Jacob comes to Egypt: Joseph Exalted over the World
Genesis 46 – 47
Genesis 46 – 47. In this portion, Joseph brings his family to Egypt, and settles them in the land of Goshen. It is remarkable that the circumstances of the famine, Joseph’s place of power, and the restoration of his brethren, all worked together to affect the relocation of Jacob’s family to Egypt. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy given to Abraham; “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; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance” (Gen. 15:13-14).
Jacob comes to Egypt (46:1 – 47:12)
The Journey to Egypt (46:1-7)
1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba; and he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to 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 to Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. 4 I will go down with thee to Egypt, and I will also certainly bring thee up; and Joseph shall put his hand on thine eyes. vv.1-4 Jacob stops on the way in Beersheba, the same place he had left in ch.28. God speaks to him, calling Jacob’s name twice.
There are a number of occasions where the Lord called someone's name twice. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Martha, Simon, and Saul. In every case, it was spoken to a person of faith, and it seems have been designed to get the person's attention.God said, “I am Elohim”, assuring Jacob that He was sovereign. When God says “I will also certainly bring thee up” it refers to the great nation that would be multiplied from Jacob. He would see Joseph, and there would be no separation to the end; when he died, it would be Joseph’s hand on his eyes. Regarding Israel’s time in Egypt, God doesn’t give the same details to Jacob as He did to Abraham in ch.15. Jacob did not know how the nation would be multiplied; i.e. that it would be enlarged under pressure. But those were the ways of God. He just speaks of His purpose to Jacob, but He had already revealed His ways to Abraham. He promised to be with him, as He has promised to us; “Lo, I am with you alway”, and of the Comforter, “with you forever”. It is interesting that God repeats the name of Jacob twice. The same person that had been a schemer before now didn’t need to be afraid or suspicious of the happy news. Jacob’s faith seemed to be at new heights, and yet God still encouraged him to not be afraid. Remember, Abraham had missed God’s mind in going to Egypt, and God had told Isaac not to go there. But now He encourages Jacob; “you go, and I’ll go with you”. In ch.37 Jacob said “I will go down to the grave to my son” but now he goes down to Egypt to his son… with joy and peace!
5 And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, on the waggons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6 And they took their cattle, and their goods which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to 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 he brought with him to Egypt. vv.5-7 Compare how gently the brothers treated Jacob here with how they treated him in ch.37! A total change had taken place. They were humiliated, repentant, and obedient.
Names of the Children of Israel (46:8-27)
8 And these are the names of the sons of Israel who came into Egypt: Jacob and his sons. Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben. 9 And the sons of Reuben: Enoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi. 10 — And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Saul 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 Pherez, and Zerah; but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pherez were Hezron and Hamul. 13 — And the sons of Issachar: Tola, and Puah, and Job, and Shimron. 14 — And the sons of Zebulun: Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel. 15 — These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Padan-Aram; and his daughter, Dinah. All the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty-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 Jishvah, and Jishvi, 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 she bore these to Jacob: sixteen souls. 19 The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asnath bore to him, the daughter of Potipherah the priest in On. 21 — And the sons of Benjamin: Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard. 22 — These are the sons of Rachel who 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, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter; and she bore these to Jacob: all the souls were seven. 26 All the souls that came with Jacob to Egypt, that had come out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons` wives: all the souls were sixty-six. 27 And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt, were two souls. All the souls of the house of Jacob that came to Egypt were seventy. vv.8-27 It is interesting that in Acts 7:14, Stephen speaks of seventy-five people going down to Egypt with Jacob; whereas here we only read of seventy. The truth is, that our English Bible is translated from the Masoretic or Hebrew text, whereas Stephen quoted the Septuagint or Greek translation. William Kelly noted that the figure given in the Septuagint might include the two sons of Manasseh (Ashriel and Machir), and the two sons and one daughter of Ephraim (Shuthelah, Beriah, and Sherah), bringing the total to seventy-five.1 Also, if you count the names attributed to Leah, you only find thirty-two sons and grandsons, indicating that Jacob himself is attributed to Leah, bringing the total to thirty-three.
Reunion of Jacob and Joseph (46:28-34)
28 And he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to give notice before he came to Goshen. And they came into the land of Goshen. v.28 Jacob sent Judah ahead to tell Joseph that they were approaching the land of Goshen. The land of Goshen was an outlying portion of Egypt located in the eastern Delta of the Nile, later identified as “the land of Ramses” (Gen. 47:11). It was known as good for raising cattle, and it was also separate from the major centers of idolatry. Joseph, in the wisdom given to him, planned for his family to relocate to Goshen.
