Genesis 46


Jacob begins his journey to Egypt, comes to Beer-sheba, and

offers sacrifices to God, 1.

God appears to him in a vision, gives him gracious promises,

and assures him of his protection, 2-4.

He proceeds, with his family and their cattle, on his journey

towards Egypt, 5-7.

A genealogical enumeration of the seventy persons who

went down to Egypt, 8, &c.

The posterity of Jacob by LEAH. Reuben and his sons, 9.

Simeon and his sons, 10.

Levi and his sons, 11.

Judah and his sons, 12.

Issachar and his sons, 13.

And Zebulun and his sons, 14.

All the posterity of Jacob by LEAH, thirty and three, 15.

The posterity of Jacob by ZILPAH. Gad and his sons, 16.

Asher and his sons, 17.

All the posterity of Jacob by ZILPAH, sixteen, 18.

The posterity of Jacob by RACHEL. Joseph and his sons,

19, 20.

Benjamin and his sons, 21.

All the posterity of Jacob by RACHEL, fourteen, 22.

The posterity of Jacob by BILHAH. Dan and his sons, 23.

Naphtali and his sons, 24.

All the posterity of Jacob by BILHAH, seven, 25.

All the immediate descendants of Jacob by his four wives,

threescore and six, 26;

and all the descendants of the house of Jacob, seventy souls, 27.

Judah is sent before to inform Joseph of his father's coming, 28.

Joseph goes to Goshen to meet Jacob, 29.

Their affecting interview, 30.

Joseph proposes to return to Pharaoh, and inform him of the

arrival of his family, 31,

and of their occupation, as keepers of cattle, 32.

Instructs them what to say when called before Pharaoh, and

questioned by him, that they might be permitted to dwell

unmolested in the land of Goshen, 33, 34.


Verse 1. And came to Beer-sheba] This place appears to be

mentioned, not only because it was the way from Hebron, where

Jacob resided, to Egypt, whither he was going, but because it was

a consecrated place, a place where God had appeared to Abraham,

Ge 21:33, and to Isaac, Ge 26:23, and where Jacob is

encouraged to expect a manifestation of the same goodness: he

chooses therefore to begin his journey with a visit to God's

house; and as he was going into a strange land, he feels it

right to renew his covenant with God by sacrifice. There is an

old proverb which applies strongly to this case: "Prayers and

provender never hinder any man's journey. He who would travel

safely must take God with him.

Verse 3. Fear not to go down into Egypt] It appears that there

had been some doubts in the patriarch's mind relative to the

propriety of this journey; he found, from the confession of his

own sons, how little they were to be trusted. But every doubt is

dispelled by this Divine manifestation. 1. He may go down

confidently, no evil shall befall him. 2. Even in Egypt the

covenant shall be fulfilled, God will make of him there a great

nation. 3. God himself will accompany him on his journey, be with

him in the strange land, and even bring back his bones to rest

with those of his fathers. 4. He shall see Joseph, and this same

beloved son shall be with him in his last hours, and do the last

kind office for him. Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

It is not likely that Jacob would have at all attempted to go down

to Egypt, had he not received these assurances from God; and it is

very likely that he offered his sacrifice merely to obtain this

information. It was now a time of famine in Egypt, and God had

forbidden his father Isaac to go down to Egypt when there was a

famine there, Ge 26:1-3; besides, he may have had some general

intimation of the prophecy delivered to his grandfather Abraham,

that his seed should be afflicted in Egypt, Ge 15:13,14; and he

also knew that Canaan, not Egypt, was to be the inheritance of his

family, Ge 12:1, 6, 7, &c. On all these accounts it was necessary

to have the most explicit directions from God, before he should take

such a journey.

Verse 7. All his seed brought he with him into Egypt.] When

Jacob went down into Egypt he was in the one hundred and thirtieth

year of his age, two hundred and fifteen years after the promise

was made to Abraham, Ge 12:1-4, in the year of the world 2298,

and before Christ 1706.

Verse 8. These are the names of the children of Israel] It may

be necessary to observe here, First, that several of these names

are expressed differently elsewhere, Jemuel for Nemuel, Jachin for

Jarib, Gershon for Gershom, &c.; compare Nu 26:12; 1Ch 4:24.

