(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 15)

their cattle. 
8 Thus dwelt Esau in mount Seir: Esau [is] Edom. 
9 And these [are] the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in 
mount Seir: 
10 These [are] the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the 
wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. 
11 And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and 
12 And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to 
Eliphaz Amalek: these [were] the sons of Adah Esau's wife. 
13 And these [are] the sons of Reuel; Nahath, and Zerah, Shammah, and 
Mizzah: these were the sons of Bashemath Esau's wife. 
14 And these were the sons of Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah the 
daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife: and she bare to Esau Jeush, and Jaalam, 
and Korah. 
15 These [were] dukes of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the 
firstborn [son] of Esau; duke Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, duke Kenaz, 
16 Duke Korah, duke Gatam, [and] duke Amalek: these [are] the dukes 
[that came] of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these [were] the sons of 
17 And these [are] the sons of Reuel Esau's son; duke Nahath, duke 
Zerah, duke Shammah, duke Mizzah: these [are] the dukes [that came] of 
Reuel in the land of Edom; these [are] the sons of Bashemath Esau's 
18 And these [are] the sons of Aholibamah Esau's wife; duke Jeush, duke 
Jaalam, duke Korah: these [were] the dukes [that came] of Aholibamah the 
daughter of Anah, Esau's wife. 
19 These [are] the sons of Esau, who [is] Edom, and these [are] their 
20 These [are] the sons of Seir the Horite, who inhabited the land; 
Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibeon, and Anah, 
21 And Dishon, and Ezer, and Dishan: these [are] the dukes of the 
Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom. 
22 And the children of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan's sister 
[was] Timna. 
23 And the children of Shobal [were] these; Alvan, and Manahath, and 
Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 
24 And these [are] the children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this 
[was that] Anah that found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the 
asses of Zibeon his father. 
25 And the children of Anah [were] these; Dishon, and Aholibamah the 
daughter of Anah. 
26 And these [are] the children of Dishon; Hemdan, and Eshban, and 
Ithran, and Cheran. 
27 The children of Ezer [are] these; Bilhan, and Zaavan, and Akan. 
28 The children of Dishan [are] these; Uz, and Aran. 
29 These [are] the dukes [that came] of the Horites; duke Lotan, duke 
Shobal, duke Zibeon, duke Anah, 
30 Duke Dishon, duke Ezer, duke Dishan: these [are] the dukes [that 
came] of Hori, among their dukes in the land of Seir. 
31 And these [are] the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before 
there reigned any king over the children of Israel. 
32 And Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom: and the name of his city 
[was] Dinhabah. 
33 And Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his 
34 And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his 
35 And Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who smote Midian in the 
field of Moab, reigned in his stead: and the name of his city [was] 
36 And Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his stead. 
37 And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth [by] the river reigned in his 
38 And Saul died, and Baalhanan the son of Achbor reigned in his stead. 
39 And Baalhanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his stead: 
and the name of his city [was] Pau; and his wife's name [was] Mehetabel, 
the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. 
40 And these [are] the names of the dukes [that came] of Esau, according 
to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke 
Alvah, duke Jetheth, 
41 Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon, 
42 Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar, 
43 Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these [be] the dukes of Edom, according to 
their habitations in the land of their possession: he [is] Esau the 
father of the Edomites. 
  1. "Now these are the generations of Esau." Though Esau was an alien 
from the Church in the sight of God; yet since he also, as a son of 
Isaac, was favored with a temporal blessing, Moses celebrates his race, 
and inscribes a sufficiently lengthened catalogue of the people born 
from him. This commemoration, however, resembles an honorable sepulture. 
