Genesis 46 - Jacob and the Sons of Israel Go Down to Egypt
Genesis 46 - Jacob and the Sons of Israel Go Down to Egypt
God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.
So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Genesis 46:1
Israel broke up his encampment in Hebron taking all that he had and journeyed to Beersheba. This location is where Abraham and Isaac had both encamped for considerable periods of time and erected altars to Yehovah. Israel stopped at Beersheba for the night to make a sacrificial offering to God. Apparently he had some reservations about leaving the land of his forefathers.
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. Genesis 46:2-3
Jacob had not have fully obeyed the LORD when he was commanded to leave his uncle Laban in Harran and return to his father Isaac in Hebron. Although Jacob returned to Canaan, after reconciling with Esau and then resting for a while in Succoth, he had pitched his tents in the region of Shechem. Jacob resided there for more that than a half a dozen years when Dinah his daughter was defiled. After Simeon and Levi avenged the dishonoring of their sister by slaughtering the men at Shechem, Jacob fled southward to Bethel and renewed his vow to the LORD. Jacob journeyed further southward, and at Bethlehem Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, but she died in giving childbirth and was buried there. Finally, Jacob met his father Isaac in his old age and he dwelt in Hebron. While living in Hebron, Jacob made the multi-colored coat for his son Joseph. Joseph's brothers were jealous of how Jacob favored him and were enraged at Joseph’s dreams. Although they had plotted to kill him, they sold Joseph to the Midianites who took him to Egypt to be sold as a slave.
Now the LORD assures Jacob that he should not be afraid to go down to Egypt and leave the Promised Land. It is in Egypt that the Hebrews would emerge from the furnace of affliction and be birthed as the nation of Israel.
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.” Genesis 46:4
God assures Jacob that should he die while in Egypt, his body would be buried in the Promised Land and his descendants would surely return to the land of their inheritance.
Jacob had mourned for Joseph for over twenty years. God also promises Jacob that he would be with Joseph for the rest of his life.
Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring. Genesis 46:5-7
So this closes out the period of Jacob's life in the land that God had promised to give him. It was a period of time that began with God's promises to Jacob at Bethel and ended with God's encouragement and assurance to go down to Egypt. While Jacob's life in both Harran and in the Promised Land was filled with many challenges, hardships and difficulties, God protected and prospered Jacob.
These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Genesis 46:8
The list of Jacob’s family includes his wives, sons, daughter, granddaughter and grandsons.
Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.
The sons of Reuben: Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.
The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.
The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul.
The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron.
The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel.
These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. Genesis 46:9-15
Leah bore six of Jacob’s sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. In addition to these six sons, listed are twenty-three grandsons, two great grandsons, Dinah his daughter and Jacob himself. Including Jacob and Leah, there were thirty-three in all that descended through Jacob and his first wife.
The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.
The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel.
These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all. Genesis 46:16-18
Leah’s handmaiden Zilpah birthed two of Jacob’s sons, Gad and Asher. Listed are Gad and his seven sons, Asher’s four sons, daughter and two great grandsons – in all, there were sixteen offspring through Jacob and Zilpah.
The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.
These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. Genesis 46:19-22
Only Rachel, Jacob’s favorite, is called a wife in this account of his family. Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph’s Egyptian wife Asenath bore Manasseh and Ephraim. Benjamin provided Jacob with ten more grandsons. Rachel’s two sons and twelve grandsons totaled fourteen in all who were the progeny of Jacob and Rachel. Rachel, who had died in childbirth, was not counted as going down to Egypt.
The son of Dan: Hushim.
The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.
These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all. Genesis 46:23-25
Rachel’s handmaiden Bilhah gave birth to two sons, Dan and Naphtali. Dan had one son, while Naphtali had four sons. Two sons and five grandsons total seven offspring through Jacob and Bilhah.
All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all. Genesis 46:26-27
It was now 215 years since God had promised that He would make Abraham into a great nation. At this point, not counting the wives of Jacob’s sons, there were only seventy persons listed as the Hebrews who would dwell in Egypt and become a great nation.
Seventy is a very significant number. It is the product of seven (spiritual perfection) and ten (completeness). Seventy signifies perfect spiritual order.
The account of the seventy who went down to Egypt is the very first verse in the Bible where the number seventy is mentioned. According to the “Table of Nations” found in Genesis chapter ten, there are seventy nations which descended from Noah’s sons after the flood. The Lord told Moses to select seventy of Israel’s elders that would accompany Moses up to Mount Sinai. The Great Sanhedrin or Jewish Council, which was comprised of seventy men who served as judges with one chief judge, was modeled after the seventy elders and Moses. A total of seventy bulls were sacrificed during the first seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles – one bull for each of the seventy nations.
Seventy is a very significant number in prophecy. In the book of Daniel, there are prophetic passages in Chapter 9 concerning periods of time referred to as sevens or weeks. The term seven or week is interpreted to mean a seven year period of time. The reason that Bible scholars have determined that seven or week means seven years (a week of years), is based upon the Biblical regulation concerning the Sabbath of Years. The nation of Israel was not only commanded to observe the seventh day as a day of rest or Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11); but also, observe the seventh year as a year of rest for the land (the land to lie fallow), called the Sabbatical Year (Lev 25:1-7).
