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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 47

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-16

Blessed and Made a Blessing

Genesis 47:1-16


Chapter 46 of Genesis we are passing over with a few words of introduction, which will lead us into chapter 47, Chapter 46 is taken up, for the most part, with the detailed numbering of the children of Jacob who went down into Egypt. However, there are some most gracious and spiritual truths to be found therein.

1. A journey preceded by the offering of sacrifice.

Genesis 46:1 tells us how Israel; that is, Jacob, took his journey with all that he had, to see Joseph. We too are on a journey across earth's wilderness to meet our Lord. Before the journey was made, sacrifices were offered unto the God of Isaac and of Abraham. We began our journey Heavenward under the Blood of the Cross, and we continue it under the Blood. The Blood of Jesus Christ His Son keeps cleansing us from all sin.

2. A journey preceded by a special Voice from Heaven. God came unto Jacob in the visions of the night, and said, "Jacob, Jacob." It is around the altar of sacrifice, or at such a time, that God can approach unto us. We must reach Him by the Blood of Christ, and He reaches us by the Blood.

It is at the time of some new departure, and of some journey into new scenes and environments, that we need a special word from our Lord.

Thus it was that God said unto Jacob, "Fear not to go down." If the Lord goes with us, why should we fear? Mark the assuring words which God spake to Jacob:

"I am God, the God of thy father."

"I will go down with thee into Egypt."

"I will there make of thee a great nation."

"I will also surely bring thee up again."

"Joseph shalt put his hands upon thine eyes."

Do not we journey with the same blessed promises? Has not the Lord said unto us."

"I will be thy God"?

"Lo, I am with thee alway"?

"I will supply all thy needs"?

"I will come again,, and receive you unto Myself"?

"I will put My Spirit upon you"?

3. A journey made easy by wagons provided by Pharaoh. We are thinking of David and Mephibosheth. We read, "Then King David sent, and fetched him * * from Lodebar." Our Lord does not only call us to come unto Him, but He fetches us; that is, God provides all things necessary for us on our trip from earth to Heaven. He saves us by His grace, and then, "He giveth more grace." He giveth wagons for the journey. We are not only journeying to Him, but we are journeying at His expense. Yea, He does what Joseph did. He sends us garments to wear by the way. He robes us in the raiment of His own righteousness.

4. A journey accomplished with all his sons and their little ones. There is something so refreshing about the words, "And the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives." Should this not always be so? Is the promise not good to us? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Satan may want divided homes: God wants them united all for Him,

5. A journey climaxed by Joseph's coming forth to meet him. We have this verse: "And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen."

Even so Isaac, the father of Jacob, went forth, by the way of the well Lahairoi, to meet Rebekah as she came to him from Haran.

Thus also will our blessed and adorable Lord come forth to meet us, as we reach the end of our way, and mount the skies. He will meet us in the air.

6. A glorious meeting at the end of the journey. "And Joseph * * presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while."

Once Jacob had said, "All these things are against me." He said this when he heard Joseph was dead. Now he discovers that all those things were for him. How blessed it was to know that Joseph lived. And our Lord, who in His death scattered sorrow, disappointment, and despair among His disciples, is also alive. He lives, and because He lives, we shall live also.

The tears shed that day were not tears of sorrow, but tears of love, and gratitude, and of unspeakable joy.

I. IN EGYPT, BUT NOT OF EGYPT (Genesis 47:1-3 )

In the land of Egypt. Genesis 46:1 says, "Behold, they are in the land of Goshen." This was a new experience to Jacob's sons. Out of the land of Canaan had they come, and into the land of Egypt. Egypt, even in Joseph's day, stood for much of glory and power. It was the center of the world's trade and learning. It stood for the very best that earth could afford. Into such a land came the chosen of God.

Egypt has, in Bible symbolism, always stood for. the world and its glories. What, then, is the relationship of the Christian to the world?

1. We are in the world. There is no doubt about this. We are not only in the physical world, but we are in the world-system, of which Satan is the head and master. We are in a world composed of men who are sinners, sons of Adam, and energized by the wicked one.

2. We are not of the world. We are sojourners, who are other-worldly. Heaven is our Home. We look for a City, whose Builder and Maker is God. Our citizenship is in Heaven. Our treasures are there. Our hope is there.

3. We were formerly of this world, but we were saved out of it. We are now members of the Church, the "called out" ones. We are "come-outers." That is what Abraham was when he left his country to go to one that the Lord would show him. The word "Hebrew" means just that a come-outer; a come-acrosser.

4. The world hateth us. Because the world is of Satan's system, it hated Christ; and, because it hated Christ, it hateth us. Christ put it this way, "Because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." So if the world hateth us, we know that it hated Him before it hated us.

5. We are sent into the world. One might ask, If the saint is not of the world, why does not the Lord take him immediately to his Heavenly Home? For this reason: The Lord has sent us into the world, that the world might know about Him, and learn to love Him.

"Every creature must know,

Every creature must know;

I have a wonderful Saviour;

Every creature must know."

We are sent into the world that the world may believe that God sent Christ to be the Saviour.


1. Thy servants are shepherds. Away back in the beginning, "Abel was a keeper of sheep." In after years, it was Jesse who said of his sons, "There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep."

To us, somehow, shepherds and sheep take on an almost hallowed aspect. Our Lord calls the saints who minister His Word to His Church, shepherds, saying, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof * *. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."

Not only that, for the Lord announces Himself as the "Good Shepherd," that "giveth His life for the sheep." He is also the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd.

2, "For to sojourn in the land are we come." There is something about the life of the shepherd that fits in with the thought of sojourning. Would that the thought of "sojourning" might grip the hearts of saints with more vital power. Too many think of themselves as here to stay. They therefore begin to set their affection on the things down here, and not on the things above.

The Christian should, the rather, think of himself as "a stronger and a pilgrim." Listen to Abraham, the father of Isaac and Jacob. Abraham "sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles (tents) with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God."

Abraham, and his descendants, freely "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Let us, with them, seek another, a better, Country, an Heavenly Country, If we do acknowledge ourselves as strangers and pilgrims, God will not be ashamed to be called our God.


1. The benefactions of a heathen king. How refreshing it is to see a heathen potentate so considerate to God's men. If you say he was only repaying Joseph for what he had himself received, we answer, perhaps so; yet many men of the world are kind and noble-hearted in the things of this earth. "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper." Even so was Pharaoh a great and noble man, and God was using him to succor His people.

2. The blessings of an aged seer. It is touching to see Jacob as he blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh had exalted Joseph in Egypt, and had made him second ruler in the land. Pharaoh had sent wagons to bring Jacob over. Pharaoh was ready to give Jacob's sons the best of the land. Why should Jacob not bless him?

We who dwell as sojourners in Satan's land should not fail to be grateful for the courtesies and assistance which we receive from the men of this world.

Remember, Satan is the god of this world, but he does not hold an altogether universal grip. In his kingdom are many men whose allegiance to their master is far from wholehearted. Many know not what they do. They are deceived as to their own condition. They are ignorant both of Satan's method's, and of God's salvation and love.

In truth, Satan is, himself, ofttimes transformed as an angel of light, and his ministers are often ministers of righteousness.

Remember that God wants every man of Satan's realm to be saved. Remember God commends His love to sinners. The Lord, on earth, went about doing good, even among the demon possessed, and Paul was all things to all men, if by any means he might gain some. Even if the world hateth us, we need not bate the world.


1. The famine was very sore. Someone doubtless asks, Who sent the famine upon the whole land? Was it due wholly to natural causes; or did God hold back the rains? We do not know that we can give a satisfactory answer. However, it seems to us that seven years of plenty, one after the other, followed by seven years of famine, were not a mere accident of nature. We say this in the light of several Scriptural statements.

There were three years of drought in the days of Elijah. Of those years we read, "Elias * * prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain." Of this famine we also read: "The word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, * * I will send rain upon the earth."

The laws of nature do not run the physical universe, although, generally speaking, the earth and the heavens are run by God according to His established laws. He therefore, who made the laws, can set them aside at His pleasure.

In Malachi we read that both famine and plenty are often sent by the Lord either as a curse, or a blessing, for disobedience or for obedience.

2. The objective in God-sent famines. Surely famines, with their accompanying human sufferings, are not sent by God in any cruel or despotic way. God sends famines as a corrective chastisement. Their objective is to lead men from their sins, and to cast them onto God in righteousness.

The world turned to Joseph and Pharaoh, in the years of famine, because the famine drove them there for succor. There was no other place to go. There were no others who could meet the dire need of the people.

Divine judgments are schoolmasters to drive the people to the bounteous supplies of God, that in Him they may find the supplement to their every need.

Divine judgments are sent to call men away from Satan and sin, unto the God of love and mercy.


This follows on the thoughts just presented from Genesis 46:13 .

1. Joseph demanded money, when the people had money, to pay for their corn. In this Joseph was not like his Lord. The Lord speaks to people who have plenty of money with which to buy that which is not bread. He says, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?" Then He calls upon them to come unto Him, to eat that which is good, and to delight their soul in fatness. He even says to the one who hath no money, "Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."

