Genesis Segment 32 (46:1-34)

Genesis 46:1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

Imagine the preparations that took place before the departure. Imagine the logistics of getting a large family moving including all their children, possessions, livestock, and wealth. It was a major undertaking. The next few verses tell us just how complicated the move was. Since I am retired from the USAF, my wife and our family moved several times during our career. Each move was a major undertaking. There were just four of us! It was an enormous job, but, with God’s help they made it. It is of interest to note that after the preparations and after the journey began, the entourage stopped to worship God on the way, indicating that this was probably a normal occurrence that may have happened often.

Genesis 46:2 During the night God spoke to him in a vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called. “Here I am,” Jacob replied.

Many personalities including Jacob in the Bible have received visions and/or dreams. Here, Jacob has another vision. Joseph had visions and dreams, as did Nebuchadnezzar, Peter, and many others. Today, God speaks to us in a different way. Hebrews tells us, in Heb 1:1-2, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” Some of those diverse manners were dreams and visions. But now, the Bible tells us, God speaks to us through His Son, the Word. We receive our revelation from God through the Bible.

It was soon after Jacob and his entourage stopped to worship God and offer Him up sacrifices that God spoke to him. This was not the first time God spoke to Jacob. God appeared to him at Padan-Aram (Gen 31:3-13), Peniel (Gen 3:25-30), and at El-Bethel (Gen 35:9-13). Hence, Jacob was not confused when he heard the voice of God once again.

Genesis 46:3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

This was a reassurance that God was with Jacob, and that God would honor the promises He gave the Abraham through Jacob that He would make Abraham the father of many nations and that He would bless Jacob and make him the father of a great nation bearing his namesake, Israel. God reassured Jacob that he was doing the right thing by moving his family to Egypt.

Genesis 46:4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

God promises to make a great nation out of Jacob’s offspring and will bless him while he and his offspring sojourn in Egypt. He also tells Jacob that Joseph will be with him when he dies and will close his eyes after his death. There are two things in view here. Jacob will become a great nation of millions and that nation, Israel, would return to the land of Canaan and dwell there. The other thing to happen is that Jacob’s body will be returned to Canaan and buried at Machpelah where Abraham was buried. Both would occur.

Genesis 46:5-7 And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. (6) And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him: (7) His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

The whole clan and all their possessions moved to Egypt. Do not ignore the genealogy in Gen 46:8-26. There are some great things to be gleaned from the genealogies in the Bible. They are useful for understanding the families of God’s people. We may also discern things from the actions those people took. There is no commentary here on those verses.

Genesis 46:26-27 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six; (27) And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Seventy is a multiple of seven, a number associated with perfection in the Bible. When you add Jacob’s daughters in law, you get a larger number, but they were not blood relatives of Jacob. The Massoretic text has seventy here, while the Septuagint has seventy-five. The error between the Septuagint and the Massoretic Text is not easily explained. Yet, if we believe in the inerrancy of scripture, and I do, then we will accept that one day we may understand this difference, if not in our lifetimes, perhaps afterward. Several theories have been put forth on this subject but they won’t be discussed here. A Google search will yield several of these theories. Since seventy is considered a number of perfection or completion, it is understandable that seventy members of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt (including Joseph and his sons already in Egypt), indication that the complete family moved.

Genesis 46:28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

Though Reuben was the firstborn, Judah was actually the leader of the brethren that lived with Jacob. We find in Jacob’s prophecy concerning his sons that “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen 49:10). And so it was that Judah became the tribe of the leadership of Israel and the law was kept in Jerusalem in Judah. The tribe of Judah became the foremost tribe in Israel, hence the name “Jew” which came to mean all Israelites and not just descendants of Judah as it formerly did. So Jacob sent Judah, the tacit leader of the brethren to officially inform Joseph that they had arrived. No doubt Joseph was already aware of their arrival even before Judah was dispatched to his abode. The information Judah carried would also have been a physical location, the address, if you will, of Jacob’s family in Goshen.

