Genesis 45:9-15, “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: ‘God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.
And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.’
Then Joseph fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.”
What a scene! After instructing his brothers to hurry home in order to bring their father Jacob up to speed on all the latest developments (Joseph was alive and “God had made him lord of all Egypt”), knowing the famine would last another five years, Joseph extends the invitation for the entire family to leave Canaan, come to Egypt, and “dwell in the land of Goshen.”
What a phrase… “After that his brothers talked with him!” Oh to have been a fly on the wall for that extended conversation! What did they talk about? I’m sure Joseph filled them in on the last 20 years of his life: Potiphar’s home, that woman, his time in the prison, the Butler and Baker, Pharaoh’s dream, how he become the most powerful man in the land…
I’m sure they told him about Jacob and how things were going at home. They told him about their wives and kids. Reuben probably told Joseph his plan had been to come back and free him from the pit. Benjamin told him about his life. Judah tells Joseph about Tamar.
Genesis 45:16-28, “Now the report of it was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, ‘Joseph’s brothers have come.’ So it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and depart; go to the land of Canaan. Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land.
Now you are commanded - do this: Take carts out of the land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father and come. Also do not be concerned about your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’
Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. He gave to all of them, to each man, changes of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments.
And Joseph sent to his father these things: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for his father for the journey. So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them, ‘See that you do not become troubled along the way.’
Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, ‘Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them.
But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. Then Israel said, ‘It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’”
Upon hearing the news that “Joseph was still alive” we’re told “Jacob’s heart stood still!” For the last 20 years this old man has grieved the loss of his son. Jacob loved Joseph and I’m sure not a moment went by when he didn’t think about the day he sent him to go check on his brothers. How he beat himself up over that decision. It was his fault. To loose a child!
And yet, now that he’s received word Joseph was not dead but was alive and doing well in Egypt, Jacob’s heart skips a beat. Could it really be true? At first we’re told “Jacob did not believe them,” but then after gaining more information his excitement grew into wonder. His son was not dead, but was alive! Jacob jumps at the chance to see Joseph again.
Genesis 46:1-4, “So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’
So He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.’”
Though Jacob is determined to head to Egypt so that he can see his son Joseph, the old man does something very wise. Before leaving the Promised Land, Jacob “comes to Beersheba and offers sacrifices to God.” It would seem based on the conversation with the Lord that follows Jacob had several reasonable fears about leaving Canaan.
First, don’t forget, throughout the Genesis record, no good ever came when God’s people left the Land of Promise to head down to Egypt. In actuality, things turned out so badly for Abraham back in Genesis 12 that later on in Genesis 26 God specifically forbid his son Isaac from ever traveling to Egypt!
Yes, there is no doubt with every fiber of his being Jacob deeply desired to go see his son Joseph, but he wisely feared the repercussions taking such a journey may have if God was not ok with it. Before making this move, Jacob chooses to consult with the Lord.
Beyond his reasonable fear of walking in disobedience, I also think Jacob possessed an additional concern about taking his entire family to Egypt… Keep in mind, Jacob knew God had given his grandfather an ominous prophecy back in Genesis 15:13 when the Lord told Abraham that a day would come when his descendants would “be strangers in a land that was not theirs, and would serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.”
And yet, in spite of these concerns, God sanctions the journey! How Jacob’s heart must have leaped when the Lord tells him “do not fear going down to Egypt!” Not only was it ok for Jacob to take his family south - even calming his angst that he might not be fit enough to survive such a trip, but God makes three additional promises to address his fears:
One: God says, “I will go down with you to Egypt.” This was the Lord’s way of telling Jacob He had His blessing. Two: He says, “I will make you a great nation there.” Not only was this journey ok with God, but the reality is that this was part of His plan. And Three: The Lord says, “I will surely bring you up again.” Here we find God reassuring Jacob that this would only be a temporary stay in Egypt (ironically “temporary” would translate to 400 years).
Before we continue there is a point of application from Jacob’s example in our text we shouldn’t overlook. Friend, when facing the opportunity to move your home from one place to another it’s critically important you first seek the Lord’s blessing. Even though on the surface everything says “GO!” and you can’t imagine a scenario where it wouldn’t be ok with God, like Jacob, there is wisdom in taking time to come before the Lord anyway.
You see Jacob needed an assurance from God that moving to Egypt was not only the best thing for his life, but that it was best for his family. Sadly, so many pick up and move without ever really considering the ramifications uprooting their children from their school, network of friends, and church will have in the long run. Please seek the Lord first.
Genesis 46:5-25, “Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. His sons and his sons’ sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt. Now these were the names of the children of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt…”
As we’ve done with other genealogies, I’m not going to read through this list of names other than to point out that in verses 9-15 we’re provided a list of Jacob’s kin descending from the sons born to him by his wife Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
In verses 16-18 we have a record of the families of his two sons that came from Zilpah (Leah’s maid): Gad and Asher. In verses 19-22 we’re given the descendants of Jacob’s two sons that came from his beloved wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. And then finally in verses 23-25 we find the families of his sons via Bilhah (Rachel’s maid): Dan and Naphtali.
