The lesson continues with Jacob and his households taking all they had and migrating into Egypt. The narrative records how God spoke to Jacob and the naming of Jacob’s descendants. Here, the passage teaches us a lesson about relying on God’s guidance in our daily life and a lesson about keeping the promise of God throughout generations.
Did You Know...?
- Beersheba (46:1) is about 25 miles to Hebron. From Beersheba, the desert reigns until one reaches Egypt.
In addition, the name Beersheba can be literally translated as “a well of oath” in Greek-Septuagint.
- “Offered sacrifices” (46:1) in Hebrew is distinguished from burnt offering (Gen 8:20, 22:2). While in burnt offering, all parts of the sacrificial animal will be burnt on the altar as a sweet aroma to the LORD (Lev 1:6-9); in offered sacrifices “of a peace offering,” the meat will be eaten the same day one offers it (Lev 19:5-6).
- “Here I am” (46:2): Apart from Jacob’s example, the Scriptures also mention similar events of the calling and responding between God and His servants, such as to Abraham (Gen 22:1, 11), to Moses (Ex 3:4), and to Samuel (1 Sam 3:4, 8).
- Visions (46:2): The word “visions” can be literally translated into several meanings in Hebrew. First, it is used to refer to mirrors (Ex 38:8). Second, it refers to the God-given appearance that can be seen (Ezek 43:3; Dan 10:5-8). Third, it refers to the message of God spoken in a dream or visions of the night (Num 12:6;
1 Sam 3:10-15).
- “I will…surely bring you up” (46:4): The phrase can be literally translated as “I will exalt you exceedingly” in Hebrew.
- “Joseph will put his hand on your eyes” (46:4): Jewish practice to the present day requires the eldest son or nearest relative to gently close the eyes of the deceased.
- Hanoch (46:9): The name in Hebrew is similar to the name of Cain’s firstborn (Gen 4:17) and the name of Jared’s son, the descendant of Seth (Gen 5:19). Henoch can be literally translated in Hebrew as “to train up” or “to dedicate.”
- Pallu (46:9) can be literally translated as “to do something wonderful” in Hebrew.
- Hezron (46:9): In Hebrew, the name can be translated literally as “to narrow,” “to stretch” or “to form a stalk.”
- Carmi (46:9) literally means “vineyard” in Hebrew.
- Jemuel (46:10) can be translated literally in Hebrew as “the day of God.” In addition, the name is listed as Nemuel according to the book of Numbers 26:12 and the book of
- Jamin (46:10): The name literally can be translated as “right side” or “regarded highly” in Hebrew.
- Ohad (46:10) literally means “to be united” in Hebrew.
- Jachin (46:10): In Hebrew, the name literally can be translated as “to make ready,” “to erect” or “to make firm.” Furthermore, the name is known as “Jarib” in the book of
- Zohar (46:10): According to the book of Numbers 26:13 and the book of
, the name is replaced as Zerah. Both names can literally be translated in Hebrew as “to be bright,” “to shine,” “to make clear” or “to be white.”
- Shaul (46:10) can be literally translated as “to claim,” “to demand” or “to interrogate” in Hebrew.
- Gershon (46:11) in Hebrew can be translated literally as “to toss up” or “to be churning.”
- Kohath (46:11) literally can be translated as “assembly” or “to align oneself” in Hebrew.
- Merari (46:11): The name in Hebrew literally means “to be bitter” or “to be desperate.”
- Er (46:12) literally in Hebrew means “to protect.”
- Onan (46:12) can be literally translated as “mighty” or “to be strong” in Hebrew.
- Shelah (46:12): The name can be translated literally as “petition” or “request”in Hebrew.
- Perez (46:12) can be literally translated in Hebrew as “to make a breach” or “to break through.”
- Hamul (46:12) literally in Hebrew means “to spare” or “to treat with compassion.”
- Tola (46:13) in Hebrew literally means “worm,” “scarlet” or “corroded.”
- Puvah (46:13) is also known as “Puah” in the book of
. Both names literally means “splendid” in Hebrew. Moreover, the book of Judges records a judge named “Tola the son of Puah…a man of Isaachar” (Judg 10:1).
