God's promises to Jacob. (1-4) Jacob and his family go to Egypt. (5-27) Joseph meets his father and his brethren. (28-34)
Verses 1-4 Even as to those events and undertakings which appear most joyful, we should seek counsel, assistance, and a blessing from the Lord. Attending on his ordinances, and receiving the pledges of his covenant love, we expect his presence, and that peace which it confers. In all removals we should be reminded of our removal out of this world. Nothing can encourage us to fear no evil when passing through the valley of the shadow of death, but the presence of Christ.
Verses 5-27 We have here a particular account of Jacob's family. Though the fulfilling of promises is always sure, yet it is often slow. It was now 215 years since God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation, ch. 12:2 ; yet that branch of his seed, to which the promise was made sure, had only increased to seventy, of whom this particular account is kept, to show the power of God in making these seventy become a vast multitude.
Verses 28-34 It was justice to Pharaoh to let him know that such a family was come to settle in his dominions. If others put confidence in us, we must not be so base as to abuse it by imposing upon them. But how shall Joseph dispose of his brethren? Time was, when they were contriving to be rid of him; now he is contriving to settle them to their advantage; this is rendering good for evil. He would have them live by themselves, in the land of Goshen, which lay nearest to Canaan. Shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians. Yet Joseph would have them not ashamed to own this as their occupation before Pharaoh. He might have procured places for them at court or in the army. But such preferments would have exposed them to the envy of the Egyptians, and might have tempted them to forget Canaan and the promise made unto their fathers. An honest calling is no disgrace, nor ought we to account it so, but rather reckon it a shame to be idle, or to have nothing to do. It is generally best for people to abide in the callings they have been bred to and used to. Whatever employment and condition God in his providence has allotted for us, let us suit ourselves to it, satisfy ourselves with it, and not mind high things. It is better to be the credit of a mean post, than the shame of a high one. If we wish to destroy our souls, or the souls of our children, then let us seek for ourselves, and for them, great things; but if not, it becomes us, having food and raiment, therewith to be content.
Genesis 46:1-4 . SACRIFICE AT BEER-SHEBA.
1. Israel took his journey with all that he had--that is, his household; for in compliance with Pharaoh's recommendation, he left his heavy furniture behind. In contemplating a step so important as that of leaving Canaan, which at his time of life he might never revisit, so pious a patriarch would ask the guidance and counsel of God. With all his anxiety to see Joseph, he would rather have died in Canaan without that highest of earthly gratifications than leave it without the consciousness of carrying the divine blessing along with him.
came to Beer-sheba--That place, which was in his direct route to Egypt, had been a favorite encampment of Abraham ( Genesis 21:33 ) and Isaac ( Genesis 26:25 ), and was memorable for their experience of the divine goodness; and Jacob seems to have deferred his public devotions till he had reached a spot so consecrated by covenant to his own God and the God of his fathers.
2. God spake unto Israel--Here is a virtual renewal of the covenant and an assurance of its blessings. Moreover, here is an answer on the chief subject of Jacob's prayer and a removal of any doubt as to the course he was meditating. At first the prospect of paying a personal visit to Joseph had been viewed with unmingled joy. But, on calmer consideration, many difficulties appeared to lie in the way. He may have remembered the prophecy to Abraham that his posterity was to be afflicted in Egypt and also that his father had been expressly told not to go [ Genesis 15:13 , 26:2 ]; he may have feared the contamination of idolatry to his family and their forgetfulness of the land of promise. These doubts were removed by the answer of the oracle, and an assurance given him of great and increasing prosperity.
3. I will there make of thee a great nation--How truly this promise was fulfilled, appears in the fact that the seventy souls who went down into Egypt increased ( Exodus 1:5-7 ), in the space of two hundred fifteen years, to one hundred eighty thousand.
4. I will also surely bring thee up [again]--As Jacob could not expect to live till the former promise was realized, he must have seen that the latter was to be accomplished only to his posterity. To himself it was literally verified in the removal of his remains to Canaan; but, in the large and liberal sense of the words, it was made good only on the establishment of Israel in the land of promise.
Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes--shall perform the last office of filial piety; and this implied that he should henceforth enjoy, without interruption, the society of that favorite son.
Genesis 46:5-27 . IMMIGRATION TO EGYPT.
5. And Jacob rose up from Beer-sheba--to cross the border and settle in Egypt. However refreshed and invigorated in spirit by the religious services at Beer-sheba, he was now borne down by the infirmities of advanced age; and, therefore, his sons undertook all the trouble and toil of the arrangements, while the enfeebled old patriarch, with the wives and children, was conveyed by slow and leisurely stages in the Egyptian vehicles sent for their accommodation.
6. goods, which they had gotten in the land--not furniture, but substance--precious things.
7. daughters--As Dinah was his only daughter, this must mean daughters-in-law.
all his seed brought he with him--Though disabled by age from active superintendence, yet, as the venerable sheik of the tribe, he was looked upon as their common head and consulted in every step.
8-27. all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten--Strictly speaking, there were only sixty-six went to Egypt; but to these add Joseph and his two sons, and Jacob the head of the clan, and the whole number amounts to seventy. In the speech of Stephen ( Acts 7:14 ) the number is stated to be seventy-five; but as that estimate includes five sons of Ephraim and Manasseh ( 1 Chronicles 7:14-20 ), born in Egypt, the two accounts coincide.
Genesis 46:28-34 . ARRIVAL TO EGYPT.
28. he sent Judah before him unto Joseph--This precautionary measure was obviously proper for apprising the king of the entrance of so large a company within his territories; moreover, it was necessary in order to receive instruction from Joseph as to the locale of their future settlement.
29, 30. Joseph made ready his chariot--The difference between chariot and wagon was not only in the lighter and more elegant construction of the former, but in the one being drawn by horses and the other by oxen. Being a public man in Egypt, Joseph was required to appear everywhere in an equipage suitable to his dignity; and, therefore, it was not owing either to pride or ostentatious parade that he drove his carriage, while his father's family were accommodated only in rude and humble wagons.
presented himself unto him--in an attitude of filial reverence (compare Exodus 22:17 ). The interview was a most affecting one--the happiness of the delighted father was now at its height; and life having no higher charms, he could, in the very spirit of the aged Simeon, have departed in peace [ Luke 2:25 Luke 2:29 ].
31-34. Joseph said, . . . I will go up, and show Pharaoh--It was a tribute of respect due to the king to inform him of their arrival. And the instructions which he gave them were worthy of his character alike as an affectionate brother and a religious man.