9. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt. Notwithstanding, God was with him; 10. And he delivered him out of all his afflictions: and he gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt, and over all his house. 11. And there came a famine upon all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction; neither did our fathers find food. 12. And when Jacob had heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent our fathers thither first. 13. And at the second coming Joseph was known of his brethren; and the kindred of Joseph was made known to Pharaoh. 14. Then Joseph sent, and called out his father Jacob and all his kindred, seventy-five souls. 15. And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, and our fathers; 16. And they were carried into Sychem, and they were laid in the sepulcher which Abraham had bought for money of the sons of Hemor, the son [father] of Sychem.
9. Now followeth the greatest wickedness of the nation of Israel, that they conspired 1 together to oppress their innocent brother, which cruelty is contrary 2 to nature. Neither could the Jews object that it was a private fault of a few; for the infamy reacheth unto all the people. Forasmuch as all the patriarchs, Benjamin excepted, had polluted themselves with that treachery; therefore in that Stephen vouchsafeth to give them an honorable name that redoundeth to the greater reproach of the nation. They boasted proudly of their fathers; he showeth what manner [of] persons the chief of them were; to wit, murderers of their brother, 3 so much as in them laid. For, besides that slavery was a kind of death, we know what they went about at the first and, secondly, what cruel punishments Joseph suffered, of all which his brethren were guilty. Hereby it appeareth that God was bountiful and merciful to those which were, as it were unwilling, and which did resist him. For him (who was about to be the author of health and help 4) would they have destroyed. Wherefore they did what they could to renounce all the benefits of God. So he will declare afterward that Moses was rejected when he was offered of God to be a redeemer. Therefore, the Jews have small cause to brag of the excellency of their kindred; but this alone remaineth for them, that, being ashamed, 5 they confess that whosoever they are, they have the same through the mere mercy of God, and that they consider that the law was given to set forth the same.
10. Stephen addeth the means, because God gave him favor in the sight of Pharaoh. God could have delivered him by some other means, but his counsel had respect unto a farther thing, that Joseph, being ruler of the kingdom, might entertain his father and all his family. In these two words,
14. Whereas he saith that Jacob came into Egypt with seventy-five souls, it agreeth not with the words of Moses; for Moses maketh mention of seventy only. Jerome thinketh that Luke setteth not down, word for word, those things which Stephen had spoken, or that he took this number out of the Greek translation of Moses, (Genesis 46:27,) either because he himself, being a proselyte, had not the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, or because he would grant the Gentiles this, who used to read it thus. 16 Furthermore, it is uncertain whether the Greek interpreters set down this number of set purpose, or whether it crop [crept] in afterward through negligence, [mistake;] which (I mean the latter) might well be, forasmuch as the Grecians used to set down their numbers in letters. Augustine, in his 26th book of City of God, [De Civitate Dei,] thinketh that Joseph's nephews and kinsmen 17 are comprehended in this number; and so he thinketh that the words went down doth signify all that time which Jacob lived. But that conjecture can by no means be received. For, in the mean space, the other patriarchs also had many children born to them. This seemeth to me a thing like to be true, that the Seventy Interpreters did translate that truly which was in Moses. And we cannot say that they were deceived; forasmuch as [in] Deuteronomy 10, where this number is repeated, they agree with Moses, at least as that place was read without all doubt in the time of Jerome; for those copies which are printed at this day have it otherwise. Therefore, I think that this difference came through the error of the writers which wrote out the books. 18 And it was a matter of no such weight, for which Luke ought to have troubled the Gentiles which were accustomed with the Greek reading. And it may be that he himself did put down the true number; and that some man did correct the same amiss out of that place of Moses. For we know that those which had the New Testament in hand were ignorant of the Hebrew tongue, yet skillful in 19 the Greek,
Therefore, to the end [that] the words of Stephen might agree with the place of Moses, it is to be thought that that false number which was found in the Greek translation of Genesis was by them put in also in this place; concerning which, if any man contend more stubbornly, let us suffer him to be wise without measure. Let us remember that it is not without cause that Paul doth forbid us to be too curious about genealogies. This, so small a number, is purposely expressed, to the end the power of God may the more plainly appear, in so great an enlarging of that kindred, which was of no long continuance. For such a small handful of men could not, by any human manner of engendering, grow to such an infinite multitude as is recorded in Exodus 12:37, within two hundred and fifty years. We ought rather to weigh the miracle which the Spirit commendeth unto us in this place, than to stand long about one letter, whereby the number is altered. There arise other questions (and those which are more hard to be answered) out of the rest of the text, [context.]
16. Stephen saith, that the patriarchs were carried into the land of Canaan after they were dead. But Moses maketh mention only of the bones of Joseph, (Genesis 1:13.) And Joshua 24:32, it is reported, that the bones of Joseph were buried without making any mention of the rest. Some answer, that Moses speaketh of Joseph for honor's sake, because he had given express commandment concerning his bones, which we cannot read to have been done of the rest. And, surely, when Jerome, in the pilgrimage of Paula, saith, that she came by Shechem, he saith that she saw there the sepulchres of the twelve patriarchs; but in another place he maketh mention of Joseph's grave only. And it may be that there were empty tombs 20 erected to the rest. I can affirm nothing concerning this matter for a certainty, save only that this is either a speech wherein is synecdoche, or else that Luke rehearseth this not so much out of Moses, as according to the old fame; as the Jews had many things in times past from the fathers, which were delivered, as it were, from hand to hand. And whereas he saith afterward, they were laid in the sepulcher which Abraham had bought of the sons of Hemor, it is manifest that there is a fault [mistake] in the word Abraham. For Abraham had bought a double cave of Ephron the Hittite, (Genesis 23:9,) to bury his wife Sarah in; but Joseph was buried in another place, to wit, in the field which his father Jacob had bought of the sons of Hemor for an hundred lambs. Wherefore this place must be amended.
1 "Impia et nefaria conspiratione," by a nefarious and impious conspiracy.
2 "Abhorret," is abhorrent from.
3 "Fratricidae," fratricides.
4 "Salutis minister," the minister or instrument of their safety.
5 "Pudore confusi," confounded with shame.
6 "Ingenti moerore confundi," overwhelmed with deepest sorrow.
7 "Illustre," illustrious.
8 "Illi Deus gratiam conciliat," procureth favor for him.
9 "Dexteritas," dexterity.
10 "Pro modo inaequali," according to the unequal mode of distribution, omitted.
11 "Non nisi Dei manu," by nought but the hand of God.
12 "Ventura esset," was about to come.
13 "Prorsus exterminatum," completely exterminated.
14 "Non dubitaverant," had not hesitated.
15 "Exulant," become exiles.
16 "Apud quas recepta erat illa lectio," among whom that reading was received.
17 "Nepotes ac pronepotes," grandsons and great-grandsons.
18 "Librariorum," copyists.
19 "Familiariter," familiar with.