29 Then Joseph yoked his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and he presented himself to him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 30 And Israel said to Joseph, Now let me die, after I have seen thy face, since thou still livest. vv.29-30 At last Jacob and Joseph are reunited. How happy the reunion was! Jacob is so full of joy, that he feels ready to die. But there is still much more blessing in store for Jacob!
31 And Joseph said to his brethren and to his father’s house, I will go up, and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, My brethren and my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, are come to me; 32 and the men are shepherds, for they have been occupied with cattle; and they have brought their sheep, and their cattle, and all that they have. 33 And it shall come to pass that when Pharaoh shall call you and say, What is your occupation? 34 then ye shall say, Thy servants are men that have been occupied with cattle from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers; in order that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians. vv.33-34 Joseph next prepared his brethren for their introduction to Pharaoh. Joseph planned to tell Pharaoh right away that his brethren were shepherds. Note that the word “shepherd” is equally applied to those who took care of cattle as well as those who took care of sheep. His brethren were also to tell Pharaoh (if he asked) in no uncertain terms they they had been and still were shepherds. Joseph wanted Pharaoh to come to the same conclusion; that Joseph’s family belonged in Goshen, separate from the Egyptians; “in order that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen”. The reason this was important is that the native Egyptians were repulsed by those who lived and worked with animals; “for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”. They viewed shepherds as dirty. The Egyptians were known for shaving all their body hair, bathing frequently, and being obsessed with personal cleanliness. This is why the Exodus plagues of lice, flies, etc. were extremely grievous to them. As a spiritual application of this, shepherds in scripture represent those who care for souls. From Abel all the way down to the Lord, shepherds in scripture have a special glory. The principle of self-sacrifice is an abomination to the world. It goes against the grain of this world. Remember that at this time a different group ruled Egypt (The Hyksos “shepherd” kings). This group favored the herdsmen, and this Pharaoh even had cattle of his own (Gen. 47:6), but they recognized that the true Egyptians despised herdsmen and their cattle. The Lord allowed this “Pharaoh” to be in power so that he would be favorable to Joseph and his family. But later, when the true domestic Egyptians took power back, we read in Exodus 1:8; “and another king arose which knew not Joseph”. Joseph knew what were the right words for the brothers to say such that Pharaoh would allow them to live in Goshen, near himself. This is a helpful principle for us. If we announce association with Christ early on it will keep us separate from the world.
Jacob and Pharaoh: Israel Settles in Goshen (47:1-12)
1 And Joseph came and told Pharaoh and said, My father and my brethren, and their sheep and their cattle, 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 from the whole number of his brethren, five men, and set them before Pharaoh. 3 And Pharaoh said to his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said to Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers. 4 And they said to Pharaoh, To sojourn in the land are we come; for there is no pasture for the sheep that thy servants have, for the famine is grievous in the land of Canaan; and now, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. 5 And Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come to thee. 6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land settle thy father and thy brethren: let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if thou knowest men of activity among them, then set them as overseers of cattle over what I have. vv.1-6 Joseph presents his brethren to Pharaoh. It is interesting that he only takes five of his brothers in to see Pharaoh. Five in scripture often represents human weakness. Perhaps Joseph didn’t want the whole family (seventy people) to appear as a threat to the Egyptians. Pharaoh offers them the best of the land.
7 And Joseph brought Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 And Pharaoh said to Jacob, How many are the days of the years of thy life? 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days of the years of my sojourning are a hundred and thirty years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they do not attain to the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their sojourning. 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from Pharaoh. vv.7-10 Jacob finally comes to stand before Pharaoh, and he gives his age to Pharaoh as 130 years. He speaks of his lifetime as “the days of the years of my sojourning”. He realized that this world was not his home; he was just passing through. He speaks of his life as a very humbled man; “few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they do not attain to the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their sojourning”. He owned that he was really very little in comparison to Isaac and Abraham. Abraham reached 175 years and Isaac 180 years (Gen. 25:7; 35:28). Neither his father nor his grandfather were every reduced to such a humiliated condition as Jacob now found himself. But his faith is in God, and so he is still able to act with a striking dignity. Jacob, a weary, humbled stranger, blesses Pharoah, the highest reigning monarch in the world! “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better” (Heb. 7:7). Jacob possessed a moral dignity that made him greater than Pharoah in a certain sense. He blesses Pharaoh in going in (v.7) and in going out (v.10). Jacob sought no favor from this great monarch, but simply blessed him. It shows the great change that had taken place in Jacob; his true wealth was in the promises of God.