But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Leviticus 25:4
Israel never observed this regulation. This act of disobedience, as well as, intermarriage, idol worship and other sins of the nation, resulted in the people being taken into captivity. Daniel wrote his prophetic writings during the time that the Southern Kingdom known as Judah (the nation was divided after Solomon s reign into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms), was taken captive into Babylon (586 BC).
This captivity lasted for 70 years as was prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 25:12). Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD (Yehovah), given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years (Dan 9:2).
Leviticus 26:14-46 speaks of degrees of punishment for disobedience. When the time would come that Israel would refuse to carry out the commands of the LORD and violate His covenant, the LORD would bring disease and defeat to the nation. The people would be taken into captivity by their enemies.
Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. Leviticus 26:34
Daniel chapter 9 and verse 24 speaks of seventy sevens. Judah was taken into captivity for 70 years. The land of the tribe of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were desolate for 70 years. The land had 70 consecutive years of Sabbath rests. Had Israel observed the ordinance of the Sabbatical Year it would have taken a period of 490 years to achieve those 70 Sabbatical Years. A Sabbatical Year was to occur once every 7 years. Two Sabbatical years were to be observed in 14 years; therefore, the land would experience 70 Sabbath rests after four hundred and ninety years. Seventy sevens is an expression that means 70 times 7 years and equals a total of 490 years (70 Sabbaths x 7 years per Sabbatical Year = 490 years).
Verse 27 of Daniel chapter 9 reads:
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’. In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
This passage of Scripture parallels time periods prophesied in the book of Revelation. One seven is a period of seven years or week of years. In the middle of the seven or halfway through the seven year period is three and one half (3½) years. Our modern day calendar is based on the time it takes the Earth to revolve once around the Sun or Solar Year of 365 1/4 days. The Jewish calendar of Biblical times was based on 12 months which were comprised of 30 days each. This Lunar calendar had a year of 360 days (12 months x 30 days = 360 days). Our calendar today requires periodic leap years to compensate for the 1/4 day each Solar Year that needs to be taken into account. The Jewish calendar required an additional added month (13th month) to be periodically added to make up for the uncounted days on their calendar.
In the book of Revelation there are time periods of 42 months (Rev 11:2, 13:5). Twelve months per year times 3½ years equals 42 months. This period of 42 months is equivalent to Daniel’s middle of the seven (3½ years). Revelation 11:3 and Revelation 12:6 speak of a 1260 day period. Thirty days per month (Jewish calendar), times 42 months equals 1260 days (30 days x 42 months = 1260 days). Three hundred sixty days per year times 3½ years equals 1260 days as well. The terms middle of the seven, 3½ years, 42 months or 1260 days are all equivalent terms.
The one who sets up an abomination (an idol or image of himself), that causes desolation (the chosen people who refuse to bow down to an idol then flee the temple and the city of Jerusalem), will establish a covenant (an accord or pact), with the Jewish people for a period of time (seven years). This charismatic leader (the Antichrist), violates the agreement halfway through (3½ years after the signing), and sets up his own image to be worshipped (Rev 13:15). The second half of Daniel’s 70th week (the 70th seven - the week of years or 7 year period at the end of the age), is a time of great persecution (Rev 12:17; 13:7), or distress for the Elect (the church, body of Christ, the set apart people of God).
Seventy was a significant number in the formation of the Nation of Israel and will be a significant number again in the future when Daniel’s 70th week is fulfilled.
Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Genesis 46:28-29
Continuing on their journey to Egypt, Israel sent his son Judah ahead to find out where the caravans were to stop. Note that Judah was the one who was trusted with this task although he was the fourth son of Jacob. Reuben, who as the firstborn son, lost his birthright when he slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah. Simeon and Levi, who were next in line, forfeited their rights as well because of their slaughter of the men at Shechem. It will be through the lineage of Judah that Messiah will be brought forth.
They were directed to disembark at Goshen. It was here, after twenty-two years, that Jacob saw his son Joseph once again. They embraced each other and wept together for quite a while.
Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.” Genesis 46:30
Israel, who had believed that Joseph was dead, now sees with his own eyes that Joseph is indeed alive. Joseph, as a type of Messiah, symbolically has been resurrected. Israel seeing Joseph alive and in an exalted position is so gratified that he is prepared to die in peace. In a similar fashion, we who believe in the atoning death and resurrection of Messiah Jesus are content, at peace and do not fear death.
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.’ Genesis 46:31-32
Joseph is highly favored by Pharaoh. Joseph goes ahead of his family to pave the way for Pharaoh’s meeting with his family.
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.” Genesis 46:33-34
Joseph understood that Pharaoh's would make an inquiry concerning his family’s occupation. In ancient Egypt there were distinctive social classes: the nobility, the intelligentsia, labor and outcasts. Since shepherds were detestable to the Egyptians, Joseph wanted Pharaoh to understand that his family’s occupation had been their livelihood for several generations. Therefore, it would be wise to have his family settle in a good location but somewhat separated from where the Egyptians lived.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-17
It was for a sovereign purpose that the LORD had the Hebrews living apart from the Egyptians. God did not want His chosen people to intermarry and be yoked together with idolaters.