2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. 
3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I [am] Joseph; doth my father yet 
live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at 
his presence. 
4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And 
they came near. And he said, I [am] Joseph your brother, whom ye sold 
into Egypt. 
5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold 
me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. 
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. 
7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, 
and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 
8 So now [it was] not you [that] sent me hither, but God: and he hath 
made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler 
throughout all the land of Egypt. 
9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son 
Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry 
10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near 
unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy 
flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: 
11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet [there are] five years of 
famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to 
12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that 
[it is] my mouth that speaketh unto you. 
13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that 
ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither. 
14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin 
wept upon his neck. 
15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after 
that his brethren talked with him. 
16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's 
brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. 
17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade 
your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; 
18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I 
will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of 
the land. 
19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land 
of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your 
father, and come. 
20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt 
[is] yours. 
21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, 
according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the 
22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin 
he gave three hundred [pieces] of silver, and five changes of raiment. 
23 And to his father he sent after this [manner]; ten asses laden with 
the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread 
and meat for his father by the way. 
24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto 
them, See that ye fall not out by the way. 
25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto 
Jacob their father, 
26 And told him, saying, Joseph [is] yet alive, and he [is] governor 
over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed 
them not. 
27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto 
them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the 
spirit of Jacob their father revived: 
28 And Israel said, [It is] enough; Joseph my son [is] yet alive: I will 
go and see him before I die. 
  1. "Then Joseph could not refrain himself." Moses relates in this 
chapter the manner in which Joseph made himself known to his brethren. 
In the first place, he declares, that Joseph had done violence to his 
feelings, as long as he presented to them an austere and harsh 
countenance. At length the strong fraternal affection, which he had 
suppressed during the time that he was breathing severe threatening, 
poured itself forth with more abundant force: whence it appears that 
nothing severe or cruel had before been harbored in his mind. And 
whereas it thus bursts forth in tears, this softness or tenderness is 
more deserving of praise than if he had maintained an equable temper. 
Therefore the stoics speak foolishly when they say, that it is an heroic 
virtue not to be touched with compassion. Had Joseph stood inflexible, 
who would not have pronounced him to be a stupid, or iron-hearted man? 
But now, by the vehemence of his feelings, he manifests a noble 
magnanimity, as well as a divine moderation; because he was so superior 
both to anger and to hatred, that he ardently loved those who had 
wickedly conspired to effect his ruin, though they had received no 
injury from him. He commands all men to depart, not because he was 
ashamed of his kindred, (for he does not afterwards dissemble the fact 
that they were his brethren, and he freely permits the report of it to 
be carried to the king's palace,) but because he is considerate for 
their feelings, that he might not make known their detestable crime to 
many witnesses. And it was not the smallest part of his clemency, to 
desire that their disgrace should be wholly buried in oblivion. We see, 
therefore, that witnesses were removed, for no other reason than that he 
might more freely comfort his brethren; for he not only spared them, by 
not exposing their crime; but when shut up alone with them, he abstained 
from all bitterness of language, and gladly administered to them 
friendly consolation. 
  3. "I am Joseph." Although he had given them the clearest token of his 
mildness and his love, yet, when he told them his name, they were 
terrified, as if he had thundered against them: for while they revolve 
in their minds what they have deserved, the power of Joseph seems so 
formidable to them, that they anticipate nothing for themselves but 
death. When, however, he sees them overcome with fear, he utters no 
reproach, but only labors to calm their perturbation. Nay, he continues 
gently to soothe them, until he has rendered them composed and cheerful. 
By this example we are taught to take heed lest sadness should overwhelm 
those who are truly and seriously humbled under a sense of shame. So 
long as the offender is deaf to reproofs, or securely flatters himself, 
or wicked]y and obstinately repels admonitions, or excuses himself by 
hypocrisy, greater severity is to be used towards him. But rigor should 
have its bounds, and as soon as the offender lies prostrate, and 
trembles under the sense of his sin, let that moderation immediately 
follow which may raise him who is cast down, by the hope of pardon. 
Therefore, in order that our severity may be rightly and duly 
attempered, we must cultivate this inward affection of Joseph, which 
will show itself at the proper time. 