For although Esau, with his posterity, took the precedence; yet this 
dignity was like a bubble, which is comprised under the figure of the 
world, and which quickly perishes. As, therefore, it has been before 
said of other profane nations, so now Esau is exalted as on a lofty 
theatre. But since there is no permanent condition out of the kingdom of 
God, the splendor attributed to him is evanescent, and the whole of his 
pomp departs like the passing scene of the stage. The Holy Spirit 
designed, indeed, to testify that the prophecy which Isaac uttered 
concerning Esau was not vain; but he has no sooner shown its effect, 
than he turns away our eyes, as if he had cast a veil over it, that we 
may confine our attention to the race of Jacob. Now, though Esau had 
children by three wives, in whom afterwards the blessing of God shone 
forth, yet polygamy is not, on that account, approved, nor the impure 
lust of man excused: but in this the goodness of God is rather to be 
admired, which, contrary to the order of nature, gave a good issue to 
evil beginnings. 
  6. "And went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob." 
Moses does not mean that Esau departed purposely to give place to his 
brother; for he was so proud and ferocious, that he never would have 
allowed himself to seem his brother's inferior. But Moses, without 
regard to Esau's design, commends the secret providence of God, by which 
he was driven into exile, that the possession of the land might remain 
free for Jacob alone. Esau removed to Mount Seir, through the desire of 
present advantage, as is elsewhere stated. Nothing was less in his mind 
than to provide for his brother's welfare; but God directed the blind 
man by his own hand, that he might not occupy that place in the land 
which he had appointed for his own servant. Thus it often happens that 
the wicked do good to the elect children of God, contrary to their own 
intention; and while their hasty cupidity pants for present advantages, 
they promote the eternal salvation of those whose destruction they have 
sometimes desired. Let us, then, learn from the passage before us, to 
see, by the eyes of faith, both in accidental circumstances (as they are 
called) and in the evil desires of men, that secret providence of God, 
which directs all events to a result predetermined by himself. For when 
Esau went forth, that he might live more commodiously apart from his 
father's family, he is said to have departed from the face of his 
brother, because the Lord had so determined it. It is stated 
indefinitely, that he departed "into the country;" because, being in 
uncertainty respecting his plan, he sought a home in various places, 
until Mount Seir presented itself; and as we say, he went out at a 
  9. "And these are the generations of Esau, the father of the 
Edomites." Though Esau had two names, yet in this place the second name 
refers to his posterity, who are called Idumeans. For, to make it appear 
what God had bestowed upon him for the sake of his father Isaac, Moses 
expressly calls him the father of a celebrated and famous people. And 
certainly, it served this purpose not a little, to trace the effect and 
fulfillment of the prophecy in the progeny of Esau. For if the promise 
of God so mightily flourished towards a stranger, how much more 
powerfully would it put itself forth towards the children, to whom 
pertaineth the adoption, and consequently the inheritance of grace? Esau 
was an obscure man, and a sojourner in that country: whence therefore is 
it, that suddenly rulers should spring from him, and a great body of 
people should flourish, unless because the benediction which proceeded 
from the mouth of Isaac, was confirmed by the result? For Esau did not 
reign in this desert without opposition; since a people of no ignoble 
name previously inhabited Mount Seir. On this account Moses relates that 
the men who had before inhabited that land were mighty: so that it would 
not have been easy for a stranger to acquire such power as Esau 
possessed, if he had not been divinely assisted. 
  24. This was that A nab that found the mules. Mules are the adulterous 
offspring of the horse and the ass. Moses says that Anal was the author 
of this connection. But I do not consider this as said in praise of his 
industry; for the Lord has not in vain distinguished the different kinds 
of animals from the beginning. But since the vanity of the flesh often 
solicits the children of this world, so that they apply their minds to 
superfluous matters, Moses marks this unnatural pursuit in Anal, who did 
not think it sufficient to have a great number of animals; but he must 
add to them a degenerate race produced by unnatural intercourse. 
Moreover, we learn hence, that there is more moderation among brute 
animals in following the law of nature, than in men, who invent vicious 
  31. "These are the kings that reigned," &c. We must keep in memory 
what we have said a little before, that reprobates are suddenly exalted, 
that they may immediately fall, like the herb upon the roofs, which is 
destitute of root, and has a hasty growth, but withers the more quickly. 
