Exodus 1:1-5: Descent of the Hebrews into Egypt



[1706 BC] Verse 1:[1] (Gen. 46:8; Ex. 6:14) Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.



[These are the names, etc., וְאֵלֶּה וגו״] Here, the ו/and either is superfluous, as it is wont to be at the beginning of Hebrew books (Vatablus[2]); or it joins this book and history with Genesis (Ainsworth,[3] Lapide[4]). The ו is often only the servant of ornament, especially at the beginning of a sentence (The Ultimate Bible[5]). This book relates in what manner God fulfilled His promises made in Genesis 15:5 (Vatablus). The catalogue is woven into the beginning, so that out of a comparison of seventy men with so many thousands a brighter manifestation of the faithfulness of God might be made (Rivet[6]).


These are the names: This list is here repeated, that by comparing this small root with so vast a company of branches as grew upon it, we may see the wonderful providence of God in the fulfilling of his promises.


[With their households] That is, Sons and grandsons. Thus house is taken in 2 Samuel 7:11; 1 Kings 21:29; Ruth 4:11. Thus in Virgil, When the household of Assaracus shall rule over conquered Argos[7] (Lapide).


And his household, his children and grandchildren, as the word house is taken Ruth 4:11; 2 Samuel 7:11; 1 Kings 21:29.



Verse 2:[8] Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah…


Verse 3:[9] Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin…


[Reuben, Simeon, etc., and Benjamin] This is not the order of birth, but of the marriage bed. The first six are the sons of the first wife, Leah; the seventh, of the second, Rachel; the eighth and ninth, of the third, Bilhah; the tenth and eleventh, of the fourth, Zilpah (Menochius[10]). Benjamin is placed before the sons of the handmaidens (Vatablus).


Benjamin; who, though the youngest of all, is placed before Dan, Naphtali, etc., because these were the sons of the handmaidens.


Verse 4:[11] Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.


Verse 5:[12] And all the souls that came out of the loins (Heb. thigh[13]) of Jacob were (Gen. 46:26, 27; Ex. 1:20; Deut. 10:22) seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.


[Who were come forth from the thigh, יֹצְאֵ֥י יֶֽרֶךְ־יַעֲקֹ֖ב] Verbatim: those coming out of the thigh (Vatablus). Here, he clearly excepts the wives of Jacob and of his sons (Junius[14]). Hence the fables were born concerning Bacchus, brought forth from the thigh of Jupiter, which, in accordance with the eastern phrase (whence that narration had come), was signifying him to be his son. The Greeks, not understanding, thence forge the fable (Mede’s[15] Diatribe “Discourse 8” on Genesis 49:10).

[Seventy] [Concerning which see on Genesis 46:26, 27.]


Seventy souls, including Jacob and Joseph, and his two sons. See Genesis 46:26, 27; Deuteronomy 10:22. Or if they were but sixty-nine, they are called seventy by a round number, of which we shall have many instances.


[Now Joseph, etc., וְיוֹסֵ֖ף הָיָ֥ה בְמִצְרָֽיִם׃] This is a qualification, not to that which immediately preceded, but to that whish is more remote, after the custom of the Hebrews, namely, to verse 1, These are the names, etc.; that is to say, I did not reckon Joseph among them (Lapide, similarly Piscator[16]). For Joseph: that is to say, The reason for their descent into Egypt was Joseph and his favor with the king (Vatablus). Others translate it: With Joseph, who was in Egypt (Junius and Tremellius,[17] Ainsworth out of the Chalden, Hebrews in Vatablus). Understand, and with the sons of Joseph: a synecdoche (Junius, Piscator). So that he might show that Joseph and his sons were of that number, as in Genesis 46:20, 26, 27 (Ainsworth, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals[18] 1:2:44:466).

[1] Hebrew: וְאֵ֗לֶּה שְׁמוֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל הַבָּאִ֖ים מִצְרָ֑יְמָה אֵ֣ת יַעֲקֹ֔ב אִ֥ישׁ וּבֵית֖וֹ בָּֽאוּ׃


[2] Francis Vatablus (c. 1485-1547) was a prominent Hebrew scholar, doing much to stimulate Hebraic studies in France. He was appointed to the chair of Hebrew in Paris (1531). Because of some consonance with Lutheran doctrine, his annotations (Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum), compiled by his auditors, were regarded with the utmost esteem among Protestants, but with a measure of suspicion and concern by Roman Catholics. Consequently, the theologians of Salamanca produced their own edition of Vatablus’ annotations for their revision of the Latin Bible (1584).


