Genesis 46, 47
Interestingly and ironically Egypt is the final destination for Jacob and his sons. It is in Egypt that Israel finds salvation but it is also here that the nation will one day be held in captivity as slave. At the onset one may think this journey to Egypt was a mistake because of the impending slavery that would happen years down the road. I have also noted that Egypt represents the pagan world at the time. Why would Jacob (AKA Israel) want to leave the Promised Land and go to a Pagan country? If you recall Egypt has really never been a place where Jacob and his family have had good experiences. His grandfather Abraham had bad two experiences in Egypt. So why go?
As Jacob leaves he goes to Beersheba and inquires of worship God and inquires of the Lord as to whether he should or should not go. On the surface going down doesn’t seem like a great idea because there has been a lot of heartache in Egypt.
Nevertheless the Lord meets with Jacob in a vision at night and He assures him that he should go. Once again God speaks through a vision or dream. He first tells him not to be afraid to go Egypt because this journey is part of God’s greater plan to make him a great nation. Then he informs Jacob that He will be with him on this journey. This journey is part of God’s grand plan. The stay would be temporary but not easy. The journey would initially be the Salvation of Israel. The famine was getting worse and would continue to get worse and if Jacob does not go to Egypt chances are he and his family would perish. Death was not an option and not part of God’s plan. God had a plan and yes this plan did include eventual slavery, a mass exodus (God’s glory), a lot of death, years of wandering in the wilderness, the giving of the Law and this would force Israel to have complete dependence and obedience to God throughout these years.
Eventually Jacob, his family, their livestock, their goods and all they acquired in the land of Canaan left for Egypt with the Lord’s blessings.
In verses 8 – 25 there is a list of all Jacob’s children and their offspring. The sons mentioned and their ancestors in these verses make up the 12 tribes of Israel. These 12 brothers (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan) and their ancestors would go on to become the great and powerful nation (Israel) that God promised he would make them.
There were seventy who entered Egypt. This did not include wives of the brothers, and servants; they were only flesh and blood relatives. Seventy is a sacred number. Seventy has a sacred meaning in the Bible that is made up of the factors of two perfect numbers, seven (representing perfection) and ten (representing completeness). Now there are 70 men who made up what would become the complete and perfect nation of God’s chosen people called Israel.
Reunion with Joseph – In verse 29 Joseph and Jacob finally meet and embrace after a long time. The father has immense joy in reuniting with his son. His son who he thought was dead is alive and well. It is at this reunion Jacob said he could now die in peace. He was an elderly man and just holding his son in his arms was enough to make everything complete. For many years Jacob thought his son dead, he hears he is alive and now he holds his son in his arms. I can think of no better way for a heart broken man to finish out the remaining years of his life. Not only do we see that this reunion was a way to help Jacob die peacefully but we also see in God’s perfect plan as He has used Joseph in a powerful way to bring salvation and life to Israel.
Joseph then coaches his family as to what to say to Pharaoh when they meet with them. Joseph want to ensure Pharaoh that they are not here seeking employment or food and that they will maintain their identity as shepherds. They have their own livestock and livelihood so they will not be a burden to the Egyptian people. They are to inform Pharaoh that they are shepherds and Joseph tells them that shepherds are an abomination. Some have suggested that this was Joseph’s way of preserving the identity of God’s people. They would be considered lower class citizens and the Egyptians would have nothing to do with them. This would free up the Israelites to be separate from the culture. They would not be forced to lose their identity and conform to the Egyptian way of life. It could be a way of Joseph saying that you will be an abomination for your own sake. You will be preserved and not tainted by the worldly ways of Egypt.
After meeting with Pharaoh he was delighted and gave them the choice land of Goshen and invited them to become the men who would be in charge of Pharaoh’s livestock. Once again we are seeing Israel blessed because of Joseph.
This story has so much for us to take home with us today. Joseph’s life is a picture of what the Christian life can look like. In this account I see three things that can be brought to our attention.
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I currently live in Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with 20 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful. I am currently serving at a church as an Associate Director of Discipleship.