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Genesis 46-47 Listen
Jacob's seventy head to Egypt (Genesis 46:1-7)
1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
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:
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.
5 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.
Going to Egypt had a family significance. Abraham got into some trouble when he went there back in Genesis 12 (see notes); he ended up getting kicked out. And back in Genesis 26:2 (see notes) God instructed Isaac NOT to go into Egypt for famine relief. In this passage, however, Jacob receives specific instructions from God to go into Egypt (46:3). Notice the specific promise renewal to Jacob from God in verse 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." Abraham, Jacob's grandfather, saw this day coming when God told him in Genesis 15:13 (see notes), "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years."
The accounting of those going to Egypt (Genesis 46:8-27)
8 And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.
9 And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.
10 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.
11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
12 And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.
13 And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.
14 And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.
15 These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.
16 And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.
17 And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.
18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.
19 The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.
20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
21 And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.
22 These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.
23 And the sons of Dan; Hushim.
24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.
25 These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.
26 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.
Altogether, 70 of Jacob's own descendants were in Egypt; that's counting himself. That number includes 66 (verse 26) who left Canaan with him. Add to that number Jacob himself, Joseph and his two sons; that gives us the total of 70 found in verse 27. However, you will notice from verse 26 that this number did not include "Jacobs sons wives" who also went into Egypt with them. When they arrive, Judah takes the lead into Goshen under the direction of Jacob. Why Judah instead of Reuben, the oldest? A couple of reasons come to mind: (1) Judah was the one who took the leadership role in Genesis 43-44 (see notes). He brokered the deals, first with Jacob regarding Benjamin and then before Joseph. Judah is really the guy who put the deal together. (2) Reuben, Levi and Simeon (the three older brothers to Judah) had disgraced Jacob previously. Reuben had defiled his step mother in Genesis 35:22 (see notes); Simeon and Levi had murdered all the men in Shechem in Genesis 34 (see notes). As we see in Genesis 49:3-7 (see notes), Jacob never really got over those actions. Oh...one more possibility: Perhaps we're being prepared for the fact that the Messiah will arise from the tribe of Judah - King David's tribe too.
Here's a point that I find interesting about Jacob's family who went into Egypt. Two of the 70 descendants of Jacob in Egypt were half Canaanite - Simeon's son, Shaul (verse 10), and Judah's third son, Shelah. You will recall the incident related to us regarding Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38 (see notes); there's a whole chapter dedicated to how Canaanite blood was eradicated from the ancestry of King David, though not completely from the Tribe of Judah. Judah's third son, Shelah, shows up in Numbers 26:20 (see notes) after the exodus from Egypt. So, the Tribes of Israel were not completely Canaanite free at this point.
Jacob's family arrives in Egypt (Genesis 46:28-34)
28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
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.
30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.
31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
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.
33 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.
I would love to have had at least three chapters dedicated to the reunion between Jacob and Joseph in verses 29-30, but these two verses will have to do.
Now it's time to manipulate Pharaoh just a bit. We'll see in chapter 47 that the Egyptians end up dwelling in the cities of Egypt before the famine is passed. Joseph sees the need to keep his family separate from the Egyptians, so he devises a plan and shares it with his family. He'll tell Pharaoh that his family are all shepherds, and they will substantiate that claim when they appear before Pharaoh in 47:3. As a result, Pharaoh will allow them to stay intact with their families and possessions in Goshen, apart from the Egyptian populace. We see in verse 34 that keepers of cattle were the despised class of people in Egypt. Other secular Egyptian literature from that age also demonstrates that the Egyptian caste system placed shepherds at the bottom of the socioeconomic structure of Egypt. It works out nicely with the land in Goshen being among the best in Egypt and Jacob's family living there together.
1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.
2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.
3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.
4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.
5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.
7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?
9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, 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.
12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.
Well, we see that Joseph's plan works. Pharaoh asks Joseph's family about their occupation, and they say shepherding. Pharaoh awards them the land of Goshen, and ends up letting them have charge of his cattle as well. This land was probably located just east of the Nile River up near the Mediterranean Sea. Pharaoh and Jacob hit it off from the start. Jacob even gives a blessing to Pharaoh. Incidentally, you will notice that Jacob identifies himself as being 130 years old in verse 9.
As a matter of fact, verse 9 is quite helpful in assisting us with several calculations. Here we are told that Jacob is 130 years old at this point in time. From that, we are able to do some interesting calculations regarding the age of Jacob and Isaac back in Genesis 27 (see notes) when Jacob left Isaac and Rebekah for his twenty-year stay in Haran. At that time, Jacob was 77, and Isaac was 137. See the notes on the passage in Genesis 27 to see how those ages are determined.
Now for the implementation of Joseph's plan (Genesis 47:13-31)
13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.
14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.
16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.
17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.
18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:
19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.
20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.
21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.
23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.
25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.
26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.
27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
29 And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:
30 But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.
31 And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.
The famine Joseph had planned for all of these years finally begins to have a very severe impact on the land. By the end of this chapter, Joseph has bought everything the Egyptians own in the name of the Pharaoh using for payment the food supply he had stockpiled. Basically, all Egyptians are slaves of the State, and Joseph moves them to the cities. Everyone in Egypt (except Jacob's family) become state civil servants working off commission. They receive as wages 80% of their profits with 20% going to Egyptian coffers (verse 24), and verse 25 indicates that the people were happy just to be allowed to live. According to verse 26, this 20% flat tax rate remained in effect for quite some time in Egypt - at least several centuries. But verse 27 tells us that Israel retained their possessions, and their possessions multiplied exceedingly. So, let's get the picture here: Virtually no one in Egypt owns anything except Jacob's people.
What is it about Abraham's boys? Isaac thought he was about to die, yet lived another 43 years. Now here's Jacob coming into Egypt...talking like he's about to die; he lives another 17 years. Now he's talking about dying again, but this time he means it. He calls for Joseph and wants a guarantee: "Please let me be buried back in Canaan." Joseph gives him that assurance. He even does so with an unusual ritual, seen in verse 29; that "hand under my thigh" is seen only one other time in scripture - Abraham and his servant in Genesis 24:2,9 (see notes). So, Jacob was 130 years old when they arrived in Egypt according to his statement to Pharaoh in Genesis 47:9 (see above). According to verse 28, Jacob dies at the ripe old age of 147.
Incidentally, you will notice in verses 22 and 26 that the priests in Egypt are supported by the State, having been allocated land and food by the government. Likewise, that became the model in Israel after the Exodus.