But it is no uncommon case for the same person to have different

names, or the same name to be differently pronounced;

See Clarke on Ge 25:18.

Secondly, that it is probable that some names in this list are

brought in by prolepsis or anticipation, as the persons were born

(probably) during the seventeen years which Jacob sojourned in

Egypt, see Ge 46:12.

Thirdly, that the families of some are entered more at large

than others because of their peculiar respectability, as in the

case of Judah, Joseph, and Benjamin; but see the tables under

verse 20. See Clarke on Ge 46:20.

Verse 12. The sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.] It is not

likely that Pharez was more than ten years of age when he came

into Egypt, and if so he could not have had children; therefore it

is necessary to consider Hezron and Hamul as being born during the

seventeen years that Jacob sojourned in Egypt,

See Clarke on Ge 46:8: and it appears necessary, for several

reasons, to take these seventeen years into the account, as it is

very probable that what is called the going down into Egypt

includes the seventeen years which Jacob spent there.

Verse 20. Unto Joseph-were born Manasseh and Ephraim ] There is a remarkable addition here in the Septuagint, which must be noticed: εγενοντοδευιοιμανασσηουσετεκεναυτωηπαλλακηη συρατονμαχιρμαχιρδεεγεννησετονγαλααδυιοιδεεφραιμ αδελφονμανασσησουταλααμκαιτααμυιοιδεσουταλααμεδεμ These were the sons of Manasseh whom his Syrian concubine bore unto him: Machir; and Machir begat Galaad. The sons of Ephraim, Manasseh's brother, were Sutalaam and Taam; and the sons of Sutalaam, Edem . These add five persons to the list, and make out the number given by Stephen , Ac 7:14 , which it seems he had taken from the text of the Septuagint , unless we could suppose that the text of Stephen had been altered to make it correspond to the Septuagint, of which there is not the slightest evidence from ancient MSS. or versions. The addition in the Septuagint is not found in either the Hebrew or the Samaritan at present; and some suppose that it was taken either from Nu 26:29,35 , or 1Ch 7:14-20 , but in none of these places does the addition appear as it stands in the Septuagint, thought some of the names are found interspersed. Various means have been proposed to find the seventy persons in the text, and to reconcile the Hebrew with the Septuagint and the New Testament. A table given by Scheuchzer , extracted from the Memoires de Trevoux , gives the following general view: The twelve sons of JACOB with their children and grandchildren . Reuben and his four sons............. 5 Simeon and his six sons.............. 7 Levi and his three sons.............. 4 Judah and his seven sons and grand- sons............................... 8 Issachar and his four sons........... 5 Zebulun and his three sons........... 4 Total sons of JACOB and LEAH....... �� 33 Gad and his seven sons............... 8 Asher and his seven sons and grand- sons............................... 8 Total sons of JACOB and ZILPAH..... �� 16 Joseph and his two sons.............. 3 Benjamin and his ten sons............ 11 Total sons of JACOB and RACHEL....... �� 14 Dan and his son...................... 2 Naphtali and his four sons........... 5 Total sons of JACOB and BILHAH..... �� 7 �� Total sons of Jacob and his four wives .............................. �� 70 "To harmonize this with the Septuagint and St. Stephen , Ac 7:14 , to the number sixty-six (all the souls that came out of Jacob's loins, Ge 46:26 ) add nine of the patriarchs' wives, Judah's wife being already dead in Canaan, ( Ge 38:12 ,) Benjamin being supposed to be as yet unmarried, and the wife of Joseph being already in Egypt, and therefore out of the case: the number will amount to seventy-five , which is that found in the Acts."- Universal History . Dr. Hales' method is more simple, and I think more satisfactory: "Moses states that all the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt which issued from his loins , (except his sons wives,) were sixty-six souls, Ge 46:26 ; and this number is thus collected:- JACOB'S children, eleven sons and one daughter.................................. 12 Reuben's sons............................... 4 Simeon's sons............................... 6 Levi's sons................................. 3 Judah's three sons and two grandsons ........ 5 Issachar's sons............................. 4 Zebulun's sons.............................. 3 Gad's sons.................................. 7 Asher's four sons, one daughter, and two grandsons................................. 7 Dan's son................................... 1 Naphtali's sons............................. 4 Benjamin's sons............................. 10 -- 66 "If to these sixty-six children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, we add Jacob himself, Joseph and his two sons , the amount is seventy , the whole amount of Jacob's family which settled in Egypt. "In this statement the wives of Jacob's sons, who formed part of the household, are omitted; but they amounted to nine , for of the twelve wives of the twelve sons of Jacob, Judah's wife was dead, Ge 38:12 , and Simeon's also, as we may collect from his youngest son Shaul by a Canannitess, Ge 46:10 , and Joseph's wife was already in Egypt. These nine wives, therefore, added to the sixty-six , give seventy-five souls the whole amount of Jacob's household that went down with him to Egypt; critically corresponding with the statement in the New Testament, that 'Joseph sent for his father Jacob and all his kindred , amounting to seventy-five souls .' The expression all his kindred , including the wives which were Joseph's kindred, not only by affinity , but also by consanguinity, being probably of the families of Esau, Ishmael , or Keturah . Thus does the New Testament furnish an admirable comment on the Old."- Analysis , vol. ii., p. 159. It is necessary to observe that this statement, which appears on the whole the most consistent, supposes that Judah was married when about fourteen years of age, his son Er at the same age, Pharez at the same, Asher and his fourth son Beriah under twenty, Benjamin about fifteen , and Joseph's sons and grandsons about twenty . But this is not improbable, as the children of Israel must all have married at a very early age, to have produced in about two hundred and fifteen years no less than six hundred thousand persons above twenty years old, besides women and children. Verse 28. He sent Judah before him unto Joseph] Judah was

