Genesis 46
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics


1. A gracious meeting. In the visions of the night, at Beersheba, Jehovah, after a lapse of upwards of a quarter of a century, again makes known his presence to his servant. It was a signal act of gracious condescension on the part of God.

2. A promised meeting. As the God of Abraham and of Isaac, Jehovah had solemnly taken Jacob into covenant with himself, and engaged to be with him for guidance and succor wherever he might wander and whensoever he might need assistance; and such an occasion had manifestly arisen then in the experience of the patriarch.

3. A solicited meeting. It is more than likely this was the explanation of Jacob's sacrifices at Beersheba. He was asking God to come to him with counsel and help at the important crisis which had come upon him. 4. An encouraging meeting. Jacob got all that he desired and more - words of cheer and promises of love, that sufficed at once to dispel his fears and animate his hopes.


1. A longed-for meeting. How earnestly father and son had yearned to behold one another we can imagine better than express.

2. An expected meeting. No doubt Joseph instructed Judah to inform Jacob that he (Joseph) would visit him at Goshen.

3. A happy meeting. Those who have passed through experiences in any degree similar to thin of Joseph and Jacob meeting after many years, when each perhaps thought the other dead, will not be surprised at their emotion.


1. An interesting, meeting. Of age with (probable) youth, of poverty with wealth, of lowly birth (at least, comparatively) with regal dignity, of piety with superstition.

2. An instructive meeting. No doubt the monarch would learn something of Jacob's by-past history, and let us hope too of Jacob's God; and perhaps Jacob would discover something in what he heard from Pharaoh concerning Joseph that would lead him to recognize the Divine hand even mere clearly than he did.

3. A profitable meeting. Pharaoh got a good man's blessing, and Jacob won a great man's smile. - W.

While there were providential intimations which were clear enough, still the direct revelation of God was necessary for Jacob's assurance. At Beersheba, the consecrated spot, Jacob offers sacrifices in the covenant spirit, and receives in return the message of the covenant God: "I will make of thee a great nation." "I will also surely bring thee up again," i.e. in thy descendants. The vision is not a mere personal matter for Jacob's consolation, it is another in the series of Divine revelations which are connected with the development of the covenant. - R.

Convinced that Joseph really lived, Jacob's first impulse was to hasten to him. But at Beersheba, ere he left the land of Canaan, he sought guidance of God. The promise made him reminds of that at Bethel. Each on the occasion of leaving the land; each revealing God's protecting care. His presence is the only pledge of safety (cf. Exodus 33:14, 15). It was not a word for Jacob only. Had it been so it would have failed, for Jacob never returned to Canaan. It was like the promise to Abraham (Genesis 17:8; cf. Hebrews 11:9, 10). It was the assurance that God's word would not fail. Though he seemed to be leaving his inheritance, he was being led in the way appointed for its more complete possession. God was with him in all This fully made known to us in Immanuel, without whom we can do nothing, but who by the Holy Spirit abides in his people (John 15:4; John 16:14).

I. JACOB'S EXAMPLE. Before taking a step of importance he solemnly drew near to God (cf. Nehemiah 2:4; 2 Corinthians 12:8). Not even to see Joseph would he go without inquiring of the Lord. Christ by his Holy Spirit is to his people wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). The habit of prayer for guidance, or for wisdom to discern the right way, rests on sure promises (Isaiah 30:21; Luke 11:13), and is a thoroughly practical resource. We look not for visions or direct manifestations. But guidance is given through channels infinitely varied, though our way may seem strange; and it may be long ere we find that our prayer has been all along answered in the course of events. Why so much neglect of this? so much uncertainty? Because often men do not really seek to be guided by God. Their real wish is to be led as they themselves wish.

II. They who would be sure of God's promises MUST LEAN ON HIS GUIDANCE. They may seem to be led far from what they hoped for. They would fain have great spiritual elevation, and are kept low. They would like to do great work, and are led through homely duties; to have great powers for God's service, and are made weak. The cross must be borne (Revelation 3:19), and it is sure to take a form they do not like. Otherwise it would not be really a cross. Many would willingly endure pain or poverty if they might thereby gain fame.

III. GOD'S CARE FOR INDIVIDUALS. "I will go down with thee." The universe in its laws shows power, wisdom, and love. But what inspires trust is the confidence that each one is remembered and cared for by God, a confidence called forth by the human sympathy of Christ (Matthew 9:36; Luke 7:13; John 11:35). - M.

The souls of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt were threescore and ten. The number seventy became afterwards a symbolic number among the Israelites- as in the seventy elders of Moses, the seventy of the Sanhedrim, the seventy of the Alexandrian version of the Scriptures, the seventy disciples of the Lord, the seventy heathen nations of the world according to the Jews. There may be something in the combination of numbers. Seventy is 7 × 10. Ten is the symbol of the complete development of humanity. Seven of perfection. Therefore seventy may symbolize the elect people of God as the hope of humanity - Israel in Egypt. In the twelve patriarchs and seventy souls we certainly see the foreshadowing of the Savior's appointments in the beginning of the Christian Church. The small number of Israel in the midst of the great multitude of Egypt is a great encouragement to faith. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" - R.

I. FULFILMENT OF DIVINE PROMISES. Both father and son examples of grace. Reminding us of Simeon, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," etc. (Judah is sent forward to Joseph - again a distinction placed upon the royal tribe).' The meeting of father and son takes place in Goshen. For the people of God, although in Egypt must not be of it.

II. SEPARATION AND DISTINCTION from the heathen world- enforced from the beginning. The policy of Joseph again is a mingling together of -

III. SIMPLICITY AND WISDOM. He does not attempt to conceal from Pharaoh the low caste of the shepherds, but he trusts in God that what was an abomination unto the Egyptians will be made by his grace acceptable. It was a preservation at the same time from intermarriage with Egyptians, and a security to the Israelites of the pastoral country of Goshen. It was better to suffer reproach with the people of God than to be received among the highest in the heathen land, at the cost of losing the sacredness of the chosen people. A lesson this on the importance of preserving ourselves "unspotted from the world." - R.

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