Thursday, August 2, 2012

XXVIII - Chapters 46, 47 - Israel Goes To Egypt

Chapter 46 - Israel set out for Egypt with everything he had.  (Can you imagine what a caravan that was?)  On his way he stopped at Beersheba, one of his favorite places, to worship God.  Vs 2  God speaks to Israel in a dream and tells him five things:

1) Don't be afraid to go to Egypt
2) I will go down with you
3) I will make you a great nation while you are there
4) I will bring you back to possess the promised land in Canaan again
5) You will die in Egypt

Those are five important things for Israel to hear.   He stopped to worship in Beersheba because he needed comfort, guidance, and protection.  Moving his whole family to a foreign land must have been frightening to Israel.  He, like us, need comfort and assurance that he is doing the right thing.  Israel also needed to be assured that the God of Abraham was as powerful in Egypt (or anywhere else) as He was in Canaan.  Additionally, I believe another reason Israel chose Beersheba to seek confirmation from God, was that, if you look at the map, Beersheba would appear to be the proverbial "point of no return" in their journey south, as the desert of Shur was coming soon.

Vs 5 - So Israel continued on from Beersheba with everything he had.  His entire family and all their belongings.  Sixty six family members in all.  When Joseph, his wife Asenath, his sons Manasseh and Ephraim are counted, his family totaled 70 members.  This number is confirmed in Exodus.  This chapter of Genesis lists all members in vss 8-27.  There were four great granchildren mentioned which meant there were four generations traveling to Egypt.

Vss 28-->Israel sent Judah ahead to get directions to Goshen.  As Israel arrived in the Goshen region, Joseph rushed to go meet him.  Joseph hadn't seen his father since he was a teenager.  They were both full of joyful tears.  In vs 30 Israel tells Joseph "now I'm ready to die, since I have seen you alive for myself".

You should read vss 31-34.  Joseph is a VERY smart man.  All of Joseph's family from Canaan were basicly shepherds and herdsmen, with farming being secondary.  Joseph instructs his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds and herdsmen from birth.  This would place in Pharaoh's mind that Goshen was where they needed to be.  It's important to note that shepherds were detestable in Egypt.  The least respected of all occupations.  But Joseph is smart enough to use this to his and his family's advantage.  He wanted them in Goshen from the beginning (Gen 45:9).  Goshen was in the northeastern section of the Nile Delta, which would naturally have fertile grazing land, even during dry periods.  Smart livestock owners would choose this region as the perfect place to be.  Therefore, since shepherds are so detestable, Joseph's family could stay in relative isolation, which would help Israel's bloodline to remain pure, which was very important.  Intermarriages always caused problems.  The relative isolation would also help in keeping the Hebrew nation away from the influence of Egyptian paganism.

{Comment:  There was always "religion" with every group of people in the History of civilzation.  There always will be.  Note that I use the word "religion" in a broad sense.  I define religion as a belief in a higher power.  Therefore, one does not have to believe as Judeo-Christians to be religious.  I mention Egyptian paganism, but religion was everywhere.  Egypt had the sun gods Re and Atum, just to name two.  I don't know a lot about these gods.  But some of the descendants of Ham that were in the land of Canaan had the god baal and others like him.  We're going to learn about baal soon enough.  Centuries later, the Romans had Caesar, which was thought to be a god.  My point is that I believe there is a void in our hearts and in the hearts of all others which can only be filled by a confidence in a higher power and authority, capable of delivering them from their burdens.}

Vss 1-7  -  Sure enough, representatives of the family were brought to Pharaoh.  Joseph chose five of his brothers as representatives.  Pharaoh inquires as to their occupations.  Of course Pharaoh wants to know this.  Pharaoh uses this kind of knowledge to the adantage of his country.  Sign of a good leader.  Note that Joseph indicates that Israel had come to Egypt and stopped at Goshen, awaiting further instructions from Pharaoh.  Vs 6  (God is so good) Not only does Pharaoh assign them to Goshen, but hands over to their care the royal herds.  How perfect could it be?

After that meeting, Joseph brought his father Israel to meet with Pharaoh.  Pharaoh's first question to him was "How old are you"  Israel was 130 by this time.  After further conversation, Israel blessed Pharaoh and departed to Goshen.  {Comment:  I realize I often go deeply into the Scripture, but everything seems so interesting and important.  Invision for a moment Joseph's father Israel being brought into Pharaoh's palace.  Old and travel-weary Israel meeting Pharaoh in his palace complete with all his regalia, sitting on this throne; all the pomp and circumstance befitting a meeting with the Pharaoh.  Remember, Hebrews (Canaanites) were considered lower than the lowest class of society in Egypt.  Joseph's father was a Hebrew among Hebrews.  The most humble lowly Hebrew shepherd meeting the most powerful man in the most powerful country on earth.  But look what happened at the end of their meeting:  Israel blessed Pharaoh.  At that point Israel, God's representative, was spiritually superior to Pharaoh.  All of this show of power and importance feigned in comparison to the power of Almight God.  And Israel knew it.  I belive Pharaoh knew it also.}  Vs  ll - So they settled in Goshen (region was also known as the district of Rameses, named after Rameses II, a past Pharaoh who was credited for much of Egypt's building structures) as directed by Pharaoh and Joseph set them up with everything to make it as smooth and painless for his family as possible.

Chapter 47:13-26  -  The famine continues.  With each passing month and year of a famine, its intensity multiplies.  This passage tells how Joseph continues to manage the affairs of the entire land of Egypt, making sure the people had food to eat while enhancing the wealth of Pharaoh enormously.  I'm not sure I like the way this happened, but I suspect that Joseph was following Pharaoh's orders.  By the time the famine was over, Pharaoh owned everthing except the land and livestock owned by the priests.  All the people were moved to the cities and a feudal land system was set up.  Somewhat like tenant farming.  Pharaoh would get one fifth of the total yields of crops and livestock.  That system was still in effect at the time Moses wrote Genesis.  But also note in vs 27 that the Israelites prospered.  Back in this time, God always blessed His children with prosperity.  As God fearing Christians today, none of us should EVER apologize for being prosperous.  NEVER allow yourself to think you are spiritually inferior because you are more properous than someone else.

Vss 28-31  -  Israel (Jacob) has been in Egypt for seventeen years and was 147 years old.  When he knew that death was near, he called Joseph to his bedside.  He asked Joseph to put his hand under his thigh (Hebrew custom when making a solumn oath or vow).  Jacob made Joseph swear that he would not bury him in Egypt, but rather be buried in the land of his fathers.  This was very important to Jacob, as he repeats his request with a sense of urgency.  Joseph , of course, agrees to this single request made at this critical time.  Note that this is not yet the death of Jacob at this time.

Nest post:  Chapter 49 - Manasseh and Ephraim

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