And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.
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Caesarius of Arles
We have heard in the lesson which was read, dearly beloved, that “when Joseph was dead, the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful and prolific, and they sprang up like grass.” What does this mean, brethren? As long as Joseph lived the children of Israel are not recorded to have increased or multiplied very much, but after he died they are said to have sprung up like the grass. Surely they should have increased and multiplied more when they were under the patronage and protection of Joseph. These words were prefigured in that Joseph, dearly beloved; but in our Joseph, that is, in Christ the Lord, they were fulfilled in truth. Before our Joseph died, that is, before he was crucified, few people believed in him, but after he died and rose again throughout the world the Israelites, that is, the Christian people, increased and multiplied. Thus even the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.” After the precious grain of wheat died and was buried through the passion, from that one grain a harvest of the church sprang up throughout the world. Not as formerly was “God renowned in Judah” alone, nor is “his great name” worshiped only “in Israel”; but “from the rising of the sun unto the going down” his name is praised.