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Bible: What Does Genesis 45-46 Teach Us About Israel and His Journey to Goshen?

Updated on September 9, 2016



Joseph Reveals His True Identity

Judah’s pitiable account crushes Joseph’s heart and finally causes him to reveal his identity to his brothers (v. 1).

Astounded by his loud weeping and mind-numbing disclosure (vv. 2-3a), the sons of Israel stand silently in awe and disbelief (v. 3b).

To quell their anxieties, Joseph tells them to approach him; apparently, he shows them some distinguishing mark (perhaps his circumcision?) that identifies who (or what) he is (v. 4). [The Hebrew verb may indicate as much.]

At this point Joseph further comforts them, revealing God’s purposes in allowing them to sell him to Egypt (v. 5a): to preserve life in general (v. 5b), but especially to save a posterity for them despite seven years of famine (vv. 6-8a).

As co-ruler with Pharaoh (v. 8b), Joseph can now provide for Israel’s whole family in Goshen during the remaining hard times (vv. 9-11).

After telling his brothers to bring his father down quickly (vv. 12-13), he finally breaks down in joyful weeping and displays of brotherly affection (vv. 14-15).

Joseph Provides for Benjamin


When Pharaoh hears of the glad reunion, he allows Joseph’s brothers to bring Israel down from Canaan and to use Egyptian carts for their children and wives (vv. 16-20).

Joseph provides his brothers, especially Benjamin, with all that they needed for the journey home as well as a generous gift for his father (vv. 21-24).

[Interestingly, he anticipates their possible worries (v. 24b), and assures them that this latter blessing is no trick].

When Israel first hears his sons’ report about Joseph’s health and high position in Egypt, he is incredulous (vv. 25-26).

However, after listening further and seeing the carts and donkeys, Israel becomes convinced that his son is alive, and decides to “see him before I die” (vv. 27-28).

[Even in these final words, Israel seems despondent—almost as if he were not satisfied].



Number of Israel's Descendants

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Israel Travels to Egypt

Genesis 46

On his way to Egypt, Israel stops at Beersheba, the site of Abraham’s oath with Abimelech (see 21:31-33) and Isaac’s oath with another Abimelech (see 26:26-33); there he sacrifices to Isaac’s LORD (v. 1).

[Abraham called the place Beersheba (Well of the Oath or Well of the Seven), and Isaac named it Shebah (Oath or Seven).

When did the name Beersheba finally "stick"?]

Israel sees night visions in which God tells him not to fear going to Egypt, for He will bring him back to Canaan to die (vv. 2-4).

Assured of the LORD’s guidance, Israel takes everyone and everything he possesses to Egypt (vv. 5-7).

Next, Moses delineates all of Israel’s descendants. Beginning with Leah’s thirty-three children, grandchildren and great grandchildren (vv. 8-15), he then moves on to Zilpah’s sixteen (vv. 16-18), continues with Rachel’s fourteen (vv. 19-22), and ends with Bilhah’s seven (vv. 23-25).

Verse 26 states that sixty-six persons in all go to Egypt with Israel; these individuals do not include Jacob’s daughters-in-law.

Adding his two wives and two maids to the mix amounts to seventy (v. 27).

[Stephen (the New Testament character) cites that seventy-five descendants were with Joseph in Egypt (cf. Acts 7:14).

Franz Delitzsch explains that the variation is “due to Septuagintal inclusion of the three grandsons and two great-grandsons of Joseph mentioned in Numbers 26” (Qtd. in Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 223)].

Despised Profession in Egypt

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Despised by Egyptians

Needing precise directions to Goshen, Israel sends trusty Judah ahead to Joseph (v. 28).When Joseph and Israel reunite, much weeping (v. 29) and joy (v. 30) occur.

Then Joseph advises his brethren to tell Pharaoh that they are “shepherds” when the king questions them about their occupation (vv. 31-34).

[Perhaps Joseph first cleared the matter with Pharaoh to avoid trampling upon the latter’s scruples.

On the other hand, because the word “shepherd” does not necessarily indicate that the brethren tended sheep, but only livestock (herds of cattle and flocks of goats), Joseph may have advised his brothers to stress the latter and omit the former in order to avoid "issues"].

© 2014 glynch1


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    • glynch1 profile image

      glynch1 4 years ago

      You are right. I cannot recall anyplace in this section of Scripture (39-50) that intimates how Joseph learned these lessons. We only know that "the LORD was with Joseph." Moses repeated that phrase time and time again in that chapter to describe Joseph's close relationship with his God.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      So many lessons Joseph teaches! Compassion and forgiveness really

      stands out to me in this section. Not sure I would have handled the situation as calmly as Joseph did, but glad for the example. Thanks for these continued lessons.