Personal study notes Genesis 47

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Currently Reading
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Dover Thrift Editions)
By Edwin A. Abbott
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Genesis 47

Can you believe that we are within a few chapters of the end of Genesis? What a book! I am really seeing how much of Revelation is in Genesis. Years ago I was fascinated by a figure called the Mobius strip – which is a strip of paper with a half twist in it and the ends glued together. The paper has only one side.


It also reminds me of the book Flatland where two-dimensional shapes contemplate the third dimension. Many two-dimensional characters in Flatland, feel that the shapes that believe in the third dimension are crazy to think beyond their two dimensions. Probably just the same as many who think we are crazy to believe God. The Bible is not a book of 66 separate books, but a continuous document that gives a whole picture. It is fascinating to see how much the Bible holds together, how much we can see of Jesus in every chapter if we go on a Jesus Treasure Hunt. Remember, when Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus, He was opening up the Scriptures to those disciples, showing where He was in the Scriptures – and there was no New Testament written at that time.

Anyway Genesis 47 brings Jacob and the 69 others to Egypt, where they will grow to become a huge nation. Joseph has already found a way to separate them from the culture – by telling Pharaoh that they are shepherds (a caste that most Egyptians feel are like the untouchables). This will preserve the nation intact until over 400 years later (between Genesis and Exodus is 400 years) the nation will be brought out of Egypt (the flesh) and into the Promised Land.

Joseph goes and reports to Pharaoh that his family is now in the land of Goshen. He takes five men from among his brothers and presents them to Pharaoh. I wonder which five he chose. I imagine (and this is speculation) that Benjamin and Judah are two of the five. Benjamin was his favorite, and Judah finally assumed the role of leader among the band of brothers. I can imagine that Simeon was not picked. Who do you think?

They did obey Joseph – verse 3 Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh. “Your servants are shepherds, both we and also our fathers.”

They request from Pharaoh that they are able to tend their flocks in Goshen (which is some of the best land).

Pharaoh speaks to Joseph (not the brothers), verse 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.

Pharaoh is no phool (fool – sorry couldn’t resist). He knows that God is behind Joseph and prospers anything that is put into Joseph’s hand. By giving the best of the land to Joseph and his family, and then having them tend Pharaoh’s sheep, Pharaoh knows his sheep will prosper.

Joseph then brings his father to Pharaoh (perhaps Joseph waited to see Pharaoh’s reaction to the brothers – I may amend my above list of the five brothers brought before Pharaoh – perhaps he kept Judah and Benjamin back in case Pharaoh reacted negatively to Joseph’s family.) Anyway, what I love is that Jacob/Israel is not cowed by Pharaoh and his “power”. Pharaoh was considered by the Egyptians to be god – not a representative of their gods, but god in the flesh. As god, one would assume Pharaoh would bless Jacob/Israel, but Jacob blesses Pharaoh.

Verse 7 “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

You know what puzzles me? When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, or Sarai’s name to Sarah, the new name stuck. I think Jacob is so much like us – uneven in his walk with God – so much so that God needed to call him Jacob when he is acting in the flesh and Israel when he is acting in a Godly way. Perhaps some pride is there – for notice that it is JACOB that blesses Pharaoh, not Israel. I think that he is overstepping his boundary a bit – for it is God who prospered Pharaoh for Joseph’s sake, not Jacob’s blessing. But that is just speculation on my part.

Pharaoh is very interested in Jacob’s age. I suspect that the Patriarchs lived longer lives than the Egyptians – Jacob was 130 years old when he met Pharaoh. verse 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years, few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

I find this very interesting in many ways. FEW and EVIL????? What does he mean by that? Perhaps evil because of the years he mourned Joseph’s death. I can see few, because Abraham died at 175 years and Isaac died at 180 years. We can’t forget that before the time of Noah, the people lived 900 plus years. And in Psalm  90:10 The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow: for it is soon cut off and we fly away.

Seems that God is reducing the length of our life on Earth. Perhaps He doesn’t want to give us extra years to sin, given the way we live our lives. But it seems that gradually the length of life is cut shorter, and this has been noticed by Jacob.

Joseph gets his family situated in the land of Rameses and gives his family bread according to the number in their families. Reminds me of how God will provide bread (Manna -according to the needs of each person), and how Jesus provides the Bread of Life for us.

Joseph deals with the famine in the land which is very severe. Notice that Joseph took care of his family’s needs – just like Jesus takes care of our needs.

The famine becomes very severe – remember there was to be five more years of famine. The people have been buying grain and bread – but now their money has run out. Joseph will be changing the whole economic system of Egypt, and also putting Pharaoh into a position of ultimate power and control over the country.

Verse 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.

Pharaoh now has control of all the money. You know the thought just crossed my mind that when the Israelites beg God for a king they should realize just what a king could have done from their experience among the Egyptians – how the king had control over all his subjects, and even had slaves and riches, while many suffered and died. Yet they longed for a king like the rest of the world. God gives people so many illustrations to prevent them from making mistakes, and yet we go off on our own understanding and ruin the beautiful system that God has set up. God never intended Israel to have kings – he had set up a system of Judges which ruled under God’s direction. sigh.

The people came to Joseph begging for bread, even though they had no money to pay. Joseph then takes livestock in payment for bread. After a year of that, there was still famine, and the people came begging – so Joseph then takes their land. verse 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.