- Job (46:13): The book of Numbers 26:24 and the book of
mention “Jashub” instead of Job. Jashub can literally be translated in Hebrew as “to turn back” or “return.”
- Shimron (46:13) can be translated in Hebrew as “watch over” or “guard.”
- Sered (46:14) literally means “to tremble” in Hebrew.
- Ehlon (46:14) in Hebrew, can be translated literally as “terebinth tree” or “mighty.”
- Jahleel (46:14) literally can be translated as “to adorn” or “God waits” in Hebrew.
- Ziphion (46:16): The name can be literally translated as “to keep watch” or “to examine” in Hebrew. In the book of Numbers 26:15, the name is known as “Zephon.”
- Haggi (46:16) literally means “festival” or “to walk in procession” in Hebrew.
- Shuni (46:16) in Hebrew, can be translated literally as “fortunate” or “to rest”.
- Ezbon (46:16): The book of Numbers 26:16 mentions Ozni instead of Ezbon.
- Eri (46:16) can literally be translated in Hebrew as “to awake” or “to stir.”
- Arodi (46:16): The name is known as Arod in the book of Numbers 26:17 and it can be literally translated as “to spread out” or “to extend” in Hebrew.
- Areli (46:16) literally means Hebrew as “altar of offerings” or “to light a fire.”
- Jimnah (46:17) can literally be translated in Hebrew as “to the right” or “to divide into parts.”
- Ishuah (46:17) in Hebrew, can literally be translated as “to be equal.”
- Isui (46:17) has a similar literal translation as “Ishuah” in Hebrew.
- Heber (46:17): The name can literally be translated as “to be coupled” or “to be joined together” in Hebrew.
- Malchiel (46:17) literally means “my king is [God]” in Hebrew.
- Belah (46:21) can literally be translated as “to report” or “to announce” in Hebrew.
- Becher (46:21) literally in Hebrew means “to bear first-fruits.”
46. Ashbel (46:21): The name can literally be translated “to stretch right out.”
- Gera (46:21) can literally be translated as “stranger” or ”to dwell as an alien” in Hebrew.
- Naaman (46:21) in Hebrew, literally means “delightful” or “to be pleasant.”
- Ehi (46:21): The name literally in Hebrew means “my brother.”
- Rosh (46:21) can literally be translated in Hebrew as “head” or chief.”
- Huppim (46:21): The book of Numbers 26:39 records the name as “Hupham” instead.
- Hushim (46:23): The name is known as “Shuham” in the book of Numbers 26:42 and it can also be literally translated as “one who makes haste” in Hebrew.
- Jahzeel (46:24) is also known as “Jahziel” in the book of
. The name can literally be translated as “to be divided by God” in Hebrew.
- Guni (46:24) literally means “my defender” in Hebrew.
- Jezer (46:24) can be translated literally in Hebrew as “to create” or “to fashion.”
- Shillem (46:24): The book of
records the name as “Shallum.” The name literally means “to make peace” in Hebrew.
- “Sixty-six persons in all” (46:26): The computation of “sixty-six” was obtained in accordance with the phrase “[those] who went to Egypt” (Gen 46:26). Thus, Er and Onan were omitted because they died in Canaan. In addition, Manasseh and Ephraim were not included because they were born in Egypt. Therefore, the calculation of “sixty-six persons” was as follow: Leah, 31 persons, added with Zilpah, 16 persons, and with Rachel, 12 persons, and with Bilhah, 7 persons.
- “Two persons” (46:27): The Greek-Septuagint literally translated the phrase as “nine persons.”
- “All the persons…were seventy” (46:27): The Scriptures often record seventy as a round number for a large group or family (Ex 24:1, 9; Judg 8:30, 12:14). The Greek-Septuagint translated the number literally as “seventy-five.” In the book of Acts 7:14, Stephen explained that all the households of Jacob were seventy-five people, adding the sixty-six persons of Gen 46:26 with the nine persons from the Septuagint.
