Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Genesis 46:8-47:19 #eebc2018

This passage opens with the lineage of Jacob, showing his sons and their sons. One of the purposes here is to establish a total number: seventy people. This includes Joseph, Asenath, and their two sons. It's not a huge number of people, which is the point. This is not an invasion force, it's just a family.

Next we see Joseph guide his family to settle in the land of Goshen, which is in the Nile Delta area. It is less reliable for farming, but still excellent as a grazing land. A fringe benefit? The family does not have to get all the way into Egypt, down amidst the temples and government. (There is no archaeological evidence that Joseph wanted to be far  from On, where his mother-in-law lived.)

Where does this fit in Egyptian history? That's a great question. One major theory puts it during the Second Intermediate Period, during the ascendancy of the Hyksos. I prefer a date in the Twelfth Dynasty, placing these events in the Middle Bronze Age of Egypt.

Joseph settles his family, then takes his father and five of his brothers to meet Pharaoh. His brothers report on their occupation and little else.

Jacob appears to have more a conversation with Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks his age, and Jacob laments that his life has been (and will be) shorter than his ancestors. Now, in comparison to Pharaoh, his 130 years were probably longer, but compared to Abraham or Noah? Jacob's still quite young.

Then you get the difference in what happens to the Egyptians and what happens to the family of Israel. Joseph, by way of his position,  provides for his family. Meanwhile, many of the Egyptians find themselves deeding over their lands and their freedom to the central government to survive the famine. This provides some insight into how Egypt's economy operated at the time.

What do we see here?

First, help your family if God has given you the ability. It sounds simple, but some folks miss that point.

Second, consider what your testimony would be if you stood before the most powerful government official you've ever known. Has your life been short and bitter? If so, what can you do today to start changing that?

Third, are you willing to go wherever it is necessary to follow God's commands? To live out that which you are supposed to do? Even if it means a sojourn in Egypt?

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