Bible Commentaries
Genesis 47

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

Verses 1-12

Joseph's Statesmanship

Joseph directed all the members of his father's household to say they were shepherds. He well knew the attitude of the Egyptians toward nomadic herdsmen. They thought of shepherds as an abomination. By having his family so identify themselves, Joseph was assuring Pharaoh would favor settling them in Goshen where he wanted them to settle (45:10).

Joseph selected five of his brothers to go with him before Pharaoh. After they told Pharaoh they were herdsmen, he directed them to settle in Goshen. He also asked them to be in charge of his own livestock. Then, Joseph brought Jacob before the ruler of Egypt. When asked, Jacob said he was one hundred thirty years old. Interestingly, he described his life as a pilgrimage, probably because he never had a permanent home on earth. Also, it was he who blessed Pharaoh and not the other way around. The writer of Hebrews says the one who gives the blessing is always the greater of the two ( Heb_7:7 ). Joseph then situated his family in Goshen, which was later known as Rameses. He saw to it that they had plenty of food to make it throughout the famine. ( Gen_46:31-34 ; Gen_47:1-12 ).

Verses 13-26

Joseph's Stewardship

Joseph proved to be a good steward over the grain collected during the years of plenty. First, he sold grain for money until all the money in Egypt and Canaan was exhausted. Next, he took their livestock in exchange for grain to make bread. Then, he accepted their land and their very lives.

Having acquired everything in the land of Egypt in the name of Pharaoh, Joseph told the people his plan. From that time on, the people would work the land and give twenty percent of the harvest to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests was exempted because Pharaoh had given them an allotment of grain and they did not have to sell their lands to his representative.

Joseph's plan strengthened and enriched the government in Egypt. Willis wrote, "Egypt was apparently in a condition of unsettled disorganization during much of the period of Hyksos domination. The Egyptian people would have welcomed a stronger, more secure central government, especially in a national crises like a famine, even if this meant infringements on individual rights or privileges." The fact that the statute remained until the time of the writer, likely Moses, is evidence of how valued this arrangement became ( Gen_47:13-26 ).

Verses 27-31

Jacob's Final Days

The writer gives a brief record of the rest of Jacob's life before he gives details of the events surrounding the time of his death. Jacob lived seventeen more years in Egypt and saw his descendants multiply. Before his death, he made Joseph promise to take his body back to be buried with Abraham and Isaac.

Some time prior to Jacob's death, Joseph took his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh to be blessed by him. Jacob adopted them as sons who might have been born to Rachel. Woods says, "The act of placing the sons beside Jacob's knees had symbolized their adoption by him." By placing his right hand on Ephraim's head, Jacob designated which son was to receive the greater blessing from him. To Joseph, Jacob said, "Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow."

Jacob then called all of his sons to him and blessed each one. With God's help, these blessings were prophetic. Reuben lost the right of the birthright because he went into his father's bed with Bilhah (35:22). Simeon and Levi were scattered among the tribes with no real inheritance of their own because of their angry sin at Shechem (34:25-26). The Levites had cities throughout the land. Simeon's inheritance was in the middle of Judah's land and eventually caused his descendants to be absorbed ( Jos_19:1 ).

Of Judah Jacob said, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people." Of course, this was fulfilled in Christ. Zebulun was located in the perfect spot for commerce ( Deu_33:18-19 ; Jos_19:10-16 ). Issachar received a beautiful piece of land but ended up serving the surrounding nations. Dan was the smallest of the tribes but would, by guerilla warfare, prove a difficulty to any enemy entering Israel. Gad was troubled with raiders but defended herself very well.

Asher received a plot of land that was among the most fertile in the promised land ( Jos_19:24-31 ). Rich foods came out of this region which were fit for kings. Naphtali is described as a hind, or gazelle, which Keil and Delitzsch say "is a simile of a warrior who is skilful and swift in his movements." The men of this tribe helped Deborah and Barak defeat the armies of Jabin, who was a king of Canaan ( Jdg_4:1-24 ; Jdg_5:1-31 ).

Joseph, as Jacob's firstborn by Rachel, received the double portion through the adoption of his two sons by his father. A fruit tree by a spring grew especially well in Israel. Joseph's descendants faced strong opposition but overcame with God's help. When the blessings were complete, Jacob died ( Gen_47:27-31 ; Gen_48:1-22 ; Gen_49:1-33 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Genesis 47". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.