LINK: Genesis 46
(As you read, remember that Jacob and Israel are the same person and used interchangeably in this chapter.)
Israel went to Beersheba. You might remember that Beersheba was a place where Israel (then Jacob) lived with his brother, Esau, and his parents, Isaac and Rebekah, before he left for Paddan-aram to look for a wife among his relatives (Genesis 28). It was also the place where Abraham and Isaac had worshiped the Lord (21:33; 26:23-25). So, it was fitting that he would offer sacrifices to God there and God would speak to him and give him assurance of His hand over him when he went to Egypt. It must have been strange to leave the place (Canaan) that God had called his grandfather, Abraham. We need to remember that God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15:12-16 and said that his descendants would be "strangers in a land that was not theirs." God's promised to return him back to the land, and Israel was not to be afraid. Just as he had promised Isaac, he would make him a great nation there. Consequently, Israel went in faith.
Jacob took all of his family to Egypt, and the total was 66 persons. This total did not include Jacob and his wives. When 70 are mentioned, it means 66 people and Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons.
The highlight of this chapter is the HAPPY REUNION between Joseph and his father! First Jacob sent Judah, who had emerged as the family leader, ahead of his older siblings (Reuben, Simeon, and Levi). Notice that Joseph came out to greet his father. He did not require him to "bow" like the dream (37:10). What an amazing reunion it must have been! They had not laid eyes on each other for 22 years, and Jacob had thought Joseph had been dead all that time. Imagine it! No wonder Joseph wept!
Jacob settled in Goshen. Goshen was the eastern region of the Nile River Delta. It was northeast of Memphis which was the capital city of Egypt. It is linked with Rameses (47:6, 11). It was the most fertile part of Egypt. It was a great place to raise cattle (46:34; 47:6) which is what they would be doing there (46:32-34).
The phrase "all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians" is believed to be based on a social custom of the time. The Egyptians did not have large flocks and herds (Exodus 9:3, 19). Their specialty was plant agriculture. Consequently, those who spent time raising flocks were seen as inferior.
REFLECTION (written in 2008)
The reunion between father and son really gets me. It is another time where there is a meeting in the desert, just like the one Jacob had with Esau all those years ago. That meeting had a happy ending and so does this one. I cannot imagine the absolute joy that they must have felt seeing each other after all those years!
As part of my meditation, I tried to imagine their joy by considering how I would feel if I were seeing my father for the first time after 22 years. Then I realized it has been the exact same amount of time since I saw my dad! What I would not give to see him again and embrace him and tell him how much I love him.
Then I got wild in my meditation and thought about the joy that I would feel in my heart if I got a call and was told that my dad really had not been dead all these years, and I could see him as soon as I packed my bags and took a ride in the limousine he just sent for me! You can bet I would joyfully pack as soon as possible (and I hate packing)!
I have no doubt that Jacob's joy was uncontainable! Wish I could have been a bug on the wall during their meeting in Goshen. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face; a happy reunion indeed!
"Run out" to meet your heavenly Father today with the same eagerness that Joseph did when he met his earthly father!
LORD, give us that same eagerness to meet You today. I pray for many "happy reunions" with You for all the people in the Bible Book Club. I pray we commune with You as we read Your Word. In Jesus' name, Amen.