The journey over Beersheba to Egypt. — V.1. And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. From Hebron, chap. 37, 14, Jacob, the father of the children of Israel, removed everything that could be transported without difficulty, and journeyed first of all to Beersheba, on the southern border of Canaan. Although the pressure of the famine and the invitation of both Joseph and Pharaoh were apparently hints from God, yet he was not without serious apprehension and anxiety at the greatness of the undertaking and its possible consequences. V.2. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night and said, Jacob, Jacob! And he said, Here am I. So God Himself, whom he had worshiped with his sacrifices, appeared to Jacob at this decisive moment, speaking to him in a dream-vision by night. V.3. And he said, I am God, the Powerful, the Mighty One, the God of thy father, the only true God. Fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. What God had said to Abraham in a general way, chap. 15, 13–16, he here referred to the sojourn in Egypt. He not only sanctioned the removal of Jacob to Egypt, but promised His blessing also in the strange land. V.4. I will go down with thee in to Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again. His protection would attend their removal, their stay, and the eventual return of the children of Israel. This promise, moreover, was to remind Jacob of the greater and more important prophecy, that of the Messiah, who was to be his descendant. And Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes; the last service of love when Jacob closed his eyes in death would be performed by the son whom he had so long mourned as dead. V.5. And Jacob rose up from Beersheba, he continued his journey cheerfully; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob, their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry them, all the hardships of the journey being thus eliminated. V.6. And they took their cattle and their goods which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, surely an immense caravan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him; v.7. his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, a general expression, which probably includes not only Dinah and Serah, but also the daughters-in-law, and all his seed brought he with him in to Egypt. No matter how conditions in life may change for believers, the Word of God’s mercy remains unchanged, and His goodness and truth is over them forever.
List of the souls in Jacob’s family. — V.8. And these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt: Jacob and his sons, the names being here recorded as the forefathers of that great nation which grew up in Egypt: Reuben, Jacob’s first-born. V.9. And the sons of Reuben: Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi. V.10. And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel (or Nemuel), and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin (or Jarib), and Zohar (or Zerah), and Shaul, the son of a Canaanitish woman Cp. Num. 26, 12. 13; 1 Chron. 4, 24. V.11. And the sons of Levi: Gershon (or Gershom), Kohath, and Merari. V.12. And the sons of Judah: Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah. But Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul. V.13. And the sons of Issachar: Tola, and Phuvah (or Puah), and Job (or Jashub), and Shimron. Cp. 1 Chron. 7, 1. V.14. And the sons of Zebulun: Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel. V.15. These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, where the family was founded by the birth of the six sons, with his daughter Dinah. All the souls of his sons and daughters were thirty and three, namely, six sons, twenty-three grandsons, two great-grandsons, one daughter, and Jacob himself, a total of thirty-three. V.16. And the sons of Gad: Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon (or Ozni), Eri, and Arodi, and Areli. V.17. And the sons of Asher: Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah, their sister; and the sons of Beriah: Heber, and Malchiel. V.18. These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah, his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls; namely, two sons, eleven grandsons, two great-grandsons, and one daughter. V.19. The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s (favorite or most beloved) wife: Joseph and Benjamin. V.20. And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On, bare unto him. V.21. And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim (or Hupham), and Ard. V.22. These are the sons of Rachel which were born to Jacob. All the souls were fourteen; namely, two sons and twelve grandsons, including two great-grandsons, Num. 26, 40. V.23. And the sons of Dan: Hushim. V.24. And the sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem. V.25. These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel, his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob. All the souls were seven; namely, two sons and five grandsons. V.26. All the souls that came with Jacob in to Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six; v.27. and the sons of Joseph which were born him in Egypt were two souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt were three-score and ten. Note that this enumeration is made according to the custom which listed the founders of families in such a table, even though some of them were not yet born. Cp. Ex. 1, 5; Deut. 10, 22. In addition to the twelve sons of Jacob, who were the founders of the twelve tribes, all those grandsons and great-grandsons are listed who became the ancestors of independent families with large numbers and great influence. In the account of Stephen, Acts 7, 14, three grandsons and two great-grandsons of Joseph are included, for this reason. “Thus only can the fact be explained, otherwise inexplicable, that in the days of Moses, with the exception of the double tribe of Joseph, there were, in none of the tribes, descendants from any son or great-grandsons of Jacob that are not mentioned in this list.” The names here given represent the nucleus from which the children of Israel, the great nation, grew.
The meeting of Jacob and Joseph. — V.28. And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph to direct his face unto Goshen. It was a distinction which was here conferred upon Judah on account of his recent heroic stand; he was to receive authoritative directions from Joseph concerning the exact place set aside for the settlement of the Israelites, and then act as the guide of the caravan. And they came in to the land of Goshen, in the northeastern part of Egypt, in the eastern delta of the Nile. V.29. And Joseph made ready his chariot, he had the horses hitched to his own fine wagon, and went up to meet Israel, his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him, appeared before him in all his royal glory; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while, weeping in his embrace, his emotion over this happy reunion almost overwhelming him. V.30. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive. Having experienced this last great token of the divine favor, Jacob was now ready and willing to die. V.31. And Joseph said unto his brethren and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; v.32. and the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle, they had been herders of sheep and cattlemen all their life; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. This was a sort of frankness which did not consider the lowly derivation a disgrace, unlike the behavior of many children in our days who are ashamed of the lowly station of their parents and relatives. V.33. And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, order them to appear at the royal court, and shall say, What is your occupation? v.34. that ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, being cattle-men was the traditional occupation of the family, both we and also our fathers; that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen, that Pharaoh might confirm the order of Joseph permitting them to make that their home; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians. Since they themselves considered agriculture the basis of national stability, the Egyptians regarded all nomadic forms of living as a barbarian form of existence. There was a good deal of shrewdness in the attitude of Joseph, for he knew that his relatives, under cover of the Egyptians’ contempt, would remain secluded and unmixed, would keep their ancient religion and customs, and thus be worthy of being the bearers of the Messianic promise. Incidentally, they would be occupying a very rich section of the land of Egypt. It is far better to be in a lowly station and remain faithful to the Lord than to occupy a position of prominence and deny His goodness and mercy.