Genesis 46 – The Family of Jacob Comes to Egypt
A. The family comes to Egypt.
1. (1-4) God speaks to Jacob on the way to Egypt.
So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.” So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”
a. Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba: Jacob left nothing behind, and came to the southernmost outpost of Canaan on the way to Egypt. Israel stopped there to honor God with sacrifices.
i. Both Abraham (Genesis 22:19) and Isaac (Genesis 26:23) lived for a time at Beersheba.
ii. Israel’s grandfather Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba many years before and had called on the name of the LORD there (Genesis 21:33). Isaac received a special promise from God and built an altar for sacrifice there, calling on the name of the LORD (Genesis 26:24-25). It was probably at this very place Israel sacrificed, remembering what God had done before.
iii. “It was, therefore, a memorable spot in the history of his family, and it was just then a turning-point in his own career, and therefore it called for special waiting upon the Lord. He was to break new ground, and enter upon a way which he had not trodden heretofore; and so we read that he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.” (Spurgeon)
b. God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night: More than 40 years before, when Jacob was about to leave the Promised Land, God spoke to him in a dream (Genesis 28:12-17). Now, when he was about to leave the land again, God again brought assurance through a dream (visions of the night).
c. Do not fear to go down to Egypt: This strongly suggests that Israel was afraid to go to Egypt. Jacob may have remembered that Abraham had gone to Egypt in a time of famine once before, and it was an expression of his unbelief, and much evil eventually came from it (Genesis 12:10-20). He also may have remembered God told his father Isaac not to go down to Egypt (Genesis 26:2).
i. Also, Jacob knew God told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years (Genesis 15:13). As Jacob led his family into this foreign land, he did not know what the future held. At the same time, he knew the future was in God’s hands.
ii. As Israel connected with what God did in the past (by sacrificing at Beersheba), he was assured of God’s plan for the future.
iii. “Hesitate, my dear friend, while you are not sure that it is God’s will; but when once you are certain that it is according to the Lord’s mind, it will be unfaithfulness to God to have any kind of fear. Steam straight ahead, for that way lies your haven.” (Spurgeon)
d. I will make of you a great nation there: God told Israel what His purpose was in bringing this large family or clan down to Egypt. Because of the exclusive, segregated nature of Egyptian life, Israel’s descendants could grow as a large, distinct nation there. Egypt became like a mother’s womb to Israel as a nation, where they grew from something small to something to full size.
e. I will also surely bring you up again: The great reason Jacob did not need to fear the journey to Egypt was that God promised to bring him back to the Promised Land. This would be fulfilled after Jacob’s death, but it would be fulfilled – Egypt would never be the permanent home for Israel and his children.
f. And Joseph will put his hand on your eyes: The final assurance was for God Himself to tell Jacob that Joseph lived and would care for him until his dying day. This was sweet assurance.
2. (5-27) Listing of Jacob’s family who came with him to Egypt.
Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. His sons and his sons’ sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt. Now these were the names of the children of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn. The sons of Reuben were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah, Job, and Shimron. The sons of Zebulun were Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, with his daughter Dinah. All the persons, his sons and his daughters, were thirty-three. The sons of Gad were Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. The sons of Asher were Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah, and Serah, their sister. And the sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel. These were the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob: sixteen persons. The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, were Joseph and Benjamin. And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. The sons of Benjamin were Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. These were the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob: fourteen persons in all. The son of Dan was Hushim. The sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and she bore these to Jacob: seven persons in all. All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.
a. In the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him: In Genesis 45:27, we saw how important these carts were to Jacob. His spirit revived when he saw this impressive wealth and technology from Egypt.
b. All his descendants he brought with him to Egypt: This shows the great faith Israel had. He brought the entire family down to Egypt. No one was left behind to continue a presence in Canaan. Jacob was both all in, and he knew they would be back.
c. The sons of Judah were: The sons of Judah are of special note because this is the Messianic lineage. The line of descent to this point went like this: Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah to Perez to Hezron (Luke 3:33-34).
d. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy: The total number of males of this clan was 70. There were 66, plus Jacob himself, Joseph, and his two sons. This large family would become a nation of perhaps more than two million over the next 400 years.
i. Like many great works of God, Israel had a slow beginning.
· From the time God called Abraham, it took at least 25 years to add one son – Isaac.
· It took Isaac 60 years to add another son of Israel – Jacob.
· It took 50 or 60 years for Jacob to add 12 sons and one daughter.
· But in 430 years, Israel would leave Egypt with 600,000 men.
· It took this family 215 years to grow from one to 70, but in another 430 years they grew to two million or more.
ii. In Acts 7:14, Stephen said that there were 75 who went into Egypt. This is because Stephen quoted from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which says 75. The number in the Septuagint is not wrong, just arrived at in a different way, specifically adding five more sons (or grandsons) of Joseph born in Egypt.
B. The family settles in the land of Goshen.
1. (28-30) The emotional meeting between Joseph and his father.
Then he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out before him the way to Goshen. And they came to the land of Goshen. So Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”
a. He sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out before him the way: It was fitting for Judah, of the Messianic line, to do this. He demonstrated the true spirit of repentance and change of heart among Joseph’s brothers.
b. Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive: This reunion of Israel with Joseph was more than he ever before dreamed. He had heard the news that the favored son lived; now it was fulfilled. This was a dramatic change from the attitude that said before, all things are against me (Genesis 42:36).
2. (31-34) Joseph tells his family of the plan to ask for the area of Goshen.
Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds, and all that they have.’ So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”
a. I will go up and tell Pharaoh: Joseph became the representative and the advocate for the whole family. They came to safety in Egypt, but needed Joseph to represent them. In the same pattern, the believer needs Jesus Christ to represent him or her.
i. Indeed, the pharaohs after Joseph’s death forgot about Joseph and made the people of Israel slaves (Exodus 1:8-10). This shows what would happen (in theory) if we had no representative or advocate before God. But Jesus – not Mary, not saints – is our eternal representative and advocate, being the same yesterday, today, and forever.
b. That you may dwell in the land of Goshen: God had a place for His people. He didn’t bring them to Egypt and give them no home. It wasn’t enough for Joseph to provide for their needs in Canaan; he had to bring them to the place he prepared for them.
i. We see Jesus in both aspects – He takes care of us in the present, but has gone to heaven to prepare a place for us – and will receive us to Himself.
c. Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians: The Egyptians were agricultural in the sense of farming crops. They considered sheep unclean, and therefore detested shepherds. God had a place for His people, but it was a different place and a sometimes-despised place.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission