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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 46

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2298. B.C. 1706.

Jacob is here removing to Egypt in his old age.

(1,) God sends him thither, Genesis 46:1-4 .

(2,) All his family goes with him, Genesis 46:5-27 .

(3,) Joseph bids him welcome, Genesis 46:28-34 .

Verse 1

Genesis 46:1. Israel came to Beer-sheba Which place he chose in remembrance of the communion which his father and grandfather had had with God in that place. And offered sacrifices That is, extraordinary sacrifices, besides those he was wont to offer at stated times; and this he did, as well to express his gratitude for the preservation of Joseph’s life, and the many other blessings which he had received, as by way of supplication to God for his direction in this important affair, whether he might leave the promised land of Canaan, and remove into the idolatrous country of Egypt; and if so, for the divine protection and blessing to be vouchsafed toward himself and family, both in his journey and in Egypt.

Unto the God of his father Isaac Whom Isaac had honoured and served, and who had constantly provided for and confirmed his covenant with him. He mentions Isaac rather than Abraham, to show that though Isaac was much inferior to Abraham in gifts and grace, yet God was no less Isaac’s than Abraham’s God, and therefore would be his God also, notwithstanding his unworthiness.

Verse 2

Genesis 46:2. God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night Probably the next night after he had offered his sacrifices. Those who desire to keep up communion with God, shall find that it never fails on his side. If we speak to him as we ought, he will not fail to speak to us.

Verse 3

Genesis 46:3. I am God, the God of thy father True to the covenant made with him. Fear not to go down into Egypt It seems though Jacob, upon the first intelligence of Joseph’s life and glory in Egypt, resolved, without any hesitation, I will go and see him, yet, upon second thoughts, he saw difficulties in Gen 2:1 st, He was one hundred and thirty years old; it was a long journey, and he was unfit to travel. 2d, He feared lest his sons should be tainted with the idolatry of Egypt, and forget the God of their fathers. 3d, Probably he thought of what God had said to Abraham concerning the bondage and affliction of his seed. 4th, He could not think of laying his bones in Egypt. But whatever his discouragements were, this was enough to answer them all, Fear not to go down into Egypt.

Verse 4

Genesis 46:4. I will go down with thee into Egypt Those that go where God sends them shall certainly have God with them. And I will surely bring thee up again Though Jacob died in Egypt, yet this promise was fulfilled. 1st, In the bringing up of his body to be buried in Canaan. 2d, In the bringing up of his seed to be settled in Canaan. Whatever low and darksome valley we are called into, we may be confident, if God go down with us, he will surely bring us up again. If he go with us down to death, he will surely bring us up again to glory. And Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes This is a promise that Joseph should live as long as he lived, that he should be with him at his death, and close his eyes with all possible tenderness. Probably Jacob, in the multitude of his thoughts within him, had been wishing that Joseph might do this last office of love for him; and God thus answered him in the letter of his desire. Thus God sometimes gratifies the innocent wishes of his people, and makes not only their death happy, but the very circumstances of it agreeable.

Verse 7

Genesis 46:7. All his seed It is probable they continued to live together in common with their father, and therefore when he went, they all went; which, perhaps, they were the more willing to do, because, though they had heard that the land of Canaan was promised them, yet, to this day, they had none of it in possession. We have here a particular account of the names of Jacob’s family; his sons’ sons, most of whom are afterward mentioned as heads of houses in the several tribes. See Numbers 26:5, &c, The daughters mentioned seem to have been daughters-in-law. The whole number that went down into Egypt were sixty-six, to which add Joseph and his two sons, who were there before, and Jacob himself, the head of the family, and you have the number of seventy. It was now two hundred and fifteen years since God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation, Genesis 41:2; and yet that branch of his seed, on which the promise was entailed, was as yet increased but to seventy, of which this particular account is kept, that the power of God in multiplying these seventy to so vast a multitude, even in Egypt, may be more illustrious. When he pleases, a little one shall become a thousand.

Verses 28-30

Genesis 46:28-30 . Direct his face unto Goshen Which was near the entrance of Egypt. The meaning seems to be, to give Joseph notice of his approach, that he might come to Goshen to meet him. Now let me die Not but that it was desirable to live with Joseph, and to see his honour and usefulness; but he had so much satisfaction in this first meeting, that he thought it too much to desire or expect any more in this world.

Verse 34

Genesis 46:34. That ye may dwell in the land of Goshen In this choice, Joseph showed both his prudence and his piety. As he was not ashamed to own himself the brother of shepherds, although they were contemptible among the Egyptians; so he does not seek to advance them higher, which he certainly might have done, but continues them in their employment. And by placing them in Goshen, 1st, He kept them together, which was very much for their convenience in many respects. 2d, He secured them against envy, and, as far as was in his power, from the corruption of their religion and manners which probably would have taken place, had they mixed with the Egyptians. Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians Probably because they killed, eat, and offered in sacrifice, those animals which the Egyptians adored. Hence these animal sacrifices are said to be an abomination to the Egyptian. Another probable reason also has been assigned for this, namely, that some Phœnician shepherds had lately made an irruption into Egypt, and had committed great cruelties and depredations, burning divers cities and temples, and barbarously murdering a multitude of people. It is no wonder, therefore, that the employment of shepherds was out of credit with the Egyptians, and odious in their eyes.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 46". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-46.html. 1857.
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