January 12, 2022 - Genesis 46-50
“So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba” (46:1). And God instructed Jacob to continue on his journey, all the way to Egypt. God also promised to protect and bless him and his family. The book ends with the entire clan in Egypt, Jacob’s last words to his sons, and Jacob’s death. Israel is in Egypt, but they are not to remain there; that’s the story of the next book.
For now, there is a matter that strikes me as quite interesting in this story. When the family arrived in Egypt, Joseph told his brothers to say to Pharaoh, “’Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (46:34). From the beginning, Israel lived separately from the Egyptians. I don’t think the essential point, here, is that God’s people are always different from others; rather, this is a particular, historical scenario. However, I also do not think it is wrong to see, here, an illustration of the fact that God’s people are different from others; furthermore, this difference will be noticed by the world, and the world will often react with scorn and opposition. But we always have this assurance: that God will be with us and will do good for us (see 46:3-4 and God’s promise to Jacob). What other hymn can we possibly think of than George Keith’s “How Firm a Foundation?”
Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
for I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. --George Keith (1787)