Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Genesis Ch.37 / 50 Ch.s


* Joseph is loved of Jacob, but hated by his brethren. (1-4)
Joseph's dreams. (5-11) Jacob sends Joseph to visit his
brethren, They conspire his death. (12-22) Joseph's brethren
sell him. (23-10) Jacob deceived, Joseph sold to Potiphar.

#1-4 In Joseph's history we see something of Christ, who was
first humbled and then exalted. It also shows the lot of
Christians, who must through many tribulations enter into the
kingdom. It is a history that has none like it, for displaying
the various workings of the human mind, both good and bad, and
the singular providence of God in making use of them for
fulfilling his purposes. Though Joseph was his father's darling,
yet he was not bred up in idleness. Those do not truly love
their children, who do not use them to business, and labour, and
hardships. The fondling of children is with good reason called
the spoiling of them. Those who are trained up to do nothing,
are likely to be good for nothing. But Jacob made known his
love, by dressing Joseph finer than the rest of his children. It
is wrong for parents to make a difference between one child and
another, unless there is great cause for it, by the children's
dutifulness, or undutifulness. When parents make a difference,
children soon notice it, and it leads to quarrels in families.
Jacob's sons did that, when they were from under his eye, which
they durst not have done at home with him; but Joseph gave his
father an account of their ill conduct, that he might restrain
them. Not as a tale-bearer, to sow discord, but as a faithful

#5-11 God gave Joseph betimes the prospect of his advancement,
to support and comfort him under his long and grievous troubles.
Observe, Joseph dreamed of his preferment, but he did not dream
of his imprisonment. Thus many young people, when setting out in
the world, think of nothing but prosperity and pleasure, and
never dream of trouble. His brethren rightly interpreted the
dream, though they abhorred the interpretation of it. While they
committed crimes in order to defeat it, they were themselves the
instruments of accomplishing it. Thus the Jews understood what
Christ said of his kingdom. Determined that he should not reign
over them, they consulted to put him to death; and by his
crucifixion, made way for the exaltation they designed to

#12-22 How readily does Joseph wait his father's orders! Those
children who are best beloved by their parents, should be the
most ready to obey them. See how deliberate Joseph's brethren
were against him. They thought to slay him from malice
aforethought, and in cold blood. Whosoever hateth his brother is
a murderer, #1Jo 3:15|. The sons of Jacob hated their brother
because their father loved him. New occasions, as his dreams and
the like, drew them on further; but this laid rankling in their
hearts, till they resolved on his death. God has all hearts in
his hands. Reuben had most reason to be jealous of Joseph, for
he was the first-born; yet he proves his best friend. God
overruled all to serve his own purpose, of making Joseph an
instrument to save much people alive. Joseph was a type of
Christ; for though he was the beloved Son of his Father, and
hated by a wicked world, yet the Father sent him out of his
bosom to visit us in great humility and love. He came from
heaven to earth to seek and save us; yet then malicious plots
were laid against him. His own not only received him not, but
crucified him. This he submitted to, as a part of his design to
redeem and save us.

#23-30 They threw Joseph into a pit, to perish there with hunger
and cold; so cruel were their tender mercies. They slighted him
when he was in distress, and were not grieved for the affliction
of Joseph, see #Am 6:6|; for when he was pining in the pit, they
sat down to eat bread. They felt no remorse of conscience for
the sin. But the wrath of man shall praise God, and the
remainder of wrath he will restrain, #Ps 76:10|. Joseph's
brethren were wonderfully restrained from murdering him, and
their selling him as wonderfully turned to God's praise.

#31-36 When Satan has taught men to commit one sin, he teaches
them to try to conceal it with another; to hide theft and
murder, with lying and false oaths: but he that covers his sin
shall not prosper long. Joseph's brethren kept their own and one
another's counsel for some time; but their villany came to light
at last, and it is here published to the world. To grieve their
father, they sent him Joseph's coat of colours; and he hastily
thought, on seeing the bloody coat, that Joseph was rent in
pieces. Let those that know the heart of a parent, suppose the
agony of poor Jacob. His sons basely pretended to comfort him,
but miserable, hypocritical comforters were they all. Had they
really desired to comfort him, they might at once have done it,
by telling the truth. The heart is strangely hardened by the
deceitfulness of sin. Jacob refused to be comforted. Great
affection to any creature prepares for so much the greater
affliction, when it is taken from us, or made bitter to us:
undue love commonly ends in undue grief. It is the wisdom of
parents not to bring up children delicately, they know not to
what hardships they may be brought before they die. From the
whole of this chapter we see with wonder the ways of Providence.
The malignant brothers seem to have gotten their ends; the
merchants, who care not what they deal in so that they gain,
have also obtained theirs; and Potiphar, having got a fine young
slave, has obtained his! But God's designs are, by these means,
in train for execution. This event shall end in Israel's going
down to Egypt; that ends in their deliverance by Moses; that in
setting up the true religion in the world; and that in the
spread of it among all nations by the gospel. Thus the wrath of
man shall praise the Lord, and the remainder thereof will he