Genesis 46

The Word Made Fresh

1Israel gathered all his belongings and set out for Egypt. At Beer-sheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2God spoke to Israel in nighttime visions. “Jacob! Jacob,” God called, and Jacob answered, “Here I am.” 3And God said, “I am God, the God of your father. Don’t be afraid to go to Egypt. I will see that you become a great nation there. 4I will travel with you and bring you back again. Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

5So, Jacob left Beer-sheba. Israel’s sons took their father Jacob along with their wives and children in the wagons Pharaoh had sent for them. 6They brought with them their animals and all their belongings from Canaan to Egypt. Jacob and his whole family came; 7his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters, all of them traveled with him.

8Here is a list of all the Israelites, Jacob’s family, who came with him to Egypt:

Reuben’s children, Jacob’s eldest son: 9Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

10Simeon’s children: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar and Shaul (who was his son born to a Canaanite woman).

11Levi’s children: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

12Judah’s children: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (Er and Onan had died in Canaan); and the children of Perez, his grandchildren: Hezron and Hamul.

13Issachar’s children: Tola, Puvah, Jashub and Shimron.

14Zebulun’s children: Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

15(All these were the sons of Jacob’s wife Leah, born in Paddan-aram, along with their daughter, Dinah. Altogether she and Jacob had thirty-three offspring who went to Egypt.)

16Gad’s children: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

17Asher’s children: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. Beriah’s children were Heber and Malchiel 18(Gad and Asher were sons of Zilpah, the maid Laban gave his daughter Leah; so there were sixteen in that branch of Jacob’s family).

19Jacob’s wife Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin. 20In Egypt, Joseph had two sons with his wife Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On. They were Manasseh and Ephraim. 21Benjamin’s children: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. 22These were all descendants of Jacob and his wife Rachel; fourteen in all.

23Dan had one child, Hushim. 24Naphtali’s children were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. 25Dan and Naphtali were the children of Bilhah, the maid Laban gave his daughter Rachel – seven offspring altogether.

26So, Jacob’s direct descendants (not including his sons’ wives) who came with him into Egypt numbered 66.

27In addition there were the two sons born to Joseph in Egypt, so Jacob’s family numbered seventy in all.

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28Jacob sent Judah ahead to meet with Joseph and find the way to Goshen, and when they arrived 29Joseph called for his chariot and rode to Goshen to meet his father. He introduced himself, then threw his arms around his father’s neck and cried for a long time. 30Israel said, “Now that I have seen for myself that you are alive, I can die in peace.”

31Joseph told them all, “I will inform Pharaoh that my brothers and my father’s family who were in the land of Canaan have come to me. 32I will tell him that you are shepherds who keep livestock and that you have brought with you your flocks and herds and all your belongings. 33When you meet Pharaoh, and he asks you what you do, 34say to him, ‘Your servants have kept livestock all our lives, as did our ancestors.’ Then he will let you settle in the land of Goshen – Egyptians don’t want anything to do with shepherds.”

Commentary

1-5: Jacob packs up lock, stock, and barrel and heads toward Egypt. When they get to Beer-sheba he stops and offers sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. Beer-sheba already has a long history with his family, and is in fact where Jacob was living with his parents when he left to go to Haran to escape Esau and to find a wife (28:10). At Beer-sheba God appears to him one last time in a dream and reassures him that everything will be all right in Egypt.

6-7: They leave Beer-sheba and head for Egypt; the whole family is with Jacob along with everything they own. They are not going to Egypt for a temporary visit; they are relocating there.

8-27: The names are listed according to the women who bore sons to Jacob. Thirty-three were supposedly born to Leah, but the only way to get 33 from the list is to include Er and Onan who died earlier (38:8-11) and exclude Dinah even though verse 15 specifically says “sons and daughters”. Sixteen are said to be from Zilpah, Leah’s maid, but that would exclude the one daughter mentioned there, Serah. Fourteen are attributed to Rachel, including Joseph’s children in Egypt; seven to Bilhah, Rachel’s maid. I can’t figure any way to come up with the total of 66 in verse 26. The 70 mentioned in verse 27 results from adding 33, 16, 14, and 7.

28-34: Jacob sends Judah to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. Joseph is reunited to Jacob there with hugs and kisses and tears. Joseph outlines his plan to persuade Pharaoh to let them settle in Goshen, an area somewhat removed from the main population of the country. He explains that the Egyptians detest shepherds.

Takeaway

Although all seems now to be leading to a happy ending, the result will be more than four hundred years of slavery for Jacob’s descendants in Egypt. Whenever God’s will is done, all is well. Human deceitfulness, even when wrongs are righted, can lead to untold troubles for a long time to come.