DRASTIC CHANGES NEED SUPPORT:
– FROM CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WILL,
– FROM COMMITMENT FROM ONE’S EXTENDED FAMILY
– AND FROM COUNSEL FROM WISE LEADERSHIP
What types of drastic changes have you experienced in following God’s will for your life? Maybe these changes involve new places to live . . . new employment . . . new ministry opportunities . . . new relationships. How did you arrive at the conviction to make such a drastic change in your circumstances?
Steven Cole: What is the longest you have ever lived in one house? If it’s more than five years, you’re above the national average. One out of five Americans moves every year. We are a transient nation. . .
In Genesis 46:1-30, Jacob moves his whole extended family down to Egypt. It was not an easy thing for a 130-year-old man to do! There was a famine in Canaan and his son Joseph had promised them the best of Egypt. Jacob desperately wanted to see Joseph, whom for 22 years, he had thought was dead. But Jacob knew that his grandfather, Abraham, had gotten into trouble in Egypt. God had forbidden his father, Isaac, to go there during another famine (26:2). Jacob knew that God’s promise involved Canaan, not Egypt. So he stopped in Beersheba to seek the Lord and did not move on to Egypt until the Lord gave him a green light. One of the main reasons Moses included this section was to show how this move out of the Promised Land fit in with the covenant plan of God.
Ligonier Ministries: One of our deepest longings as human beings is to be reunited with loved ones after a long absence. Consider, for example, the wife of a soldier who leaps into his arms after he returns from battle, showering him with kisses and tears. Or think of the little boy expecting a visit from his grandparents who live in another state. He waits for hours by the front window of his house so that he will be the first to see them arrive. Whether we have children away in college or a friend who lives hundreds of miles away, all of us have known the pain of absence and the joy of reunion.
Today’s passage illustrates this experience marvelously. Having paused to list the names of those sons of Jacob who came into Egypt at Joseph’s request, Moses now describes the first encounter between Jacob and Joseph in over two decades (Gen. 37:2; 41:46–54; 45:6). We see that Joseph “prepared his chariot” to meet with his father (46:29), an easily omitted detail that Moses included in order to remind readers of Joseph’s magnificent status and therefore, his gracious forgiveness of those who hated him. He had the power to do otherwise, but Joseph was kind to his repentant brothers, showing us how God’s people repay evil with good (Rom. 12:14–21).
After joyful tears and embraces, Jacob said he could die in peace after reuniting with Joseph (Gen. 46:30). The patriarch had been convinced that he would restlessly mourn Joseph’s death all the way to his own grave (37:29–35), but he could face his end with confidence and hope after seeing his son alive. Christians have a similar experience today. Figuratively speaking, Joseph died and rose again in Jacob’s eyes. We now know the One greater than Joseph who was literally resurrected. Thus, we can face death with peace (1 Peter 1:3).
I. (:1-4) CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WILL TO UNDERTAKE THE JOURNEY
A. (:1) Seeking God’s Will at Beersheba
1. Stepping out in Faith
“So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba,”
Parunak: Beersheba is traditionally regarded as the southern extreme of the promised land (“from Dan even to Beersheba,” Judg 20:1; 1 Sam 3:20; 2 Sam 3:10; etc.).
Deffinbaugh: Jacob had hastily packed his belongings, gathered his family, and begun the long trek to Egypt, just as Joseph had urged (45:9). When he had gotten as far as Beersheba, Jacob seemed to feel the full impact of what he was setting out to do. Beersheba was a place rich in the history of his forefathers. Abraham had called upon the name of the Lord here (21:33) and had settled in this place after offering up Isaac on Mt. Moriah (22:19). Here at Beersheba Isaac had been visited by God, and the covenant made with Abraham was reiterated (26:23-25). It would seem that Jacob lived at Beersheba when he deceived his father and obtained his blessing (chapter 27), for it was from this place that he had fled from Esau and departed to Haran (28:10). . .
How, then, could Jacob leave Canaan to enter Egypt without stepping outside the will of God? It is this matter which must have overwhelmed Jacob. I believe that he determined not to go one step further until his doubts were resolved. Consequently, it was at Beersheba that Jacob offered sacrifices to the God of his father (verse 1).
