Genesis 46
Barnes' Notes
And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
Jacob arriving at Beer-sheba is encouraged by a revelation from God. Beer-sheba may be regarded as the fourth scene of Abraham's abode in the land of promise. "Offered sacrifices." He had gathered from the words of the Lord to Abraham Genesis 15:13, and the way in which the dreams of Joseph were realized in the events of Providence, that his family were to descend into Egypt. He felt therefore, that in taking this step he was obeying the will of Heaven. Hence, he approaches God in sacrifices at an old abode of Abraham and Isaac, before he crosses the border to pass into Egypt. On this solemn occasion God appears to him in the visions of the night. He designates himself EL the Mighty, and the God of his father. The former name cheers him with the thought of an all-sufficient Protector. The latter identifies the speaker with the God of his father, and therefore, with the God of eternity, of creation, and of covenant. "Fear not to go down into Mizraim." This implies both that it was the will of God that he should go down to Egypt, and that he would be protected there. "A great nation."

Jacob had now a numerous family, of whom no longer one was selected, but all were included in the chosen seed. He had received the special blessing and injunction to be fruitful and multiply Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11. The chosen family is to be the beginning of the chosen nation. "I will go down with thee." The "I" is here emphatic, as it is also in the assurance that he will bring him up in the fullness of time from Egypt. If Israel in the process of growth from a family to a nation had remained among the Kenaanites, he would have been amalgamated with the nation by intermarriage, and conformed to its vices. By his removal to Egypt he is kept apart from the demoralizing influence of a nation, whose iniquity became so great as to demand a judicial extirpation Genesis 15:16. He is also kept from sinking into an Egyptian by the fact that a shepherd, as he was, is an abomination to Egypt; by his location in the comparatively high land of Goshen, which is a border land, not naturally, but only politically, belonging to Egypt; and by the reduction of his race to a body of serfs, with whom that nation would not condescend to intermingle. "Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes." His long-lost son shall be present to perform the last offices to him when deceased.

And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: 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 him.
The descent into Egypt is now described. "His daughters, and his sons' daughters." In the following list only one daughter of Jacob is mentioned, Dinah, and only one son's daughter, Serah. It is possible, but not probable, that there were more daughters than these at the time in his family. But even if there were no others, the plural is adopted in order to correspond with the general form of classification, from which the one daughter and the one granddaughter are merely accidental deviations. The same principle applies to the sons of Dan Gen 46:23, and to other instances in Scripture 1 Chronicles 2:8, 1 Chronicles 2:42.

Verse 8-27

The list given here of the family of Jacob as it came down into Egypt is not to be identified with a list of their descendants two hundred and fifty years after, contained in Numbers 26, or with another list constructed after the captivity, and referring to certain of their descendants in and after the times of the monarchy. Nor is this the place to mark out or investigate the grounds of the diversities from the present which these later lists exhibit. Our proper business here is to examine into the nature and import of this ancient and original list of the family of Jacob. It purports to be a list of the names of the sons of Israel, "who went into Mizraim." This phrase implies that the sons of Israel actually went down into Egypt; and this is accordingly historically true of all his immediate sons, Joseph having gone thither about twenty-two years before the others. And the word "sons" is to be understood here in its strict sense, as we find it in the immediate context Genesis 46:7 distinguished from sons' sons and other descendants.

"Jacob and his sons." From this expression we perceive the progenitor is to be included with the sons among those who descended to Egypt. This also is historically exact. For the sake of clearness it is proper here to state the approximate ages of these heads of Israel at the time of the descent. Jacob himself was 130 years of age Genesis 47:9. Joseph was in his thirtieth year when he stood before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams and receive his commission as governor-general of Egypt, Genesis 41:46. At the end of the second year of the famine nine full years were added to his life. He was therefore, we may suppose, 39 years old when Jacob arrived in Egypt, and born when his father was 91. As we conceive that he was born in the fifteenth year of Jacob's sojourn in Padan-aram, and Reuben in the eighth, we infer that Reuben was at the time of the descent into Egypt seven years older than Joseph, or 46, Simon 45, Leviticus 44, Judah 43, Dan about 43, Naphtali about 42, Gad about 42, Asher about 41, Issakar about 41, Zebulun about 40, Dinah about 39, Benjamin about 26. "Jacob's first-born Reuben." This refers to the order of nature, without implying that the rights of first-birth were to be secured to Reuben 1 Chronicles 5:1-2.