  4. "Come near to me, I pray you." This is more efficacious than any 
mere words, that he kindly invites them to his embrace. Yet he also 
tries to remove their care and fear by the most courteous language he 
can use. He so attempers his speech, indeed, that he mildly accuses, and 
again consoles them; nevertheless, the consolation greatly predominates, 
because he sees that they are on the point of desperation, unless he 
affords them timely relief. Moreover, in relating that he had been sold, 
he does not renew the memory of their guilt, with the intention of 
expostulating with them; but only because it is always profitable that 
the sense of sin should remain, provided that immoderate terror does not 
absorb the unhappy man, after he has acknowledged his fault. And whereas 
the brethren of Joseph were more than sufficiently terrified, he insists 
the more fully on the second part of his purpose; namely, that he may 
heal the wound. This is the reason why he repeats, that God had sent him 
for their preservation; that by the counsel of God himself he had been 
sent beforehand into Egypt to preserve them alive; and that, in short, 
he had not been sent into Egypt by them, but had been led thither by the 
hand of God. 
  8. "So now, it was not you that sent me hither." This is a remarkable 
passage, in which we are taught that the right course of events is never 
so disturbed by the depravity and wickedness of men, but that God can 
direct them to a good end. We are also instructed in what manner and for 
what purpose we must consider the providence of God. When men of 
inquisitive minds dispute concerning it, they not only mingle and 
pervert all things without regard to the end designed, but invent every 
absurdity in their power, in order to sully the justice of God. And this 
rashness causes some pious and moderate men to wish this portion of 
doctrine to be concealed from view; for as soon as it is publicly 
declared that God holds the government of the whole world, and that 
nothing is done but by his will and authority, they who think with 
little reverence of the mysteries of God, break forth into various 
questions, not only frivolous but injurious. But, as this profane 
intemperance of mind is to be restrained, so a just measure is to be 
observed on the other hand, lest we should encourage a gross ignorance 
of those things which are not only made plain in the word of God, but 
are exceedingly useful to be known. Good men are ashamed to confess, 
that what men undertake cannot be accomplished except by the will of 
God; fearing lest unbridled tongues should cry out immediately, either 
that God is the author of sin, or that wicked men are not to be accused 
of crime, seeing they fulfill the counsel of God. But although this 
sacrilegious fury cannot be effectually rebutted, it may suffice that we 
hold it in detestation. Meanwhile, it is right to maintain, what is 
declared by the clear testimonies of Scripture, that whatever men may 
contrive, yet, amidst all their tumult, God from heaven overrules their 
counsels and attempts; and, in short, does, by their hands, what he has 
himself decreed. Good men, who fear to expose the justice of God to the 
calumnies of the impious, resort to this distinction, that God wills 
some things, but permits others to be done. As if, truly, any degree of 
liberty of action, were he to cease from governing, would be left to 
men. If he had only permitted Joseph to be carried into Egypt, he had 
not ordained him to be the minister of deliverance to his father Jacob 
and his sons; which he is now expressly declared to have done. Away, 
then, with that vain figment, that, by the permission of God only, and 
not by his counsel or will, those evils are committed which he 
afterwards turns to a good account. I speak of evils with respect to 
men, who propose nothing else to themselves but to act perversely. And 
as the vice dwells in them, so ought the whole blame also to be laid 
upon them. But God works wonderfully through their means, in order that, 
from their impurity, he may bring forth his perfect righteousness. This 
method of acting is secret, and far above our understanding. Therefore 
it is not wonderful that the licentiousness of our flesh should rise 
against it. But so much the more diligently must we be on our guard, 
that we do not attempt to reduce this lofty standard to the measure of 
our own littleness. Let this sentiment remain fixed with us, that while 
the lust of men exults, and intemperately hurries them hither and 
thither, God is the ruler, and, by his secret rein, directs their 
motions whithersoever he pleases. At the same time, however, it must 
also be maintained, that God acts so far distinctly from them, that no 
vice can attach itself to his providence, and that his decrees have no 
affinity with the crimes of men. Of which mode of procedure a most 
illustrious example is placed before our eyes in this history. Joseph 
was sold by his brethren; for what reason, but because they wished, by 
any means whatever, to ruin and annihilate him? The same work is 
ascribed to God, but for a very different end; namely, that in a time of 
famine the family of Jacob might have an unexpected supply of food. 