certainly a man of sense, and also an eloquent man; and of him

Joseph must have had a very favourable opinion from the speech he

delivered before him, Ge 44:18, &c.; he was therefore chosen as

the most proper person to go before and announce Jacob's arrival

to his son Joseph.

To direct his face unto Goshen] The land of Goshen is the same,

according to the Septuagint, as the land of Rameses, and Goshen

itself the same as Heroopolis, 'ηρωωνπολις Heroonpolis, the city

of heroes, a name by which it went in the days of the Septuagint,

and which it still retained in the time of Josephus, for he makes

use of the same term in speaking of this place.

See Clarke on Ge 46:34.

Verse 29. And Joseph made ready his chariot] mercabto.

In Ge 41:43, we have the first mention of a chariot, and if the

translation be correct, it is a proof that the arts were not in a

rude state in Egypt even at this early time. When we find wagons

used to transport goods from place to place, we need not wonder

that these suggested the idea of forming chariots for carrying

persons, and especially those of high rank and authority.

Necessity produces arts, and arts and science produce not only

an increase of the conveniences but also of the refinements and

luxuries of life. It has been supposed that a chariot is not

intended here; for as the word mercabah, which we and most

of the ancient versions translate chariot, comes from rachab,

he rode, saddling his horse may be all that is intended. But it

is more likely to signify a chariot, as the verb asar, which

signifies to bind, tie, or yoke, is used; and not chabash,

which signifies to saddle.

Fell on his neck] See Ge 45:14.

Verse 30. Now let me die, since I have seen thy face] Perhaps

old Simeon had this place in view when, seeing the salvation of

Israel, he said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in

peace, &c., Lu 2:29.

Verse 34. Thy servants trade hath been about cattle] "The land

of Goshen, called also the land of Rameses, lay east of the Nile,

by which it was never overflowed, and was bounded by the mountains

of the Thebaid on the south, by the Nile and Mediterranean on the

west and north, and by the Red Sea and desert of Arabia on the

east. It was the Heliopolitan nome or district, and its capital

was called ON. Its proper name was Geshen, the country of grass

or pasturage, or of the shepherds, in opposition to the rest of

the land which was sown after having been overflowed by the Nile."