To the two sons of Isaac had been promised the honour that kings should 
spring from them. The Idumeans first began to reign, and thus the 
condition of Israel seemed to be inferior. But at length, lapse of time 
taught how much better it is, by creeping on the ground, to strike the 
roots deep, than to acquire an extravagant pre-eminence for a moment, 
which speedily vanishes away. There is, therefore, no reason why the 
faithful, who slowly pursue their way, should envy the quick children of 
this world, their rapid succession of delights; since the felicity which 
the Lord promises them is far more stable, as it is expressed in the 
psalm, "The children's children shall dwell there, and their inheritance 
shall be perpetual." (Psalm 102: 28.) 
Chapter XXXVII. 
1 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the 
land of Canaan. 
2 These [are] the generations of Jacob. Joseph, [being] seventeen years 
old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad [was] with the 
sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and 
Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. 
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he [was] 
the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of [many] colours. 
4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all 
his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. 
5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told [it] his brethren: and they 
hated him yet the more. 
6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have 
7 For, behold, we [were] binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf 
arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round 
about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 
8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or 
shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more 
for his dreams, and for his words. 
9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, 
Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon 
and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 
10 And he told [it] to his father, and to his brethren: and his father 
rebuked him, and said unto him, What [is] this dream that thou hast 
dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down 
ourselves to thee to the earth? 
11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. 
12 And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. 
13 And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed [the flock] in 
Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here 
[am I]. 
14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy 
brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent 
him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 
15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, [he was] wandering in the 
field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? 
16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they 
feed [their flocks]. 
17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let 
us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in 
18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, 
they conspired against him to slay him. 
19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 
20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, 
and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see 
what will become of his dreams. 
21 And Reuben heard [it], and he delivered him out of their hands; and 
said, Let us not kill him. 
22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, [but] cast him into this 
pit that [is] in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might 
rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. 
23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that 
they stript Joseph out of his coat, [his] coat of [many] colours that 
[was] on him; 
24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit [was] empty, 
[there was] no water in it. 
25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and 
looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with 
their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry [it] 
down to Egypt. 
26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit [is it] if we slay our 
brother, and conceal his blood? 
27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be 
upon him; for he [is] our brother [and] our flesh. And his brethren were 
28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted 
up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty 
[pieces] of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. 
29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph [was] not in 
the pit; and he rent his clothes. 
30 And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child [is] not; and 
I, whither shall I go? 
31 And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and 
dipped the coat in the blood; 
32 And they sent the coat of [many] colours, and they brought [it] to 
their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it [be] thy 
son's coat or no. 
33 And he knew it, and said, [It is] my son's coat; an evil beast hath 
devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. 
34 And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and 
mourned for his son many days. 
35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he 
refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave 
unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him. 
36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of 
Pharaoh's, [and] captain of the guard. 
  1. "And Jacob dwelt." Moses confirms what he had before declared, 
that, by the departure of Esau, the land was left to holy Jacob as its 
sole possessor. Although in appearance he did not obtain a single clod; 
yet, contented with the bare sight of the land, he exercised his faith; 
and Moses expressly compares him with his father, who had been a 
stranger in that land all his life. Therefore, though by the removal of 
his brother to another abode, Jacob was no little gainer; yet it was the 
Lord's will that this advantage should be hidden from his eyes, in order 
that he might depend entirely upon the promise. 