2. Sacrificing at Beersheba
“and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.”
Parunak: There are three significant things about Israel’s sacrifice at Beersheba:
– It is the site of Isaac’s only recorded altar (26:23-25), at the point at which God confirmed with him the covenant to Abraham. On reaching this location, Israel recalls this crisis in his father’s life, and pauses to consider his place as the next link in the chain of promise.
– This may be one reason that this is described as “sacrificing sacrifices” rather than “building an altar.” Perhaps he is using the very altar that Isaac used years before. Almost all worship in Genesis is described in the words, “he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord.” Jacob does this also (33:20; 35:7), but here and at 31:54 (after his covenant with Laban) he is said to “sacrifice sacrifice[s] (singular in 31, plural here). It may be useful to meditate on the differences between the two terms.
a. Building an altar leaves a visible witness to the worshiper’s devotion to God. This significance is confirmed in the frequent association with the action, “call upon the name of the Lord.” Where the sacrifice is described more fully (8:20; 22:2), it is always a whole burnt offering, which represents the dedication of the worshiper to the Lord.
b. The phrase “sacrifice sacrifices” is frequently refined elsewhere in scripture to indicate that the sacrifices in question are peace offerings, offered in thanksgiving to God for his gracious gifts (e.g., Exod 24:5; Lev 17:5; 19:5; 1 Sam 10:8; 11:15; 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chr 30:22; 33:16).
– Compare this sacrifice with Jacob’s previous three.
a. The first is the peace offering at Mount Gilead in 31:54. Jacob has not yet wrestled with God, or acknowledged him as his own God at Bethel. He is like an unbeliever who is beginning to be conscious of the Lord’s goodness to him. The Lord is not even mentioned in the verse; this is like most Thanksgiving dinners in America, whose participants are only vaguely aware of the one to whom they give thanks.
b. Next, he built an altar at Shechem (33:20). It was right that he should build an altar, but he had promised to do this at Bethel (28:22), not Shechem. Now he acknowledges the Lord, but his worship falls short of the form that God has ordained.
c. Finally, he fulfills his promise with an altar at Bethel (35:7). This is the point, according to his promise in 28:20-22, at which he takes the Lord as his God.
d. The previous sacrifices and altars took place in the context of journeys commanded by God (31:3; 35:1). Now he is on the move again, but has received no divine command. The last time he undertook such a journey (35:16), the result was not blessing, but the death of his favorite wife. This experience makes him extremely apprehensive about this trip. When he reaches Beersheba with its memories of his father’s sacrifice, he pauses to give thanks to God for the news about Joseph, and to acknowledge his dependence on the Lord. Here is the believer who is walking daily with the Lord.
B. (:2-4) Securing God’s Promise and Reassurance
1. (:2) Divine Communication
“And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’
And he said, ‘Here I am.’”
Chuck Smith: Note the two names used in these verses. “And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and God spoke to Israel in the night saying, Jacob, Jacob.” His given name was Jacob, a name that described his old nature, schemer, surplanter. God had given to him a new name Israel, (Ruled by God). Sometimes he is still Jacob, sometimes he is Israel. We also have two natures, the old nature of the flesh and the new nature of the Spirit. Sometimes we react after the old nature and sometimes after the new. Jacob was the name of his weakness and Israel was the name of his strength. Israel had begun his journey to Egypt with all that he had.
2. (:3a) Divine Charge
“And He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father;
do not be afraid to go down to Egypt,”
W. Griffith Thomas: God revealed Himself by a twofold name. “I am El” (the Mighty One), and “I am the God thy father.” Thus was Jacob encouraged by a revelation of the Divine character and attitude.
3. (:3b-4) Divine Certainty — Four Reassuring Promises
a. Promise of Abundant Multiplication
“for I will make you a great nation there.’”
Hughes: the fresh revelation to Jacob was that his family would become a great nation “there” – in Egypt. Astonishingly, Israel would not become a great nation in the land of promise but on the pagan Nile! This was amazing but encouraging. Great things would come out of his move to Egypt. Thus he must not fear.
b. Promise of Abiding Presence
“I will go down with you to Egypt,”
Hughes: This recalled Jacob’s dream of a ladder extending between Heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending upon it . . . God knows no territorial constraints. He was with Jacob in Mesopotamia and likewise in Canaan (cf. 31:3; 35:3), and now in Egypt it would be the same. Not to fear.
c. Promise of Anticipated Return
“and I will also surely bring you up again;”
d. Promise of Affectionate Death and Burial
“and Joseph will close your eyes.”
