Summary: “The time of the promise” refers to the passage of four hundred years from the day God gave the promise to Abraham until he delivered the seed of Abraham from their affliction and servitude in Egypt, and later brought them into the the land of Canaan....

January 15, 2014

By: Tom Lowe

Title: Stephen’s Sermon (7:1-53)

Part 2: verses 15-36


15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,

So Jacob went down into Egypt.

He went into Egypt at the invitation of his son Joseph, traveling on the carts which he had provided for them.

And died, he, and our fathers.

Jacob and his twelve sons died in Egypt, though we have no account of the death of any of them, except for Jacob (Genesis 49:33[1]) and Joseph (Genesis 50:26[2]), though it does say in Exodus 1:6: “Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died.” The Israelites remained in Egypt for 215 years, so all the sons of Jacob died there before the Jews left there for the land of Canaan.

16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.

And were carried over into Sychem.

The bones of the fathers, the twelve patriarchs plus Jacob, were carried out of Egypt by the children of Israel when they left there to begin their forty year journey to the Promised Land. There is no doubt that Joseph was buried in Sychem, since it is expressly stated in Joshua 24:32[3]. Syshem was a town or village near Samaria. It was also called Sichar, Sychar (John 4:5[4]), "Shechem," and "Sychem." It is now called "Naplous" or "Napolose," and is ten miles from Shiloh, and about forty from Jerusalem, toward the north.

No mention is made in the Old Testament of the Israelites taking the bones of any of the other patriarchs with them, but it is highly probable they did. If the descendants of Joseph carried his bones, it would naturally occur to them to also take the bones of each of the patriarchs, and give them an honorable sepulcher together in the land of promise. Josephus stated that "the posterity and sons of these men (of the brethren of Joseph), after some time, carried their bodies and buried them in Hebron; but as to the bones of Joseph, they carried them into the land of Canaan afterward, when the Hebrews went out of Egypt." This is in accordance with the common opinion of the Jewish writers, that they were buried in Hebron. Yet the tradition is not uniform. Some of the Jews say that they were buried in Sychem. There is no concrete evidence either way for where they were buried, but Sychem appears to be the logical place, based upon the following:

1. The Jewish writers never mentioned anyone buried in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron other than these four couples; Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah; from which Hebron was called Kirjath Arba, the city of four.

2. It is natural to suppose, that the children of Israel brought the bones of all the patriarchs out of Egypt, along with Joseph's; and since they buried the bones of Joseph in Sichem, it is most reasonable to believe, that the rest were buried there too.

3. Since the books of the Old Testament say nothing about this, the endorsement of Stephen (or of Luke here) for their being buried in Sychem is at least as good as that of Josephus for their being buried in Hebron."

4. There is one circumstance of strong probability that suggests that Stephen was correct. At the time when this defense was delivered, "Sychem" was in the hands of the Samaritans, and there was a violent history between them and the Jews. Of course, the Jews would not be willing to concede that the Samaritans had the bones of their ancestors, and perhaps for that reason, they maintained the opinion that they were buried in Hebron.

As for Jacob, we will see that he was not buried in Sichem, but in the cave of Machpelah.

And laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sichem.

This clause has created a great deal of confusion among Bible scholars by raising the question: “How can the sepulcher in which the fathers were laid at Sichem be said to be bought by Abraham from the sons of Emmor, when what Abraham bought was the field and cave of Machpelah; and it was purchased from the sons of Heth, and Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hitrite (Genesis 23:16-18[5]), not from the sons of Emmor.” As for the parcel of ground in Sichem, it was purchased by Jacob from the sons of Emmor, the founder of Sichem (Genesis 33:19[6]). There are several ways to reconcile this seeming discrepancy:

1. Some think the word Abraham is an interpolation, and that it should be read, “Which he (Jacob) bought”; but this explanation is not supported by any copies of scripture discovered thus far.

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