Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 46

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-34


Genesis 46:1

And Israel (as the head of the theocratic family) took his journeyliterally, broke up, sc. his encampment (cf. Genesis 12:9)—with all that he had, and came—from Hebron (Genesis 37:14)—to Beersheba,—where Abraham (Genesis 21:33) and Isaac (Genesis 26:25) had both sojourned for considerable periods, and erected altars to Jehovah—and offered sacrifices unto the God (the Elohim) of his father Isaac. Probably giving thanks to God for the tidings concerning Joseph (Ainsworth); consulting God' about his journey to Egypt (Rosenmüller); it may be, pouring out before God his fear as well as gratitude and joy, more especially if he thought about the stern prophecy (Genesis 15:13) which had been given to Abraham (Kalisch); perhaps commending himself and family to the care of his covenant God (Keil), and certainly praying that God would confirm to him and his the covenant which had been made with his fathers (Calvin).

Genesis 46:2

And God (Elohim) spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob—the name Jacob being employed probably to remind Jacob of what he had been (Lawson, Bush, Wordsworth), and repeated ut magis attentus reddatur (Calvin). And he said, Here am I—literally, behold me (cf. Genesis 22:1),

Genesis 46:3

And he said, I am God, the God of thy father—literally, I am the El (the Mighty One), the Elohim of thy father. Though in consequence of this phrase the section (Genesis 46:1-7), indeed the entire chapter, is usually assigned to the Elohist (Tuch, Bleek, Vaihinger), yet the contents of this theophany are felt to be so substantially Jehovistic in their import (Hengstenberg), that certain critics have been constrained to give Genesis 46:1-5 to the Jehovist (Colenso), or, omitting the last clause of Genesis 46:5, to the redactor (Davidson). In Genesis 28:13 the designation used is "I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father." As on that former occasion when setting out for Padanaram, so now, when departing for Egypt, he receives a comforting assurance. Fear not to go down into Egypt. Them was reason for Jacob's apprehensions, since Abraham had been in peril in the land of the Pharaohs (Genesis 12:14-20), Isaac had been forbidden to go thither (Genesis 26:2), and Egypt had been foreshadowed as a place of servitude for his descendants (Genesis 15:13). מֵרְדָה is an irregular infinitive רֵדָה for רֶדֶת (cf. דֵּעַה for דַּעַת, Exodus 2:4), with מִן. prefixed after a verb of fearing. For I will there make of thee a great nation—literally, for to a great nation will I put thee there (cf. Genesis 21:13). Jacob had previously received the injunction, accompanied by the Divine benediction, to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 28:3). Twice over had it previously been predicted that he should develop into a multitudinous people (Genesis 28:14; Genesis 35:11). The present promise was an indication that the fulfillment of the prophecy was at band.

Genesis 46:4

I will go down with thee into Egypt;—not a proof that the Hebrews believed in a local deity following them when they changed their abodes, and confined to the district in which they happened for tire time being to reside (Tuch, Bohlen), but simply a metaphorical expression for the efficiency and completeness of the Divine protection (Kalisch)—and I will also surely bring thee up again (literally, and I will bring thee up also, bringing thee up; a double emphasis lying in the use of the infinitive absolute, with גַּם preceding, as in Genesis 31:15, meaning that God would assuredly recover his body for interment in Canaan should he die in Egypt, and his descendants for settlement in the land of their inheritance): and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes—i.e. will perform for thee the last offices of affection by closing thine eyes in death, a service upon which the human heart in all ages and countries has set the highest value. "A father at the point of death is always very desirous that his wife, children, and grandchildren should be with him. Should there be one at a distance, he will be immediately sent for, and until he arrive the father will mourn and complain, 'My son, will you not come? I cannot die without you.' When he arrives, he will take the hands of his son, and kiss them, and place them on his eyes, his face, and mouth, and say, ' Now I die.'".