So Joseph buys the land for Pharaoh (also makes me wonder why the Pharaohs who followed this Pharaoh didn’t remember with awe what Joseph did and treat the Israelites better – that’s gratitude for you.)

The people moved into the cities – off the land. Now I find the following interesting:

Verse 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands.

I wonder if this was partly due to God’s directive to Joseph. The war of the false gods and God would occur later – it is a war of the heavenlies, not of the Earthly men. God will show who has the power in Exodus when the plagues come and most certainly in Revelation God will reestablish HIS KINGDOM on earth. God knows when to pick his battles. Today many are getting away with false teachings, idol worship, and making their own interpretation of Scriptures to fit today’s lifestyle. God is not pleased, but people assume (just like Samson did with his flirting with the Philistine woman and breaking all Nazirite vows) that inaction on God’s part means that He doesn’t mind or He is impotent. Just because God does not immediately strike down a person, act on the sinful actions, does not mean that God approves of them. He will act, it will be decisive, and people will realize that God was NOT PLEASED. He gave us His Word to read and to follow. IF we choose to change what the Word says, if we choose not to follow His Word, it is our choice and we WILL be answerable to God for our choice.

Joseph tells the people of Israel that he has bought them and their land for Pharaoh. Joseph gives them seed and tells them to plant the land (sort of a feudal system), and they are then to give 1/5 to Pharaoh, and they can keep 4/5ths. (Heather’s note: too bad our tax system doesn’t follow this).

The people are grateful to Joseph and promise to be Pharaoh’s servants. verse 26 And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh’s.

Notice the name change: verse 27 So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen: and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.

Jacob lives in the land 17 more years and at 147 years old. Jacob makes Joseph swear (the old hand under the thigh oath), that when he dies he is not to be buried in Egypt. He wants to lie with his fathers. Joseph promises to do this. and Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.

One other thought came to mind. Remember, God had a plan when He reached down and touched a certain tribe of people. He wanted to show the Earth what living a Godly life could entail, and how much people prospered under God’s leadership. The idea was not that the nation would become separate to itself, but rather that others in the world would see and come to realize God could guide their lives and prosper them. We will see this separation from the world taken to the extreme – where the Israelites under the “guidance” of the priests will go through massive cleansings when a Gentile even touches them, or if a sinner comes their way. It will take Jesus’ example to realize that God wants to bring all back into fellowship with Him. In our churches, when God gives us prosperity, it is not just a reward for right living – we are expected to not worship mammon, not to LOVE money more than God, but we are to use that money for God’s purposes. We are to enjoy our prosperity too. And perhaps our prosperity will be a wonderful lure to bring others into fellowship with God. How often we get off on our own agendas.

Next come a few exciting chapters where we begin to see more of God’s plan, and how Jacob/Israel blesses the twelve tribes. We will see how accurate the prophesies are too.

Beth Moore, in her study the Patriarchs asks an intriguing question on page 224 “Did Joseph preserve life at the cost of liberty? Joseph saved the people, but he reduced them to servitude.”…”Did the famine reforms ironically help set up a system that would ultimately enslave the Israelites under unfavorable Pharaohs? If the Israelites were later enslaved by the feudal system set up in Joseph’s time, God used it to make the conditions in Egypt so miserable that His people would cry out for deliverance. (Ex. 2:23).”

She them points out that God can cause His people to prosper in adverse circumstances – the key is OBEDIENCE.

Beth said that the average lifespan of an Egyptian was 110 years, so Pharaoh was intrigued at how old Jacob was.

Beth adds, p. 224 “We do not know exactly what the patriarchs believed would happen to them after death because Scripture does not record God giving them an explanation. Hebrews 11:14-16 tells us that Abraham and other ancients of faith were “longing for a better country-a heavenly one” Whether or not God told them in so many words, they knew in their hearts something more awaited them. Perhaps this is why Jacob referenced his life as a journey.”

She states that Jacob referring to how his life was not as long as his “fathers” might have been more than just a comparison of ages. That he might have felt that he did not measure up to them. p. 224 “Perhaps Jacob felt he’d not carried the torch of faith as valiantly as Abraham and Isaac. Perhaps they seemed bigger than life to him. His years were marked by deception. His own. His uncle’s. His sons’. The disappointments brought on by his offspring must have added to Jacob’s sense of failure.”

Redemption did come for Jacob. Beth then mentions how many of us have our “Jacob-moments, ” I know I sure do every time the Holy Spirit convicts me of a failing.

pp. 224-225 “A gallon of white paint may not dramatically alter a 30-gallon drum of black, but a pint of faith can change us. We can place all our years of difficulty on the altar before God as a gift for Him to turn into benefit and beauty. We can invite God to fill in the space where we feel we didn’t measure up. Beloved, when we do God changes the color.”

pp. 225 “For those of us on true pilgrimage, nothing is riskier than passing through a spectacular Egypt. When the culture shock wears off, so does its protection. This world is not our home. Let’s never forget it.”

And she closes with something that spoke so strongly to me. I have wrestled a lot with God, we have argued, debated. I have turned my back on Him, and come back to Him broken and hurt. This last line of Beth’s on p. 225 touches my heartstrings so much:

“Perhaps no one worships as honestly as one who has wrestled earnestly.”

Praise God that He allows us to wrestle with Him, and then HE WINS. How awesome a God we serve.

Have a blessed day!



About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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