Genesis 46:1
And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
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(1) Israel . . . came to Beer-sheba.—Though Jacob, in the first tumult of his joy, had determined upon hastening to Egypt, yet many second thoughts must have made him hesitate. He would call up to mind the boding prophecy in Genesis 15:13, that the descendants of Abraham were to be reduced to slavery, and suffer affliction in a foreign land for four hundred years. It might even be a sin, involving the loss of the Abrahamic covenant, to quit the land of Canaan, which Abraham had expressly forbidden Isaac to abandon (Genesis 24:8). Isaac, too, when going into Egypt, had been commanded to remain in Palestine (Genesis 26:2). Jacob therefore determines solemnly to consult God before finally taking so important a step, and no place could be more suitable than Beersheba, as both Abraham and Isaac had built altars there for Jehovah’s worship (Genesis 21:33; Genesis 26:25), and, moreover, it lay upon the route from Hebron to Egypt.

Genesis 46:1. Israel came to Beer-sheba — Which place he chose in remembrance of the communion which his father and grandfather had had with God in that place. And offered sacrifices — That is, extraordinary sacrifices, besides those he was wont to offer at stated times; and this he did, as well to express his gratitude for the preservation of Joseph’s life, and the many other blessings which he had received, as by way of supplication to God for his direction in this important affair, whether he might leave the promised land of Canaan, and remove into the idolatrous country of Egypt; and if so, for the divine protection and blessing to be vouchsafed toward himself and family, both in his journey and in Egypt.

Unto the God of his father Isaac — Whom Isaac had honoured and served, and who had constantly provided for and confirmed his covenant with him. He mentions Isaac rather than Abraham, to show that though Isaac was much inferior to Abraham in gifts and grace, yet God was no less Isaac’s than Abraham’s God, and therefore would be his God also, notwithstanding his unworthiness.

46:1-4 Even as to those events and undertakings which appear most joyful, we should seek counsel, assistance, and a blessing from the Lord. Attending on his ordinances, and receiving the pledges of his covenant love, we expect his presence, and that peace which it confers. In all removals we should be reminded of our removal out of this world. Nothing can encourage us to fear no evil when passing through the valley of the shadow of death, but the presence of Christ.Jacob arriving at Beer-sheba is encouraged by a revelation from God. Beer-sheba may be regarded as the fourth scene of Abraham's abode in the land of promise. "Offered sacrifices." He had gathered from the words of the Lord to Abraham Genesis 15:13, and the way in which the dreams of Joseph were realized in the events of Providence, that his family were to descend into Egypt. He felt therefore, that in taking this step he was obeying the will of Heaven. Hence, he approaches God in sacrifices at an old abode of Abraham and Isaac, before he crosses the border to pass into Egypt. On this solemn occasion God appears to him in the visions of the night. He designates himself EL the Mighty, and the God of his father. The former name cheers him with the thought of an all-sufficient Protector. The latter identifies the speaker with the God of his father, and therefore, with the God of eternity, of creation, and of covenant. "Fear not to go down into Mizraim." This implies both that it was the will of God that he should go down to Egypt, and that he would be protected there. "A great nation."

Jacob had now a numerous family, of whom no longer one was selected, but all were included in the chosen seed. He had received the special blessing and injunction to be fruitful and multiply Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11. The chosen family is to be the beginning of the chosen nation. "I will go down with thee." The "I" is here emphatic, as it is also in the assurance that he will bring him up in the fullness of time from Egypt. If Israel in the process of growth from a family to a nation had remained among the Kenaanites, he would have been amalgamated with the nation by intermarriage, and conformed to its vices. By his removal to Egypt he is kept apart from the demoralizing influence of a nation, whose iniquity became so great as to demand a judicial extirpation Genesis 15:16. He is also kept from sinking into an Egyptian by the fact that a shepherd, as he was, is an abomination to Egypt; by his location in the comparatively high land of Goshen, which is a border land, not naturally, but only politically, belonging to Egypt; and by the reduction of his race to a body of serfs, with whom that nation would not condescend to intermingle. "Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes." His long-lost son shall be present to perform the last offices to him when deceased.


Ge 46:1-4. Sacrifice at Beer-sheba.

1. Israel took his journey with all that he had—that is, his household; for in compliance with Pharaoh's recommendation, he left his heavy furniture behind. In contemplating a step so important as that of leaving Canaan, which at his time of life he might never revisit, so pious a patriarch would ask the guidance and counsel of God. With all his anxiety to see Joseph, he would rather have died in Canaan without that highest of earthly gratifications than leave it without the consciousness of carrying the divine blessing along with him.

came to Beer-sheba—That place, which was in his direct route to Egypt, had been a favorite encampment of Abraham (Ge 21:33) and Isaac (Ge 26:25), and was memorable for their experience of the divine goodness; and Jacob seems to have deferred his public devotions till he had reached a spot so consecrated by covenant to his own God and the God of his fathers.Jacob sets out towards Egypt with his family and substance; offers saerifices at Beer-sheba; God appears to him in a vision, renewing his promises and blessing, Genesis 46:1-4. He goes to Egypt, Genesis 46:5,6. The names of the children of Israel, Genesis 46:8-27. Jacob sends Judah before him; Joseph goes to meet his father; their joy, Genesis 46:28-30. Joseph instructs his brethren what to say to Pharaoh, to declare themselves shepherds, and desire to dwell in Goshen; the reason, Genesis 46:31-34.

