And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.…
I. IT MARKS THE COMMENCEMENT, AND GIVES THE OUTLINE OF, THE NATION'S HISTORY.
II. IT MARKS THE TRIBE OF THE MESSIAH.
III. THE NAMES ARE SIGNIFICANT. Thus the names of Reuben's sons signify: "teacher," "distinguished," "beautiful one," "noble one." These express a sanguine hope. Also the names of Levi's sons signify: "expulsion of the profane," "congregation of the consecrated," "practiser of discipline." These are the leading principles and proper characteristics of priestly rule. We hasten rapidly over Biblical names, but much instruction may be gathered from them.
IV. THE FACTS CONNECTED WITH SOME OF THE NAMES ARE SUGGESTIVE. Thus Dinah, though condemned to a single life, is yet reckoned among the founders of the house of Israel in Egypt. This points to the elevation of woman, and to the idea of female inheritance. Again, Judah was the father's minister to Joseph. By his faithfulness, strength, and wisdom he rises in the opinion of his father. His distinguished place in the annals of the nation comes out, at length, in the grandeur of that prophetic word which declares God's loving purpose in this great history (Genesis 49:10).
V. THE NUMBER OF THE NAMES IS ALSO SUGGESTIVE. "It is remarkable that it is the product of seven, the number of holiness; and ten, the number of completeness. It is still more remarkable that it is the number of the names of those who were the heads of the primitive nations. The Church is the counterpart of the world, and it is to be the instrument by which the kingdom of the world is to become the kingdom of Christ. When the Most High bestowed the inheritance on the nations, "when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8). This curious sentence may have an immediate reference to the providential distribution of the human family over the habitable parts of the earth, according to the number of His church and of His dispensation of grace: but, at all events, it conveys the great and obvious principle, that all things whatsoever, in the affairs of men, are antecedently adapted with the most perfect exactitude to the benign reign of grace already realized in the children of God, and yet to be extended to all the sons and daughters of Adam.
(T. H. Leale.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.