Jacob Moves his Family (46:1-5)
The decision to move to Egypt could not have been an easy one, but what choice did Jacob have? He was forced there by famine and starvation, and drawn there by the realization that Joseph is alive. In reality, God had already told Abram years earlier that his “descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years” (Gen 15:13). God now speaks to Jacob to reassure him, and prefaces his promise to Jacob with a royal self-disclosure: “I am God, the God of your Father.” He leaves no question regarding who He is. Then, he follows it with four promises. First, “I will make you a great nation there.” Second, “I will go down with you to Egypt.” Third, “I will also surely bring you (all) up again.” Fourth, “Joseph will close your eyes.”
Jacob Misses No One (46:6-27)
Despite all the differences within the family, they are all together now as they enter Egypt. This group of seventy is the family unit that will become a great nation! Who would have thought that old Abraham and barren Sarah would have produced a family at all, much less 70 people just two generations later.
Jacob Meets Joseph (46:28-34)
Even though Joseph was a prestigious man in Egypt, he shows respect for his father, humbles himself, and weeps upon meeting him. Joseph wisely uses the Egyptian aversion to shepherds to secure the land of Goshen for his family. This would allow the people of God to remain separate from the Egyptians, keeping their own traditions distinct, and preserving them as God’s set apart people. In other words, it would help them to be in the world, but not of the world.
Meeting the Family (47:1-10)
When Jacob meets Pharaoh, he blesses him. From an earthly perspective, Pharaoh was greater; but spiritually, Jacob was the greater. He was God’s chosen. As Hebrews 7:7 puts it, “Without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.” When asked about his years, Jacob responds that his years have been “few and unpleasant.” Life is a pilgrimage—a short and difficult pilgrimage (c.f. Heb 13:13-14; Ps 90:12; James 4:14; Acts 14:22; Rom 8:18). Of course, not only had Jacob’s years been unpleasant, there was also a great deal of mercy and grace shown to him from the Lord. Unfortunately, Jacob allowed the pain and misery of his life to become his sole focus, thus defining his life as being full of treachery.
Managing (Saving) the Family and Ministering to Jacob in his Death (47:11-31)
Joseph was mindful not only of his father and his brothers’ needs but also of their household and “little ones.” Joseph is prudent in his dealings with the Egyptians as a means of providing for his family. He gathers whatever they have to give, and eventually, all of Egypt’s land becomes Pharaoh’s property and all of the inhabitants become tenants and slaves. By his dealings, Joseph is recognized as the one who saved their lives.
Jacob has one final request before he dies: that Joseph not bury him in Egypt, but in the land of promise. On his deathbed, he calls his family’s attention to God and His promises for them in the land, and he worships.
- As Jacob leaves the land that God had promised and heads to Egypt, we might ask, “Are God’s people really making any progress? Aren’t they headed in the wrong direction?” But it must be noted that Jacob had often been guilty of trying to force God’s hand in order to acquire the promised blessings. Now, he is finally willing to listen and obey God, even though he does not fully understand all that is happening. It may often seem like we are headed in the wrong direction or that we are making no real progress, but God has promised and He will not fail to keep His promises to us as His people. None of your pains, or trials, or disappointments, or difficulties are wasted in God’s economy. He causes all things to work together for the good of all those who belong to Him.