Therefore he willed that Joseph should be as one dead, for a short time, 
in order that he might suddenly bring him forth from the grave, as the 
preserver of life. Whence it appears, that although he seems, at the 
commencement, to do the same thing as the wicked; yet there is a wide 
distance between their wickedness and his admirable judgment. Let us now 
examine the words of Joseph. For the consolation of his brethren he 
seems to draw the veil of oblivion over their fault. But we know that 
men are not exempt from guilt, although God may, beyond expectation, 
bring what they wickedly attempt, to a good and happy issue. For what 
advantage was it to Judas that the redemption of the world proceeded 
from his wicked treachery? Joseph, however, though he withdraws, in some 
degree, the minds of his brethren from a consideration of their own 
guilt, until they can breathe again after their immoderate terror, 
neither traces their fault to God as its cause, nor really absolves them 
from it; as we shall see more clearly in the last chapter. And 
doubtless, it must be maintained, that the deeds of men are not to be 
estimated according to the event, but according to the measure in which 
they may have failed in their duty, or may have attempted something 
contrary to the Divine command, and may have gone beyond the bounds of 
their calling. Someone, for instance, has neglected his wife or 
children, and has not diligently attended to their necessities; and 
though they do not die, unless God wills it, yet the inhumanity of the 
father, who wickedly deserted them when he ought to have relieved them, 
is not screened or excused by this pretext. Therefore, they whose 
consciences accuse them of evil, derive no advantage from the pretence 
that the providence of God exonerates them from blame. But on the other 
hand, whenever the Lord interposes to prevent the evil of those who 
desire to injure us, and not that only, but turns even their wicked 
designs to our good; he subdues, by this method, our carnal affections, 
and renders us more just and placable. Thus we see that Joseph was a 
skillful interpreter of the providence of God, when he borrowed from it 
an argument for granting forgiveness to his brethren. The magnitude of 
the crime committed against him might so have incensed him as to cause 
him to burn with the desire of revenge: but when he reflects that their 
wickedness had been overruled by the wonderful and unwonted goodness of 
God, forgetting the injury received, he kindly embraces the men whose 
dishonor God had covered with his grace. And truly charity is ingenious 
in hiding the faults of brethren, and therefore she freely applies to 
this use anything which may tend to appease anger, and to set enmities 
at rest. Joseph also is carried forward to another view of the case; 
namely, that he had been divinely chosen to help his brethren. Whence it 
happens, that he not only remits their offense, but that, from an 
earnest desire to discharge the duty enjoined upon him, he delivers them 
from fear and anxiety as well as from want. This is the reason why he 
asserts that he was ordained to "put for them a remnant," that is, to 
preserve a remaining seed, or rather to preserve them alive, and that by 
an excellent and wonderful deliverance. In saying that he is a father to 
Pharaoh, he is not carried away with empty boasting as vain men are wont 
to be; nor does he make an ostentatious display of his wealth; but he 
proves, from an event so great and incredible, that he had not obtained 
the post he occupied by accident, nor by human means; but rather that, 
by the wonderful counsel of God, a lofty throne had been raised for him, 
from which he might succor his father and his whole family. 
  9. "Thus saith thy son Joseph." In giving this command, he shows that 
he spoke of his power in order to inspire his father with stronger 
confidence. We know how dilatory old men are; and, besides, it was 
difficult to tear holy Jacob away from the inheritance which was 
divinely promised to him. Therefore Joseph, having pointed out the 
necessity for the step, declares what a desirable relief the Lord had 
offered. It may, however, be asked, why the oracle did not occur to 
their minds, concerning which they had been instructed by their fathers, 
namely, that they should be strangers and servants in a strange land. 