-Bruce. As this land was both fruitful and pleasant, Joseph

wished to fix his family in that part of Egypt; hence he advises

them to tell Pharaoh that their trade had been in cattle from

their youth: and because every shepherd is an abomination to the

Egyptians, hence he concluded that there would be less difficulty

to get them quiet settlement in Goshen, as they would then be

separated from the Egyptians, and consequently have the free use

of all their religious customs. This scheme succeeded, and the

consequence was the preservation both of their religion and their

lives, though some of their posterity did afterwards corrupt

themselves; see Eze 20:8; Am 5:26. As it is well known that the

Egyptians had cattle and flocks themselves, and that Pharaoh even

requested that some of Joseph's brethren should be made rulers

over his cattle, how could it be said, as in Ge 46:34,

Every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians? Three

reasons may be assigned for this: 1. Shepherds and feeders of

cattle were usually a sort of lawless, free-booting banditti,

frequently making inroads on villages, &c., carrying off cattle,

and whatever spoils they could find. This might probably have

been the case formerly, for it is well known it has often been the

case since. On this account such persons must have been

universally detested. 2. They must have abhorred shepherds if

Manetho's account of the hycsos or king-shepherds can be

credited. Hordes of marauders under this name, from Arabia, Syria,

and Ethiopia, (whose chief occupation, like the Bedouin Arabs of

the present day, was to keep flocks,) made a powerful irruption

into Egypt, which they subdued and ruled with great tyranny for

259 years. Now, though they had been expelled from that land some

considerable time before this, yet their name, and all persons of

a similar occupation, were execrated by the Egyptians, on account

of the depredations and long-continued ravages they had committed

in the country. 3. The last and probably the best reason why the

Egyptians abhorred such shepherds as the Israelites were, was,

they sacrificed those very animals, the ox particularly, and the

SHEEP, which the Egyptians held sacred. Hence the Roman historian

Tacitus, speaking of the Jews, says: "Caeso ARIETE velut in

contumelia AMMONIS; Bos quoque immolatur, quem AEgyptii APIM

colunt." "They sacrifice the ram in order to insult Jupiter

Ammon, and they sacrifice the ox, which the Egyptians worship

under the name of Apis." Though some contend that this idolatry

was not as yet established in Egypt, and that the king-shepherds

were either after the time of Joseph, or that Manetho by them

intends the Israelites themselves; yet, as the arguments by which

these conjectures are supported are not sufficient to overthrow

those which are brought for the support of the contrary opinions,

and as there was evidently an established religion and priesthood

in Egypt before Joseph's time, (for we find the priests had a

certain portion of the land of Egypt which was held so sacred that

Joseph did not attempt to buy it in the time of the famine, when

he bought all the land which belonged to the people,

Ge 47:20-22,) and as that established priesthood was in all

likelihood idolatrous, and as the worship of Apis under the form

of an ox was one of the most ancient forms of worship in Egypt, we

may rest tolerably certain that it was chiefly on this account

that the shepherds, or those who fed on and sacrificed these

objects of their worship, were an abomination to the Egyptians.

Calmet has entered into this subject at large, and to his notes

I must refer those readers who wish for farther information.

See Clarke on Ge 43:32.

ON the principal subject of this chapter, the going down of

Jacob and his family into Egypt, Bishop Warburton, in his Divine

Legation of Moses, makes the following judicious refections: "The

promise God made to Abraham, to give his posterity the land of

Canaan, could not be performed till that family was grown strong

enough to take and keep possession of it. In the meantime,

therefore, they were necessitated to reside among idolaters, and

to reside unmixed; but whoever examines their history will see

that the Israelites had ever a violent propensity to join

themselves to Gentile nations, and practise their manners. God

therefore, in his infinite wisdom, brought them into Egypt, and

kept them there during this period, the only place where they

could remain for so long a time safe and unconfounded with the

natives, the ancient Egyptians being by numerous institutions

forbidden all fellowship with strangers, and bearing besides a

particular aversion to the profession of the Israelites, who were

shepherds. Thus the natural dispositions of the Israelites, which

in Egypt occasioned their superstitions, and in consequence the

necessity of a burdensome ritual, would in any other country have

absorbed them into Gentilism, and confounded them with idolaters.

From the Israelites going into Egypt arises a new occasion to

adore the footsteps of Eternal Wisdom in his dispensations to his

chosen people."

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