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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 47

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-6

The Brothers with Pharaoh

Joseph tells Pharaoh about the arrival of his family and the place he assigned them in the land of Goshen. He is not ashamed of them (cf. Hebrews 2:11). Joseph took five of his brothers with him. The names are not mentioned. The emphasis is therefore on the number five. Five is the number of responsibility, what a person does. Pharaoh’s question is: “What is your occupation?” They say they are shepherds. It means caring for what is weak and unable to ward off danger. The Lord Jesus is “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11; John 10:14), “the Great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20) and “the Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4). He cares for all believers, whom He calls “My sheep” (John 10:27).

The brothers say that they have come to live in the land as sojourners. It is not their intention to settle there, because their actual residence is in Canaan. They want to stay in Egypt as long as the hunger lasts.

Pharaoh tells Joseph that his family can live in the land of Goshen. The consent of Pharaoh is in accordance with Joseph’s wish. Thus the Father accepts every request the Son makes to those who belong to Him. The best of the land is for his family. With their request to live in the land of Goshen, the brothers are following on from what Pharaoh has already promised Joseph. In this way God wants to give us what He has intended to give us in His counsel on the basis of our prayer.

Pharaoh asked Joseph to ensure that capable shepherds from his family are put in charge of his livestock. The Lord Jesus has given the church “shepherds” (Ephesians 4:11). They have a responsibility to look after the livestock (1 Peter 5:2; Acts 20:28).

Verses 7-10

Jacob with Pharaoh

Joseph introduces not only his brothers to Pharaoh, but also his father Jacob. He is not ashamed of his old, crippled father. This is a lesson for all young people who have risen higher in life than their parents. Jacob may be an old poor greybeard, but he is rich in God.

As for the years of his life, he is beaten by his fathers, who have all grown older than he: Terah–205; Abraham–175; Isaac–180; Jacob–147. But he is aware of the preserving grace of God in his life. He is also aware that he has been a sojourner all his life and confesses this before Pharaoh (Hebrews 11:13).

Jacob is, by the promises made by God, the superior of Pharaoh. He is aware of this and as such blesses Pharaoh, at the time the most powerful man on earth. “Without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (Hebrews 7:7). We see the same scene when Paul, a prisoner standing before Festus, addresses King Agrippa (Acts 26:29).

Verses 11-12

Joseph Takes Care of His Family

Joseph takes care of his father and his brothers. He gives them the best part in the land of Egypt. This is according to the command of Pharaoh. Everything the Lord Jesus does for His own is in perfect accordance with the Father’s will. His care goes out to old and young, great and small, that everyone gets what he needs. No one is forgotten.

Every member of his family experiences the care of Joseph. There is personal attention for each member. This is an important lesson for the care in the church.

Verses 13-21

Joseph Buys Everything for Pharaoh

Joseph uses his position as lord over everything to bring everything into complete submission to Pharaoh. He does this by submitting everything to himself: first the money (Genesis 47:15), then the livestock (Genesis 47:16-Esther :), finally the people themselves and their land (Genesis 47:18-Proverbs :). Thus, everything becomes subservient to Pharaoh. In the same way, the Lord Jesus will soon submit all things to God (1 Corinthians 15:24-Hosea :). He bought everything for God (Revelation 5:9; Matthew 13:44; 2 Peter 2:1).

Joseph’s actions are not at the expense of the welfare of the Egyptians, but are in fact for their benefit (Genesis 47:25). The blessing of man lies in fact in delivering himself with everything he has to the Lord Jesus.

Verse 22

The Priests

There is a group of people who are not subjected to Joseph: the priests. That reminds us of the believers of the church now. They are priests (1 Peter 2:5). When soon everything will be submitted to the Lord Jesus, the church will be excluded. The church may reign with Him: “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 1:10-1 Kings :).

Verses 23-26

The Part for Pharaoh

Following the salvation that Joseph worked on and through which their lives were saved, he now gives the people what they need to stay alive. Thus is the Lord Jesus also for all who belong to Him. He not only saves, but gives everything needed to live for Him. “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

We have been given life and everything necessary to live for God. To this end He has given us seed, which is the Word of God, which we may sow and which means nourishment for us. First the part for Pharaoh must be set aside. We must always be aware that God has the first rights to everything (Proverbs 3:9).

Verses 27-31

Jacob’s Last Years of Life

Jacob said of the first hundred and thirty years of his life to Pharaoh: “Few and unpleasant have been the years of my life” (Genesis 47:9). That is because he had not accepted the guidance of the LORD, but had gone his own way. For this reason his life years have not “attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning”.

Isaac has not left the land and, as far as Scripture tells us, has had no particular difficulties. Abraham’s life was for the most part in the favor of and fellowship with God. Jacob did not understand that God wanted to lead him in love and did not experience that leadership. He did not rely on God, but thought he had to take care of himself to get what God promised him. So he came to Egypt after one hundred and thirty years.

However, in the last seventeen years of his life, years he spent with Joseph in Egypt, he grew towards an end that was more glorious than that of his fathers. In the way of faith he stays behind with Abraham and Isaac, but his end is better. We have no record of the deathbed of Abraham or Isaac. We read extensively about the deathbed of Jacob. That is to show how ultimately the grace of God triumphs over this man. It is the culmination of God’s patient work of discipline.

“When the time for Israel to die drew near” (Genesis 47:29). The end of his walk is nearby (cf. Hebrews 13:7). He calls Joseph and tells him to lay his hand under his thigh. At his thigh he is beaten at Penuel (Genesis 32:25) and since then he walks crippled. He is constantly reminded in his walk of his struggle with God. Now he is where God wants him to be.

Jacob makes Joseph swear that he will be buried in the land. He wants to be buried with a view to the resurrection and to all the vows made by God in connection with the land of promise. The Lord Jesus also answers the question of the resurrection by referring to God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He adds: “He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-Jonah :). By this He says that the patriarchs live for God although they have died and that they will live in the resurrection and inherit the promises.

Joseph declares with an oath that he will fulfill his father’s wish. Here too Joseph is a picture of the Lord Jesus, for through Him all the promises of God will be fulfilled.

“Then Israel bowed [in worship] at the head of the bed” (Genesis 47:31). He pledged Joseph at his word. This gives him peace and he can worship. This verse is quoted in Hebrews 11. There it is translated with: “And worshiped, [leaning] on the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:21). The staff speaks of the support he needed on his way of life. He did not want to accept this support at first. He wanted to do everything himself. Since God struck him at the thigh, the staff has been an indispensable part of his life. Here he acknowledges that God has been his support and that leads him to worship.

His death is marked by worship of God and the distribution of blessing to his descendants. The latter we see in the following chapters. Is there a better ending imaginable?

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 47". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-47.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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