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Genesis 46

Jacob Goes to Egypt (46:1–34)

5–7 After the vision, Jacob and his family continued on their journey to Egypt. Contrary to Pharaoh’s advice (Genesis 45:20), they brought with them their possessions and also their livestock.

8–27 In this section we are given the names of Jacob’s sons and grandsons who made the journey to Egypt. We are told that sixty-six direct descendants of Jacob made the journey131 (verse 26). If one adds Jacob himself and Joseph and his two sons born in Egypt, the total number of Jacob’s family that settled in Egypt (excluding daughters-in-law) comes to seventy persons132 (verse 27). Seventy seems like a very small number compared with God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5; Deuteronomy 10:22). But God has no problem multiplying numbers. No matter how small our number, no matter how tiny our offering, God will multiply it (Isaiah 60:22). Indeed, there is only one number God can’t multiply: zero.133

28–30 A joyful reunion took place in Goshen between Joseph and his father Jacob. The great sorrow Jacob had endured for so many years had ended, and now he felt ready to die. The Lord had said to him: “Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (verse 4)—a promise to Jacob that he would indeed be able to die in peace.

31–34 The Egyptians detested shepherds (verse 34); the highly civilized Egyptians preferred not to mix with rustic country folk. This contempt on the part of the Egyptians would work to the advantage of Jacob’s family, because once it was known they were shepherds they would be left to themselves in the countryside around Goshen, where they could prosper and multiply without being exposed to the idolatry of Egypt.

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