Death would be peaceful surrounded by those he loved
II. (:5-27) COMMITMENT FROM ONE’S EXTENDED FAMILY TO JOIN IN THE JOURNEY
A. (:5-7) Completion of Journey from Beersheba to Egypt
“Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob and their little ones and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6 And they took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him: 7 his sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.”
B. (:8-25) Catalog of Family Leaders
“Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who
went to Egypt:”
Deffinbaugh: Moses here intended not to name every person who went into Egypt, but every leader of family or clan who would come forth from Egypt. It was vitally important for those who came forth from Egypt to know their “roots” since the land would be divided according to tribes. In addition to this, tasks were assigned and the nation was administrated by tribal and family divisions. The purpose of Moses in this genealogy, therefore, is selective. It does not intend to name every person coming out of Canaan, but to name those who will become tribe and family heads. Thus there is a genealogical continuity throughout the entire sojourn in Egypt.
Steven Cole: We need to remember that to the first readers of this book, these names meant something. This is a list of every tribe (and every major family group within that tribe) that later formed the nation Israel. Every Hebrew knew his family ancestry. The division of labor, the organization of the army, and the parceling of the land all were based on the tribes. Even the coming of the Messiah was through the particular tribe of Judah.
1. (:8b-15) Sons of Leah
a. (:8b-9) Reuben
“Reuben, Jacob’s first-born.
And the sons of Reuben: Hanoch and Pallu and Hezron and Carmi.”
b. (:10) Simeon
“And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and
Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.”
c. (:11) Levi
“And the sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.”
d. (:12a) Judah
“And the sons of Judah: Er and Onan and Shelah and Perez and Zerah
(but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan).”
e. (:12b) Perez
“And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.”
f. (:13) Issachar
“And the sons of Issachar: Tola and Puvvah and Iob and Shimron.”
g. (:14) Zebulun
“And the sons of Zebulun: Sered and Elon and Jahleel.”
(:15) Summary: “These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, with his daughter Dinah; all his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.”
2. (:16-18) Sons of Zilpah
a. (:16) Gad
“And the sons of Gad: Ziphion and Haggi, Shuni and Ezbon, Eri and Arodi and Areli.”
b. (:17a) Asher
“And the sons of Asher: Imnah and Ishvah and Ishvi and Beriah
and their sister Serah.”
c. (:17b) Beriah
“And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel.”
(:18) Summary: “These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah; and she bore to Jacob these sixteen persons.”
3. (:19-22) Sons of Rachel
(:19) Introduction: “The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.”
a. (:20) Joseph
“Now to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him.”
b. (:21) Benjamin
“And the sons of Benjamin: Bela and Becher and Ashbel, Gera and Naaman, Ehi and Rosh, Muppim and Huppim and Ard.”
“These are the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob; there were fourteen
persons in all.”
4. (:23-25) Sons of Bilhah
a. (:23) Dan
“And the sons of Dan: Hushim.”
b. (:24) Naphtali
“And the sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel and Guni and Jezer and Shillem.”
“These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and she bore these to Jacob; there were seven persons in all.”
C. (:26-27) Closing Summary
“All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons, were sixty-six persons in all,
“and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt were two;”
“all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy.”
Parunak: The second summary count (v.27 “70”) is equal to the sum of the counts for the four wives, and includes “all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt.” The first summary count is derived from this by subtracting Jacob himself, Joseph, and his two sons, to give the 66 “that came with Jacob into Egypt” (v.26). Note that Jacob is in the 70, but not in the 66.
The number 70, while literally defensible, also has a strong symbolic message. Genesis 10 listed seventy nations in the world after the flood. John Sailhammer:
“Just as the ‘seventy nations’ represent all the descendants of Adam, so now the ‘seventy sons’ represent all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the children of Israel. Here in narrative form is a demonstration of the theme in Deuteronomy 32:8 that God apportioned the boundaries of the nations (Ge 10) according to the number of the children of Israel. Thus the writer has gone to great lengths to portray the new nation of Israel as a new humanity and Abraham as a second Adam. The blessing that is to come through Abraham and his seed is a restoration of the original blessing of Adam, a blessing which was lost in the Fall.”
