Jacob: 22. Israel and His Sons Go Down Into Egypt

Genesis 46‑47  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Parental affection answered in Jacob, both when he believed not for joy fainting at the news that Joseph was alive and governor over all the land of Egypt, and reviving when he said “It is enough: Joseph my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die.”
But it was not quite enough. Divine goodness wrought in his soul when he reached the southern limit of the land. “And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-Sheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here [am] I. And he said, I [am] God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes” (Gen. 46:1-41And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. 2And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. 3And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: 4I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes. (Genesis 46:1‑4));
What grace on God's part! Abram had gone down into Egypt through the pressure of famine, and sadly failed there, whatever riches he gained. Isaac too, when famine in the land might have drawn him off like his father, was expressly forbidden to go thither and enjoined to dwell in the land under the assurance of His blessing. Israel needed and had God bidding him not to fear going down there, where He would make of him a great nation, with special comfort nearer still to his heart.
The rest of the chapter from ver. 5 presents the chosen family in Pharaoh's wagons with their cattle and goods, “Jacob and all his seed with him: his sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.” In the list that follows Joseph's sons are given in their due place according to Hebrew usage. “And he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to direct his face to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself to him; and he 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 thy face, because thou [art] yet alive” (vers. 28-30). The close of the chapter gives Joseph telling his brethren what he proposed to say to Pharaoh, that they might have Goshen to dwell in.
In chapter 47 we have them presented to Pharaoh accordingly; and the still more interesting interview of Jacob with the king. “And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, How old [art] thou? And Jacob said to Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage [are] a hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh” (vers. 7-10).
How wondrous the grace of God toward Jacob! It was his to bless Pharaoh. Abram deceived the Pharaoh of his day and for Sarai's sake had “sheep and oxen and he-asses and men-servants and maidservants, and she-asses and camels “; and he again deceived Abimelech similarly; as did Isaac at a later day in like forgetfulness of his Almighty protector. Not so the “worm Jacob.” In weakness was he made strong, and enabled to bear himself with dignity before the greatest man on the earth. Not a favor did he ask, when, we may be sure, he might have had anything. He blessed Pharaoh when he went in, and before he came out. “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” Yet there was in this neither vanity nor pride, but a soul that had come to know divine goodness; and then a better thing was his portion than the world could confer. Besides there was treasure enough in God for Pharaoh; so that his heart overflowed on the king's behalf.
As to Joseph's administration of which the body of the chapter (11-26) treats, this is not the subject in hand. But the latter part tells us of Jacob's living in the land of Egypt seventeen years more; and the time drew nigh for Israel to die. So he called Joseph; and with the same solemnity as Abraham employed in sending Eliezer for Isaac's bride, he made Joseph not only promise but swear to carry his body out of Egypt and bury it in the burial-place of his fathers. Joseph's splendor did not in the least wean his heart from the land of promise. There would he be laid, as his spirit waited for the King of glory and the kingdom.