Genesis 46:26-30, “All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were 62 persons in all. And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were 70. Then Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out before him the way to Goshen. And they came to the land of Goshen.
So Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.’”
As the family of Jacob is entering Egypt being led by Judah to “the land of Goshen” just as they’d been originally instructed, word reaches Joseph. Keep in mind it’s likely been a couple of months since Joseph had sent his brothers back to Canaan (it was a 250 mile trek), and I’m sure his heart was filled with a deep longing to see his father again!
Imagine the anticipation as “Joseph made ready his chariot!” He’s completely giddy with excitement. This is the day he’s dreamed of for so many years. What will his father say? How will he break the ice? No doubt the closer he got to Goshen the more nervous he became.
I love this phrase “Joseph presented himself to him.” In the Hebrew the scene this phrase describes is powerful. First, Joseph arrived to the camp in such a public way that he could be seen by Jacob - Jacob knows the man approaching was his son. Then, as he reaches Jacob, Joseph literally bows himself or prostrates himself to the ground in front of his father.
Here’s a man that all of the nation bows before anytime they see his chariot ride through the streets; and yet, Joseph unmount and comes to bow before his dad! In doing this it’s as though Joseph is presenting himself as a servant who’s completed the task he’d been commissioned. Remember, so many years earlier, Jacob had sent Joseph to check in on his brothers. I believe the way Joseph finally returns meant to communicate a message.
“Dad, you sent me to check on my brothers, but God sent me to save them! My mission is accomplished. Did I do good? Are you proud of me? Am I pleasing to you?” The emotions can’t be contained. They flow out! We’re told Joseph “wept on Jacob’s neck a good while.”
This phrase “now let me die” indicated Jacob was experiencing a final peace knowing that Joseph was “still alive” and his family finally whole. Though by this point Jacob is 130 years old, the irony of his statement is that he’ll end up living another 17 years in Egypt!
Genesis 46:31-34, “Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds, and all that they have.’
So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.’”
While Pharaoh had given Joseph permission to bring his family to Egypt to weather the famine, and Joseph had commanded them to immediately go to the “land of Goshen” upon their arrival, Pharaoh would still need to personally sanction the final arrangement.
As such, knowing Pharaoh would want to speak with these men himself and knowing that the Egyptians held a deep-seeded distain for shepherds (they were viewed as being the lowest cast of people), Joseph decides to coach them up on what they should say.
It’s not an accident that Joseph was determined for his family to settle specifically in the “land of Goshen.” Aside from Goshen being part of the Nile delta - making it perfect for grazing cattle, it’s likely Goshen’s geographical location played an equal part in his decision.
You see the “land of Goshen” was located in the northern part of Egypt east of the Nile River. It was an area strategically separated from the rest of Egypt proper. Because Joseph knew his family was likely to be in Egypt for approximately 400 years as God had told Abraham, he intentionally settles them into a place where they could remain ethnically separate.
Not only would this allow the children of Israel to grow into an independent nation, but it would safeguard God’s people from the influences of Egyptian idolatry and culture. In a sense they would be in the world, but would not become of the world - within but separate.
Genesis 47:1-6, “Then Joseph went and told Pharaoh, and said, ‘My father and my brothers, their flocks and their herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; and indeed they are in the land of Goshen.’ And Joseph took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’
And they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds, both we and also our fathers.’ And they said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to dwell in the land, because your servants have no pasture for their flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.’
Then Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.’”
Consistent with this picture of Joseph being a type of Jesus, it should be pointed out that the only reason these men end up being accepted by Pharaoh and receive his incredible blessings (his grace) was because Joseph had already been accepted by him.
The blessings they were being bestowed came on account of a work Joseph had already completed. They hadn't earned squat! They were blessed on account of Joseph and not themselves. They received the grace of Pharaoh because of a work of Joseph!
How amazing that in Jesus Christ you find the exact same thing! Not only has Jesus saved you from sin and death, but it’s only because you’re part of His family that you’re now afforded the incredible benefits He earned! God’s grace is given to you through Jesus!
Christian, the Bible says - because you’ve been accepted by God through Jesus you've been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus!” (Ephesians 1:3) Additionally, how fascinating it is that Jesus, like Joseph, is the only Mediator that could yield such a dynamic in your life! In 1 Timothy 2:5 the Apostle Paul also writes, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
Genesis 47:7-10, “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How old are you?’ And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The days of the years of my pilgrimage are 130 years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.’ So Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.”
Back in Genesis 45:8, after his initial unveiling, Joseph makes an interesting comment. He says, “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”
What makes this unique phrase “a father to Pharaoh” so compelling is that it communicates a reality that, on account of all that had happened, Joseph had come to occupy a significant place (not just in Pharaoh’s professional life), but in his personal life.