  2. "These are the generations of Jacob." By the word "toledoth" we are 
not so much to understand a genealogy, as a record of events, which 
appears more clearly from the context. For Moses having thus commenced, 
does not enumerate sons and grandsons, but explains the cause of the 
envy of Joseph's brethren, who formed a wicked conspiracy against him, 
and sold him as a slave: as if he had said "Having briefly summed up the 
genealogy of Esau, I now revert to the series of my history, as to what 
happened to the family of Jacob." Moreover, Moses being about to speak 
of the abominable wickedness of Jacob's sons, begins with the statement, 
that Joseph was dear beyond the rest to his father, because he had 
begotten him in his old age: and as a token of tender love, had clothed 
him with a coat woven of many colors. But it was not surprising that the 
boy should be a great favorite with his aged father, for so it is wont 
to happen: and no just ground is here given for envy; seeing that sons 
of a more robust age, by the dictate of nature, might well concede such 
a point. Moses, however, states this as the cause of odium, that the 
mind of his father was more inclined to him than to the rest. The 
brethren conceive enmity against the boy, whom they see to be more 
tenderly loved by their father, as having been born in his old age. If 
they did not choose to join in this love to their brother, why did they 
not excuse it in their father? Hence, then, we perceive their malignant 
and perverse disposition. But, that a manycoloured coat and similar 
trifles inflamed them to devise a scheme of slaughter, is a proof of 
their detestable cruelty. Moses also says that their hatred increased, 
because Joseph conveyed the evil speeches of his brethren to their 
father. Some expound the word evil as meaning some intolerable crime; 
but others more correctly suppose, that it was a complaint of the boy 
that his brothers vexed him with their reproaches; for, what follows in 
Moses, I take to have been added in explanation, that we may know the 
cause for which he had been treated so ill and with such hostility. It 
may be asked, why Moses here accuses only the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, 
when, afterwards, he does not exempt the sons of Leah from the same 
charge? One, indeed, of her sons, Reuben, was milder than any of the 
rest; next to him was Judah, who was his uterine brother. But what is to 
be said of Simon? What of Levi? Certainly since they were older, it is 
probable that they were leaders in the affair. The suspicion may, 
however, be entertained, that because these were the sons of concubines 
and not of true wives, their minds would be more quickly moved with 
envy; as if their servile extraction, on the mother's side, subjected 
them to contempt. 
  5. "And Joseph dreamed a dream." Moses having stated what were the 
first seeds of this enmity, now ascends higher, and shows that Joseph 
had been elected, by the wonderful purpose of God, to great things; that 
this had been declared to him in a dream; and that, therefore, the 
hatred of his brethren broke forth into madness. God, however, revealed 
in dreams what he would do, that afterwards it might be known that 
nothing had happened fortuitously: but that what had been fixed by a 
celestial decree, was at length, in its proper time, carried forward 
through circuitous windings to its completion. It had been predicted to 
Abraham that his seed should be wanderers from the land of Canaan. In 
order, then, that Jacob might pass over into Egypt, this method was 
divinely appointed; namely, that Joseph, being president over Egypt in a 
time of famine, might bring his father thither with his whole family, 
and supply them with food. Now, from the facts first related, no one 
could have conjectured such a result. The sons of Jacob conspire to put 
the very person to death, without whom they cannot be preserved; yea, he 
who was ordained to be the minister of salvation to them, is thrown into 
a well, and with difficulty rescued from the jaws of death. Driven about 
by various misfortunes, he seems to be an alien from his father's house. 
Afterwards, he is cast into prison, as into another sepulchre, where, 
for a long time, he languishes. Nothing, therefore, was less probable 
than that the family of Jacob should be preserved by his means, when he 
was cut off from it, and carried far away, and not even reckoned among 
the living. Nor did any hope of his liberation remain, especially from 
the time in which he was neglected by the chief butler; but being 
condemned to perpetual imprisonment, he was left there to rot. God, 
however, by such complicated methods, accomplishes what he had purposed. 
Wherefore, in this history, we have not only a most beautiful example of 
Divine Providence, but also two other points are added especially worthy 
of notice: first, that the Lord performs his work by wonderful and 
unusual modes; and, secondly, that he brings forth the salvation of his 
Church, not from magnificent splendor, but from death and the grave. 