Genesis 46:5-7

And Jacob rose up—having received new vigor from the vision (Calvin)—from Beersheba (it is not probable that his stay there was of more than a day or two's, perhaps only a night's, duration): and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives,—"Unlike the heathen tribes around them, and Oriental nations generally, the family of Jacob gave honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel" (Lawson)—in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him (vide Genesis 45:19, Genesis 45:21). And they took their cattle, and their goods (including probably their servants), which they had gotten in the land of Canaan,—Pharaoh had desired Jacob not to regard his stuff, because the good of all the land of Egypt was before him; but he wished not to take advantage of Pharaoh's goodness, or to owe greater obligations to him than he found necessary" (Lawson)—and came into Egypt,—a scene depicted on the tomb of Chumhotep, the near relative and successor of Osirtasen I; at Benihassan, represents a company of immigrants, apparently Shemitic in their origin, entering Egypt with their goods, as well as women and children, borne upon asses. Without affirming that this was the Egyptian version of the descent of Israel into Egypt, it may serve as a striking illustration of that event—Jacob, and all his seed (i.e. his descendants) with him: his sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt. The date of this event was in the 130th year of Jacob's life (Genesis 47:9), and 215 years after the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:4), i.e. B.C. 1728 (Usher), 1885 (Hales); or A.M. 2276 (Usher), 3526 (Hales).

Genesis 46:8

And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt. The phrase "which came into Egypt" must obviously be construed with some considerable latitude, since in the appended list of seventy persons, "souls of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt," are reckoned Joseph, who undoubtedly came into Egypt, but not with Jacob, Hezron and Hamul, the sons of Pharos, as well as the descendants of Benjamin, who probably, and Ephraim and Manasseh, the children of Joseph, who certainly, were born in Egypt. Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.

Genesis 46:9

And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch,—"Initiated or Dedicated;" the name also of Cain's firstborn (Genesis 4:17), and of the son of Jared (Genesis 5:19)—and Phallu,—"Distingushed" (Gesenius)—and Hezron,—"Enclosed" (Gesenius), "Of the Court or Village" (Murphy), "Blooming One" (Furst)—and Carmi,—"Vine-dresser" (Gesenius, Murphy), "Noble One" (Furst).

Genesis 46:10

And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel,—"Day of El" (Gesenius, Murphy); in 1 Chronicles 4:24, Nemuel—and Jamin,—"Right Hand" (Gesenius, Murphy)—and Ohad,—"Joined together" (Gesenius, Murphy)—and Jachin,—"Whom God strengthens" (Gesenius), "He shall establish" (Murphy), or Jarib (1 Chronicles 4:24)—and Zohar,—"Whiteness" (Gesenius, Murphy); named Zerah (1 Chronicles 4:24)—and Shaul,—"Asked for" (Gesenius)—the son of a Canaanitish woman. The wives of the other sons, except Judah, were probably from Mesopotamia.

Genesis 46:11

And the sons of Levi; Gershon,—or Gershom,—"Expulsion" (Gesenins),—Kohath, or Kehath,—"Assembly" (Gesenius)—and Merari,—"Bitter," "Unhappy" (Gesenius), Flowing" (Murphy), Harsh One" (Lange).

Genesis 46:12

And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah (vide Genesis 38:3), and Pharos, and Zarah (Genesis 38:29; 1 Chronicles 2:4): but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan (Genesis 8:7, Genesis 8:10). And the sons of Pharez were Hezron (vide on Genesis 46:9) and Hamul,—"One who has experienced mercy" (Gesenius).

Genesis 46:13

And the sons of Issachar; Tola,—"Worm, Scarlet" (Gesenius)—and Phuvah,—"Mouth"? (Gesenius)—and Job,—perhaps an incorrect reading for Jashub ("Turning Oneself"), as in Numbers 26:24; 1 Chronicles 7:1 (Gesenius), which the LXX. adopts—and Shimron,—"Watch" (Gesenius).

Genesis 46:14

And the sons of Zebulun; Sered,—"Fear" (Gesenius)—and Elon, "Oak"—and Jahleel,—"Whom God has made sick" (Gesenius).

Genesis 46:15

These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Parian-dram (i.e. the descendants of Leah's sons which were born in Padan-aram), with his daughter Dinah (who probably had continued unmarried after her misfortune in Shechem, and is here mentioned as an independent member of Jacob's family): all the souls of his sons and his daughters (reckoning him- self, and excluding Er and Onan) were thirty and three.

Genesis 46:16

And the sons of Gad; Ziphion,—"Expectation" (Gesenius); Zephon (Numbers 26:15)—and Haggi,—" Festive" (Gesenius)—Shuni,—"Quiet" (Gesenius)—and Esbon,—"Toiling" (Murphy); named Ozni (Numbers 26:16)—Eri,—"Guarding" (Gesenius)—and Arodi,—"Wild Ass" (Gesenius), "Rover" (Murphy), "Descendants" (Lange); styled Arod (Numbers 26:17)—and Areli—"Lion of El" (Murphy), "Son of a Hero" (Gesenius), "Heroic" (Lange).

Genesis 46:17

And the sons of Asher; Jimnah,—"Prosperity" (Gesenius)—and Ishuah,—"Even, Level" (Gesenius)—and Isui,—"Even," "Level" (Gesenius): they may have been twins—and Beriah,—"Gift" (Gesenius), "In Evil" (Murphy)—and Serah—"Abundance" (Gesenius), "Over- flow" (Murphy)—their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber,—"Fellowship" (Gesenius)—and Malchiel—"King of El" (Gesenius, Murphy), "My king is El" (Lange).

Genesis 46:18

These arc the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.

Genesis 46:19

The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife (cf. Genesis 44:27); Joseph and Benjamin.

Genesis 46:20

And unto Joseph in the land of Eygpt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him (vide Genesis 41:50). The LXX; having probably transferred them from 1 Chronicles 7:14, append the words, Ἐγένοντο δε υἱοὶ Μανασσῆ οὕς ἔτεκεν αὐτῶ ἡ παλλακὴ ἡ Συρα τὸν Μαχίρ Μαχὶρ δὲ ἐγὲννησε τὸν Γαλαάδ Υἱοὶ δὲ Ἐφραΐμ ἀδελφοῦ Μανασσῆ Σουταλαἀμ και Ταάμ Υἱοὶ δε Σουταλαὰμ Ἐδώμ. Since they are not to be found in the Samaritan text, Rosenmüller thinks they may have been originally written on the margin, and thence by some subsequent copyist transferred to the text.

Genesis 46:21

And the sons of Benjamin were Belah,—"Devouring (Gesenius); the ancient name of Zoar, one of the cities in the Jordan circle (Genesis 14:2)—and Becher,—"a Young Camel" (Gesenius)—and Ashbol,—"Opinion of God" (Gesenius), "Sprout" (Lange), "Short?" (Murphy)—Gera, "a Grain" (Gesenius), "Fighter"? (Lange)—and Naaman,—"Pleasantness" (Gesenius)—Ehi,—"Brotherly" (Lange, Murphy); = Ehud, "Joining together" (Gesenius), 1 Chronicles 8:6; styled Ahiram (Numbers 26:38)—and Rosh,—"Head" (Gesenius)—Muppim,—"Adorned One" (Lange); = Shupham (Numbers 26:38) and Shephupham (1 Chronicles 8:5), "Serpent"? (Gesenius)—and Huppim,—"Coverings" (Gesenius), or Hupham (Numbers 26:39)—and Ard—"Fugitive," "Rover" (Murphy), "Ruler"? (Lange). In Numbers 26:40 Naaman and Ard are given as the sons of Bela, and the grandsons of Benjamin; a plausible explanation of which is that Benjamin's sons died early, and were replaced in the list of heads of families by two of Bela's sons who had been named after them (Keil, Murphy, Inglis, et alii). In the same table of mishpachoth the names of Becher, Gem, and Rosh have been omitted, and that probably for a similar reason—that they died either without issue, or without a number of descendants large enough to form independent families.

Genesis 46:22

These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

Genesis 46:23

And the sons of Dan; Hushim—"Those who make haste" (Gesenius); designated Shuham in Numbers 26:42.

Genesis 46:24

And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel,—"Allotted by God" (Gesenius)—and Guni,—"Painted" (Gesenius), "Dyed" (Murphy), "Protected" (Lange)—and Jezer,—"Image," "Form" (Gesenius, Lange, Murphy)—and Shillem—"Retribution" (Gesenius), "Avenger" (Lange).

Genesis 46:25

These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.

Genesis 46:26, Genesis 46:27

All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six; and the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten. According to the LXX. the number of Joseph's sons was nine; and the number of those who came with Jacob into Egypt seventy five, a number adopted by Stephen (Acts 7:14). The apparent confusion in these different numbers, sixty-six, seventy, seventy-five, will disappear if it be observed that the first takes no account of Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh, and Ephraim, while they are as palpably included in the second computation, and that Stephen simply adds to the seventy of verse 27 the five grandsons of Joseph who are mentioned in the Septuagint version, from which he quoted, or to the sixty-six of verse 26 the nine mentioned above, consisting of Jacob, Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Joseph's five grandsons, thus making seventy five in all. There is thus no irreconcilable contradiction between the Hebrew historian and the Christian orator.

Genesis 46:28

And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph (the noble qualities displayed by Judah had manifestly secured, as they had Certainly merited, the affectionate admiration and hearty confidence of the aged patriarch), to direct his face unto Goshen;—i.e. that Joseph might supply him with the necessary instructions for conducting the pilgrims to their appointed settlement (Dathius, Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Ainsworth, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), rather than that Joseph might meet him in Goshen (LXX; Vulgate, Samaritan, Kalisch)—and (having received the necessary directions) they came into the land of Goshen. The LXX. read εἴς γῆν Ῥαμεσσῆ, as in Genesis 47:11.

Genesis 46:29

And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him;—literally, he (i.e. Joseph) appeared (the niph. form of the verb, which is commonly used of the appearance of God or his angels, being here employed to indicate the glory in which Joseph came to meet his father: Keil) unto him, vie; Jacob—and he fell on his neck,—i.e. Joseph fell upon Jacob's neck (LXX; Vulgate, Calvin, Dathe, Keil, and commentators generally), though Maimonides regards Jacob as the subject of the verb fell—and wept on his neck a good while—in undoubted transports of joy, feeling his soul by those delicious moments abundantly recompensed for all the tears he had shed since he parted from his father in Hebron, upwards of twenty years before.

Genesis 46:30

And Israel (realizing something of the same holy satisfaction as he trembled in his son's embrace) said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art still alive—literally, I will die this time, after I have seen thy face, that (Keil, Kalisch), or since, thou art still alive; the meaning of the patriarch being that, since with his own eyes he was now assured of Joseph's happiness, he had nothing more to live for, the last earthly longing of his heart having been completely satisfied, and was perfectly prepared for the last scene of all—ready, whenever God willed, to be gathered to his fathers.

Genesis 46:31, Genesis 46:32

And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up (employed in Genesis 46:29 to describe a journey from the interior of the country to the desert, or Canaan, the verb עָלַה is here used in a courtly sense to signify a visit to a sovereign or superior), and show Pharaoh (literally, relate, or tell, to Pharaoh), and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; and the men are shepherds (literally, keepers of flocks), for their trade hath been to feed cattle (literally, they are men of cattle); and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

Genesis 46:33, Genesis 46:34

And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? Pharaoh's inquiry was characteristically Egyptian, being rendered necessary by the strict distinction of castes that then prevailed. According to a law promulgated by Amasis, a monarch of the 26th dynasty, every Egyptian was obliged to give a yearly account to the monarch or State governor of how he lived, with the certification that if he failed to show that he possessed an honorable calling (δικαίην ζόην) he should be put to death (Herod; 2.177). That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle (literally, men of cattle arc thy servants) from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen. Joseph probably desired his brethren to settle in Goshen for three reasons.

(1) It was suitable for their flocks and herds;

(2) it would secure their isolation from the Egyptians; and

(3) it was contiguous to Canaan, and would be easier vacated when the time arrived for their return.

For every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. These are obviously the words not of Joseph, but of the historian, and their accuracy is strikingly corroborated by Herodotus, who affirms that the swine-herds, one of the seven castes, classes, or guilds into which the Egyptians were divided, were regarded with such abhorrence that they were not allowed to enter a temple or contract marriage with any others of their countrymen; and by existing monuments, which show that though the statement of Josephus ('Ant.,' 2.7, 5) is incorrect that "the Egyptians were prohibited from meddling with the keeping of sheep,' yet those, who tended cattle were greatly despised, Egyptian artists evincing the contempt in which they were held by frequently representing them as either lame or deformed, dirty and unshaven, and sometimes of a most ludicrous appearance. It has been thought that the disrepute in which the shepherd guild was held by the Egyptians was attributable partly to the nature of their occupation, and partly to the feeling excited against them by the domination of the shepherd kings (Wilkinson, Wordsworth, Murphy, and others); but

(1) while this might account for their dislike to foreign shepherds, it would not explain their antipathy to native shepherds;

(2) if, as some think, Joseph's Pharaoh was one of the shepherd kings, it is not likely that this rooted prejudice against shepherds would then be publicly expressed, however violently it might afterwards explode;

(3) there is good reason for believing that the descent into Egypt occurred at a period much earlier than the shepherd kings. Hence the explanation of this singular antipathy to shepherds or wandering nomads has been sought in the fact that the Egyptians were essentially an agricultural people, who associated ideas of rudeness and barbarism with the very name of a shepherd (Hengstenberg, Keil, Kurtz), perhaps because from a very early period they had been exposed on their Eastern boundary to incursions from such nomadic shepherds (Rosenmüller), and perhaps also because from their occupation shepherds were accustomed to kill the animals held sacred by the other classes of the community (Kalisch).


Genesis 46:1-34

The descent of Jacob and his family into Egypt.


1. The journey to Beersheba. Distant from Hebron somewhere over twenty miles, Beersheba lay directly in the way to Egypt. Yet doubtless the chief motive for halting at "the well of the oath" consisted in the fact that it had been, so to speak, consecrated by the previous encampments of Abraham and Isaac, by the altars they had there erected, and the revelations they had there enjoyed. It is both pleasurable and profitable to visit scenes and places that have been hallowed by the saints of former days; and though now under the Christian dispensation it is true that every place is holy ground, yet few there are who do not feel their religious emotions quickened when they stand upon some sacred spot where holy men have walked and prayed, or saintly martyrs bled and died.

2. The stoppage at Beersheba.

(1) The solemn act of worship—"Jacob offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac." This he did in obedience to Divine prescription, which had appointed the presentation of offerings as the only acceptable mode of worship, in imitation of the piety of his ancestors, in presence of his assembled household, in supplication of Divine direction with regard to his contemplated journey:

(2) The midnight revelation. "I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me m vain," was Jehovah's word to Israel in a later day (Isaiah 45:19); and certainly he never said so either to Jacob's ancestors or to Jacob himself. As formerly he had appeared to Abraham and to Isaac on this very spot, so now he appeared to their descendant; solemnly, in the visions of the night; audibly, speaking to him in a voice articulate and clear; earnestly, saying, Jacob, Jacob, to which Jacob answered, Here am I; and graciously, discovering himself as the covenant God of his father Isaac.

(3) The encouraging exhortation—"Fear not to go down to Egypt." Abraham had been formerly reproved for going into Egypt, and Isaac prevented from following his example; but here Jacob is both permitted and advised to go. No saint can safely guide himself by following the example of another. What is God's will concerning one man may be the opposite concerning another. It is best to imitate the patriarch, and after asking God's counsel follow where he, his Spirit, word, or providence, may lead.

(4) The fourfold promise: "I will there make of thee a great nation"—"I will surely go down with thee"—"I will also surely bring thee up again"—and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes; "a promise of enlargement, protection, restoration, consolation; a promise, like all God's promises in the gospel, suited to the wants of his servant."

3. The advance from Beersheba. This took place with alacrity, for Jacob "rose up; with unanimity, for they all went, carrying with them their wives and little ones; and with comfort, since they rode in Pharaoh's wagons; and with safety, for it is added that they "came into Egypt."


1. Their character.

(1) Descendants of Jacob. They came out of Jacob's loins. In the entire catalogue there is no name that cannot be traced down in a direct line from Jacob.

