Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:11-12

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.

At first these verses might not seem very significant. Everything that Joseph said would happen, and that Pharaoh confirmed would happen, that was what happened.

However, we live in a world defined by broken promises. Whether due to lying intent or unforeseen challenges in the way, all the time we are told that something will happen and then let down. People who were supposed to always be there for us are absent, a steady employer has to let us go, or a lifelong mentor loses their own way.

Thus, I think it is actually very significant that the record explicitly shows that what Joseph promised, that was what was delivered, to the letter. He had pledged a parent-like nourishment for his family, and that was what he gave to them. He was true and dependable, and he was able to be so because he was built upon the foundation of his every-faithful God.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:7-10

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.

Pharaoh had met the brethren of Joseph, but now he gets to meet the father. Evidently Pharaoh was struck by the aged appearance of Jacob, and so immediately inquired as to how old he was! Jacob’s response “few and evil have the…years of my life been,” shows how much trial and tribulation the man sees in his past.

First there was fleeing his father’s house for his very life, then being cheated by his father-in-law numerous times, losing the love of his life prematurely, and believing he had also lost his son for twenty years. Perhaps things are coming more right at the end, but it has been a hard road for Jacob thus far.

Then this patriarch gives Pharaoh a blessing. As a powerful king, Pharaoh had probably been given all manner of blessings by his holy men, mystics who tried to divine the Egyptian gods’ will by signs and symbols. Here, though, he had the opportunity to receive a consecration from a man who had not only spoken directly with the Lord, but even wrestled with Him! I wonder if the king was able to perceive that this old man’s relationship with divinity was on another level.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:5-6

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.

Pharaoh responds magnanimously. He encourages Joseph to give his family “the best of the land,” and he also offers a job to them, to be shepherds over his own flocks if they so desire.

This is a display of true power on the part of Pharaoh. Too often power is associated with the ability to destroy and conquer. Yet it takes far less effort to destroy and take in this world than to build and protect. A truly powerful nation is one that can support the starving and give great gifts to those in need.

And for his gracious welcoming of the Israelites, Pharaoh is about to be even more blessed by God. Later on in this chapter we will read how God recompenses him, expanding his domain and power further than ever before.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:1-4

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.

As mentioned before, Pharaoh had already approved these outsiders living within his land, which enables them to make such bold requests with confidence, such as “let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” What a thrill it must have been to speak to a king in such a way!

And now is an excellent time to consider the spiritual imagery in this scene. The good son has brought his brethren before the throne of the king, emboldened to ask for a place of their own in the king’s domain, confident that they will receive because their brother is beloved and trusted by the king. This is the Savior bringing us to the judgment bar, to receive our parcel of heaven. The Israelites didn’t receive their reward because of anything they had done, and neither will we, but because of what the good brother has done for us.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:31-34

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.

Pharaoh had already encouraged Joseph to bring his family to Egypt, so this upcoming interview was probably only a formality. Even so, Joseph wanted to prepare the family for how to conduct themselves when they met the ruler.

Once again, we hear how certain practices of the Israelites are abominable to the Egyptians, and some have speculated that the Israelites’ shepherding was offensive because its endpoint was the slaughtering and consuming of animals that the Egyptians might have considered sacred.

But perhaps this cultural rift was a benefit to the Israelites in this situation. It sounds to me in verse 34 that Joseph is instructing his family to actually emphasize this controversial practice, so that Pharaoh will be compelled to divert the family into Goshen by themselves. Rather than being mingled with the pagan nation, they will have to live apart, according to their own faith and customs. Thus, the Israelites will have the benefit of living under the bounty and protection of Egypt, but they won’t be absorbed into its culture.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:28-30

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.

Jacob selects Judah to lead the way to Goshen. Previously we have discussed that Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, the three eldest sons of Jacob, had each forfeited their birthright through various sins they committed. And while Judah was by no means a saint, clearly Jacob sees him as the most steady and trustworthy of his elder sons, and so gives him the honor and responsibility that are befitting of a first-born.

I’m amused by the understated description of Jacob and Joseph’s emotional reunion, simply stating that Joseph wept upon his father’s neck for “a good while.” Jacob had been the one to protect and love Joseph, even when all the rest of the household reviled him for his dreams. He had been the boy’s only parental support after his mother, Rachel, had passed away. And then this last great support had been torn prematurely from Joseph’s side. Perhaps it had been necessary, so that Joseph could fully come to rely on God as his support instead, but still, what a joyful reunion to be back with the man who always loved Joseph most.

And as for Jacob, he emphatically declares that he is ready to die. Though he has lost many things in life, by having this one relationship restored at the end he is at peace.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:8-9

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.

We now get some more genealogy, with Jacob’s descendants at this point listed out. I won’t copy into here all the verses, but here are some statistics from them all.

  • Reuben: 4 sons
  • Simeon: 6 sons
  • Levi: 3 sons
  • Judah: 5 sons (2 died before the trip to Egypt), 2 grandsons
  • Issachar: 4 sons
  • Zebulun: 3 sons
  • Dinah: no children
  • Gad: 7 sons
  • Asher 4 sons, 1 daughter, 2 grandsons
  • Joseph: 2 sons
  • Benjamin: 10 sons
  • Dan: 1 son
  • Naphtali: 4 sons

This gives us 13 children of Jacob, 54 grandchildren (2 deceased), and 4 great-grandchildren. This means that Jacob, the only son of an only son, now had 69 descendants to his name.

