Genesis 47 – Jacob Meets Pharaoh; the Family Settles in Egypt
A. Jacob meets Pharaoh.
1. (1-4) The brothers ask for the land of Goshen.
Then Joseph went and told Pharaoh, and said, “My father and my brothers, their flocks and their herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; and indeed they are in the land of Goshen.” And he took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and also our fathers.” And they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to dwell in the land, because your servants have no pasture for their flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.”
a. My father and my brothers… have come from the land of Canaan: When Joseph spoke those words to Pharaoh, it was the fulfillment of both God’s plan and Joseph’s desire. Joseph was again with his father and brothers and all their families.
b. Please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen: Joseph had remarkably high status in the government of Egypt. Yet the family still had to ask permission to dwell in the land of Goshen.
2. (5-6) Pharaoh gives them the best of the land.
Then Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.”
a. Dwell in the best of the land: This blessing was all because of Joseph. He saved Egypt – and much of the world – from terrible famine, and now the whole family of Israel was blessed and received an inheritance because of Joseph.
b. If you know any competent men among them: We can assume that at least some of Joseph’s brothers and their families were competentas herdsmen.
3. (7-10) Jacob blesses Pharaoh.
Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How old are you?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
a. The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years: Jacob explained that he was on a pilgrimage. He knew that his real home was somewhere else – heaven.
b. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life: This was not a cynical statement by Jacob. He recognized that the general character of his life (lived in the flesh) and the length of his life did not compare either to eternity or to the lives of his ancestors.
c. So Jacob blessed Pharaoh: Pharaoh acknowledged Jacob was a man of God by accepting his blessing. In the Egyptian religion, Pharaoh himself was thought to be a god. They considered Pharaoh the human embodiment of Ra, the sun god. This means that it was remarkable that he allowed Israel to bestow a blessing on him.
4. (11-12) Israel takes the best of the land.
And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families.
a. Joseph situated his father and his brothers: The family of Israel looked to Joseph, and Joseph only, as their source of provision and supply.
b. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread: Though there was a great famine in that entire region, God’s work through Joseph’s wise preparation meant there was bread for Joseph’s family and countless others.
B. Joseph deals with the famine.
1. (13-14) In the early years of the famine, money pours into the treasury of Egypt, because it was the only place to buy food.
Now therewas no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
a. There was no bread in all the land: The famine went far beyond Egypt, and it was very severe.
b. Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house: Joseph was not only a hard worker and a brilliant administrator, he was also an honest worker. He did not cheat the Pharaoh; as a loyal employee he brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
2. (15-26) In the later years of the famine, Joseph arranged ways for the people to purchase food with whatever they had to give.
So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.” Then Joseph said, “Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year. When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.” Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands. Then Joseph said to the people, “Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.” So they said, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh’s.
a. When the money failed in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan: Food was available in Egypt, but at a price. Because the famine lasted so long – seven years in total – eventually people ran out of money to buy more grain. When the money first failed, Joseph received their livestock as payment. When the livestock was gone, then Joseph received their land as payment.
b. So the land became Pharaoh’s: In the process, the power and wealth of Pharaoh was multiplied greatly. In times of national crisis, the power of central government often increases. Under Joseph’s administration, Pharaoh owned the land and the people worked it for the price of one-fifth of the produce of the land.
c. In the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh: Joseph wasn’t unfair. He fed the people when they would have starved, and in return asked for one-fifth (20%) annually from the produce of the land. Many people today would be happy with only 20% in total taxes.
C. Israel anticipates his death.
1. (27) The multiplication of the family of Israel.
So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.
a. Grew and multiplied exceedingly: This was certainly true. In some 400 years, they became a nation of some two million or more people.
b. Multiplied exceedingly: Henry Morris calculated the initial group of five (Jacob and his four wives) grew into a clan of about 100 in 50 years (the 100 includes the 70 of Genesis 46:27 plus a few wives of the sons not mentioned and grandchildren). That is a growth rate of just over 6% per year. At that rate, there would be several million descendants by the time of the Exodus 430 years later.
2. (28-31) Israel requires Joseph vow to bury him in Canaan.
And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” And he said, “I will do as you have said.” Then he said, “Swear to me.” And he swore to him. So Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.
a. Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: Jacob’s life lasted 147 years. As he knew his death drew near, he made Joseph take a solemn oath after the pattern of the oath Abraham made his servant make in Genesis 24:1-9.
b. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers: This was the oath Israel required from Joseph. Israel knew Egypt was not his home. He belonged in the land promised to he and his descendants. He clearly believed and understood he was the inheritor of Abraham’s covenant.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission