Israel moves to Egypt
Packing up the entire clan and heading south1 Israel packed up everything he owned and started his trip. When he got to Beersheba he stopped to worship. He offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. 2 God spoke to Israel in a vivid dream that night, “Jacob, Jacob.” “I’m here,” Jacob said. 3 God said, “I am God. I am the God of your father. I want you to know something. Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt. That’s where I will make you into a great nation. 4 I’m going to go down to Egypt with you. In time, I will bring you home again. Joseph will be there with you when you die. His very own hands will close your eyes.” 5 Jacob woke up the next morning and left Beersheba. His sons led the caravan. They used the wagons Pharaoh had given them to carry Jacob along with their children and their wives. 6 They took their livestock and everything they had accumulated while they lived in Canaan. Jacob and his entire family arrived in Egypt. 7 He brought with him his sons and his grandsons along with his daughters and his granddaughters. He brought his entire extended family with him to Egypt.
Traveler manifest8 Here are the names of the people in Jacob’s family who came with him to Egypt. Reuben, Jacob’s oldest child. 9 Reuben’s children: Hanoch, Pallu, Hazron, Carmi. 10 Simeon’s children: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, Shaul (son of a Canaanite woman). 11 Levi’s children: Gershon, Kohath, Merari. 12 Judah’s children: Er, Onan (both of whom died in Canaan), Shelah, Perez, Zerah . Perez’s children: Hezron and Hamul. 13 Issachar’s children: Tola, Puah, Jashub, Shimron. 14 Zebulun’s children: Sered, Elon, Jahleel. 15 All of these men were the sons of Leah and Jacob. They were born in Paddan-aram. So was Leah’s daughter, Dinah. Jacob’s descendants through Leah totaled 33. This included the males and females. 16 Gad’s sons: Zephon,Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, Areli. 17 Asher’s sons: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah. Asher’s daughter: Serah. Beriah’s sons: Heber, Malkiel. 18 All of these men were the sons of Zilpah and Jacob. Zilpah was the slave that Leah’s father, Laban, gave her. Jacob’s descendants through Zilpah totaled 16. 19 Jacob’s sons through his wife Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. 20 Joseph’s sons, born in Egypt: Manasseh and Ephraim. Asenath was their mother. She was the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 21 Benjamin's sons: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, Ard. 22 All of these men were the sons of Rachel and Jacob. Jacob’s descendants through Rachel totaled 14. 23 Dan’s son was Hushim. 24 Naphtali’s sons: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, Shillem. 25 All of these men were the sons of Bilhah and Jacob. Bilhah was the slave that Leah’s father, Laban, gave her. Jacob’s descendants through Bilhah totaled seven. 26 The total number of Jacob’s blood relatives who went with him to Egypt totaled 66. These were his direct descendants—blood relatives. This did not include his sons’ wives. 27 Jacob also had three blood relatives in Egypt: Joseph along with his two sons who were born there. Counting Jacob, there were 70 members of his blood relatives living in Egypt. 28 As Jacob’s family traveled toward Egypt, Jacob sent his son Judah ahead to scout the way to Goshen. The caravan arrived there.
Joseph reunited with his dad29 Joseph got his chariot ready to go and he rode to Goshen to greet his father Israel. The moment the two met, Joseph hugged his father close and cried for a long time. 30 When Israel finally managed to speak to Joseph, he said, “It’s okay for me to die now. I have lived to see you again, and I can die knowing that you are alive and well.” 31 Joseph told his brothers and everyone in their father’s family, “I will go to Pharaoh now. I will tell him, ‘My family has come to me from Canaan. 32 These are the families of my brothers and my father. They are herders who have brought their livestock with them.’ 33 When Pharaoh invites you to come and see him, he will ask, ‘What kind of work do you do?’ 34 Here’s what I want you to say. ‘We are your servants. We are herders who have worked with livestock all of our lives, just as our ancestors did before us.’ After you tell him this, he will let you live here in the region of Goshen because it’s away from where most other Egyptians live. Egyptians hate shepherds.”
Jacob’s new name, given by God (Genesis 32:28).
Southern Turkey and northern Syria.
A city called Heliopolis in the ancient Greek edition of the Bible called the Septuagint.
Before Jacob led his family out of what is now Israel and into Egypt, he offered a sacrifice in the Southland city of Beersheba. There, God gave him his blessing to migrate to Egypt where God said, “Joseph will be there with you when you die. His very own hands will close your eyes” (46:4). Do you get any impression from the story that Jacob would have gone even without that blessing from God?
Do you think Jacob had any idea that this was the trip that would fulfill God’s promise to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham? “God told Abram, ‘You can count on this, your descendants will immigrate to a foreign country where they will end up oppressed and eventually enslaved. They will live there as immigrants and slaves 400 years’” (15:13).
Bible scholars say there’s a math problem in the body count—70—of Jacob’s family who migrated to Egypt. The list of names includes some people who were dead (Er and Onan) and some people who were not yet born (Benjamin supposedly was too young to have 10 sons; see 46:21). Scholars suggest a couple of theories to explain what’s going on. What do you think about these suggestions?
- Don’t take the number 70 literally. It’s a figurative way of saying the entire family. Seven is a number that suggests completion, because God rested on the seventh day after creation. 7 times 10 emphasizes the completion.
- Jews working with their family trees sometimes listed people even before the people were born: “Although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body (Hebrews 7:10 New Living Translation).
Judah—Jacob’s fourth oldest son, behind Reuben, Simeon, and Levi—seems to take the lead in getting things done, as though he’s the emerging alpha male. Why do you think he’s the one running things? And do you find anything interesting or ironic about him taking the lead?
LIFE APPLICATION. It’s a big deal to pack up your entire family and relocate to Culture Shock, as Jacob did. Some of us have made a move like that. What makes it such a big deal?
LIFE APPLICATION. Scholars report there’s no evidence that Egyptians were prejudiced against sheepherders, except for the fact that there aren’t many Egyptian pictures of herders. Egyptians did get a bit nervous, however, when immigrants showed up unannounced. Egyptians preferred strangers out of sight. That was 4,000 years ago. When someone starts poking around the ruins of our nation, what kind of evidence would they find suggesting we may be prejudiced against some groups of people?