Our passage today covers the following movements in Jacob’s life: Jacob and all his family make it to Egypt where he reunites with Joseph and he gets to meet Pharaoh.
JACOB’S FAMILY (46:5-27)
Jacob’s whole family goes to Egypt with him. Read 5-27…
So Jacob has 66 people accompanying him to Egypt. He makes 67. Joseph and his two sons are in Egypt and they make it a total of 70. The list is divided up by Jacob’s four wives and their sons and grandsons: Leah had thirty-three total sons and grandsons (15); Zilpah had sixteen (18); Rachel had fourteen (22); and Bilhah had seven (25). Some things to notice include:
- The list includes the males – the sons and grandsons
- Leah had the most with thirty-three total sons and grandsons (15). We are reminded again that while she was not loved by Jacob, God honored her as the first wife by giving her the most sons and grandsons.
- The person with the least sons was Dan with one (23). Not sure why, but he was the son of Bilhah, Jacob’s wife who committed adultery with Rueben, Jacob’s firstborn son through Leah. That may have had something to do with it.
- The person with the most sons (besides Jacob) was Benjamin with ten (21). Two things stand out to me about this.
First, God will honor the least and the littlest so often in Scripture. Whether picking the nation of Israel as the least of all nations (Dt 7:7); or picking David to be king even though he was the youngest of all his brothers (1 Sam 16:11-12); or Gideon who was the lowest member of the lowest family of the lowest clan (); or as 1 Judges 6:15); First Corinthians 1 says, “Brothers think of what you were when you were called, not many of you were wise or influential or of noble birth. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…” It is not our status on earth that determines divine blessing. It is God’s divine choosing.
Second, I notice with the youngest Benjamin having the most sons this thought: God’s blessings to one are not to the exclusion of blessings to the other. Judah was the brother whom the Messiah would come, Levi was the brother whom the Priesthood would come….(funny thought: Joseph got the rights of the firstborn after Reuben’s scandal, which may mean Benjamin got them after Joseph’s disappearance, and if that’s the case then I wonder how Benjamin felt about losing those firstborn rights now that Joseph was back in the picture!) Isaac was the promised son but Ishmael was greatly blessed too. Esau gave up his birthright and had his blessing stolen but God still blessed him greatly. Rachel was loved more than Leah, but God gave Leah more children and grandchildren as the eldest sister and first wife of Jacob. BUT, God blessed Rachel in giving her two special sons, Joseph and Benjamin. God blessed Israel, but he also blesses other nations. God’s blessings are not a zero-sum economy. Benjamin may have been given more food, more clothes and lots of money by Joseph, but his other brothers got lots of food and new clothes and the best of Egypt too.
- Something interesting in the list is the unique relationship Jacob had with his two grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. These are the two sons born to Joseph in Egypt. We’ll see in chapter 48:5 that when Jacob meets them he says, “These two boys will be reckoned as mine.” We’ll explore this more in chapter 48, but basically Jacob adopted his grandsons and now for all history they would be reckoned as his actual sons. Later the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim would inherit territory in the Promised Land….
- The total number of people who went to Egypt with Jacob was 70, including himself.
JACOB SEES JOSEPH (46:28-30)
READ……..Jacob sends Judah ahead of the group to get directions from Joseph. They arrive in Goshen and then Joseph arrives in all his royal presence. Can you imagine the intensity of their embrace and the weeping? Jacob thought Joseph was dead all those years and now here he is in the flesh – and ruling Egypt! Joseph wondered how his father was all those years and now here he was looking into his aging, graying eyes – yet a “revived” old man (45:27). Through joyful tears streaming down his wrinkled face Jacob says “Now I can die a happy man, I have seen you alive.”
As they get closer Jacob sends Judah ahead to Joseph. His job is to get directions. Note that its Judah who is sent ahead. Again he is the guy who makes things happen. He convinced the brothers to sell Joseph rather than kill him, he convinced his father to let Benjamin go to Egypt, he convinced Joseph not to keep Benjamin in Egypt. Judah is the go-to guy for making action happen.
Goshen is the region they were going to settle because their occupation was shepherding and that’s where the shepherds stayed (46:35; 47:6).
So Goshen will be forever remembered as the place where Jacob reunited with Joseph. You can imagine the whole family parking their carts, getting down, stretching. Looking around, taking in the sights of rolling hills and the smells of open pasture, breathing the air of their new home. Then the sight of Joseph appeared. It doesn’t say he came with anyone. I would’ve thought he’d have a huge entourage and make a huge impression on dad. But lets just go with what the text seems to indicate: he came alone, or with a few servants. How intimate. This moment wasn’t for anyone else in Egypt. It was for him and his father and their family. It was their heartache all those years, now it is their joy.