(Gen. 15: 13.) For it seems that Joseph here promises nothing but mere 
pleasures, as if no future adversity was to be apprehended. But though 
nothing is expressly declared on this point by Moses, yet I am induced, 
by a probable conjecture, to believe that Jacob was not forgetful of the 
oracle. For, unless he had been retained by some celestial chain, he 
never could have remained in Egypt after the expiration of the time of 
scarcity. For by remaining there voluntarily, he would have appeared to 
cast away the hope of the inheritance promised him by God. Seeing, then, 
that he does not provide for his return into the land of Canaan, but 
only commands his corpse to be carried thither; nor yet exhorts his sons 
to a speedy return, but suffers them to settle in Egypt; he does this, 
not from indolence, or because he is allured by the attractions of 
Egypt, or has become weary of the land of Canaan; but because he is 
preparing himself and his offspring to bear that tyranny, concerning 
which he had been forewarned by his father Isaac. Therefore he regards 
it as an advantage that, at his first coming, he is hospitably received; 
but, in the meantime, he revolves in his mind what had been spoken to 
  16. "And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house." What Moses 
now relates, was prior in the order of events. For before Joseph sent 
for his father, the report of the coming of his brethren had reached the 
palace. And Joseph would not have promised so confidently a home to his 
brethren in Egypt, except by the king's permission. What, therefore, 
Moses had before briefly alluded to, he now more fully explains; namely, 
that the king, with a ready and cheerful mind, declared his high esteem 
for Joseph, in freely offering to his father and brethren, the most 
fertile part of Egypt for their dwelling. And from another statement of 
Moses it appears that, as long as he lived, the Israelites were treated 
with clemency and kindness. For, in the first chapter of Exodus, and the 
eighth verse, the commencement of the tyranny and cruelty is said to 
have been made by his successor, to whom Joseph was unknown. 
  22. "And to all of them he gave each man changes of raiment." That he 
furnishes his brethren with supplies for their journey is not wonderful: 
but to what purpose was it that he loaded them with money and garments, 
seeing they would so soon return? I, indeed, do not doubt that he did it 
on account of his father and the wives of his brethren, in order that 
they might have less reluctance to leave the land of Canaan. For he knew 
that his message would scarcely be believed, unless some manifest tokens 
of its truth were presented. It might also be, that he not only 
endeavored to allure those who were absent, but that he also wished to 
testify, more and more, his love towards his brethren. But the former 
consideration has more weight with me, because he took greater care in 
furnishing Benjamin than the rest. Jerome has translated the expression, 
"changes of raiment," by "two robes," and other interpreters, following 
him, expound it as meaning "different kinds of garments." I know not 
whether this be solid. I rather suppose they were elegant garments, such 
as were used at nuptials and on festal days; for I think that constant 
custom was silently opposed to this variety of dress. 
  24. "See that ye fall not out by the way." Some explain the passage as 
meaning, that Joseph asks his brethren to be of tranquil mind, and not 
to disturb themselves with needless fear; he rather exhorts them, 
however, to mutual peace. For, since the word "ragaz" sometimes 
signifies to tremble or be afraid, and sometimes, to make a tumult, the 
latter sense is the more appropriate: for we know that the children of 
God are not only easily appeased, if any one has injured them, but that 
they also desire others should live together in concord. Joseph was 
pacified towards his brethren; but at the same time he admonishes them 
not to stir up any strife among themselves. For there was reason to fear 
lest each, in attempting to excuse himself, should try to lay the blame 
on others, and thus contention would arise. We ought to imitate this 
kindness of Joseph; that we may prevent, as much as possible, quarrels 
and strifes of words; for Christ requires of his disciples, not only 
that they should be lovers of peace, but also that they should be 
peace-makers. Wherefore, it is our duty to remove, in time, all matter 
and occasion of strife. Besides, we must know, that what Joseph taught 
his brethren, is the command of the Spirit of God to us all; namely, 
that we should not be angry with each other. And because it generally 
happens that, in faults common to different parties, one maliciously 
accuses another; let each of us learn to acknowledge and confess his own 
fault, lest altercations should end in combats. 