And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:
His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.
And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.
And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.
The sons of Leah and their descendants are here enumerated. Reuben has four sons, who appear without variation in the other two lists Numbers 26:5-6; 1 Chronicles 5:3. Of the six sons of Simon, Ohad appears in the other lists, and Nemuel and Zerah appear as colloquial variations of Jemuel and Zohar. Such diversities in oral language are usual to this day in the East and elsewhere. "Son of a Kenaanitess." This implies that intermarriage with the Kenaanites was the exception to the rule in the family of Jacob. Wives might have been obtained from Hebrew, Aramaic, or at all events Shemite tribes who were living in their vicinity. The three sons of Levi are common to all the lists, with the slight variation of Gershom for Gershon. The sons of Judah are also unvaried. We are here reminded that Er and Onon died in the land of Kenaan Genesis 46:12, and of course did not come down into Egypt. The extraordinary circumstances of Judah's family are recorded in Genesis 38:In order that Hezron and Hamul may have been born at the arrival of Jacob's household in Egypt, Judah's and Perez's first sons must have been born in the fourteenth year of their respective fathers. For the discussion of this matter see the remarks on that chapter. The four sons of Issakar occur in the other lists, with the variation of Jashub for Job. The three sons of Zebulun recur in the book of Numbers; but in the list of Chronicles no mention is made of his posterity. Dinah does not appear in the other lists. The descendants of Leah are in all thirty-two; six sons, one daughter, twenty-three grandsons, and two great grandsons. "All the souls, his sons and his daughters, were thirty and three." Here "all the souls" include Jacob himself, and "his sons and his daughters" are to be understood as a specification of what is included besides himself.

And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.
And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.
And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.
And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.
These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.
And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.
Next are enumerated the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid. The seven sons of Gad recur in Numbers 26, with the variants Zephon, Ozni, and Arod, for Ziphion, Ezbon, and Arodi; but they do not occur in Chronicles. Of Asher's five children, Jishuah is omitted in Numbers, but appears in Chronicles. This seems to arise from circumstances that the list in Numbers was drawn up at the time of the facts recorded, and that in Chronicles is extracted partly from Genesis. The other names are really the same in all the lists. The descendants of Zilpah are sixteen - two sons, eleven grandsons, one granddaughter, and two great-grandsons.

And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.
These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.
The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.
The sons of Rachel. It is remarkable that she alone is called the wife of Jacob, because she was the wife of his choice. Yet the children of the beloved, we perceive, are not placed before those of the less loved Deuteronomy 21:15-16. Joseph's two sons are the same in all lists. Of the ten sons of Benjamin only five appear in Numbers Num 26:38-41, Bela and Ashbel being the same, and Ahiram, Shupham, and Hupham, being variants of Ehi, Muppim, and Huppim. In two hundred and fifty years the other five have become extinct. Naaman and Ard seem to have died early, as two sons of Bela, named after them, take their places as heads of families or clans. In Chronicles 1 Chronicles 7:6-12 we have two lists of his descendants which do not seem to be primary, as they do not agree with either of the former lists, or with one another, though some of the names recur. The descendants of Rachel are fourteen - two sons and twelve grandsons.

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.
And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.
These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.
And the sons of Dan; Hushim.
The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, come last. Hushim, the son of Dan, appears in Numbers Num 26:42 as Shuham, and perhaps in Chronicles 1 Chronicles 7:12 in an obscure connection. The four sons of Naphtali occur in all the lists, Shallum being the variant in Chronicles 1 Chronicles 7:13 for Shillem. The descendants of Bilhah are seven - two sons and five grandsons.

And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.
These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.
All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
All the souls that went with Jacob into Egypt, "that came out of his loins," were eleven sons, one daughter, fifty grandchildren, and four great-grandsons; in all, sixty-six. Jacob, Joseph and his two sons, are four; and thus, all the souls belonging to the family of Jacob which went into Egypt were seventy. This account, with its somewhat intricate details, is expressed with remarkable brevity and simplicity.