Besides, in the person of Joseph, a lively image of Christ is presented, 
as will more fully appear from the context. But since these subjects 
will be often repeated, let us follow the thread of Moses' discourse. 
God, of his mere grace, conferred peculiar honour on the boy, who was 
the last but one among twelve, in giving him the priority among his 
brethren. For, by what merit or virtue shall we say that he attained the 
lordship over his brethren? Afterwards he seemed, indeed, to acquire 
this by his own great beneficence: but from the dream we learn, that it 
was the free gift of God, which in no way depended upon Joseph's 
beneficence. Rather, he was ordained to be chief, by the mere good 
pleasure of God, in order that he might show kindness to his brethren. 
Now, since the Lord was, at that time, wont to reveal his secrets by two 
methods--by visions and by dreams--one of these kinds is here noted. For 
no doubt Joseph had often dreamed in the common manner: but Moses shows 
that a dream was now divinely sent to him, which might have the force 
and weight of an oracle. We know that dreams are often produced by our 
daily thoughts: sometimes they are indications of an unhealthy state of 
the body: but whenever God intends to make known his counsel by dreams, 
he engraves on them certain marks, which distinguish them from passing 
and frivolous imaginations, in order that their credibility and 
authority may stand firm. Thus Joseph, being certainly persuaded that he 
had not been deluded by an empty spectra, fearlessly announced his dream 
as a celestial oracle. Now, although the dominion is promised to him 
under a rural symbol, it is one which does not seem suitable for 
instruction to the sons of Jacob; for we know that they were herdsman, 
not ploughmen. Since they had no harvest which they could gather in, it 
seems hardly congruous that homage should be paid to his sheaf: But 
perhaps God designedly chose this similitude, to show that this prophecy 
was not founded upon the present fortunes of Joseph, and that the 
material of his dominion would not consist in those things which were at 
hand, but that it should be a future benefit, the cause of which was to 
be sought for elsewhere than at home. 
  8. "Shalt thou indeed reign over us?" Here it is plainly shown to us 
that the paternal favour of God towards the elect, is like a fan to 
excite against them the enmity of the world. When the sons of Jacob 
heard that they were fighting in vain against God, their unjust hatred 
ought, by such means, to have been corrected. For it was as if God, 
setting himself in the midst, would repress their fury by these words, 
"Your impious conspiring will be fruitless; for although you boast, I 
have constituted as your chief, the man whose ruin your wicked envy 
hurries you to seek." Perhaps, also, by this consolatory dream, he 
intended to alleviate the trouble of the holy youth. Yet their obstinacy 
caused it to be the more increased. Let us then learn not to be grieved 
if, at any time, the shining of the grace of God upon us should cause us 
to be envied. The sons of Jacob, however, were but too acute 
interpreters of the dream: yet they deride it as a fable, because it was 
repugnant to their wishes. Thus it often happens that they who are 
ill-disposed, quickly perceive what is the will of God: but, because 
they feel no reverence, they despise it. To this contumacy, however, 
succeeds a stupor which destroys their former quick-sightedness. 
  9. "And he dreamed yet another dream." The scope of this dream is the 
same. The only difference is, that God, to inspire greater confidence in 
the oracle, presents him with a figure from heaven. The brethren of 
Joseph had despised what was said concerning the sheaves; the Lord now 
calls upon them to look towards heaven, where his august Majesty shines 
forth. It may, however, be asked, how it can be reconciled with fact, 
that his mother, who was now dead, could come and bow down to him. The 
interpretation of certain Hebrews, who refer it to Bilhah, is frigid, 
and the sense appears plain without such subterfuges: for the sun and 
moon designate the head of the family on each side: thus, in this 
figure, Joseph sees himself reverenced by the whole house of his father. 
