Sunday, 24 April 2022
till another king arose who did not know Joseph. Acts 7:18
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
As was noted in the previous verse, it said that “when the time of promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt.” From there, and in accord with the detailed narrative of Exodus, Stephen continues by saying, “till another king arose.”
The identity of this king is debated, even today. In his commentary, Albert Barnes gives some possibilities –
“It has commonly been supposed to have been the celebrated Rameses, the sixth king of the eighteenth dynasty, and the event is supposed to have occurred about 1559 years before the Christian era. M. Champollion supposes that his name was Mandonei, whose reign commenced in 1585 b.c., and ended 1565 years before Christ (Essay on the Hieroglyphic System, p. 94, 95). Sir Jas. G. Wilkinson supposes that it was Amosis, or Ames, the ‘first’ king of the eighteenth dynasty (Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. 1, pp. 42, 2nd ed.). ‘The present knowledge of Egyptian history is too imperfect to enable us to determine this point’ (Prof. Hackett).”
Though the history of Egyptian rulers is much more fully known today, there is still debate on who the king was. Much of this depends on a person’s view of when the events of the biblical narrative actually took place. Regardless of this, it is relevant to understand that the word translated as “another” signifies another of a different kind. HELPS Word Studies defines it as, “héteros (‘another but distinct in kind’) stands in contrast to /állos (‘another of the same kind’). … [it] ‘emphasizes it is qualitatively different from its counterpart (comparison).’”
As such, this is a king, meaning a Pharaoh, that is distinctly different from the one that had previously ruled. Pharaoh at Joseph’s time was accommodating to the Israelites. However, and as will be noted by Stephen, this one will not be. That begins to be reflected in the next words, saying, “who did not know Joseph.”
The idea here could be either figurative or literal. If literal, it would mean he was unaware of the rule of the previous Pharaoh. This is unlikely as historical records would have been kept, and there was only a period of sixty-four years from the death of Joseph until the time of the birth of Moses.
What is more likely is that the word “know” is to be taken figuratively, as the word in Hebrew, yada, is often used. The Greek word used here, eidó, can also be used in a figurative sense. As such, it would mean that he did not recognize, or care about, the type of rule the previous Pharaoh acknowledged.
In other words, and as a suitable example, the founding fathers of the US had a certain type of rule which guided them. It was based on morality, Christian principles, personal industry and accountability, limited government, and so on. To sum them up, we might say, “Men of character.”
In contrast to that, one could name any modern democrat president and say he does not “know” or “care about” the type of leaders of the past. Instead, their decisions are based on perversion, anti-Christian principles, collectivism, no accountability for criminal behavior, government control, and so on. To sum them up, we might note them as “Moral minuscules.”
This is the type of contrast seen between the two kings. As such, there will be a completely different type of rule over his kingdom. The verse now quoted by Stephen comes from Exodus 1:8 –
“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”
Life application: Because the commentary above touched upon the thought of good leaders and crummy ones, it is worth noting that if you live in a country where you have a right to vote, when you fail to do so and you then have a crummy leader elected over you (at whatever level of government), you are part of the problem. In the end, you have only yourself to blame for not being an active participant in the process which you have a right and a duty to engage in.
And more, by withholding one’s vote, that person is – by default – supporting whoever the elected official will be. It is worthy to note the words of James in such a situation –
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
It is reasonable to assume that through inaction, the one who does not work against the wicked, when he has the opportunity to do so, will be held accountable for his chosen path. It is a sobering thing to consider when human life, personal property, and common morality are at stake. Take time to consider this and work to correct that which is evil by exercising your vote. If your candidate loses, it does not mean you didn’t try. Your efforts may have not succeeded, but they were also not in vain.
Lord God, how we would love to return to the days of sanity in government and morality within our society. And maybe it will happen. Or it may be that the country in which we live is destined to become as corrupt as the world before the flood. We are almost there already, for sure. No matter what, may we be willing to work against the rising tide of wickedness while we are able. Amen.