Author of Grace, change my heart that I might seek You, sharpen my mind that I might know You, amplify my ears that I might hear You.
Read Genesis 46:1–7, 28–34
Jacob Goes to Egypt
46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”
5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.
28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father[a] and wept for a long time.
30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”
31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”
- Genesis 46:29 Hebrew around him
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIn which contexts do you find it most difficult to live distinctively as a Christian?
Egyptian carts arriving at Jacob’s tent must have seemed like a fleet of chauffeured limousines (5)! Into these exotic vehicles Jacob crammed his family and possessions, with livestock alongside. For him, livestock was a measure of wealth – Jacob’s whole life had been spent in accumulating as many sheep and goats as possible (6).
Once in Egypt, he is greeted by Joseph, riding a chariot (29), equivalent to a state-of-the-art sports car. There is joy in the reunion and Jacob is finally at peace (30). But Joseph brings bad news: shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians (34) – Jacob’s livestock simply serves to prove his social inferiority. Like a country yokel arriving in the big city, Jacob must have felt out of place. Culturally, Joseph had been no different from his father when he first arrived in Egypt, but he had managed to navigate through an alien society and still hold on to God’s unique promise to his nation (3).
It is significant that in this passage the name Israel is again used for Jacob. This is the story of two nations and the distinctiveness of Israel as God’s flock (Psalm 95:7). In every age, the people of God must learn how to live in the world while looking for their true home (Hebrews 11:10).
Reflect on Jesus’ prayer in John 17:14–18. How might He be interceding for you right now?
Blessed Lord, I pray today for families I know to be in trouble. I lift them up by name. May Your hand of healing and restoration be upon them.
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