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Genesis 46:17, 2830; 47:712comment (0)

May 15, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 46:17, 2830; 47:712

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Genesis 46:1–7, 28–30; 47:7–12

Apprehension (46:1–7)

After learning that Joseph was alive, Jacob set out from Hebron and headed toward Egypt by way of Beer-sheba (also Beersheba). After making the 25-mile trek to Beer-sheba, Jacob worshiped God. This momentous occasion — leaving the land that God had promised to Abraham and Isaac, plus fears of what could happen in Egypt — caused Jacob to turn to God. God assured Jacob by way of a vision. Jacob learned that the revelation was in continuity with that given to his father and that he must not fear going to Egypt. First, God promised Jacob that He would make him a great nation. His family would not become a great nation in the land of promise but on the pagan Nile. Second, God promised to go with him to Egypt. Jacob must have recalled his dream of a stairway extending from heaven. He was reminded that God is not limited by territorial constraints. God had been with Jacob in Mesopotamia and in Canaan and would be with him in Egypt. Third, God promised to bring Jacob’s descendants out of Egypt and restore them to the land (note Gen. 15:13–14). Fourth, God promised Jacob that he would not die a sorrowful death. Joseph would be at his side for his peaceful homegoing and would gently close his stilled eyes.

The next morning, as Jacob looked at the open desert that led to Egypt, he understood that God would provide for his descendants in Egypt. He knew they would one day emerge from Egypt. He looked across the desert with faith. By faith, everyone and everything he treasured would be transported to Egypt. By faith, he would entrust his family to the care of Egypt. By faith, he would abandon the land promised to Abraham and Isaac, leaving it to the Canaanites until the cup of the Amorites was complete (Gen. 15:16). Apart from the family tomb in Hebron, not an inch of the promised land belonged to Israel. Only for the burial of Jacob would they return. Until the Exodus, no child of the covenant ever entered the land.

Joy (46:28–30)
As the wagons carrying the patriarch and his family entered the land of Goshen, word spread quickly. Joseph hitched the horses to his chariot and went to meet his father. Both father and son must have experienced joyous anticipation as well as some fear.

Joseph presented himself to his father. The phrase “presented himself to him” was always used elsewhere in the patriarchal narratives of God appearing to man. Its use here draws attention to the overwhelming impression on Jacob of the power, grandeur and graciousness of Joseph. Jacob’s son, dressed in the fine white linen of aristocracy, descended from his chariot and “threw his arms around his father’s neck and wept for a long time.” The rest of the family looked on with joy. Jacob beheld his son, his temporal savior, and declared that he was ready to die.

Fulfillment (47:7–12)
Pharaoh allowed Joseph’s family to settle in Goshen, the best of the land. He also offered his brothers employment as superintendents of the royal cattle. Joseph brought his father to meet Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh with the first of two blessings. Although his words are not recorded, the custom of the ancient Near East was to wish the king a long life. That may be why Pharaoh then asked Jacob his age. He said he had lived 130 hard years. While his life had been hard, he was the blessed bearer of the promise of God.

The leathery, old shepherd once again blessed Pharaoh. This double blessing is most significant. Pharaoh had first blessed God’s people with his generosity. He had spared and promoted Joseph. He had invited Joseph’s family to Goshen. He had sent grain to preserve them and wagons to transport them. Jacob’s blessing of Pharaoh was proper and divinely sanctioned because of God’s word to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. Through Joseph and Jacob, the promise to Abraham was being fulfilled in blessing the nation of Egypt. Pharaoh gave Joseph’s family a permanent possession, the best property in Egypt. Joseph provided for their every need.

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