Food for Thought: A nation on the move…
In many ways Genesis 45-46 set up the plot of the rest of the Torah, particularly the Exodus out of Egypt and the Lord’s care for his people in and through the wilderness. The scene in Genesis 46 is the movement of Jacob and his household (his sons, their sons, and wives, property, everything) from Canaan to Egypt. This group of people started off small. If you remember just two, and aged adults at that well past the normal age range for children. Now this small group of nomads has increased to seventy in all (Gen 46:27). God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be numerous. He has kept his word, even when with physical eyes it was difficult to see how certain situations would work out. Now, God is up to something again. When God calls, his people are expected to step out in faith. That is precisely what Jacob does in Gen 46:1, he begins his long trek to Egypt. Stopping off at Beersheba, maybe to rest for the night or the realization of what was taking place was just overwhelming, he pauses. While at Beersheba, Jacob offers sacrifices to God of his father (46:1). And once again the Lord visits Jacob and this time confirms the news of Joseph’s life in Egypt as well as promise to go with Jacob to Egypt. I am reminded that God is not bound by geography. He was faithful to Jacob in Canaan, in Padaan Aram, and promises to go to Egypt too, as well as bring Israel out of Egypt! We hear an echo of the Abrahamic promise of numerous descendants, for God promises to increase Israel’s numbers to great nation status (46:3-4). Did you notice that God tells Jacob not to fear? Since the news many years earlier that Joseph had been killed, and the loss of Simeon in Egypt, Jacob has been fearful. The promises that once shaped his identity, he must have begun doubting, for now God shows up to comfort, and confirm that He hasn’t abandoned Israel nor would he in the future!
Jacob is fortunate to have lived such a full life. In Gen 46:8-25 recounts the names of Jacob’s sons, grandsons, daughters and granddaughters. There are 70 people in all who journeying through the desert. I hope Jacob’s experience was a little similar to my family excursions across the Great Plains to Ohio. My girls always ask, are we there yet? Daddy, where are we? I wonder if Gad’s kids are driving his parents crazy? Maybe Asher’s boys are persistent with their questions. Could it have been that Naphtali’s kids are leading their cousins in a game of tag while the carts are rolling? Or maybe, Jacob does what my wife does on long trips (snore very loudly. Please don’t tell her I told ya’ll that).Keep in mind that they didn’t have GPS on their Egyptian limousines, but just like today sometimes we have to ask for directions. Notice 46:28, Jacob sends Judah ahead of the family to ask directions to Goshen? I can picture this scene, “excuse me sir, um how do we get to Goshen?” The man at the desert quick-mart store who barely speaks Hebrew, offers a lot of pointing, and directions by land mark, “When you see the big tree by the stream, turn left. Next when you see the dirt road, wait a minute, that’s all we have around here…” However this conversation went, the traveling band of wanderers arrives in Goshen (46:28) and then there is a reunion that Jacob and Joseph both have longed for (46:29). In the absence of any dialogue in 46:29 the author’s depiction says enough, “As soon as Joseph appeared before him he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.” Enough said! The chapter closes with Joseph’s instructions to his family about what to say when they meet Pharaoh. The Egyptians aren’t big fans of shepherds. So, Joseph has them include in addition to the occupation of shepherding, they are also tend livestock. Apparently this dual-occupation would be easier to swallow.
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?