- “And they came to the land of Goshen” (46:28): The Greek-Septuagint literally translated the mentioned phrase as “toward the city of heroes into the land of Rameses.”
- Shepherds (46:32) can literally be translated as “cattle rearers” or “cattle breeders” in Greek-Septuagint.
- “An abomination” (46:34): The Egyptian literature does not reveal a particular abhorrence of shepherds. Their antagonism is mostly an attitude of distrust and fear of nomadic peoples by settled urban dwellers.
But the ancient Greek-historian, Herodotus, affirms that shepherds were classified into one of the seven castes and thus, barred from entering a temple or contracting a marriage with any Egyptians. [ref]
What was the significance of Beersheba to Jacob? See Gen 26:23-25.
How was the event in Beersheba similar between Isaac’s experience and Jacob’s? See Gen 26:24.Hide Answer
Isaac’s experience at Beersheba was similar to Jacob’s. In Beersheba, the Lord appeared to Isaac and comforted him not to fear. In addition, the Lord assured Isaac that He was with him and that He would bless and multiply his descendants (Gen 26:24). Just as the Lord comforted Isaac, He also gave similar comforts to Jacob at Beersheba. The Lord told Jacob not to fear to go down to Egypt and He would make him a great nation there (Gen 46:3).
According to the visions of Jacob, what were the promises of God to him?Hide Answer
In the visions of the night, the Lord promised Jacob several things. First, God promised Jacob that He would make him a great nation in Egypt (Gen 46:2-3). Second, God would go down with Jacob to Egypt (Gen 46:4). Third, God would surely bring him up again (Gen 46:4). Fourth, Joseph would put his hand on Jacob’s eyes (Gen 46:4).
How did the promises of God serve as a comfort to Jacob’s current condition? Comfort of the first promise;Hide Answer
Previously in Gen 42:36-38, Jacob was feeling hopeless in thinking that he had already lost Joseph and Simeon, and that he might also lose Benjamin. Later in Gen 45, Benjamin was not made a slave, but returned home to Jacob. At the same time, Jacob heard that Joseph was alive. Along with the good news, Jacob now received visions from God, emphasizing His previous promise to him (Gen 28:14, 35:11). The Lord’s promise that He would make Jacob a great nation served not only to strengthen Jacob’s faith in God’s previous promise, but also to comfort his past hopelessness of losing his sons.
Comfort of the second promise;Hide Answer
For Jacob, the invitation of Joseph to Egypt raised a personal dilemma. On one hand, facing the severe famine in Canaan had proved to be difficult for Jacob and his family (Gen 42:1-2, 43:1-2). On the other hand, migrating to Egypt to live with Joseph meant that Jacob had to go against the beliefs of his forefathers—the warning not to go down to Egypt in the time of Isaac (Gen 26:2) and the promise that Canaan was the land of inheritance in the time of Abraham (Gen 17:8). But the words of promise from the Lord in Gen 46:4 erased the dilemma of Jacob. Through the promise that “[God would] also surely bring [him] up again,” Jacob now could confidently go to Egypt, knowing that the Lord had His plan of making Jacob “a great nation there” through his migration to Egypt.
Comfort of the third promise;Hide Answer
In his life, Jacob felt that “all [those] things [were] against [him]” (Gen 42:36). Beginning with the incident of Simeon and Levi which caused trouble for Jacob and caused Jacob’s name to be obnoxious among the Canaanites (Gen 34:30) to the news of the death of Joseph, his beloved son, which caused a great mourning for Jacob (Gen 37:31-35); and then the demand of the Egyptian governor to hold Simeon and Benjamin, which caused Jacob to be bereaved (Gen 42:36). Jacob’s personal life was filled with grief and trouble. But in Gen 46:4, the Lord comforted Jacob that He “[would] exalt [him] exceedingly”—according to the Hebrew literal translation, bringing Jacob up from his worry and grief and elevating him up to be “a great nation.”