  10. "And his father rebuked him." If Jacob suspected that the dream 
originated in vain ambition, he rightly rebuked his son; but if he knew 
that God was the author of the dream, he ought not to have expostulated 
with him. But that he did know it, may be hence inferred, because he is 
afterwards said seriously to have considered it. For Moses, making a 
distinction between him and his sons, says that *they* breathed nothing 
but the virus of envy; while *he* revolved in his own mind what this 
might mean; which could not have happened, unless he had been affected 
with reverence. But seeing that a certain religious impression on the 
subject rested on his mind, how was it that he rebuked his son? This 
truly was not giving honour to God and to his word. For it ought to have 
occurred to the mind of Jacob that, although Joseph was under his 
authority, he yet sustained a prophetic character. It is probable, when 
he saw his sons so malevolent, that he wished to meet the danger by 
feigning what he did not feel: for he was not offended at the dream, but 
he was unwilling to exasperate the minds of those who, on account of 
their pride, would not bear to be in subjection. Therefore I do not 
doubt that he feignedly reproved his son, from a desire to appease 
contention. Nevertheless, this method of pretending to be adverse to the 
truth, when we are endeavoring to appease the anger of those who rage 
against it, is by no means approved by God. He ought rather ingenuously 
to have exhorted his sons not to "kick against the pricks." Or at least 
he should have used this moderate address, "If this is a common dream, 
let it be treated with ridicule rather than with anger; but if it has 
proceeded from God, it is wicked to speak against it." It is even 
possible that the unsuitableness of the dream had struck the mind of the 
old man. For we know how difficult it is entirely to throw off all sense 
of superiority. Certainly, though Jacob declines slightly from the right 
course, yet his piety appears to be of no common order; because his 
reverence for the oracle so easily prevailed over every other feeling. 
But the most wicked obstinacy betrays itself in his sons, seeing they 
break out into greater enmity. For though they despise the dream, yet 
they are not made angry about nothing. Gladly would they have had their 
brother as a laughing-stock; but a certain secret sense of the Deity 
constrains them, so that, with or against their will, they are compelled 
to feel that there is something authentic in the dream. Meanwhile, a 
blind ferocity impels them to an unintentional resistance against God. 
Therefore, that we may be held in obedience to God, let us learn to 
bring down our high spirits; because the beginning of docility is for 
men to submit to be brought into order. This obstinacy in the sons of 
Jacob was most censurable, because they not only rejected the oracle of 
God through their hatred of subjection, but were hostile to his 
messenger and herald. How much less excusable, then, will be our 
hardness, if we do not meekly submit our necks to the yoke of God; since 
the doctrine of humility, which subdues and even mortifies us, is not 
only more clearly revealed, but also confirmed by the precious blood of 
Christ? If, however, we see many refractory persons at this day, who 
refuse to embrace the gospel, and who perversely rise up against it, let 
us not be disturbed as by some new thing, seeing that the whole human 
race is infected with the disease of pride; for by the gospel all the 
glory of the flesh is reduced to nothing; rather let us know that all 
remain obstinate, except those who are rendered meek by the subduing 
influence of the Spirit. 
  12. "And his brethren went." Before Moses treats of the horrible 
design of fratricide, he describes the journey of Joseph, and amplifies, 
by many circumstances, the atrocity of the crime. Their brother 
approaches them in the discharge of a duty, to make a fraternal inquiry 
after their state. He comes by the command of his father; and obeys it 
without reluctance, as appears from his answer. He searches them out 
anxiously; and though they had changed their place, he spares neither 
labour nor trouble till he finds them. Therefore their cruelty was 
something more than madness, seeing they did not shrink with horror from 
contriving the death of a brother so pious and humane. We now see that 
Moses does not relate, without a purpose, that a man met Joseph in his 
wanderings, and told him that his brethren had departed to Dothan. For 
the greater was his diligence in his indefatigable pursuit, so much the 
less excusable were they by whom such an unworthy recompense was repaid. 