  26. "And Jacob's heart fainted." We know that some persons have 
fainted with sudden and unexpected joy. Therefore, certain interpreters 
suppose that the heart of Jacob was, in a sense, suffocated, as if 
seized by a kind of ecstatic stupor. But Moses assigns a different 
cause; namely, that not having confidence in his sons, he was agitated 
between hope and fear. And we know, that they who are held in suspense, 
by hearing some incredible message, are struck with torpor, as if they 
were lifeless. It was not, therefore, a simple affection of joy, but a 
certain mingled perturbation which shook the mind of Jacob. Therefore, 
Moses shortly after says, that his spirit revived; when he, having 
returned to himself, and being composed in mind, believed that which he 
had heard to be true. And he shows that his love towards Joseph had not 
languished through length of time, inasmuch as he set no value upon his 
own life, except so far as it would permit him to enjoy a sight of 
Joseph. He had before assigned to himself continual sorrow, even to the 
grave; but now he declares that he shall have a joyful death. 
Chapter XLVI. 
1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to 
Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. 
2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, 
Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here [am] I. 
3 And he said, I [am] God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down 
into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 
4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee 
up [again]: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes. 
5 And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob 
their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons 
which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 
6 And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in 
the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with 
7 His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' 
daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt. 
8 And these [are] the names of the children of Israel, which came into 
Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn. 
9 And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi. 
10 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and 
Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman. 
11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 
12 And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and 
Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of 
Pharez were Hezron and Hamul. 
13 And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron. 
14 And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel. 
15 These [be] the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, 
with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters 
[were] thirty and three. 
16 And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and 
Arodi, and Areli. 
17 And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and 
Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel. 
18 These [are] the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, 
and these she bare unto Jacob, [even] sixteen souls. 
19 The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin. 
20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, 
which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. 
21 And the sons of Benjamin [were] Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, 
and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard. 
22 These [are] the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the 
souls [were] fourteen. 
23 And the sons of Dan; Hushim. 
24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem. 
25 These [are] the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his 
daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls [were] seven. 
26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his 
loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls [were] threescore and 
27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, [were] two 
souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, 
[were] threescore and ten. 
28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto 
Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. 
29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his 
father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his 
neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 
30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy 
face, because thou [art] yet alive. 
31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I 
will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my 
father's house, which [were] in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; 
32 And the men [are] shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed 
cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all 
that they have. 
33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall 
say, What [is] your occupation? 
34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from 
our youth even until now, both we, [and] also our fathers: that ye may 
dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd [is] an abomination unto 
the Egyptians. 
  1. "And Israel took his journey." Because the holy man is compelled to 
leave the land of Canaan and to go elsewhere, he offers, on his 
departure, a sacrifice to the Lord, for the purpose of testifying that 
the covenant which God had made with his fathers was confirmed and 
ratified to himself. For, though he was accustomed to exercise himself 
in the external worship of God, there was yet a special reason for this 
sacrifice. And, doubtless, he had then peculiar need of support, lest 
his faith should fail: for he was about to be deprived of the 
inheritance promised to him, and of the sight of that land which was the 
type and the pledge of the heavenly country. Might it not come into his 
mind that he had hitherto been deluded with a vain hope? Therefore, by 
renewing the memory of the divine covenant, he applies a suitable remedy 
against falling from the faith. For this reason, he offers a sacrifice 
on the very boundaries of that land, as I have just said; that we might 