Comfort of the fourth promise;Hide Answer
Since the news of Joseph’s death, not only had Jacob been mourning for many days (Gen 37:34) but he also had a broken spirit (Gen 45:27). In addition, Jacob’s strong expression of “bring[ing] down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave” (Gen 37:35, 42:38) due to his great grief had been felt by his sons (Gen 42:38). But the promise of the Lord in Gen 46:4 revived the spirit of Jacob. Through God’s promise, Joseph would outlive Jacob and would be present at the moment of Jacob’s death. Later, the promise was fulfilled according to the book of Genesis 49:33 and 50:1.
What can we learn from Jacob’s example of stopping by at Beersheba and offering sacrifices to the Lord?Hide Answer
Although Jacob had agreed to see Joseph at the end of Gen 45 and he “took his journey with all that he had,” Jacob stopped by at Beersheba “[to offer] sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac” (Gen 46:1). Before Jacob continued his journey to Egypt, he came to the place where previously Isaac his father had “built an altar there and [had] called on the name of the LORD” (Gen 26:25). The example of Jacob reminds us to always draw near to God (Jas 4:8), to always pray to God (1 Thess 5:17) and to give thanks in everything (1 Thess 5:18)–including for His guidance and blessing. Although Jacob was excited to see his beloved son, Joseph, in Egypt, he faithfully sought guidance from the Lord to guide his future path. Likewise, in our work, study or family-life, we should always draw near to Him and seek for His guidance through prayers in what we do.
Comparing the seventy people in his family in Gen 46:27 to the promise of the numerous descendants like “the dust of the earth” in Gen 28:14, how did Jacob view this great discrepancy? See Heb 11:21 and Gen 49:25-26.Hide Answer
Although Jacob was greatly blessed in his sojourning, from one person to seventy people when Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt (Gen 46:27), his present numbers in total were greatly far from being “dust of the earth” as the Lord’s promise in Gen 28:14. But by faith, according to the book of Hebrews, Jacob passed down the Lord’s promise to his sons’ blessings (Heb 11:21). Toward the end of the book of Genesis, in his last words, Jacob blessed Joseph with the “blessings of the breasts and of the womb” (Gen 49:25). In addition, Jacob emphasized that the blessings for Joseph would “[excell from] the blessings of [Jacob’s] ancestors (Gen 49:26)”—including the blessings of the countless descendants as many as “the dust of the earth.” In other words, though Jacob could not witness the fulfillment of God’s promise in his lifetime, Jacob believed and passed down that faith to his sons. The blessings which Jacob gave to Joseph reflected his faith that the Lord would surely fulfill His previous promise to Joseph and his descendants according to His appointed time.
The naming of Jacob’s descendants in the book of Genesis 46:8-25 and its summary in the book of Exodus 1:1-5 were connected to the statement in Ex 1:7. These descendants played a part in fulfilling the promise of God to Jacob and to his forefathers in making Israel a”great nation” in Egypt (Gen 46:3). Previously, the book of Genesis had mentioned how Isaac blessed Jacob to be “fruitful,” to “multiply” and to become “an assembly of peoples” (Gen 28:3); and how the Lord confirmed His promise to Jacob of having countless descendants like “the dust of the earth” (Gen 28:14). Now, in the book of Exodus, the blessing of Isaac and the promise of God to Jacob finally came to a full realization; for the descendants of Israel “were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty” and “the land [of Egypt] was filled with them” (Ex 1:7).
How was the choosing of Jacob’s descendants as a part in God’s plan for a”great nation” of Israel teach us about being a part of God’s mercy? See
1 Pet 2:9-10.Hide Answer
The naming of Jacob’s descendants both in Gen 46:8-25 and their summary in Ex 1:1-5 teaches us about the mercy of God’s choosing. Just as the generations of Jacob were chosen to be a part of a “great nation” of the people of God, according to the letter of
1st Peter, we are chosen by God to be “a royal priesthood” and “a holy nation” (1 Pet 2:9). The writer of 1st Peter explains further that we “who once were not a people” and in the “darkness,” “are now the people of God”and “have obtained mercy” “into His marvelous light.” In other words, the generations of Jacob were but a small number (Gen 46:27) in the beginning and far from being “dust of the earth” and “an assembly of peoples” of God. But God chose them and made them to be fruitful and to be a “great nation” of Israel. Likewise, we—who were previously in ”darkness” and “not a people” of God—were chosen according to God’s mercy to become a part of God’s holy nation and to proclaim the praises of His calling upon us.
