Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 50:25-26

25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Unlike Jacob, Joseph was not immediately carried to his resting place in the land of Canaan. He was embalmed after the Egyptian tradition and then he was laid to rest in Egypt. Many years later his prophecy would come true, though, as the Israelites carried his bones with them in their Exodus and laid him to rest in Shechem.

Of course, this meant that all the time that the Israelites were in bondage, and also later when they wandered forty years in the wilderness without a proper home, during all that time they had the bones of Joseph close beside them. How fitting that Joseph, who was carried away from his home and had to wait years for his deliverance, was present with the Israelites when they went through the same experiences. He was the first Israelite slave in Egypt and his bones were a companion to the last ones.

Also interesting to me is that in his death we see the dual nature of his nationality. He was embalmed and laid to rest in Egypt, the land of his redemption and vocation, but his conviction was to still be brought back to the home of his fathers. When his brothers sold him into Egypt it would be hundreds of years before he came back to the land of his inheritance, but eventually God would restore him back to where he belonged.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 50:22-24

22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.

23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees.

We here begin a dramatic transition in the biblical narrative. We have just finished speaking of Jacob’s death, and now we rush ahead to Joseph’s, and then the age of the patriarchs will come to a close. 40 of the 50 chapters in Genesis have been dedicated to the stories of these patriarchs. Five of the other chapters are about Adam and Eve and their immediate children, and five of them are about Noah.

When the book of Genesis was composed, which according to tradition was in the time of Moses, its main subjects were already the stuff of myth and legend. And one interesting indicator that we are moving from more epic characters to more grounded ones is their declining longevity. Abraham lived 175 years, Isaac reached 180, and Jacob 147. Now we have Joseph only reaching the age of 110, which, while still ancient, is an age that typical people really are able to achieve. Thus, there are no more demigods, we are finally and fully descended into the mortal realm.

The other thing I want to call out is the image of great-great-grandchildren laying on Joseph’s knees. At one point his life was in a very precarious place. Murder was being discussed and instead he was abandoned to a life of slavery that could have very well been the death of him. The odds were heavily stacked towards his being a tragic victim, but here he is, more than a hundred years old, with his descendants safe and secure in his lap. In his darkest times he was provided for, and then in the country’s darkest time he provided for all of its people. He was saved so that he could save others, and here upon his knees is the reward of it all.

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 36:40-43

40 And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth,

41 Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon,

42 Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar,

43 Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.

This genealogy concludes by naming another set of dukes that came of Esau. These are not the same dukes that were named among his sons and grandsons, so my assumption is that these are the dukes of a later generation, perhaps the generation when the Israelites returned from Egypt.

Finally, we get this emphatic exclamation “he is Esau the father of the Edomites!” Like Ishmael, Esau did not inherit the covenant, but he was still the father of a great people. Unlike Ishmael, though, it is not clear where the people of Esau are today. Were they defeated by one of the many powers that rolled through the land of Canaan? Did they intermingle with other cultures to the point that their bloodlines were dispersed throughout the world? Are they a people that we now call by another name, not even aware of their heritage? I do not know, but for the rest of the Biblical record they will still be frequent actors in the unfolding drama.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 17:15-16

15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Earlier Abram received his new name and became Abraham. Now it is Sarai’s turn, and her new name, Sarah, means “Princess,” which is explained in the statement “kings of people shall be of her.” Abraham’s new name signified that he would be the patriarch of many nations, Sarah’s new name signified that those nations would be populated with heroes and royalty, figures both mighty and important.

Just consider a few examples of the progeny that would come through this “princess:” Joseph the prince of Egypt, Moses the liberator, Joshua the conqueror, Gideon the miracle fighter, Samuel the counselor to kings, David the warrior-poet, Solomon the wise monarch, Samson the strong, Daniel the faithful, Elijah the caller-down of fire, Esther the bold queen, and of course Jesus the savior of the world.

Abraham and Sarah were going to be the foundation for something great and powerful, and now they had names to reflect that. I do wonder what sort of insight they might have had as to the caliber of their future family. Did they ever have visions of the mighty sons and daughters that would look back and revere them?