know it to be something more than usual. And he presents this worship to 
the God of his fathers, to testify that, although he is departing from 
that land, into which Abraham had been called; yet he does not thereby 
cut himself off from the God in whose worship he had been educated. It 
was truly a remarkable proof of constancy, that when cast out by famine 
into another region, so that he might not even be permitted to sojourn 
in the land of which he was the lawful lord; he yet retains, deeply 
impressed on his mind, the hope of his hidden right. It was not without 
subjecting himself to odium that he differed openly from other nations, 
by worshipping the God of his fathers. But what profit was there in 
having a religion different from all others? Seeing, then, that he does 
not repent of having worshipped the God of his fathers, and that he now 
also perseveres in fear and reverence towards him; we hence infer how 
deeply he was rooted in true piety. By offering a sacrifice, he both 
increases his own strength, and makes profession of his faith; because, 
although piety is not bound to external symbols, yet he will not neglect 
those helps, the use of which he has found to be, by no means, 
  2. "And God spake unto Israel." In this manner, God proves that the 
sacrifice of Jacob was acceptable to him, and again stretches out his 
hand to ratify anew his covenant. The vision by night availed for the 
purpose of giving greater dignity to the oracle. Jacob indeed, inasmuch 
as he was docile and ready to yield obedience to God, did not need to be 
impelled by force and terror; yet, because he was a man encompassed with 
flesh, it was profitable for him that he should be affected as with the 
glory of a present God, in order that the word might penetrate more 
effectually into his heart. It is, however, proper to recall to memory 
what I have said before, that the word was joined with it; because a 
silent vision would have profited little or nothing. We know that 
superstition eagerly snatches at mere spectres; by which means it 
presents God in a form of its own. But since no living image of God can 
exist without the word, whenever God has appeared to his servants, he 
has also spoken to them. Wherefore, in all outward signs, let us be ever 
attentive to his voice, if we would not be deluded by the wiles of 
Satan. But if those visions, in which the majesty of God shines, require 
to be animated by the word, then they who obtrude signs, invented at the 
will of men, upon the Church, exhibit nothing else than the empty pomps 
of a profane theatre. Just as in the Papacy, those things which are 
called sacraments, are lifeless phantoms which draw away deluded souls 
from the true God. Let this mutual connection, then, be observed, that 
the vision which gives greater dignity to the word, precedes it; and 
that the word follows immediately, as if it were the soul of the vision. 
And there is no question that this was an appearance of the visible 
glory of God, which did not leave Jacob in suspense and hesitation; but 
which, by removing his doubt, firmly sustained him, so that he 
confidently embraced the oracle. 
  3. "Jacob, Jacob." The design of the repetition was to render him more 
attentive. For, by thus familiarly addressing him, God more gently 
insinuates himself into his mind: as, in the Scripture, he kindly 
allures us, that he may prepare us to become his disciples. The docility 
of the holy man appears hence, that as soon as he is persuaded that God 
speaks, he replies that he is ready to receive with reverence whatever 
may be spoken, to follow wheresoever he may be called, and to undertake 
whatever may be commanded. Afterwards, a promise is added, by which God 
confirms and revives the faith of his servant. Whereas, the descent into 
Egypt was to him a sad event, he is bidden to be of good and cheerful 
mind; inasmuch as the Lord would always be his keeper, and after having 
increased him there to a great nation, would bring him back again to the 
place, whence he now compelled him to depart. And, indeed, Jacob's chief 
consolation turned on this point; that he should not perpetually wander 
up and down as an exile, but should, at length, enjoy the expected 
inheritance. For, since the possession of the land of Canaan was the 
token of the Divine favour, of spiritual blessings, and of eternal 
felicity; if holy Jacob was defrauded of this, it would have availed him 
little or nothing to have riches, and all kinds of wealth and power 
heaped upon him, in Egypt. The return promised him is not, however, to 
be understood of his own person, but refers to his posterity. Now, as 
Jacob, relying on the promise, is commanded boldly to go down into 
Egypt; so it is the duty of all the pious, after his example, to derive 
such strength from the grace of God, that they may gird themselves to 
obey his commands. The title by which God here distinguishes himself, is 
attached to the former oracles which Jacob had received by tradition 
from his fathers. For why does he not rather call himself the Creator of 
heaven and earth, than the God of Isaac or of Abraham, except for this 
reason, that the dominion over the land of Canaan depends on the 
previous covenant, which he now ratifies anew? At the same time also, he 
encourages his servant by examples drawn from his own family, lest he 
should cease to proceed with constancy in his calling. For, when he had 
seen that his father Isaac, and had heard that his grandfather Abraham, 
though long surrounded by great troubles, never gave way to any 
temptations, it ill became him to be overcome by weariness in the same 
course; especially since, in the act of dying, they handed their lamp to 
their posterity, and took diligent care to leave the light of their 
faith to survive them in their family. In short, Jacob is taught that he 
must not seek, in crooked and diverse paths, that God whom he had 
learned, from his childhood, to regard as the Ruler of the family of 
Abraham; provided it did not degenerate from his piety. Moreover, we 
have elsewhere stated how far, in this respect, the authority of the 

(continued in part 23...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: cvgn2-22.txt