Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Gen. 46 - At Beer-sheba, God appears to Jacob in a vision and for the last time (at night) repeats the promise of making him a great nation, even though there will be a sojourn in Egypt. God had previously forbidden Isaac from going down into Egypt during a famine (26:1-2) as he had forbidden him to go back to Haran, but Jacob is permitted these journeys away from the land of Canaan. All his offspring in the migration are listed. The total number of offspring Jacob has in Egypt then is 70. He tells them to tell Pharaoh that they are keepers of livestock—shepherds were “abhorrent” to Egyptians (46:34). The Hyksos were “shepherd kings” who ruled Egypt in the mid-2nd millennium until they were driven out – must have left a bad memory.
Gen. 47 - Joseph presents five of his brothers to Pharaoh, and he agrees to let them settle in Goshen. The rest of the chapter is taken up with how Joseph manages the years of famine, how he takes first money, then livestock, then their “bodies” and their lands. So the people are reduced to slavery [or serfdom] all over Egypt—all but the priests who had a fixed allowance from the Pharaoh. Joseph gives the farmers seed, and in return a fifth of all the harvest goes to Pharaoh.
Jacob lives 17 years in Egypt and makes Joseph promise to return his body to the burial place he has in Canaan.
Gen. 48 - Jacob tells Joseph of the promise God made to him at Luz (another word for Bethel in Canaan) and tells him too that Manassas and Ephraim will be fitted into the scheme along with his own children. When the two boys come for a blessing from Jacob, like his father before him, cannot see them very well. Again there is confusion over who the first born of these two is—and again the wrong one, the younger, receives the blessing. But apparently it is not a mistake. Jacob means to put Ephraim first. Joseph’s portion is to be Shechem, the land Jacob won from the Amorites.
I am especially moved by Jacob/Israel’s words of blessing to Joseph:
The God in whose ways my fathers . . . walked,
The God who has been my shepherd from my birth to this day –
The Angel who has redeemed me from all harm – Bless the lads.
These are exactly the ways I have experienced God in my life –
Gen. 49 - All Jacob’s sons are gathered now and he prophesies over them.
Jacob dies after instructing his sons to return his body to the cave in the field of Machpelah where Abraham, Sarah and Rebecca and Leah are all buried.
Gen. 50 -Jacob is embalmed over a period of 40 days and he is mourned for 70 days in Egypt. Joseph asks permission to go to bury Jacob and is given it. Many Egyptian dignitaries go with him as well as his brothers and his father’s household. They hold a memorial service beyond the Jordan even though they return to bury him at Hebron. Then they return to Egypt. With their father dead, the brothers again become fearful that Joseph will treat them harshly. So, lying to him, they tell him that before the father’s death, he instructed them to beg Joseph (in the father’s name) to forgive them all. Again Joseph cries and repeats to his brothers what he has said—that all they did was God’s plan. Then we are told that Joseph lived 110 years. He makes them promise that when God leads them all out of Egypt, his bones will be taken as well.
So far we have had Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, et al bringing forward their faith or perhaps more accurately their memory of the original promise to Abraham; but the only land they really own in the promised land is a burial site in Hebron.