11 And Joseph settled 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 maintained his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to the number of the little ones. vv.11-12 At last Joseph settled his family safely in the land of Goshen, called here “the land of Ramses”, which it may have become known as later when the Ramses family was in power, and there he fed them with bread all through the five remaining years of famine. Perhaps we can see in this a prophetic type of Israel’s prominence in the Millennium at the head of the nations.
Joseph Feeds the World, Enriches Pharaoh Greatly (47:13-26)
13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very grievous; and the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan were exhausted through 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 grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 And when money came to an end in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, saying, Give us bread! for why should we die before thee? for our money is all gone. 16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle, and I will give you for your cattle, if your money be all gone. 17 And they brought their cattle to Joseph; and Joseph gave them bread for horses, and for flocks of sheep, and for herds of cattle, and for asses; and he fed them with bread for all their cattle that year. 18 And that year ended; and they came to him the second year, and said to him, We will not hide it from my lord that since our money is come to an end, and the herds of cattle are in the possession of my lord, nothing is left before my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be bondmen to Pharaoh; and give seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land be not desolate. 20 And Joseph bought all the soil of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them; and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 And as for the people, he removed them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end of it. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had an assigned portion from Pharaoh, and ate their assigned portion which Pharaoh had given them; so they did not sell their land. 23 And Joseph said to the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and sow the land. 24 And it shall come to pass in the increase that ye shall give the fifth to Pharaoh, and the 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 us alive. Let us find favour in the eyes of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s bondmen. 26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that the fifth should be for Pharaoh, except the land of the priests: theirs alone did not become Pharaoh’s. vv.13-26 In this passage we read how Joseph became the savior of the world, in the sense that he became the provider of food for all. Also, we read of how Joseph brought great wealth to Pharaoh. First, all the money of the Egyptians was exchanged for food, then their cattle, then their land, then their bodies. By the end of the famine, Pharaoh owned everything: all the money, all the property, and the means of production. But the people were just happy to be alive, and were willing to become Pharaoh’s slaves. One fifth is a heavy tax rate. It would seem that this condition was eventually reversed when a true Egyptian king came to power, and the Egyptians were liberated, and the children of Israel were made slaves. It would be in the heat and pressure of slavery that Israel would be multiplied, and would emerge as a nation. But here it is a type of Christ in the Millennium; undisputed domination of the world.
Jacob prepares to die (47:27-31)
27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they had possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; and the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred and forty-seven years. vv.27-28 The last years of Jacob’s life were very happy. His family prospered in the land of Goshen, and Jacob lived seventeen years after coming to Egypt. It is interesting that Joseph was seventeen when he was sold by his brothers (Gen. 37:2), and Jacob lived seventeen years after being reunited with Joseph. Although it is certainly no more than an application, perhaps the equal years represent the Son’s glory with the Father. In John 17:5 Jesus asked the father to glorify Him “with the glory which I had with thee before the world was”. It was a glory the Son had from a past eternity, but was given Him again as a glorified man! Perhaps the seventeen years represent the Personal glories of the Son, meanwhile Joseph’s exaltation in Egypt represents Christ’s official glories.
29 And the days of Israel approached that he should die. And he called his son Joseph, and said to him, If now I have found favour in thine eyes, 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 when I shall lie with my fathers, thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their sepulchre. And he said, I will do according to thy word. 31 And he said, Swear to me; and he swore to him. And Israel worshipped on the bed’s head. vv.29-31 As Jacob drew near to death, he made Joseph swear (the hand under the thigh being some kind of eastern cultural symbol), that Joseph would bury him in Canaan, not in Egypt. The thigh the Lord had touched at Peniel? Jacob, called Israel here, had laid hold of the promise of God, that to him and to his family the land of Canaan was promised. In keeping with that promise, Israel wanted his body buried there. We find that later, when Joseph was about to die, he gave a similar commandment, and his personal faith is noted in Hebrews 11:22. This faith was patterned for him by his father Jacob, but Joseph had it for himself personally as well. Here it says Jacob “worshipped upon the bed’s head”, but in Hebrews 11 it says “worshipped on the top of his staff”. The difference again has to do with the Hebrew and Greek texts. It speaks of great natural weakness. It is beautiful to compare Jacob at the beginning and end of his pathway. At the beginning, he was naturally strong but spiritually weak; working and scheming for his own profit. But at the end Jacob is naturally weak, and spiritually strong; humbled, and found worshipping from that place of acknowledged weakness, and dependance on God! His race is nearly finished; his schooldays nearly done.