[3] Henry Ainsworth (1571-1622) was an English Nonconformist, Separatist, and early Congregationalist. Ainsworth served a group of English Nonconformists in Amsterdam; he held the office of Doctor. He was one of the great Hebraists of his age, and his annotations upon the Pentateuch, Psalms, and the Song of Solomon demonstrate his command of the Hebrew language and Rabbinic learning and lore.


[4] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar. His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome. Although his commentaries (Commentaria in Vetus et Novum Testamentum, covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms) develop the four-fold sense of Scripture, he emphasizes the literal. His knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the commentators that preceded him is remarkable.


[5] Biblia Maxima.


[6] Andrew Rivet (1573-1651) was a Huguenot minister and divine. He ministered at Sedan and at Thouara; he went on to teach at the University of Leiden (1619-1632) and at the college at Breda. His influence among Protestants extended well beyond France. His exegetical labors included works on Genesis (Exercitationes CXCI Theologicæ et Scholasticæ in Genesin) and Exodus (Commentarii in Exodum).


[7] Æneid 1:284, 285. The house of Assaracus refers to Troy; Argos appears to refer to Greece.


[8] Hebrew: רְאוּבֵ֣ן שִׁמְע֔וֹן לֵוִ֖י וִיהוּדָֽה׃


[9] Hebrew: יִשָּׂשכָ֥ר זְבוּלֻ֖ן וּבְנְיָמִֽן׃


[10] John Stephen Menochius (1576-1656) joined the Society of the Jesuits at an early age. His superiors in the order, recognizing his academic abilities, set him apart for training in the exposition of Holy Scripture. His critical acumen and commitment to the literal sense of the text are on display in his Commentarii in Sacram Scripturam.


[11] Hebrew: דָּ֥ן וְנַפְתָּלִ֖י גָּ֥ד וְאָשֵֽׁר׃


[12] Hebrew: וַֽיְהִ֗י כָּל־נֶ֛פֶשׁ יֹצְאֵ֥י יֶֽרֶךְ־יַעֲקֹ֖ב שִׁבְעִ֣ים נָ֑פֶשׁ וְיוֹסֵ֖ף הָיָ֥ה בְמִצְרָֽיִם׃


[13] Hebrew: יֶרֶךְ.


[14] Francis Junius (1545-1602) was a Huguenot divine of great learning. He suffered the varied fortunes of his people; but he had the opportunity to study in Geneva, and he was eventually appointed Professor of Divinity at Leiden (1592). He labored with Tremellius in the production of their famous Latin Version of the Old Testament, and he compiled notes on the Pentateuch (Explicationes Analyticæ Pentateuchi). He is also remembered for his disputations with Jacob Arminius.


[15] Although most remembered for his work on John’s Apocalypse and his escatological views, Joseph Mede (1586-1638) treats texts spanning the entire Bible in his Works. Mede was first a student, and then a fellow, tutor, and Reader of Greek, at Christ’s College, Cambridge.


[16] John Piscator (1546-1626) was a learned Protestant divine. He held the position of Professor of Divinity at Herborn (1584). His German version was the first, complete and independent, since that of Martin Luther. Through the course of his career, his views changed from those of the Lutherans to those of the Calvinists, and from those of the Calvinists to those of the Arminians. He remains widely regarded for his abilities as a commentator (Commentarii in Omnes Libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti).


[17] John Immanuel Tremellius (1510-1580) converted from Judaism to Christianity and quickly embraced the principles of the Reformation. He taught Hebrew at Strasburg (1541) and at Cambridge (succeeding Paul Fagius in 1549), and served as Professor of Old Testament at Heidelberg (1561).


[18] Samuel Bochart (1599-1667) was a French Protestant pastor and scholar with a wide variety of interests, including philology, theology, geography, and zoology. Indeed his works on Biblical geography (Geographia Sacra) and zoology (Hierozoicon, sive Bipertitum Opus de Animalibus Scripturæ) became standard reference works for generations. He was on familiar terms with many of the greatest men of his age.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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