by Robert Brow    (

Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: 2004

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Genesis 46:1-7
Genesis 46:8-27
Genesis 46:28-34



GENESIS 46:1-7    (Jacob and his family arrive in Egypt)

 46:1   When Jacob set out to join Joseph in Egypt,  the first leg of the journey was the forty miles, 64 km, or three day journey with the wagons, south to Beersheba.    This was the place where Abraham sealed a covenant with Abimelech (21:25-32).   He had planted a tree there in the name of el gholam (the Eternal God), and made the area his home for some time (21:33-34).   It was also the place where the LORD had appeared to Isaac, and he built a family altar there (26:23-33).  Beersheba marked the southern limit of the promised land (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 1 Kings 4:25).  Jacob would now be moving into the unfamiliar wilderness of Shur that stretched 120 miles, 190 km, to the borders of Egypt.  We can imagine he was apprehensive.  And would he be welcomed in Egypt?

 46:2-3   That night God spoke to Israel, calling him by his old name Jacob.   God identified himself as the God of Jacob’s father Isaac.   He was not to be afraid of going down into Egypt, because God intended to make his descendants into a great nation in that land.  God seems to be delivering a particularly important message when he calls a person by name twice (22:11; 1 Samuel 3:4; Acts 9:4).

 46:4   God himself would go with him, and his body would be brought back for burial in the family mausoleum in the cave of Machpelah where his grandfather Abraham was buried (49:29-31; 50:13).  Joseph would be with him as he died (49:33-50:1).

 46:5-7   So the procession of wagons carrying Joseph, the grandchildren,  and the women, moved a slow two week journey (with the sheep) across the wilderness to the borders of Egypt.


GENESIS 46:8-27    (The names of Jacob’s children and grandchildren are listed)

 46:8-9   Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn (29:31-32).  He was by now over 60 years old (29:20; 47:9).  He had four sons.

 46:10-12    Simeon was the second son by Leah (29:33), and he had six sons.     Then came  Levi with three sons (29:34).   And he was followed by Judah (29:35) who had five sons, two of whom had died in Canaan (38:7-10).

 46:13-15   Leah’s fifth son was Issachar (30:17) who had four sons.  And her sixth son was Zebulun (30:19-20) who had three sons.   Leah also had a daughter named Dinah (30:21).   There were also six  female grandchildren for a total of 32 children and grandchildren in addition to Leah to make up a family grouping 33 persons..

 46:16-18   Leah also had two sons born to her maid Zilpah (30:9-13).  Gad had seven sons, and Asher had four sons and a daughter.   The oldest of these sons was Beriah who had three sons.  That gave a total of 16 in this family grouping.  Zilpah was a concubine, and bore the children for her mistress, so she was not counted in this listing.

46:19-22 When they arrived in Egypt Rachel’s son Benjamin had ten sons with him.  And Joseph had two sons who were born in Egypt.  Rachel herself had died in Canaan (35:19) and Joseph’s Egyptian wife was not counted since she had not come in with Jacob’s family.   That meant that Rachel’s family grouping totaled 14 persons. 

 46:23-25   Rachel also had two sons born to her maid Bilhah.  Dan had one son, and Naphtali had four sons.    As in the case of Zilpah (46:16-18), Bilhah bore her five children for her mistress, so she was not counted as part of the family grouping of seven persons. 

 46:26-27   By adding 33,  plus 16, plus 14, plus 7, seventy persons were counted as coming in with Jacob (46:27).  It is not clear how we arrive at the figure of 66 persons who were Jacob’s own blood offspring.  Rebekah, Rachel and Leah had died in Canaan (35:10; 49:31).   It seems that for this calculation the wives of Reuben, Simeon, Levi (Tamar was counted as Judah’s wife, 38:1-7, 26-30), Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, were also excluded, but perhaps some daughters of the family were included).


GENESIS 46:28-34    (Israel and his family arrive in the area of Goshen)

 46:28-29   Israel (using his authoritative name) sent Judah ahead of the caravan to warn Joseph of his arrival.   Joseph came in his official chariot to meet his father, and wept for a long time as he hugged him (see 43:30; 45:1-2).

 46:30   Israel said that, having seen Joseph in the flesh, he was now ready to die.  In actual fact he was then 130 years old, and he lived on to the age of 147 (47:9, 28).

 46:31-34   Joseph said he must now go and announce the arrival to Pharaoh.    He would tell Pharaoh that his family were shepherds and herdsmen.   So when Pharaoh called them and asked for their occupation, they should admit that they had always been keepers of livestock.   Pure-bred Egyptians engaged in agriculture based on the annual flooding of the Nile.   They did not engage in shepherding sheep or cattle.   That was only done by foreigners in Goshen to the east of the Nile Delta.  Shepherds and herdsmen were an abomination to the Egyptians (for the Egyptian caste system see 43:32).

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