Genesis 46


‘So, Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’ Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So, Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.’ Genesis 46:1-7

After the emotions of being told that Joseph is alive, Genesis 45:25-28, Israel, that is Jacob, moves his family towards Egypt and when he reaches Beersheba, where Abraham lived, Genesis 22:19, and where Isaac lived, Genesis 26:23, and so Israel offered the God of his father, Isaac, a sacrifice.

Because he’s afraid, God reassures him that everything that happened, including the famine, was part of God’s plan to not only save their lives, Genesis 45:5, and preserve a remnant, Genesis 45:7, but also to make him into a great nation. Once in Egypt they would stay there for four hundred years, again which was part of God’s plan, Genesis 15:13-14.

‘These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. The sons of Reuben: Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron. The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all. The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. The son of Dan: Hushim. The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all. All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.’ Genesis 46:8-27

As we’ve mentioned before genealogies are very important to the Jews as they trace their family lines, they were especially important if a Jew wanted to serve as a priest in the tabernacle or temple, because they had to be able to prove they originated from the tribe of Levi.

Coffman writes the following concerning this genealogy. Note that the two sons of Pharez, Hezron and Hamul are given in Genesis 46:12. Therefore, we add Heron, Hamul, and Dinah, Genesis 46:15, for a total of 34 names. From these, we subtract Er and Onan, who died in Canaan, for a total of 32 names, but the text says the number of Leah’s family totalled 33 names, Genesis 46:15.

The total, if Jacob is included, was 33, if Jacob was not included, the other was an unnamed daughter of Leah. Jacob had both a grandson, by Reuben, and a great-grandson, by Pharez named Hezron, but it was the great-grandson by Pharez who was in the ancestry of Jesus, Luke 3:33. Kohath was in the ancestry of Moses, Exodus 6:16 / Exodus 6:20.

Several things need to be said about this list. It does not include any of the daughters, except Dinah and Serah, despite the mention of Jacob’s daughters, and his son’s daughters in Genesis 46:7. The whole list is therefore contrived by the sacred narrator as a round number. It’s quite obvious also that some of the names in this list are of persons born after the entry into Egypt, as we may not suppose that Benjamin, described repeatedly as a ‘lad’ at this time, was suddenly a patriarch with ten children before the move to Egypt could be affected. The same appears to be true of Pharez.

Thus, this enumeration of ‘The Seventy’ serves the purpose of emphasising that number is considered to be a sacred number by the Jews, and apparently so honoured by Jesus himself.


The number seventy seems to have been associated in a peculiar way with the nation of Israel ever since the time when seventy apparently became the founders of the nation.

1. Seventy nations of the world are listed in Genesis 10.

2. Seventy elders are mentioned in Numbers 11:16.

3. Seventy years of captivity in Babylon were the punishment of Judah. 2 Chronicles 36:21.

4. Seventy weeks were determined for Israel in which to finish the transgression. Daniel 9:24.

5. Seventy translators produced the Septuagint.

6. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy members.

7. Jesus Christ himself sent out the ‘seventy’ witnesses of his kingdom. Luke 10:1.

8. ‘The days of our years are threescore and ten.’ Psalms 90:10.

The great intention, therefore, of this list is to show that there were seventy founders of the nation of Israel who went into Egypt.

You will note that in Acts 7:14 Stephen mentions that seventy-five people of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt. Stephen refers to the Greek Septuagint which included the five grandsons of Joseph, thus making the seventy-five people from whom the entire nation of Israel would be born in the land of Egypt.

‘Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.’ Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.’ Genesis 46:28-34

Jacob’s Family Settle In Goshen

We can almost sense the anticipation between Joseph and Jacob, Jacob sends Judah to get directions, and Joseph gets his chariot ready, what an emotional reunion this is between Joseph and his father, Jacob.

I can imagine there would be tears flowing for a long time from both of them. Israel, that is Jacob, now understands that God’s promise for him to become a great nation is now being fulfilled, and so, he’s ready to die. Joseph took the lead in finding the place for his father’s family to settle and it appears that Judah now takes the lead to settle Jacob’s family in Goshen. Goshen was located at the mouth of the River Nile and it was the best place available, Genesis 45:10 / Genesis 47:11-12.

As I’ve mentioned a few times now, the Egyptians saw these Canaanite shepherds as ‘unclean’, the lowest of low of society, hence why the Egyptians saw them as detestable and wouldn’t allow them anywhere near the centre of Egypt.

God’s plan to get the house of Israel into Egypt was now fulfilled, all those dreams and famines were sent by God for this purpose.

Go To Genesis 47