If you consider that there is no doubt Joseph witnessed to his Egyptian servant (we saw this in the exchange he had with Joseph’s brothers back in Genesis 44), I don’t find it terribly outlandish to believe Joseph also shared his faith with Pharaoh who also became a believer! This likely explains why Joseph wanted to introduced him to his father.
Adding to this idea, notice that twice in this exchange “Jacob blessed Pharaoh.” In ancient cultures it was always customary that the greater bless the lesser. By allowing Jacob to bless him, Pharaoh is acknowledging a unique position Jacob, as a Patriarch, occupied.
In response to Pharaoh’s question concerning his age Jacob answers by making a powerful summation of his life… He says, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are 130 years.” In much the same way as Abraham and his father Isaac, Jacob had come to see this world as not being his home. Jacob was nothing more than a “pilgrim” - a “sojourner” passing through!
And while that’s profound in and of itself, in making such a summation that his entire life has been a pilgrimage, Jacob acknowledges the sustaining power of God’s grace. He says, “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life.” Jacob is literally saying his journey has been filled with more missteps than triumphs. A reality we can all attest too!
How thankful we should all be that this pilgrimage is one of faith and not works. While we may be running a race, it is Jesus who will carry us across the finish line!
Genesis 47:11-12, “And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families.”
This reference of Goshen being “in the land of Rameses” was likely Moses making a present day reference of the location. Beyond this, what is recorded over the next several verses intends to serve two purposes: One, it’ll explain how very severe this famine ended up being, and two, it will explain how under Joseph’s leadership Egypt grew into a superpower.
Genesis 47:13-22, “Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.’ Then Joseph said, ‘Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.’
So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year.
When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, ‘We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.’
Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands.”
As a result of Joseph’s preparation and the incredible amount of grain they had amassed - coupled with the severity of the famine, over these seven years Pharaoh ends up possessing all the money and cattle, in addition to owning all of the land. Pharaoh is not only incredibly powerful as a result, but will emerge from the famine completely sovereign over Egypt.
Genesis 47:23-27, “Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.’
So they said, ‘You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.’ And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh’s. So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.”
There is no doubt Joseph is one sharp, shrewd cookie. Knowing they were in the 6th year of the famine (meaning a harvest was finally coming), Joseph creates a new public order - a New Deal for Egypt. Though Pharaoh owned all the land, Joseph suggests that the people work the land for a flat tax of 20% on all production. This would allow the Egyptians to retain the remaining 4/5th portion to do with however they pleased.
While all of this is going on in Egypt proper, Moses tells us “Israel” benefited greatly under their arrangement with Pharaoh. Not only does it appear their wealth grew, but we’re told this family of 70 began to “multiply exceedingly.” Note: 400 years later, during the Exodus, Israel would number 600,000 men bringing the total population of Israel into the millions. Note: Verse 27 is the first mention of “Israel” referring to a group and not a specific person.
In closing… I want to draw an interesting parallel between the Egyptian people and the children of Israel and how they related to both Joseph and Pharaoh. As it pertained to the family of Israel we find a group of people who, in response to the grace demonstrated by Joseph, gladly and freely served Pharaoh in Goshen. As a result, we’re told they prospered.
And yet, the same cannot be said of the Egyptians… Notice in verses 23-24, though Pharaoh owns all, Joseph graciously gives the people seed to sow in the land - suggesting the natural response be a 1/5th return back to Pharaoh. And yet, following their retort in verse 25 (“you have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants”), Joseph turns his initial suggestion into “a law over the land.”
While it’s clear both groups had been saved by Joseph, ironically each ended up having a very different relationship with he and Pharaoh. The Egyptians sought to earn the favor of Joseph (his grace) by pledging to serve Pharaoh. While the Israelites simply enjoyed the favor of Joseph (his grace) and in turn served Pharaoh freely. The results: one group ends up prospering while the other group finds themselves under the obligation of law.
Understand, all human attempts to earn Jesus’ favor through service necessitate law. Law is the only way to establish the success or failure of one’s works. Sadly, these Egyptians created their own bondage because they were unwilling to receive Joseph’s favor and instead preferred to earn it by serving Pharaoh. So many Christians do the same with Jesus!
And yet, if Jesus’ favor is not something you’re trying to earn (like the Israelites it was given to you on account of His work and humbly received) you are now set free to serve God as a natural manifestation (or a response) of His goodness! In such a dynamic there’s no need for law and the bondage of expectations that results, because your efforts matter not!
Christian, if you’re seeking Jesus’ favor through your service to God, Jesus will use the law to demonstrate your insufficiency. With this in mind, because His favor must be received and can never be earned, such efforts will prove to be vain and yield nothing but bondage!
You see the Israelites grew and prospered in Egypt for one simple reason… Unlike the Egyptians, their service to Pharaoh was not a mechanism by which they were seeking to earn Joseph’s favor, but was instead a natural response to the favor they’d already received in Joseph. What a picture of Jesus and the way His grace really does change everything!
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