Do Not Be Afraid
Israel leaves with all of his earthly possessions and when he arrives in Beersheba, he worshiped. God speaks in a vision to Jacob and tells him not to be afraid to make the journey to Egypt because it was there that God would make him great nation. The call to go to Egypt may have been a bit confusing after God had instructed Jacob not to go there in chapter twenty-six. Jacob's faith has been strengthened, and he is ready to follow and serve the Lord not matter the circumstances. God reassures Jacob that the sojourn to Egypt does not dissolve the covenant and further it would be the way that God fulfills his promise. God will be with Jacob; he will bless Jacob; he will reunite Jacob with Joseph, and God would bring Jacob back at last. The elderly patriarch may be in bad health, but he sets out with renewed faith and determination. The convoy heads for Egypt with wagons filled, livestock in tow, and all their goods. They all made it safely to Egypt as God had promised. The list of names that follows serves to remind the reader that God is already fulfilling his promise. Three generations in and the family has already multiplied considerably. The story is not about an individual; it is about a family, a community. God calls a people to himself so that the world will know what he is like.
Together At Last
As the journey nears its destination, Jacob sends Judah ahead to lead the way. Judah's action marks the fourth and last significant act of leadership by Judah in these chapters. Perhaps Judah precedes the family to Egypt to make the necessary arrangements for settlement in the land of Goshen. Whatever the reason, when the family arrives a few days later, Joseph goes out in his chariot to meet them. Imagine seeing your father for the first time in more than twenty years. Joseph has probably pictured this reunion in his mind thousands of times but now the moment has finally arrived. Joseph collapses onto his father and weeps for some time. Jacob expresses his relief and joy. Israel is ready to die now because he had seen for himself that his son is still alive.
Joseph shows his political skill, and he thought it wise to secure Pharaoh’s approval of the plans for the settlement of his family. He would explain to the king that his family were shepherds by trade and that they had brought their flocks and herds with them. He even coached his family to identify their occupation as shepherds. This was no deception on their part, for shepherding was the primary occupation of these men. The problem was that shepherds were detestable to the Egyptians and Pharaoh would probably authorize Jacob’s clan to settle in the more or less isolated area of Goshen. It is possible that Joseph was acting with the covenant in mind, and he wanted his family to be insulated as much as possible Egyptian influence.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think Jacob went to Beersheba?
- Why does God reassure Jacob?
- How does God encourage us?
- Why do family and community matter?
- Why do you think Joseph rode in his chariot?
- What do you think the brothers thought as they watched their father be reunited with his long lost son?
- What do we learn about Joseph by the way he handles the settling of his family?
- There seems to be a recurring theme of shepherds in the biblical narrative... think of how many places shepherds are a part of God's story? Why do you think that is?