This is an interesting chapter. We are going to have a listing of the brothers – and it seems to be in the order of who gave birth to them. Leah’s children, then Zilpah’s children, then Rachel’s children, followed by Bilhah’s children. There seems to be different ways that the children of Israel/Jacob are listed in the Bible, and in many cases they are not listed in the same order each time they are mentioned. In this chapter it is by birth mother, sometimes it is in order of birth, and sometimes Joseph’s two children are listed. I wonder what the Holy Spirit has in mind in the order of the lists of Jacob’s offspring.
Do you know what puzzles me? Given Joseph’s dream when he was a boy, after he had been raised to prime minister and during the years of plenty, I wonder why he never sent home to let his father and family know that he was okay.
Genesis 46:1 So Israel (remember that is when he is doing things in a Godly fashion) took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
Beersheba is on the border between Canaan and Egypt. It’s name means well of the seven-fold oath. I suspect that Israel is wanting to make sure that going to Egypt is what God has in mind. The last time people went down to Egypt problems ensued. Remember Abraham lying about his wife. Now, note the name change. Israel was instructed to go down to Egypt, and while it is seemingly good that he stopped and sacrificed, don’t forget that he also had in his memory the tales around the campfire about how their tribe would sojourn in Egypt. So when God responds to the sacrifice He will call Israel – Jacob.
Genesis 46:2-4 Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.” So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”
I think it must have been comforting for Israel to hear from God so clearly in a night vision. Remember – your old men shall dream dreams. God repeated Jacob’s name twice. So often, when there is an emphasis needed, God repeats something twice – Kind of like putting it into bold print. Jesus would say “verily, verily” when He wanted to underscore a point. God introduces himself as “I am God, the God of your father.” In this I see the I AM, and I also see – the God of Isaac. I am surprised that God didn’t mention Abraham too. Later we will see God introduce Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What a promise to Jacob – that God will be with him wherever he goes – God will go to Egypt, and God will return with. I cannot now imagine walking without God in my life. It is comforting to know that He is with me no matter where I go. He is with me in my Egypts. And I am not certain what was meant by Joseph putting his hand on his father’s eyes. All I can find Joseph doing is putting his hand under Jacob’s thigh for the swearing of an oath. So I am not certain about that statement.
What is interesting is that this chapter of Genesis makes Exodus make more sense. Jacob goes down with around 70 people. When Moses brings the people out of Egypt, he comes with over a million. God certainly did make them a great nation.
I have to tell you something I am slowly beginning to learn. I NEVER want to make a move without the assurance that God is there with me. To step out on my own, in my own understanding is fraught with danger.
A friend told me that God is the God of the ROUND TRIP TICKET. He has promised that to Jacob. Jacob will be buried in Canaan. God will never send us to a place and then abandon us.
Verses 5- Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him.
To Jacob’s credit, he heard God and obeyed him. Must have been some procession into Egypt. Remember how God prospered Jacob.
Then comes a list of all who went with Jacob, and their offspring. Verse 11 lists the three sons of Levi – and we will see that in the future they and their offspring will have specific jobs around the tabernacle. They will be the “13th” tribe that is not given lands etc. Joseph’s two sons will receive a blessing and be part of the 12 tribes. Jacob will adopt Joseph’s two sons to be his own.
What is peculiar is Verse 23 – The sons of Dan was Hushim. Every other tribe had their sons’ names given. Here Hushim is a group of offspring, not an individual person. In Chapter 49 in the prophesy that Jacob speaks over him Dan is called a serpent, a viper who bites the horse’s heel. And after the Exodus, when the Israelites move into the promised land, the tribe of Dan will play a large part in bringing idolatry into the land.
In Acts 7 we can see the whole patriarchal history spelled out by Stephen.
Then Jacob and his offspring begin the trip to Goshen. Joseph came in his chariot to Goshen to meet with his father, and the two men fall on each other’s necks and weep.
Verse 30 And Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”
What a happy reunion. Finally a healing has happened in this family. Joseph is going to return to Pharaoh and tell him that his family is now in Goshen. He is going to point out that the men are shepherds and that they have brought their flocks and herds.
Joseph tells his family, verse 33-34 “So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ “That you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”
Just like Jesus, Joseph is a mediator, that instructs people what to do and say. There were seven castes in the Egyptian system and shepherds were the lowest of them. They were sort of like the untouchables in India. By telling Pharaoh this, Joseph is making sure that his family is kept separate from the Egyptian culture – so that they do not absorb the things of that culture that would be displeasing to God such as idol worship.
As we will see in Exodus, many of the plagues that Moses brought on the people were on certain animals that were worshipped by the Egyptians. Other cultures and religions also worship animals. God had told Adam to have Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
Just an aside – notice the plural – “Let US” “OUR”, but God gave man dominion over the animals. Those religions who worship animals are going directly against God’s directive when He created man.
We are going to see Joseph and his family thrive in Egypt and remain intact as a nation – not polluted by the Egyptian religious system. They will thrive so much that over time the Egyptians will be threatened by their numbers. When we are where God has placed us, God will cause us to thrive.
Beth Moore also had a few interesting things to say in her study, The Patriarchs. She mentions that God had told Isaac not to go to his father. p. 220 “Same God, same line, different plan. God reserves the sovereign right to direct one of His children on a path He may have forbidden to another. God’s overarching laws and principles do not change, but His directions within them can vary drastically. That’s one reason we must be careful not to force our personal convictions in gray areas on another believer. God may require something of you He does not require of me and vice versa.”
Beth covers the promise God made to Jacob about him returning to the land of promise. God never promised him that he would return alive. His body will be buried there. She mentions that the promises in Genesis 14 were being put into action. p. 221 “Notice the three references to “you” or “your” in Genesis 46:4 “I will go down to Egypt with you,” the word you applies to Jacob and his family. In “I will surely bring you back again,” you applies to his descendants or what will ultimately become the nation. Finally in “Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes,” the word your refers to Jacob himself. Ancient Old Testament thinkers may not have had a problem with the oscillating meanings of “you,” but I believe New Testament thinkers do.”
p. 221 “Modern, drive-thru thinkers like you and me frame events in such immediate terms that we decided we either misunderstood God or He misled us if His promises are not fulfilled in our personal lives. An ancient Hebrew thinker would have considered the possibility of a promise fulfilled in his descendant a great honor because such fulfillment signaled God’s continued blessing over the extended line.”
p. 222 “God’s promises to us are bigger than us and reach far beyond us. Their ultimate purpose is glory. He is always faithful, and He will never make a promise He won’t keep. His promises to “you” could be for you personally, your family, or your line. If precious promises aren’t fulfilled in the fruitful years of our lifetimes, let’s believe God and welcome His promises from a distance. What kind of faith could be more pleasing to Him?”
I pray God continues to touch your lives and that we hold onto His promises, knowing that His Word is true.
Have a blessed day!
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