(2) Immigrants into Egypt. The expression of course is used with a certain amount of latitude, since Joseph's sons were born in Egypt, and probably all the family of Benjamin. But the accuracy of the language may be defended on the principle that the historian represents the entire family as having done what was done by its head.

(3) Ancestors of Israel. Jacob's sons were the heads of the tribes, and Jacob's grandsons of the families, that subsequently formed the nation.

2. Their number.

(1) "All the souls were threescore and six;"

(2) "all the souls of the house of Jacob were threescore and ten;"

(3) according to Stephen the total of Jacob's kindred was "threescore and fifteen souls." For the reconciliation of these different accounts, see the Exposition.

III. THE ARRIVAL AT EGYPT (Genesis 46:28-34).

1. The mission of Judah. "And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph," that he (Joseph)" might direct his face unto Goshen."

2. The coming of Joseph.

(1) Joseph and his father. Learning of Jacob's arrival, Joseph "made ready his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father to Goshen." It was not ostentation, but the impatience of love that caused Joseph to drive to Goshen in the royal chariot. Presenting himself before his aged parent, he falls upon his neck and weeps, unable for a good while to control his tears; while the old man is so overcome at having his long-lost Joseph once more in his embrace, that he is quite willing to depart: "Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive."

(2) Joseph and his brethren. Informing them of his intention to report their arrival to Pharaoh, he explains to them that Pharaoh will inquire about their occupation, and directs them how to answer so as to secure their residence in Goshen; a mark of duplicity in Joseph according to some, but rather a proof of the kindly and fraternal interest he took in his brothers' welfare.


Genesis 46:1-4; Genesis 46:28-30; Genesis 47:7-10

The three meetings.


1. A gracious meeting. In the visions of the night, at Beersheba, Jehovah, after a lapse of upwards of a quarter of a century, again makes known his presence to his servant. It was a signal act of gracious condescension on the part of God.

2. A promised meeting. As the God of Abraham and of Isaac, Jehovah had solemnly taken Jacob into covenant with himself, and engaged to be with him for guidance and succor wherever he might wander and whensoever he might need assistance; and such an occasion had manifestly arisen then in the experience of the patriarch.

3. A solicited meeting. It is more than likely this was the explanation of Jacob's sacrifices at Beersheba. He was asking God to come to him with counsel and help at the important crisis which had come upon him. 4. An encouraging meeting. Jacob got all that he desired and more—words of cheer and promises of love, that sufficed at once to dispel his fears and animate his hopes.


1. A longed-for meeting. How earnestly father and son had yearned to behold one another we can imagine better than express.

2. An expected meeting. No doubt Joseph instructed Judah to inform Jacob that he (Joseph) would visit him at Goshen.

3. A happy meeting. Those who have passed through experiences in any degree similar to thin of Joseph and Jacob meeting after many years, when each perhaps thought the other dead, will not be surprised at their emotion.


1. An interesting, meeting. Of age with (probable) youth, of poverty with wealth, of lowly birth (at least, comparatively) with regal dignity, of piety with superstition.

2. An instructive meeting. No doubt the monarch would learn something of Jacob's by-past history, and let us hope too of Jacob's God; and perhaps Jacob would discover something in what he heard from Pharaoh concerning Joseph that would lead him to recognize the Divine hand even mere clearly than he did.

3. A profitable meeting. Pharaoh got a good man's blessing, and Jacob won a great man's smile.—W.


Genesis 46:1-7

God speaking in the visions of the night.

While there were providential intimations which were clear enough, still the direct revelation of God was necessary for Jacob's assurance. At Beersheba, the consecrated spot, Jacob offers sacrifices in the covenant spirit, and receives in return the message of the covenant God: "I will make of thee a great nation." "I will also surely bring thee up again," i.e. in thy descendants. The vision is not a mere personal matter for Jacob's consolation, it is another in the series of Divine revelations which are connected with the development of the covenant.—R.

Genesis 46:8-27

The beginning of the nation.