So Joseph arrives in his royal chariot. Steps down. Pauses and looks around. Locks eyes with his father. Then they embrace. And weep. What a moment. Wow. It says they held each other and wept for a long time. I don’t think Jacob would ever want to let him go. You know how when you’re in a big emotional hug with someone and you talk to each other through tears? They do that here. From his heart Jacob says “Now I am ready to die. Since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”
Ironically, Jacob probably wanted to die many times since Joseph disappeared. I’m sure many days he didn’t want to live any longer. “What’s the point?” He’s 130 years old (47:9), life has been hard and painful, and there’s no reason to go on. “Take me God. Leaving me here just leads to more sorrow.” Yes, I’m sure Jacob was ready to die at any time over the last 20 years. But a readiness to die because of sorrow is different than a readiness to die because of satisfaction. A satisfaction with life and feeling a freedom like there is nothing more you need to do or want to do is different then being ready to die to escape the accruing heartache of life. Jacob was satisfied in his soul. Life was complete now. He could go at any time and not feel things were left undone.
JACOB MEETS PHARAOH (46:31-47:12)
There is now another important meeting: Pharaoh has to meet Joseph’s family. Read
The brothers meet Pharaoh. Notice Joseph picks the brothers who will meet Pharaoh and prepares them for that august meeting. First he picks which brothers would be presented to Pharaoh: and he picks five. Maybe that was a customary number for representing larger groups. Maybe there were some brothers who even after 20 years they were too embarrassing to admit you were related to! Maybe not, but I’m sure he wanted to pick the five who would represent himself and his family the best. He didn’t want the skater brother with earbuds in and blowing bubbles with his gum, “Right on Big ‘P’ sweet place you got here, dude! Fist bump!” Joseph was aiming for the 5 who had the most dignity and would have represented Israel the best.
APPLICATION: How well do we represent? All of us represent others in some way or another. When other people see us they think of others that they associate with us. How well do you represent those who are associated with you? Your spouse? Your family? Your parents? Your Savior? Let each of us represent well.
APPLICATION: Joseph again portrays something about Jesus to us: their access to the king of Egypt was because of the king’s right hand man. Without him they would never have had access. Jesus is at the right hand of God and without him we have no access to God: “I am the way, the truth and the life” Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6). Or the elegant simplicity and power of Ephesians 3:12, “In Christ and through faith in Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Just like Joseph led his brothers into the presence of the king to be accepted and blessed, Jesus leads us into the presence of God to be accepted and blessed.
Then he prepares them for the meeting. Which makes sense: how many palaces have they been in? How many times have they interacted with kings? The thought of meeting the king would’ve been exciting and terrifying at the same time. But thankfully they had a brother who has lived in the palace for 9 years and was at home among royalty. He could teach them what to expect and how they should behave before a king and how to respond to a king.
Joseph tells them that first, he will go up and meet Pharaoh to talk with Pharoah about meeting them and plans for them. They were not going to just walk in to meet the Pharaoh without an appointment. They weren’t going to catch him at lunch or in the hall. It was not going to be informal, but very, very formal. It was a meeting that was going to be planned and orchestrated. There were not going to be any surprises. It was all pre-arranged. Doesn’t this fit with the Joseph we have come to know? The administrative genius is on display again.
APPLICATION: Jesus is seen yet again in this respect. Jesus goes to the Father first for us. Right now, while we are here he prays to the Father for us. There is a sense in which we will be presented to the Father by Jesus, think about what he said, “Anyone who confesses me before men I will confess before my Father in heaven and before all the angels.”
The result of his introduction to the brothers is to confirm their new home in Goshen (5-6). And he says, “Hey, if you have any brothers who excel at shepherding, put them in charge of my very own flocks.” Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings.” I’m sure Pharaoh thought that there might be a brother who was as skillful and reliable as Joseph was. “Are there any other Joseph’s among you?” So they exit the meeting and begin heading to Goshen. Then their father Jacob comes in for his introduction to Pharaoh.
Jacob meets Pharaoh. What a special moment. The respect for Joseph certainly caused a respect for his father, Jacob. I’ll just point out two things about their meeting. First, the only content of their conversation is Jacob’s age. Interesting. I’m sure Pharaoh inquired about other things. But the only question recorded in Scripture is Jacob’s age. Implied in this is the respect for the aged that was common.
The second thing to notice about their meeting was Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Not the other way around. This is important. You could say it was proper for the older to bless the younger. But it also indicates that Jacob was “greater.” Hebrews says, “And no doubt, the lesser is blessed by the greater.” And here, Pharaoh the “lesser” was blessed by Jacob the “greater.” Here you see a prophetic picture. That Israel, the despised nation, will be greater than Egypt – and all nations. Turn to Isaiah 60:15…61:6, 9….62:1-3
After Jacob’s meeting with Pharaoh he joins his family back in Goshen to begin life in Egypt. They would be well supplied during the next five years of famine. Life has been hard for Jacob, but God has led him to a good place near the finish line.