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Genesis 48:12

    Genesis 48:12 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Then Joseph took them from between his knees, and went down on his face to the earth.

    Webster's Revision

    And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

    World English Bible

    Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

    Clarke's Commentary on Genesis 48:12

    Joseph - bowed himself with his face to the earth - This act of Joseph has been extravagantly extolled by Dr. Delaney and others. "When I consider him on his knees to God," says Dr. Delaney, "I regard him as a poor mortal in the discharge of his duty to his Creator. When I behold him bowing before Pharaoh, I consider him in the dutiful posture of a subject to his prince. But when I see him bending to the earth before a poor, old, blind, decrepit father, I behold him with admiration and delight. How doth that humiliation exalt him!" This is insufferable! For it in effect says that it is a wondrous condescension in a young man, who, in the course of God's providence, with scarcely any efforts of his own, was raised to affluence and worldly grandeur, to show respect to his father! And that respect was the more gratuitous and condescending, because that father was poor, old, blind, and decrepit! The maxim of this most exceptionable flight of admiration is, that "children who have risen to affluence are not obliged to reverence their parents when reduced in their circumstances, and brought down by the weight of years and infirmities to the sides of the grave; and should they acknowledge and reverence them, it would be a mark of singular goodness, and be highly meritorious." Should positions of this kind pass without reprehension? I trow not. By the law of God and nature Joseph was as much bound to pay his dying father this filial respect, as he was to reverence his king, or to worship his God. As to myself, I must freely confess that I see nothing peculiarly amiable in this part of Joseph's conduct; he simply acquitted himself of a duty which God, nature, decency, and common sense, imperiously demanded of him, and all such in his circumstances, to discharge. To the present day children in the east, next to God, pay the deepest reverence to their parents.

    Besides, before whom was Joseph bowing? Not merely his father, but a most eminent Patriarch; one highly distinguished by the Lord, and one of the three of whom the Supreme Being speaks in the most favorable and affectionate manner; the three who received and transmitted the true faith, and kept unbroken the Divine covenant; I Am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He has never said, I am the God of Joseph. And if we compare the father and the son as men, we shall find that the latter was exceeded by the former in almost endless degrees. Joseph owed his advancement and his eminence to what some would call good fortune, and what we know to have been the especial providence of God working in his behalf, wholly independent of his own industry, etc., every event of that providence issuing in his favor. Jacob owed his own support and preservation, and the support and preservation of his numerous family, under God, to the continual exercise of the vast powers of a strong and vigorous mind, to which the providence of God seemed ever in opposition; because God chose to try to the uttermost the great gifts which he had bestowed. If therefore the most humble and abject inferior should reverence dignity and eminence raised to no common height, so should Joseph bow down his face to the earth before Jacob.

    Besides, Joseph, in thus reverencing his father, only followed the customs of the Egyptians among whom he lived, who, according to Herodotus, (Euterpe, c. 80), were particularly remarkable for the reverence they paid to old age. "For if a young person meet his senior, he instantly turns aside to make way for him; if an aged person enter an apartment, the youth always rise from their seats;" and Mr. Savary observes that the reverence mentioned by Herodotus is yet paid to old age on every occasion in Egypt. In Mohammedan countries the children sit as if dumb in the presence of their parents, never attempting to speak unless spoken to. Among the ancient Romans it was considered a crime worthy of death not to rise up in the presence of an aged person, and acting a contrary part was deemed an awful mark of the deep degeneracy of the times. Thus the satirist: -

    Credebant hoc grande nefas, et morte piandum,

    Si Juvenis Vetulo non assurrexerat; et si

    Barbato cuicumque puer.

    Juv. Sat. xiii., v. 54.

    And had not men the hoary heads revered,

    Or boys paid reverence when a man appear'd.

    Both must have died.

    Dryden.

    Indeed, though Dr. Delaney is much struck with what he thinks to be great and meritorious condescension and humility on the part of Joseph; yet we find the thing itself, the deepest reverence to parents and old age, practiced by all the civilized nations in the world, not as a matter of meritorious courtesy, but as a point of rational and absolute duty.