The sudden shift of Jacob’s sending of Judah instead of the firstborn would foreshadow the leadership of Judah and his clan in the future. The writer of the book of Genesis mentions the prophecy of Jacob that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah” (Gen 49:10). In other words, Jacob’s prophecy prophesied that kingship would come from the line of Judah. The mentioned prophecy was fulfilled through King David who was the son of Jesse, the Ephrathite of Judah (1 Sam 17:12) and spiritually through the Lord Jesus—“the ruler over the kings of the earth” (Rev 1:5) and the “son of David” of Judah and of Jacob (Mat 1:1-2)—whom “to Him [should] be the obedience of the people” (Gen 49:10).
What can we learn about piety from Joseph’s filial act in “[making] ready his chariot and [going] up to Goshen to meet his father Israel” in Gen 46:29? See also Gen 45:8-10, 18-19; Ex 20:12 and Mt 15:5-6.Hide Answer
From Joseph’s filial act in “[making] ready his chariot and [going] up to Goshen to meet his father Israel, we can learn about piety toward our parents. Although in the book of Genesis 45:18-19 the Pharaoh commanded Joseph to bring Jacob and his households to him and provided them with carts, Joseph went up to Goshen and “presented himself to [Jacob] after he had arrived at Goshen (Gen 46:28-29). Despite his exalted position, “a father to Pharaoh” (Gen 45:8), Joseph did not wait for his father to come to him. Joseph humbly made ready his chariot and went to meet his father, “[weeping] on [Jacob’s] neck for a good while” (Gen 46:29). In addition to humbling himself to his father, Joseph sincerely and faithfully love his father by taking care of him until the end of his life. The book of Genesis recorded that it was Joseph’s active decision to invite his father to stay with him in the land of Egypt (Gen 45:9-10). Unlike the scribes and the pharisees who used gifts to God as an excuse for not honoring their parents (Mt 15:5-6), the filial acts of Joseph toward his father Jacob teach us the essence of applying the fifth commandment, “[honoring our] father and [our] mother” (Ex 20:12), into our daily lives.
Why did Joseph tell the brothers to emphasize their occupation as shepherds in front of the Pharaoh? For a political reason: See Gen 45:18 and 42:9.Hide Answer
Since “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (Gen 46:34), the brothers’ occupation as shepherds enabled them to obtain the best of the land of Egypt through the land of Goshen (Gen 45:18, 46:34). Furthermore, Jacob’s and the brothers’ insistence to bring along all their livestock (Gen 46:6) showed that they only needed suitable pasturelands to look after their cattle. The bringing of all their livestock proved that Jacob and the brothers did not intend to be a burden for Egypt and they were not spies as they were originally accused of (Gen 42:9).
Their dwelling in Goshen would continually remind Jacob and his descendants that God was the One who had led them from the severe famine in Canaan (Gen 45:8-11) for the purpose of making them “a great nation there” in Egypt (Gen 46:3). Furthermore, the separation from the Egyptians would help them maintain their lifestyles as shepherds and their religious belief without being influenced by the culture and the religion of the Egyptians or being tempted by the indulgence to get into the Egyptian “treasures” and the “pleasures of sin” (Heb 11:25-26). Lastly, their dwelling in Goshen instead of Egypt would remind them of the inheritance which they had been promised by the Lord God in Canaan. Thus, in his last words to his brethren, Joseph reminded them that “God [would] surely visit [them] and bring [them] out of [Egypt] to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob”—Canaan—and to ”carry up [Joseph’s] bones from [Egypt]” (Gen 50:24-25). Joseph’s last words confirmed that their stay in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, was but a temporary one because the Lord would bring them out into the land of promise (Heb 11:22).