The people in Joseph's day gave to Pharaoh their cattle and their land, their all, for food. Thus Joseph bought up the whole land for Pharaoh.

God, in grace, makes salvation and all the glories of Heaven a free gift. We pay nothing for redemption. If God had made a charge, He had found all men unable to buy.

However, there is something that God does ask. He gives freely His grace, yet He asks us to give freely all we are, and have, unto Him in love. He knows we can do, or give, nothing to buy the exceeding riches of His grace, but we can do and give everything unto Him in loving service and faithful living, as a token of gratitude and a proof of love.

2. Joseph gave corn to the people on the basis of receiving equal values; God gives grace unto us on the simple basis of our need. "Nothing in our hand we bring, simply to His Cross we cling." Naked, we come to Him for clothes; hungry, come to Him for food. All that God asks of us is to "come and receive."

3. In one thing there is, however, an analogy between that day and ours. They came to Joseph, and we come to Christ. Their needs drove them to Joseph, and our needs drive us to Christ. They said, "Give us bread: for why should we die * *? for money faileth." We say, "Give us bread, for why should we die? and we have no money."

It is our extremity that proves God's opportunity. It is our need that presents to God His opportunity to magnify His grace. Had we been rich, and increased in goods, and had need of nothing, we had not come to Him.

It is the thirsty who come to drink; and the hungry who come to eat, at His table.


1. He fed them with bread. The years of famine came and the years went, yet Joseph fed them still. There never was any lack for man or beast. Even the cattle had their share. Suppose that Joseph's granaries had failed. But they failed not.

And will God's storehouse fail? Is there always more grace? Yes, where sin abounded, grace did superabound.

When the Amazon and the Mississippi run dry, God's river of mercy will still run full and free.

2. They ate their portion, which Pharaoh gave them. There is a wonderful account of how Mephibosheth sat at the king's table and ate of the king's food. There is another account of how Evil-merodach lifted Jehoiachin up out of prison, and spake kindly unto him. Then we read that he "changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life. And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life."

Thus did the Lord lift us up out of sin. Thus has He caused us to sup with Him, Thus does He set His bread before us, with a daily allowance all the days of our lives.

Having Him, what need we more? So long as Joseph lived, and the storehouses were filled with plenty, the hungry were sure of food.

We eat the bounties of our Lord. We eat as suppliants of His grace. Hear this: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus." Thus did Pharaoh supply the needs of the people by Joseph.

"He giveth more grace."

VII. THE LAW OF THE FIFTH (Genesis 47:26 )

1. All that the Egyptians had belonged to Pharaoh. By the time the seven years of famine were over, the Egyptians had been bought over by Pharaoh. This is the way Genesis 46:23 reads: "Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for yon, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own."

Thus the same became a law in Egypt. The people were not their own; their land was not their own. Joseph had bought them all up for Pharaoh.

Is it not true that all that we are and have belongs unto God? Here is the Word of God, "Ye are not your own" "For ye are bought with a price." Did Joseph make a hard bargain? We think not. Did Christ make a hard bargain? We wot not. Remember, then, that we are not our own. Remember also that naught that we have is our own. This is the legal aspect. Now hear God as He outlines the result: "All thing's are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." Yes, our bondage to Christ has proved our liberty in Him; our being bought up by Christ has proved our enrichment in all things.

2. The fifth part of their income was Pharaoh's. Our God, as He views the great need of His Word in fields whitened unto the harvest, says, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." The Jews were commanded to give the tithe. We are commanded to give a proportion. Surely that proportion should not be less than the tithe.

The government takes the right to levy taxes, because the government serves its citizens. The parent who has children at home reserves the right to take a part or all of the income of sons or daughters. Shall God, from whom every blessing comes, not have His portion that with it He may enrich the world with the gospel message of salvation? As we give to God, let us remember, however, that He will give back to us.


If we give to God, He will give to us.

During the short war with the United States an 1812-14, an American privateer captured a small Welsh collier in the Irish Channel. The captain of the privateer, noticing in the cabin a strange little box with a slit in it, asked what it was. "Ah!" replied the Welshman, "I and my poor fellows drop a penny apiece in that box every Sunday to help to send missionaries to the heathen." "Indeed," exclaimed the American, "that's a good thing." A brief pause ensued, and then the victor suddenly said, "I won't touch your vessel nor a hair of your heads," and, summoning his men, he returned to his own ship, leaving the collier with the missionary box to go his way rejoicing. "Them that honour Me I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30 ).

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 47". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/genesis-47.html.
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