Two of Jacob’s sons had already become grandfathers, Judah and Asher. Benjamin, though born last of all, has outstripped all of his brothers with ten children to his name. Gad had seven, and Asher and Judah only get up to seven by including their grandchildren.

The verses make also take special care to divide these generations by the mother at the head of the branch. So from that view:

  • Leah: 33 descendants (2 deceased)
  • Zilpah: 16 descendants
  • Rachel: 14 descendants
  • Bilhah: 7 descendants

Clearly Leah is far greater than any of the other wives, with 47% of the entire household to her name! Of course, she had 54% of the second generation, and so clearly her edge is starting to slip with the third and the fourth. In fact, with all of Benjamin’s children, the number of third-generation children under Rachel is twelve, which is equal to Zilpah and far exceeds Bilhah.

Of course, one thing to note is that this genealogy seems to be omitting nearly all of the daughters, grand-daughters, and great-granddaughters. Either that, or there were only two women born in the same timeframe that sixty-nine men were, not a very likely prospect!

Dinah is the only named daughter, who of course we know from her story back in chapter 34. Sadly, after her rape, it is entirely possible that she never married, meaning that she would have remained a part of Jacob’s household. It could be that something of this nature is also the case with the only other named woman, Serah, the daughter of Asher. Perhaps she never married, and so remained a part of Asher’s household, and was thus included in this genealogy. There is, however, no way to prove this theory from the little information that we have.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:5-7

5 And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba: 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.

Once Jacob put his young sons on camels and carried them to a new land, but now the roles have been reversed. Jacob is the one being carried by his sons to a new home now.

Jacob has not been the main character of the biblical record for a while, but this moment of him being carried by his sons really underscores that he is not the driving generation anymore. He has given his blessing to this change of residence, but he is dependent upon the power of others to make it so.

The sons carrying their father into Egypt is symbolic of them carrying the legacy and the burden of responsibility into their own domain. They are the generation of action now, and Egypt is the uncertainty of their own future, the terrain that they must carefully navigate. In short, it is the end of an era. Jacob held the burden of preserving God’s people in his time, but now it is their turn.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:4

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.

After God’s declaration that Israel will finally become a great nation in Egypt, it might be easy to overlook the two additional promises given next, but they are both significant and touching in their own ways.

For the first one, Jacob may not realize how important it is that God commits not only to “go down with thee into Egypt,” but also to “surely bring thee up again.” Jacob may not know, but God does, that while in Egypt the Israelites will become enslaved. They will become a great nation, but one that is subservient to another.

The Israelites will be great distressed in that time, and they will plead for deliverance. Then how meaningful will this seemingly innocuous pledge to “bring thee up again” become? As the Israelites in bondage review their records, they will realize that God was promising to deliver them since even before the need for deliverance existed. The promise was for them far more than for Jacob.

The following promise is most definitely for Jacob, though, which is that “Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.” This expression means “to close the eyes of one who has died.” God is promising to Jacob that what the other sons have reported is true. Joseph really is alive, and Jacob is going to spend the rest of his life with him, for Joseph will outlive him.

Many parents that have had to bury a child express what a strange twist of the natural order it is to outlive the next generation. We may want to live a long life, but not at the cost of burying our own children. Jacob had to mourn the death of his child once before, but now he is being reassured that the natural order is being restored, and the returned child will continue past himself. This is a very tender promise from God, one that shows His keen understanding of the human heart.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:1-3

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.

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:

Jacob has determined to go down to Egypt, but this is a big decision, and before actually following through he goes to Beer-sheba to commune with the Lord. Beer-sheba has shown up a few times in the biblical record before. It was where Abraham made a solemn oath of peace with the king of the Philistines, and the same place where Isaac made a similar pledge. More relevant to Jacob, though, Beer-sheba was the land that he left when escaping the wrath of Esau, suggesting that this was where he was raised.

While in this historical and spiritual place, Jacob has yet another special connection with God, instruction given through a “vision of the night.” God reassures Jacob that he should go down to Egypt, and dwell among the people there. God even promises that in Egypt He will finally fulfill his promise of growing a great nation out of the Israelites. This has been promised since back with Abraham, and now the family is finally coming to the place and situation in which it will occur.

And now we see that there was a special wisdom in how long it has taken for God to deliver this promise. It might have seemed strange that after such a grand commitment Abraham had only one covenant child, and that child also only had one covenant child. In essence, Abraham’s same situation was extended down two generations to Jacob, with no growth whatsoever.

But what if the family had seen explosive growth during those two generations? If that had happened, it seems less likely to me that Pharaoh would have been so willing to receive such a large party into his domain. By keeping the family small, they could be easily integrated into Egypt’s bounty, and once there they could grow unhindered.

When God made his promise to Abraham, He was always going to follow through on it, but He needed to orchestrate things so that the nation would come forth in the exact way that it needed to. With great care and control He led this fledgling household, preserving them as they were until this moment of great fulfillment.