Genesis 46:29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.

Remember that Joseph had not seen his father since he was in his teens, and that Jacob had given Joseph up for dead at the same time. For Joseph it was a long awaited reunion; for Jacob, his son had been dead but was now alive. This reunion was a tearful and heartfelt one. Note that they embraced for “a good while.” Literally they embraced and wept, then embraced and wept again and again. Young’s literal: “and falleth on his neck, and weepeth on his neck again.

Chariots were not common. Most people had to walk with a burden on their backs, or heads, or push a cart, or use a rude wagon drawn by an ox or oxen. To ride in a chariot was a nobleman’s lot. In Joseph’s case, he was basically the prime minister of all of Egypt and a chariot was one of his appointments. He was probably required to use one as a matter of protocol. We can be fairly certain that none of Jacob’s entourage used a chariot. Though Jacob was rich, chariots were out of his purview.

This passage proves also that Egypt was well advanced in the arts at this period. A chariot was a product of art and not of necessity. Of course, the military use of chariots was the most likely reason for their innovation. Still, it was art that was at the base of its production.

The reason scholars believe a chariot was in view here is the Hebrew says that Joseph hitched up or bound or yoked a horse to his chariot. Had he simply ridden a horse around, then he would not have yoked a saddle to his horse, he simply would have saddled it. The literal Hebrew translation of this verse is, “Joseph tethered an animal to his chariot and went up to meet his father, to Goshen . . .”

Genesis 46:30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.

After a long and emotional reunion, Jacob was finally able to speak. Jacob basically said the he could now die in peace since he had seen Joseph face to face and proved to himself that Joseph was still alive. What a magnificent reunion it was. The best that Hollywood can produce does not outweigh this passage and story in its depth, warmth, and family feelings. Yes Hollywood has produced this story on film several times, and quite effectively. However, the majesty is in the scriptures themselves. No movie can fully capture the event like the scriptures can.

Genesis 46:31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;

Joseph would make an official announcement in public and in Pharaoh’s presence that his family had arrived. He would present his family at court. This protocol would have been expected by Pharaoh and all of his government officials. It was a required rite and Joseph prepared his family for the momentous event. Pageantry would be involved as well as pomp and circumstance. It would be a big deal and would have had to go off without incident. (For men were not less pretentious then than we are in this age, nor were they any less intelligent. Certainly there was not nearly the wealth of knowledge extant in that time that we have now, yet men would have been the same as us. Pomp and circumstance follow our leaders even today.)

Genesis 46:32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

Before the official and public presentation of his family, Joseph would have a private audience with Pharaoh. It would be at that conference that Joseph would fill Pharaoh in on all the details of his family, especially that they were shepherds, which were not allowed in polite society in Egypt. They were of a much lower caste than the citizenry of Egypt. This would allow Pharaoh to make it plain that shepherds were officially allowed to dwell in Goshen, which would prevent too close contact between them and the Egyptians and would prevent them from being harassed by the police and military.

Egyptians were farmers dependent on the annual flooding around the Nile. Their system of farming was well established and genteel and the prosperity of their nation was dependent upon it. Farming was seen as an honorable profession and sheep herding was seen as an abomination. The same situation occurred in the United States in the nineteenth century in the western territories. Sheep herders were hated by bovine cattlemen and farmers alike.

Genesis 46:33-34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? (34) That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

This would be for public consumption. Pharaoh would already know their profession. Joseph rehearsed the answer to the question with his family. Joseph told them that if they would make the statement that they and their ancestors were always shepherds, then Pharaoh would let them stay in Goshen, separated geographically from the majority of Egyptians.

Series Navigation

<< Genesis Segment 31 (45:1-28)Genesis Segment 33 (47:1-31) >>

This entry was posted in Bible Studies. Bookmark the permalink.