This passage also teaches us, how much better it is to possess a remote corner in the courts of the Lord, than to dwell in the midst of palaces, beyond the precincts of the Church. Therefore, let us not think it grievous to secure a sacred union with the sons of God, by enduring the contempt and reproaches of the world; even as Joseph preferred this union to all the luxuries of Egypt. But if any one thinks that he cannot otherwise serve God in purity, than by rendering himself disgusting to the world; away with all this folly! The design of God was this, to keep the sons of Jacob in a degraded position, until he should restore them to the land of Canaan: for the purpose, then, of preserving themselves in unity till the promised deliverance should take place, they did not conceal the fact that they were shepherds.
We must beware, therefore, lest the desire of empty honour should elate us: whereas the Lord reveals no other way of salvation, than that of bringing us under discipline. Wherefore let us willingly be without honour, for a time, that, hereafter, angels may receive us to a participation of their eternal glory. By this example also, they who are brought up in humble employments, are taught that they have no need to be ashamed of their lot. It ought to be enough, and more than enough, for them, that the mode of living which they pursue is lawful, and acceptable to God.
The remaining confession of the brethren (Ge 47:4) was not unattended with a sense of shame; in which they say, that they had come to sojourn there, compelled by hunger; but hence arose advantage not to be despised. For as they came down few, and perishing with hunger, and so branded with infamy that scarcely any one would deign to speak with them; the glory of God afterwards shone so much the more illustriously out of this darkness, when, in the third century from that time, he wonderfully led them forth, a mighty nation.