  18. "And when they saw him afar off." Here again Moses, so far from 
sparing the fame of his own family by adulation, brands its chiefs with 
a mark of eternal infamy, and exposes them to the hatred and execration 
of all nations. If, at any time, among heathens, a brother murdered his 
brother, such impiety was treated with the utmost severity in tragedies, 
that it might not pass into an example for imitation. But in profane 
history no such thing is found, as that nine brethren should conspire 
together for the destruction of an innocent youth, and, like wild 
beasts, should pounce upon him with bloody hands. Therefore a horrible, 
and even diabolical fury, took possession of the sons of Jacob, when, 
having cast aside the sense of nature, they were thus prepared cruelly 
to rage against their own blood. 
  But, in addition to this wickedness, Moses condemns their impious 
contempt of God, "Behold this master of dreams". For why do they insult 
the unhappy youth, except because he had been called by the celestial 
oracle to an unexpected dignity? Besides, in this manner, they 
themselves proclaim their own baseness more publicly than any one could 
do, who should purposely undertake severely to chastise them. They 
confess that the cause why they persecuted their brother was his having 
dreamed; as if truly this ass an inexpiable offense; but if they are 
indignant at his dreams, why do they not rather wage war with God? For 
Joseph deemed it necessary to receive, as a precious deposit, what had 
been divinely revealed unto him. But because they did not dare directly 
to assail God, they wrap themselves in clouds, that, losing sight of 
God, they may vent their fury against their brother. If such blindness 
seized upon the patriarchs, what shall become of the reprobates, whom 
obstinate malice drives along, so that they do not hesitate to resist 
God even to the last? And we see that they willingly disturb and excite 
themselves, as often as they are offended with the threatenings and 
chastisements of God, and rise up against his ministers for the sake of 
taking vengeance. The same thing, indeed, would at times happen to us 
all, unless God should put on his bridle to render us submissive. With 
respect to Joseph, the special favour of God was manifested to him, and 
he was raised to the highest dignity; but only in a dream, which is 
ridiculed by the wicked scorn of his brethren. To this is also added a 
conspiracy, so that he narrowly escaped death. Thus the promise of God, 
which had exalted him to honour, almost plunges him into the grave. We, 
also, who have received the gratuitous adoption of God amidst many 
sorrows, experience the same thing. For, from the time that Christ 

gathers us into his flock, God permits us to be cast down in various 
ways, so that we seem nearer hell than heaven. Therefore, let the 
example of Joseph be fixed in our minds, that we be not disquieted when 
many crosses spring forth to us from the root of God's favour. For I 
have before showed, and the thing itself clearly testifies, that in 
Joseph was adumbrated, what was afterwards more fully exhibited in 
Christ, the Head of the Church, in order that each member may form 
itself to the imitation of his example. 
  20. "And cast him into some pit." Before they perpetrate the murder, 
they seek a pretext whereby they may conceal their crime from men. 
Meanwhile, it never enters into their mind, that what is hidden from men 
cannot escape the eyes of God. But so stupid is hypocrisy, that while it 
flees from the disgrace of the world, it is careless about the judgment 
of God. But it is a disease deeply rooted in the human mind, to put some 
specious colour on every extreme act of iniquity. For although an inward 
judge convicts the guilty, they yet confirm themselves in impudence, 
that their disgrace may not appear unto others. 
  "And we shall see what will become of his dreams." As if the truth of 
God could be subverted by the death of one man, they boast that they 
shall have attained their wish when they have killed their brother; 
namely, that his dreams will come to nothing. This is not, indeed, their 
avowed purpose, but turbulent envy drives them headlong to fight against 
God. But whatever they design in thus contending with God in the dark, 
their attempts will, at length, prove vain. For God will always find a 
way through the most profound abyss, to the accomplishment of what he 
has decreed. If, then, unbelievers provoke us by their reproaches, and 
proudly boast that our faith will profit us nothing; let not their 
insolence discourage or weaken us, but let us confidently proceed. 
  21. "And Reuben heard it." It may be well to observe, while others 

(continued in part 16...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: cvgn2-15.txt