The Septuagint gives seventy-five as the sum-total, which is made out by inserting Makir the son, and Gilead the grandson of Menasseh, Shuthelah and Tahan, sons, and Edom or Eran, a grandson of Ephraim Numbers 26. This version has also the incorrect statement that the sons of Joseph born to him in Egypt were nine; whereas by its own showing they were seven, and Jacob and Joseph are to be added to make up the nine. Some suppose that Stephen's statement - ἀποστείλας δὲ Ιωσὴφ μετεκαλέσατο τὸν πατέρα αὑτοῦ Ιακὼβ καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν συγγένειαν ἐν ψυχαῖς ἐβδομήκοντα πέντε aposteilas de Iōsēph ton patera autou Iakōb kai tēn sungeneian en psuchais hebdomēkonta pente - is founded on this version. If Stephen here quoted the Septuagint as a well-known version, he was accountable only for the correctness of his quotation, and not for the error which had crept into his authority. This was immaterial to his present purpose, and it was not the manner of the sacred speakers to turn aside from their grand task to the pedantry of criticism. But it is much more likely that the text of the Septuagint has here been conformed in a bungling way to the number given by Stephen. For it is to be observed that his number refers, according to the text, to Jacob and all his kindred, "exclusive of Joseph and his sons." They could not therefore, amount to seventy-five, but only to sixty-seven, if we count merely Jacob and his proper descendants. It is probable, therefore, that in the idea of Stephen the "kindred" of Jacob included the eight or nine surviving wives that accompanied the children of Israel. Judah's wife was dead, and it is probable that Reuben's was also deceased before he committed incest with Bilhah. If there were two or three more widowers the number of surviving wives would be eight or nine.

The number of the children of Israel is very particularly noted. But the Scripture lays no stress upon the number itself, and makes no particular application of it. It stands forth, therefore, on the record merely as a historical fact. It is remarkable that it is the product of seven, the number of holiness; and ten, the number of completeness. It is still more remarkable that it is the number of the names of those who are the heads of the primitive nations. This is in accordance with the fact that the church is the counterpart of the world, not only in diversity of character and destiny, but also in the adaptation of the former to work out the restitution of all things to God in the latter. The covenant with Abraham is a special means by which the seed may come, who is to give legal and vital effect to the old and general covenant with Noah the representative of the nations. The church of God in the world is to be the instrument by which the kingdom of the world is to become the kingdom of Christ. "When the Most High bestowed the inheritance on the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel" Deuteronomy 32:8. This curious sentence may have an immediate reference to the providential distribution of the human family over the habitable parts of the earth, according to the number of his church, and of his dispensation of grace; but at all events it conveys the great and obvious principle that all things whatsoever in the affairs of men are antecedently adapted with the most perfect exactitude to the benign reign of grace already realized in the children of God, and yet to be extended to all the sons and daughters of Adam.

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 threescore and ten.
And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
The settlement in Goshen is now narrated. "Judah he sent before him." We have already seen why the three older sons of Jacob were disqualified for taking the lead in important matters relating to the family. "To lead the way before him into Goshen" - to get the requisite directions from Joseph, and then conduct the immigrants to their destined resting-place. "And went up." Egypt was the valley of the Nile, and therefore, a low country. Goshen was comparatively high, and therefore, at some distance from the Nile and the sea. "And he appeared unto him." A phrase usually applied to the appearance of God to men, and intended to intimate the unexpectedness of the sight, which now came before the eyes of Jacob. "I will go up." In a courtly sense, to approach the residence of the sovereign is to go up. Joseph intends to make the "occupation" of his kindred a prominent part of his communication to Pharaoh, in order to secure their settlement in Goshen. This he considers desirable, on two grounds: first, because Goshen was best suited for pasture; and secondly, because the chosen family would thus be comparatively isolated from Egyptian society.

The two nations were in some important respects mutually repulsive. The idolatrous and superstitious customs of the Egyptians were abhorrent to a worshipper of the true God; and "every shepherd was the abomination of Egypt." The expression here employed is very strong, and rises even to a religious aversion. Herodotus makes the cowherds the third of the seven classes into which the Egyptians were divided (Herodotus ii. 164). Others include them in the lowest class of the community. This, however, is not sufficient to account for the national antipathy. About seventeen or eighteen centuries before the Christian era it is probable that the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, were masters of the southern part of the country, while a native dynasty still prevailed in lower Egypt. The religion of these shepherd intruders was different from that of the Egyptians which they treated with disrespect. They were addicted to the barbarities which are usually incident to a foreign rule. It is not surprising, therefore, that the shepherd became the abomination of Egypt.

- Jacob in Goshen

11. רעמסס ra‛mesês, Ra'meses "son of the sun."

31. מטה mı̂ṭṭāh, "bed." מטה maṭṭeh "staff."

Arrangements are now made for the settlement of Israel in Goshen. The administration of Joseph during the remaining years of the famine is then recorded. For the whole of this period his father and brothers are subject to him, as their political superior, according to the reading of his early dreams. We then approach to the death-bed of Jacob, and hear him binding Joseph by an oath to bury him in the grave of his fathers.

And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.
And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;
And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.
And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

Bible Hub
Genesis 45
Top of Page
Top of Page