Genesis 46-47 • Jacob's Last Journey


One of the things to keep in mind in the course of this lesson is why Jacob’s journey to Egypt is so drastically different from Abraham’s journey to Egypt. They present us with two pictures of living in the world as represented by Egypt, one of failure and one of success. This might seem surprising at first since we place Abraham at the highest point of the faith pyramid, so to speak, but it in this case it is Jacob who outperforms Abraham. As it turns out in both cases, it is not just the personal consequences which are at stake, but the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of our personal witness where it counts upon the unsaved as well. Abraham’s journey may be closest to what we personally experience, in that he is called out of the old life to a new life, temporarily backslides in his excursion to Egypt, but ultimately returns to the Lord in the Promised Land, Jacob’s journey is more in the character of how we are to live after coming into a right relationship with Christ as we line IN the world but not OF the world.

Read verses 46:1-7

Q: What does “Beersheba” mean?

A: It could be literally translated as “the well of the oath”.

Q: What might be significant about its geographic location?

A: It is considered the southernmost extremity of the Promised Land, midway between the Mediterranean Sea and the southern end of the Dead Sea. It’s the last stop before actually leaving the Promised Land.

Q: What takes place historically at Beersheba which may be pertinent to what is taking place here with Jacob?

  1. This is where God appeared to Hagar and provided a promise. (Gen. 21:17-18)
  2. This is where God appeared to Isaac and provided a promise. (Gen. 26:23-33)
  3. This is where Abraham returned after being prevented from sacrificing Isaac and receiving God’s promise on Mt. Moriah. (Gen. 22:19)

Point: This place is named more in line with the oath of God rather than the oath of man.

Q: What did Jacob do which, compared to his predecessors, might be considered unusual?

A: He stops and sacrifices to God. He effectively pauses to inquire of the Lord before proceeding past the proverbial “point of no return”.

Q: Why did Jacob need to do this?

A: He knew that his grandfather Abraham had sinned in going to Egypt (Gen. 12:10-20) and that his father Isaac was forbidden by God to go there. (Gen. 26:2).

Q: So what actually convinced Jacob to continue on to Egypt?

A: The reassurance of God’s Word through the dream.

Application: We not only seek God’s guidance and blessing when it appears there is no obvious way out of adversity, but even when provided an opportunity for what looks like safety and prosperity.

Read verses 46:28-34

Q: What does “Goshen” mean?

A: It can be translated both as “the place or temple of the sun” or as “approaching, drawing near”.

Point: This appears to have a dual meaning where for Egyptians it is drawing near to one of their chief gods in the form of Ra the sun god, and for Israel as a place where they will be drawn near to the One True God.

Q: Why should our attention be drawn to Judah’s role in this event?

A: It shows that Judah has gained the leadership role over the others as will be predicted later by Jacob (Gen. 49:8-12) and that he has earned the trust of his father. This foreshadows the work of the Messiah to come through the lineage of Judah.

Q: How is this carried out even further by Joseph?

A: Joseph not only prepares the way for his family, but with Pharaoh. It’s an illustration of believers abiding in Christ while still in the world, who must trust Christ to lead and direct them to what He has prepared for them.

Q: From a strict biblical perspective, what might be the greater meaning of the Egyptians’ disdain for shepherds?

A: This is the designation not only of those who bring God’s Word to and care for the flock, but one of Christ’s personal attributes is that of the Good Shepherd. (Ps. 23; Jn.10) Such are “loathsome” to the unsaved as represented by the Egyptians.

Application: We must go to the place prepared by Christ so that we may effectively live IN the world but not OF the world.

Read verses 47:1-12

Q: Is there any significance in the fact that Joseph selected only five of his brothers to be presented to Pharaoh?

A: It is difficult to be dogmatic as five seems to represent a number of things in Scripture, but is most often assigned by many to be a representation of God’s grace and goodness as well as to God’s Word as represented by the five books of the Torah. This might be an affirmation of both, representing that they have been brought safely through by God’s grace according to His Word.

Q: What should stand out to us when they state their intentions to Pharaoh?

A: “Sojourn” means to live in or inhabit a place if not permanently, then certainly for the foreseeable future, not just temporarily visit. Their statement, “We have come to sojourn in the land” (v.4) is a stark contrast to Abraham, who at most should have only visited long enough to resolve the problem of the famine but had to be kicked out to return to the Promised Land, and Isaac who was prohibited by God from going to Egypt.

Point: Having received the Word of God through Jacob at Beersheba, they know that they are acting in accordance with God’s will.

Q: What specifically takes place when Pharaoh meets Jacob?

A: “…and Jacob blessed Pharaoh”. (v.7)

Q: As a greater picture of a meeting between God’s people and the unsaved, why should this not surprise us?

A: The only blessing which anyone still living in the world can receive from God comes through His people.

“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews

— John 4:22

Q: But why is it important for them to have their own place? How might this be related to Jacob meeting Pharaoh but then going out from his presence?

A: It is important for God’s people to never enter into a personal relationship with the unsaved; separation in this regard must always be maintained.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

— 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light

— Ephesians 5:5-8

Q: How might this be at the heart of the problem during Abraham’s stay in Egypt?

A: He settled down in their midst and became such a part of them that Pharaoh was willing to take Sarah as his wife. This ultimately resulted not only in a curse being brought upon the Egyptians, but damaging Abraham’s personal testimony. He had the opposite effect of Jacob and his household.

Application: When we are living in the world but exclusively according to His Word and ways, the visible testimony of God’s blessing to us in turn makes us a visible testimony and blessing to the unsaved.

Read verses 47:13-22

Q: Looking at this overall, what might this be a greater representation of spiritually?

A: It seems to parallel the greater illustration of dedication.

Q: What was dedicated first?

A: Their money, which is representative of their commerce and interaction with the world.

Q: What was dedicated second?

A: Their land, which is representative of their attachment to the world.

Q: What was dedication third?

A: Their livestock, which is representative of their possessions in the world.

Q: And what was ultimately dedicated?

A: Their own bodies.

Q: How might this be expressed as a similar pattern for New Testament believers?

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

— Romans 12:1-2

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

— Romans 6:16-19

But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

— 1 Corinthians 6:17-20

Application: The work of the Messiah in this life is to facilitate our bringing everything, even our physical being, into complete and total submission to the Father.

Read verses 47:23-26

Q: Given the overall discussion to this point, what is this addressing in the greater, spiritual context?

A: That which occurs once we have fully dedicated our lives completely to God: We plant His seed in the land—do the work of God’s Word in the world; We feed our household—do the work of God’s Word in the Body of Christ; We give God His tithe—we supply the resources for the working of God’s Word.

Application: Salvation is worked out in the course of submission.

Read verses 47:27-31

Q: What is the nature of Jacob’s request?

A: He does not want to be buried in Egypt, but in the Promised Land.

Q: How is this the logical conclusion to our discussion of the greater meaning of this passage?

A: We will not die in the world as represented by Egypt, but ultimately find ourselves in eternity with Christ as represented by the Promised Land. Just as Jacob wants to go to the same place as those who have gone before him, so shall we.

Application: Whether by death and Resurrection or by the onetime supernatural event we call the Rapture, we will permanently leave the life of the world for the promise of eternity with Christ.

Overall Application

It was Abraham’s personal decision to “sojourn” in Egypt because it seemed like the best thing to do under the circumstances and ultimately not only brought about God’s wrath, but lost his personal testimony to the unsaved in the process. Jacob, having first sought God’s guidance and blessing, “sojourned” in Egypt and not only became a blessing to the unsaved, but experienced God’s blessing for his whole nation.