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 33:1-4

1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. 

2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.

3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.

At long last the moment of reckoning has come for Jacob. He sees Esau and his men, which presumably means that they have also seen him, meaning it would be too late to run away. Jacob sets himself ahead of his family, and as he comes to Esau he bows seven times, a final gesture to show his immense reverence and respect. It truly is hard to think what more he could have done to appease any lingering wrath in Esau.

And then…Jacob finds out that all his fear was unnecessary. Esau runs forward, embraces his brother, and kisses him. He has no intention of causing harm to Jacob, rather he is moved to tears by being reunited after these long twenty years!

All of Jacob’s preparation may not have been necessary for his survival, but I do not think it was a wasted effort. Abraham’s preparation to sacrifice Isaac ended up not being necessary either, but the exercise was still essential in how it revealed Abraham to himself. So, too, I imagine that Jacob had a far greater understanding of what he was made of for having passed through this trial. And, like Abraham, he had learned that with God as His shepherd, things would work themselves out.