Exodus 1:8: An Ungrateful Forgetfulness

Verse 8:[1] Now there (Acts 7:18) arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.



[A new king arose] Ἕτερος/another (Septuagint). Thus new gods, who are other gods; the new song of David, that is, another song; new tongues, Mark 16:17, which are ἕτεραι/other, Acts 2:4 (Drusius[2]). A king of another family, says Josephus.[3] With respect to the Egyptians there was a frequent change of royal families, as it is evident from their dynasties (Tirinus[4]). This king was Amenophis, say Pererius,[5] Torniellus,[6] and others (Menochius). Or rather, his successor Armesesmiamus, or Ramesses, who reigned sixty-six years.[7] The successor of this one, Amenophis, was buffeted with the plagues. Thus Mercator,[8] out of Manetho[9] and Berosus[10] in Josephus (Menochius).


A new king, that is, another king; one of another disposition, or interest, or family; for the kingdom of Egypt did oft pass from one family to another, as appears from the history of the Dynasties recorded in ancient writers.



[Who did not know Joseph] Either ignorant, or forgetful, as was Darius, Esther 6 (Junius). This is not strange, because he was not of royal stock, as note Ibn Ezra,[11] Josephus, and others (Muis). He conducted himself as if he had been ignorant of him and of his benefits (Rabbi Salomon[12] in Muis). It carries emphasis: for he was not able to have known him after the flesh, having died some generations previously; but here the ingratitude and malice of the king is taxed, as also his folly and imprudence (Vatablus). But see in addition, that he that is ignorant of Joseph says, Exodus 5:2, that he does not know the Lord. Hence the Hebrews gather in their Midrash, He that is ungrateful towards men, in the end will be ungrateful towards God, and he will deny that the benefits were received from God (Muis). He was forgetful of those things that Joseph had supplied, and what had been promised to him (Grotius[13]). He was not standing to the agreement and covenant between Joseph and the king of Egypt (Fagius[14]). Truly it is said, Φεδ, τῶν θανόντων ὡς τάχ᾽ ὄλλυται χάρις, Oh, how quickly do the favors of the dead perish, that is, escape from memory. What marvel is it that human favors easily escape the memory, when the same happens also to divine favors? See Judges 2:10 (Grotius). The Chaldean thus translates it, he was not keeping the decree of Joseph, that is, what things Joseph had well decreed, but he made new laws; in accordance with that saying, New king, new law (Fagius).


Which knew not Joseph, or, acknowledged not the vast obligations which Joseph had laid not only upon the kingdoms of Egypt, and the king under whom Joseph lived, but upon all his successors, in regard of those vast additions of wealth and power which he had made to that crown. This phrase notes his ungrateful disowning and ill requiting of Joseph’s favours. For words of knowledge in Scripture commonly include the affections and actions; as men are oft said not to know God, when they do not love nor serve him; and God is said not to know men, when he doth not love them.

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֥קָם מֶֽלֶךְ־חָדָ֖שׁ עַל־מִצְרָ֑יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־יָדַ֖ע אֶת־יוֹסֵֽף׃


[2] John Drusius (1550-1616) was a Protestant, who excelled in Oriental studies, Biblical exegesis, and critical interpretation, as is evident from his Annotationes in Pentateuchum, Josuam, Judices, Ruth, Samuelem, Estheram, Jobum, Coheleth, seu Ecclesiasten, Prophetas Minores, Ecclesiasticum, Tobit, 1 Librum Machabæorum and Notæ Majores in Genesin, Exodum, Leviticum, et Priora 18 Capita Numerorum. He served as Professor of Oriental Languages at Oxford (1572), at Louvain (1577), and at Franeker (1585).


[3] Antiquities 2:9. Flavius Josephus (37-93) was a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, a Jewish general, and an eyewitness to the final siege of Jerusalem. Josephus’ works are invaluable to the student of Jewish antiquities and of the history of the fall of Jerusalem.


[4] James Tirinus (1580-1636) was a Flemish Jesuit priest. His abilities as a commentator are displayed in his Commentaria in Sacram Scripturam.


[5] Benedictus Pererius (1535-1610) was a Spanish Jesuit. He wrote Commentariorum et Disputationum in Genesim Tomi Quattuor, in which he addresses many of the great difficulties in Genesis. He also wrote extensively on Exodus, Daniel, John, Romans, and Revelation.


[6] Augustine Torniellus (1543-1622) was a member of the Society of Barnabites, a Counter-Reformation order. His work, Annales Sacri et Profani, cleared up many geographical and chronological difficulties and obscurities, especially in the Old Testament.


[7] Archbishop Ussher has Ramesses Miamun reigning from 1577 to 1511 BC. Both his father and his son went by the name of Amenophis. Ussher believes that the Exodus occurred under the latter Amenophis.


[8] Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594) was a Flemish cartographer.


[9] Manetho (third century BC) was an Egyptian historian. His Ægyptiaca has been of enduring value in the study of Pharaonic dynasties.


[10] Berosus (early third century BC) was a priest of Belus in Babylon, who wrote a history of the Chaldeans, which survives only in the fragmentary citations of other authors.


[11] Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089-1164) was a renowned Spanish Rabbi. At the heart of his work is his commentary on the Hebrew Bible. He commented on all of the books, with the exception of Chronicles, and his exegesis manifests a commitment to the literal sense of the text.


[12] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time. It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century. He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation. He also authored the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud.


[13] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) distinguished himself in the field of international law, but he was interested in many fields of learning, including Christian apologetics, theology, and Biblical criticism and exegesis. He was a strict practitioner of the historical-contextual method of exegesis, and both his methods and conclusions are on display in his influential Annotationes in Vetus et Novum Testamentum. He is also remembered for his role in the Arminian controversy, siding with the Remonstrants, and for his governmental theory of atonement.


[14] Paul Fagius (1504-1550) was among the early Reformers and a Hebrew scholar of some ability. He studied in Germany and labored there, first as a schoolmaster, then as a minister. Feeling pressure from the rising tide of the Counter-Reformation, he left Germany for England in 1549, and died at Cambridge in 1550. His bones were later burned during the reign of Queen Mary.

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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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