Number 70 symbolic for sense of completeness as well
W. H. Griffith Thomas: According to the Septuagint the number of those who came with Jacob into Egypt was seventy-five, and this number was used by Stephen (Acts vii. 14). The additional five seem to be the grandsons of Joseph, who are mentioned in the Septuagint version from which he quoted.
III. (:28-34) COUNSEL FROM WISE LEADERSHIP AS REUNION TAKES PLACE
A. (:28) Guidance From Judah
“Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.”
B. (:29-30) Emotional Reunion
1. (:29) Reaction of Joseph
“And Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time.”
S. Lewis Johnson: Now we went to say right at the beginning that it is certainly true that it is our mind and our spirit for the mind and the spirit are identified in Scripture as closely related. It is the mind and the spirit that should determine our relationship to the Lord God. We are related to him not by our feelings, but we are related to him by the understanding that the Holy Spirit gives us of the truths of Holy Scripture. We have in the Bible the propositions of divine truth. These propositions are propositions however of spiritual realities and our minds are to grasp them, and we are to be guided and directed by our minds.
But God has also given us emotions, and it is not only biblical, but it is desirable for our emotions that have free expression under the guidance and direction of our minds and our spirits, and we notice that there is a great deal of weeping and lamentation here as God brings the reconciliation between the brothers and then finally brings Jacob into the presence of Joseph. There is nothing wrong with shedding tears in the experiences of life and if we are to fully understand divine truth and fully appreciate it, there should be some expression in our emotional life . . .
2. (:30) Reaction of Israel
“Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.’”
Would still live an additional 17 years (47:28).
Parunak: Jacob can now die in peace, because everything for which he felt responsible is now settled.
• He distrusted his sons (45:26), and may have suspected that they dealt ill with Joseph. How could such sons deliver the blessing of Abraham? But now the breach has been overcome. Through Joseph’s bold and loving discipline, they have been reformed, and are changed men.
• Joseph was the one on whom the promises rested, according to his early dreams. If he is dead, is the promise cut off? But he is alive; God’s promises are true after all.
• The famine must have weighed heavily on Jacob, as the one responsible for providing for his family. Now he sees Joseph in a position to provide for the family’s needs, and he is confident that they will be fed.
Constable: Jacob had said that the loss of his sons would bring him to his grave in mourning (Genesis 37:35; Genesis 42:38). Joseph’s “resurrection” had enabled his father to die in peace. Similarly the resurrection of a greater Joseph has allowed many to face death with courage and hope (cf. Philippians 1:21-26; 1 Peter 1:3).
C. (:31-34) Guidance from Joseph
1. (:31-32) What Joseph Will Tell Pharaoh
“And Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me; and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’”
Constable: Egyptians loathed shepherds because agriculture was the basis of Egyptian society and the Nile River sustained it (Genesis 46:34). The Egyptians organized their fields carefully and controlled them relatively easily. The comparative difficulty of controlling sheep, goats, and cows led the Egyptians to think of those who cared for these animals as crude and barbaric. [Note: See Keil and Delitzsch, 1:374-75 and my note on 43:32.] Probably too the more civilized Egyptians distrusted any nomadic peoples. [Note: Wenham, Genesis 16-50 , p445.] This resulted in the Israelites living separate from the Egyptians where they increased and developed a distinct national identity and vocation as God had promised.
2. (:33-34) How the Family Should Respond to Pharaoh
“And it shall come about when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”
Hughes: Joseph’s emphasis to Pharaoh regarding his family’s pastoral vocation was intentionally nuanced. Since the seventy brought their own livestock, they would not be an economic burden. And more, their interests in husbandry would discourage nepotism. But most of all, Joseph was subtly telling Pharaoh that Goshen was the best place for his flock-keeping family, as it was pastureland and at the edges of Egyptian society. In this respect, what Joseph told the seventy to say to Pharaoh was somewhat of a master piece of diplomacy. . . Thus they were afforded both separation and prosperity.