So Isra'el Took All His Offering with Him to Egypt

46: 1-7

DIG: What concerns Isra’el as he leaves his homeland of Canaan? As he prepares to meet his long lost son Joseph? As he goes where he has never been before, an alien, likely never to return? How did God reassure Jacob about going to Egypt?

REFLECT: If ADONAI were calling you, rather than Yosef, what would He be asking you to leave behind? Why? What would God want you to keep for your journey? When the Lord wants you to alter your lifestyle, what does He do? How does He get your attention? What might God be asking you to change about your lifestyle now?

Isra’el probably thought he was going to Egypt for only a few years, and even then it was with some reluctance and hesitation that he consented. God had instructed his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac (Hebrew: Yitz’chak) to stay out of Egypt. He was going, but he felt uncomfortable about it. Until then, each time he had made an important move in his life, God had spoken to him directly. When he left his parents to go to Haran, God had appeared to him at Bethel (28:13-15), when he had been with Laban long enough, God instructed him to return to Canaan (31:3) and even when he left Shechem, God had appeared to him (35:1).699 He needed a little more encouragement than the invitation from his son Joseph or even from Pharaoh. He needed a green light from God.700

Nevertheless, Isra’el set out with all that was his, and as he journeyed south from Hebron to Egypt, he stopped just before leaving the Promised Land at Beersheba. It was the southern border of the Land and the “point of no return” before entering Egypt. It was there that Abraham had a special revelation from God (21:33), and where he lived after the offering of Yitz’chak (22:19). Jacob had grown up there, but even more, it was a significant location in the life of his father Isaac. It was at Beersheba that God had appeared to Isaac in the night and spoken to him words of promise and comfort. In response, Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD (26:23-25). Now, perhaps on the same altar, Jacob offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac (46:1).

And then, the God of his father Isaac spoke to Isra’el in a vision at night. The inspired author Moses commonly used the name Isra’el, when referring to Jacob. Therefore, God spoke to him and said: Ya’akov ! Ya’akov! The repetition was for emphasis. And Jacob replied: Here I am (46:2). Then for the third time, God comforted Isra’el by reaffirming the Abrahamic Covenant. He said: I AM God, the God of your father. There is no doubt who was speaking to Isra’el. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt (46:3). This is the only time that God approved of the family leaving the Promised Land. Previously, God had told Jacob’s grandfather Abraham not to go down to Egypt, but he disobeyed, and in the process acquired an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar with disastrous consequences (16:1-15). Likewise, the LORD appeared to Isaac and told him, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live” (26:2). But like his father Abraham, he did not listen and almost had his wife taken from him. Even Jacob himself had fled to Haran against God’s wishes after deceiving his father. But for the first time, God approved of Ya’akov leaving the Promised Land with his family.

Then the reason is given. God said: For I will make you into a great nation there (46:3). This was a foreshadowing that his journey to Egypt would not be a short one. The Holy Spirit knew that Jacob’s family was in fact leaving the Land of promise and entering a land of slavery. In Egypt, the Israelites would multiply without intermarriage with the goyim. They were fruitful and multiplied greatly, and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land [of Egypt] was filled with them (Exodus 1:7; Psalm 105:24). Finally their slavery would accomplish God’s purposes just as Joseph’s slavery had been used to His glory. The Israelites would eventually escape from Egypt due to God’s mighty acts (Exodus 7:1 to 14:31), and by His grace they would enter Canaan as a great nation.701

I will go down to Egypt with you, as He was in Haran and in the Promised Land, and I will surely bring you, singular you meaning Ya’akov, back again (46:4a). Is this an absolute singular or a collective singular? If it is an absolute singular, it means that Jacob will be carried back to the Land and buried there, but if it is being used as a collective singular, it means that the sons of Isra’el will be brought out of Egypt, and therefore God promises the exodus. But either way, his going down to Egypt will fulfill God’s covenant with Abraham. Earlier ADONAIsaid to Abraham, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (15:13-16).

And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes in death (46:4b). How comforting for Jacob to know that the one he thought dead will be with him at his death.702 He now knows that his life will end in Egypt, and indeed, he would spend the next seventeen years there. But there was no turning back once God spoke to him.

Therefore, at Beersheba, God encouraged Ya’akov about going down to Egypt. Identifying Himself asthe God of his father Yitz’chak, He assured Jacob that He (El, the strong Creator and Sovereign of all men) would protect and bless him in Egypt, even as He had in Canaan.703 That was the green light Ya’akov had been looking for!

No longer hesitant, Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Ya’akov and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. They also took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt. He took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters. All his offspring were included in God’s divine blessing (46:5-7). Jacob’s family had certainly had as much, if not more, friction as that of Abraham and of Yitz’chak. Yet Ya’akov had no Ishmael, as Abraham had, and no Esau, as Isaac had. Jacob’s decidedly dysfunctional family was on the verge of coming together again, but this time in peace.704

 

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