Genesis Chapter Forty-Six


Read Genesis 46:1-7 – Jacob’s Journey to Egypt


v.1 “And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac


            As requested by Joseph, Israel begins his journey to Egypt.  But first there is some business that he must attend to.  Whether in thanksgiving because the son that he thought to be dead is alive or in preparation for his journey Israel follows the wisdom of God given us through Solomon:


“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths Proverbs 3:5-6


            Israel has traveled about 30 air miles from Hebron to the southern most town of Canaan, Beersheba and this is where he stops to worship.  Has this location any significance?  Yes, both Abraham and Isaac worshiped there:


Genesis 21:33 “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God


Genesis 26:25 “And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well


v.2  “And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I


            The scripture does not tell us, but perhaps Israel has in his worship to God asked in prayer for some assurance that taking his family to Egypt is the right thing to do.  After all, he is leaving the land that has been promised to him, his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham by God.  In this we see the desire of Israel to maintain his relationship with God and to do only what God wishes him to do.  During both the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations it was common for God to speak to his prophets or patriarchs through dreams:


Numbers 12:6 “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream


v.3 “And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation


            Israel is literally moving his family and all of their possessions from the land of promise to Goshen in the land of Egypt for some period of time.  How long he does not know, but he does know that Joseph wants them to be there during the time of famine so that he can provide for them.  Joseph had told his brothers that this would be at least five years.  So Israel is assured by God that he is doing what which God wants him to do.  At the same time, God renews the promise that he had made to Abraham:


Genesis 17:1 “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect


v.4 “I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes


            God reminds Israel of the promise that he made to him when he was in despair, fleeing the wrath of his brother, Esau.


Genesis 28:15 “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of


In addition God assures Israel that when he goes down into Egypt that He will bring him back out of Egypt again.  A promise that God began to keep when he appeared to Moses and gave him his commission:


Exodus 3:8 “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites


v.5-6 “And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:”


            In his sermon at Jerusalem, Stephen makes reference to this occurrence in this fashion:


Acts 7:15 “So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers


As we had noted in our study earlier, Joseph had sent wagons or carts for Israel to carry his possessions and the families of his sons.  They took all of their goods, or as we might have said, they moved, lock, stock and barrel.


v.7 “His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt


            All included all of his sons, their sons and daughters and all of the seed or offspring of Israel, his family and extended that were living.


Read Genesis 46:8-27 – The Generations of Israel


v.8-9 “And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn. 9And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi


            Here we have the children and grandchildren of Israel named and enumerated.  The genealogy of Israel was very important to them, because it proved their relationship to Abraham and because in it they would find some of the signs necessary to recognize the Messiah when he came.  Rather than being listed in order of age, as we might expect, they are listed in groups according to which wife of Israel brought them into the world.  The first listed and also the eldest is Reuben, the oldest son of Israel and Leah.


v.10 “And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman


            The sons of Simeon at this point in time are six in number.  During their stay in Egypt of approximately 400 years, they grow tremendously in number.  When Israel is numbered at Mount Sinai just after leaving Egypt we find this recorded:


Numbers 26:14 “These are the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred


v.11  “And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari


            Here we have the sons of Levi, the fathers of those appointed by God to become the heads of families that would serve as priests under the Mosaic Covenant.


v.12 “And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul


            The next sons listed are those of Judah.  Even though they had died as we studied in chapter 38, Er and Onan having both had been removed because they defied God.  The sons of Pharez, grandchildren of Israel, are probably listed here because the linage of Jesus came through Pharez.  He and Zarah were twins.


v.13-14 “And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron. 14And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel


            We also find the sons of Issachar listed in I Chronicles 7:1 and the scriptures say that the offspring of these four men had reached the number 220,600 by the time of David.  We also have a listing of the sons of Zebulun.


v.15 “These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three


            The offspring and descendants of Jacob and Leah are now 33 in number at the time that they go into Egypt.


v.16 “And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli


            The sons of Gad are listed again along with the number of their descendants in Numbers 26:15-17


v.17-18 “And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel. 18These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls


            Thus we have the listing of the descendants of Jacob and Zilpah the handmaiden given to Leah; 16 souls.


v.19-20 “The sons of Rachel Jacob’s wife; Joseph, and Benjamin. 20And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him


            Next we have the listing again of the sons of Joseph and Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On that we saw in Genesis 41:46-52.


v.21-22 “And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard. 22These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen


            Now we have the sons of Benjamin and he seems to be the most prolific of the brothers with 10 children.


v.23-25 “And the sons of Dan; Hushim. 24And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.  These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven


            Thus we have the children of Jacob and Bilhah, a total of seven people.


v.26-27 “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; 27And 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


            So we have an accounting of all the descendants of Israel who came from Canaan to Egypt or were already in Egypt.  This number of 70 is confirmed in:


Exodus 1:5 “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already


As was pointed out to us in an earlier study the sermon of Stephen in Jerusalem that the Holy Spirit recorded for us through Luke has a different number.


Acts 7:14 “Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls


Who studied close enough to be able to tell me, first, the reason for the difference between the number of souls from the loins of Jacob that came into Egypt and the number given by Stephen in Jerusalem.  After all; both are recorded through the revelation of God, and at the direction of the Holy Spirit.  The number recorded in Genesis 46:27 does not include Jacob and his wives; it includes only his offspring, those “WHICH CAME OUT OF HIS LOINS”.  The number given by the Holy Spirit through Stephen include the entire nation of Israel, including Rachel.


Read Genesis 46:28-34 – Israel’s Joy


v.28 “And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen


            When they arrive in Goshen Israel sends Judah to Joseph as his representative or emissary.  In doing so he acknowledges the sovereignty of the Egyptian government and position that his son holds.  It was an act of respect, quite appropriate to this situation even though Joseph was a son that he had not seen for many years and had been convinced was dead.


v.29-30 “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. 30And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.


            Israel approached his son as the ruler of a nation but Joseph responds to his father as a dutiful son.  Joseph honored his father, an attitude in harmony with the will of God just as Israel was taught later under the Mosaic Covenant:


Exodus 20:12 “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee


And that we are commanded under the law of Christ:


Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth


It doesn’t matter what station or position in man’s world one may hold, this admonition is given to all mankind who would be in harmony with God.

            Israel’s life is now complete; he says that he can now leave this earth in peace.  The fact that the son of his wife that he loved is alive and well has restored his peace of mind and now he is ready to meet his maker; but Israel would live for another seventeen years. 


v.31-32 “And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; 32And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have


            Joseph also understands his responsibility to the king under whom he serves.  He will go up to the city were the Pharaoh lives and report to him that in the land of Goshen he now has a colony of Hebrew shepherds.  They have come, just as Pharaoh had commanded:


Genesis 45:17:18 “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; 18And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land


Joseph has other concerns about his family living under the Egyptian king and in the midst of the Egyptian culture.  There is a prejudice that exists in Egypt against shepherds that could and eventually probably would cause trouble.


v.33-34 “And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 34That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians


            This prejudice is so strong, though probably totally out of character in the minds of most of us who have studied the life of Joseph; he is even suggesting that they tell a half-truth.  When asked about their occupation he instructs them to say that they practice the cattle trade, and they do, but that isn’t all that they do.  They are also shepherds, a trade that is looked upon with scorn in Egypt and that is viewed as an abomination by the Egyptian people.  This prejudice will also serve as an advantage to the house if Israel as well.  It will reduce, if not eliminate the normal assimilation of immigrant people that would normally occur over a 400 year span of time.  It will help keep the nation of Israel separate and help prevent it from being absorbed into the Egyptian culture.