"The souls of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt were threescore and ten." The number seventy became afterwards a symbolic number among the Israelites- as in the seventy elders of Moses, the seventy of the Sanhedrim, the seventy of the Alexandrian version of the Scriptures, the seventy disciples of the Lord, the seventy heathen nations of the world according to the Jews. There may be something in the combination of numbers. Seventy Isaiah 7:0 × 10. Ten is the symbol of the complete development of humanity. Seven of perfection. Therefore seventy may symbolize the elect people of God as the hope of humanity—Israel in Egypt. In the twelve patriarchs and seventy souls we certainly see the foreshadowing of the Savior's appointments in the beginning of the Christian Church. The small number of Israel in the midst of the great multitude of Egypt is a great encouragement to faith. "Who hath despised the day of small things?"—R.

Genesis 46:28-34

The meeting of the aged Jacob and his lost son Joseph.

I. FULFILMENT OF DIVINE PROMISES. Both father and son examples of grace. Reminding us of Simeon, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," etc. (Judah is sent forward to Joseph—again a distinction placed upon the royal tribe).' The meeting of father and son takes place in Goshen. For the people of God, although in Egypt must not be of it.

II. SEPARATION AND DISTINCTION from the heathen world- enforced from the beginning. The policy of Joseph again is a mingling together of—

III. SIMPLICITY AND WISDOM. He does not attempt to conceal from Pharaoh the low caste of the shepherds, but he trusts in God that what was an abomination unto the Egyptians will be made by his grace acceptable. It was a preservation at the same time from intermarriage with Egyptians, and a security to the Israelites of the pastoral country of Goshen. It was better to suffer reproach with the people of God than to be received among the highest in the heathen land, at the cost of losing the sacredness of the chosen people. A lesson this on the importance of preserving ourselves "unspotted from the world."R.


Genesis 46:3, Genesis 46:4


Convinced that Joseph really lived, Jacob's first impulse was to hasten to him. But at Beersheba, ere he left the land of Canaan, he sought guidance of God. The promise made him reminds of that at Bethel. Each on the occasion of leaving the land; each revealing God's protecting care. His presence is the only pledge of safety (cf. Exodus 33:14, Exodus 33:15). It was not a word for Jacob only. Had it been so it would have failed, for Jacob never returned to Canaan. It was like the promise to Abraham (Genesis 17:8; cf. Hebrews 11:9, Hebrews 11:10). It was the assurance that God's word would not fail. Though he seemed to be leaving his inheritance, he was being led in the way appointed for its more complete possession. God was with him in all This fully made known to us in Immanuel, without whom we can do nothing, but who by the Holy Spirit abides in his people (John 15:4; John 16:14).

I. JACOB'S EXAMPLE. Before taking a step of importance he solemnly drew near to God (cf. Nehemiah 2:4; 2 Corinthians 12:8). Not even to see Joseph would he go without inquiring of the Lord. Christ by his Holy Spirit is to his people wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). The habit of prayer for guidance, or for wisdom to discern the right way, rests on sure promises (Isaiah 30:21; Luke 11:13), and is a thoroughly practical resource. We look not for visions or direct manifestations. But guidance is given through channels infinitely varied, though our way may seem strange; and it may be long ere we find that our prayer has been all along answered in the course of events. Why so much neglect of this? so much uncertainty? Because often men do not really seek to be guided by God. Their real wish is to be led as they themselves wish.

II. They who would be sure of God's promises MUST LEAN ON HIS GUIDANCE. They may seem to be led far from what they hoped for. They would fain have great spiritual elevation, and are kept low. They would like to do great work, and are led through homely duties; to have great powers for God's service, and are made weak. The cross must be borne (Revelation 3:19), and it is sure to take a form they do not like. Otherwise it would not be really a cross. Many would willingly endure pain or poverty if they might thereby gain fame.

III. GOD'S CARE FOR INDIVIDUALS. "I will go down with thee." The universe in its laws shows power, wisdom, and love. But what inspires trust is the confidence that each one is remembered and cared for by God, a confidence called forth by the human sympathy of Christ (Matthew 9:36; Luke 7:13; John 11:35).—M.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 46". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/genesis-46.html. 1897.
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