1706 Both in thankfulness to God for former favours, and especially for Joseph’s preservation and happiness; and by way of supplication to God for his direction in this great case, whether he might leave the promised land of Canaan, and go into the idolatrous and impious land of Egypt; and for his protection and blessing, as well in his journey as in Egypt.

The God of his father Isaac; whom Isaac honoured and served, and who had constantly protected and provided for Isaac, and confirmed his covenant with him. He mentions Isaac rather than Abraham, partly for Isaac’s honour, to show that though Isaac was much inferior to Abraham in gifts and graces, yet God was no less Isaac’s than Abraham’s God, and therefore would be his God also, notwithstanding his unworthiness; and partly for his own comfort, because Isaac was Jacob’s immediate parent, and had transferred the blessing of the covenant from Esau to Jacob, and the validity of that translation depended upon Isaac’s interest in God.

And Israel took his journey with all that he had,.... Set forward in it immediately, as soon as possible after he had resolved to take it, and with him he took all his children and grandchildren, and all his cattle and goods; which shows that he took his journey not only to see his son Joseph, but to continue in Egypt, at least during the years of famine, as his son desired he would, otherwise there would have been no occasion of taking all along with him:

and came to Beersheba: where he and his ancestors Abraham and Isaac had formerly lived; a place where sacrifices had often been offered up, and the worship of God performed, and much communion enjoyed with him. This is said to be sixteen miles from Hebron (n), where Jacob dwelt, and according to Musculus was six German miles from it:

and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac; which were attended with prayer and praise; with praise for hearing that his son Joseph was alive, and with prayer that he might have a good, safe, and prosperous journey.

(n) Bunting's Travels, p. 72.

And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and {a} offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

(a) By this he signified both that he worshipped the true God, and that he kept in his heart the possession of that land from which need drove him at that time.

1–5. Jacob at Beer-sheba

1. Beer-sheba] Cf. Genesis 21:31; Genesis 21:33; Genesis 26:33; Genesis 28:10. Jacob, in Genesis 37:14 (J), is described as dwelling at Hebron.

the God of his father Isaac] For this reference to the God of the father, cf. Genesis 26:24; Genesis 28:13; Genesis 31:53.

It is natural that Jacob would not leave his home without sacrificing to his God. He offers sacrifices at Beer-sheba, with which sanctuary Isaac had been especially connected; cf. Genesis 26:23-25. Either, therefore, according to E, Jacob resided at Beer-sheba, or he had left his home at Hebron (J) and was now on his way south, seeking at Beer-sheba to obtain Divine approval for the descent into Egypt. Isaac had been forbidden to go down into Egypt (Genesis 26:2). Other reasons have been suggested, e.g. thanksgiving for the life of Joseph, and fear of Joseph’s anger against his brethren; cf. Genesis 50:15.

Verse 1. - And Israel (as the head of the theocratic family) took his journey - literally, broke up, sc. his encampment (cf. Genesis 12:9) - with all that he had, and came - from Hebron (Genesis 37:14) - to Beersheba, - where Abraham (Genesis 21:33) and Isaac (Genesis 26:25) had both sojourned for considerable periods, and erected altars to Jehovah - and offered sacrifices unto the God (the Elohim) of his father Isaac. Probably giving thanks to God for the tidings concerning Joseph (Ainsworth); consulting God' about his journey to Egypt (Rosenmüller); it may be, pouring out before God his fear as well as gratitude and joy, more especially if he thought about the stern prophecy (Genesis 15:13) which had been given to Abraham (Kalisch); perhaps commending himself and family to the care of his covenant God (Keil), and certainly praying that God would confirm to him and his the covenant which had been made with his fathers (Calvin). Genesis 46:1"So Israel took his journey (from Hebron, Genesis 37:14) with all who belonged to him, and came to Beersheba." There, on the border of Canaan, where Abraham and Isaac had called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 21:33; Genesis 26:25), he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac, ut sibi firmum et ratum esse testetur faedus, quod Deus ipse cum Patribus pepigerat (Calvin). Even though Jacob might see the ways of God in the wonderful course of his son Joseph, and discern in the friendly invitation of Joseph and Pharaoh, combined with the famine prevailing in Canaan, a divine direction to go into Egypt; yet this departure from the land of promise, in which his fathers had lived as pilgrims, was a step which necessarily excited serious thoughts in his mind as to his own future and that of his family, and led him to commend himself and his followers to the care of the faithful covenant God, whether in so doing he thought of the revelation which Abram had received (Genesis 15:13-16), or not.
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