Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Genesis 46

Genesis 46: Jacob/Israel and his family move to Egypt


There’s not a whole lot to this chapter. Israel brings his family to Egypt, to live with Joseph.

At the beginning of the chapter, Israel offers sacrifices to God, and that night God speaks to him in a vision:

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

(verses 2–4)
So he left, and brought all of his descendants with him.

Verses 8–27 are simply genealogy, listing all of Israel’s descendants that came with him to Egypt.

When everyone arrives in Egypt, and Joseph finally sees his father, and Jacob/Israel finally sees his son, they are both overjoyed. And then Joseph needs to make preparations for them:
Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.” (verses 31–34)


Notice that God tells Joseph not to be afraid to go to Egypt, even though He knows—as most of my readers do—what is going to happen in Egypt: The Israelites will eventually become the Egyptians’ slaves, and God will have to save them, and deliver them out of Egypt. So why shouldn’t Jacob be afraid? Because it’s part of God’s plan. The Hebrews won’t like it, while they’re being enslaved, surely, but God wants to teach them—and us—a lesson about who He is.

I wonder if Goshen was the “best part of Egypt”, as the Pharaoh had promised to Joseph’s family. They seem to be making a point of keeping the Hebrews as separate from everyone else as possible.

In this chapter, it’s shepherds who are “detestable” to the Egyptians; in 43:32, it was Hebrews who were detestable to them. There’s a lot of foreshadowing, in these chapters, that the Hebrews’ lives aren’t going to be completely rosy and “happily ever ever” in Egypt.

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