Genesis 46 - Jacob's Line

February 17, 2017

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.

And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:

His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.

And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

10 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.

11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

12 And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.

13 And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.

14 And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.

15 These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.

16 And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

17 And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.

18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.

19 The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.

20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

21 And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

22 These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

23 And the sons of Dan; Hushim.

24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

25 These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.

26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.

30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.

31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;

32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?

34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.


1. Jacob worships the Lord in Beersheba before leaving Canaan for the last time.

2. God promises to bring his family back to Canaan.

3. Jacob’s line of descendants is listed.

4. Jacob is finally reunited with his son Joseph.

What does this passage teach us?

Verse 1. It is important that families keep their priorities straight. Before taking his family to Egypt for the grand reunion, Jacob made a point to visit Beersheba, where his grandfather had built an altar years earlier. There he conducted “family worship,” rendering his allegiance to the God of his father Isaac. This identification with his father’s faith showed Jacob’s fundamental commitment. Here was the mark of a godly man. Jacob’s first allegiance was to God. Before rushing to Egypt he did not forget to render his sacrifices to Him. How often do families embark on their vacations and enjoy their holidays while neglecting family worship? God is shoved to the side while they enjoy His good gifts. But when God is in the center of the life of a godly family, He is worshiped first.

This testifies to Jacob’s faith in the Lord. Jacob had not forgotten the God of his fathers. He had not adopted the gods of the Canaanites, nor was he going to adopt the gods of the Egyptians. In all of the land of Canaan, one man stood alone in covenant with the true and living God. It should go without saying that we need to worship the right God. To specifically name the true and living God in our worship is important. He should be correctly identified, in order that He might be distinguished from all of the other gods of man’s inventions. When Jacob offered a sacrifice to the God of his father Isaac, he identified the correct God with whom he was still in covenant. In our own worship, it is appropriate to refer to God as the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of our own fathers (if we have a godly heritage). We also have the New Testament renderings of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We need to worship the right God. This places our object of worship in proper context as we commence our prayer and praise.

Verses 2–4. But what would become of the covenant promises made to Abraham and reaffirmed to Isaac and Jacob? What would happen to the children of Israel in Egypt? Would they intermarry with pagan tribes and synthesize into the worship of false gods? How would they inherit the land of Canaan if they were living in Egypt? Surely, these questions crossed Jacob’s mind as he prepared for the trip down into Egypt. At this critical juncture in the life of this family, the Lord God spoke to Jacob in Beersheba. He assured him that one day He would bring the family back out of Egypt, and that He would be true to the covenant, come what may. He repeated to Jacob a theme that had been part of almost every revelation since Bethel: “I will be with you in Egypt.” Jacob’s family may have been of little account in Egypt. In fact, not one contemporary Egyptian history records the sojourn of this family there. Yet Jacob’s family was an important family to God—and they enjoyed His special presence.

Verses 5–27. As the entire family moved to Egypt, a list of the names of the family, including sons and grandsons, is given. The family numbered sixty-six (seventy, including Joseph’s family). These included forty-eight grandsons, one granddaughter, four great grandsons, one great granddaughter, eleven sons, and one father. Mention is only made of one daughter and one granddaughter, presumably because they were not married. In a biblical social order, a daughter is included under the headship of the father. Upon marriage, she would join herself to a new family as she came under another head.

Reference to Simeon’s marriages is made because he married a Canaanite. The choice of spouse was important for God’s people, both then and now! Until this point, Isaac and Jacob’s family had placed a high priority on avoiding the Canaanites for prospective marriage partners. The fact that Simeon married a Canaanite is particularly ironic, since Simeon and Levi had reacted so strongly against their sister’s relationship with a Canaanite. Nevertheless, the book of Genesis is especially concerned with the godly’s synthesis with the ungodly. This sort of treachery towards the covenant is to be eschewed by the people of God. Marriages matter, and the families into which our children marry, matters—because it concerns the spiritual heritage of our families.

Verses 28–34. Finally, Joseph was reunited with his father in the land of Goshen. It was a deeply emotional meeting, and the two hugged each other for an extended length of time, and wept. What a terrific example of a son who honored and loved his father!

In keeping with the Lord’s direction, Joseph provided for his father by taking care of the whole tribe during this time of severe famine. He arranged for Jacob’s family to settle in the fruitful land of Goshen, a place where the family would grow from a population of seventy to at least one million in several hundred years. Joseph respected the covenant God had made with his fathers by arranging for them to live in a land that was distant from the Egyptian culture. He introduced his family to the Egyptians as cattle and sheep herders, a line of work the Egyptians despised. This prejudice served to lay down a healthy boundary, preventing the Israelites from intermarrying with Egyptians throughout the years. Inevitably, intermarriage would have tainted the Israelites’ covenantal heritage and religious distinctive.

How does this passage teach us to walk with God in faith and obedience?

1. God the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father. From biblical records, we know that God goes to great lengths to bring us into His family and reconcile us to Himself. A microcosm of this grand story is found in the account of Jacob’s family. Joseph loved his father, and despite ill treatment at the hands of his brothers, he worked to bring about a joyful family reunion in the end. Not only does this story serve as a wonderful pattern for human families, but it also speaks to what God is doing with his own household in Jesus Christ (His Son).

2. With each new revelation of Himself, God always remembers His previous revelations and often refers back to them in subsequent revelations. The God of Jacob is the God of Isaac, and the God of Isaac is the God of Abraham. We, too, would do well to root our faith in the full revelation of God in His Word. Our God is the God of Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Jesus, and Paul. Our covenant with God is the covenant of Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, and Jesus. God did not introduce a new religion with Jacob and neither did He introduce a new religion with Jesus. You can identify false religions and false interpretations of Scripture when there is strong discontinuity between new revelations and old revelations. This is the legacy of false teachers like Joseph Smith and Mohammed.

3. Often unbelievers will despise true believers who serve the living and true God. Sometimes this brings persecution and sometimes it means a categorical rejection of a Christian evangelistic message. But looked at another way, this antagonism can also enforce a healthy boundary between the world and God’s people. It can protect the church from mixing into the world and taking on its sinful inclinations. We still need to influence the world for Christ and take down false ideas that deceive the world around us (2 Cor. 10:4, 5), but God also calls us to separate from the world—“Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:14­–18). He insists that His children remain “unspotted from the world” (Jam. 1:30). Let us be careful not to sit in the seat of the scornful or walk in the way of sinners (Psalm 1:1). Young people sit in the seat of the scornful when they passively accept a godless worldview through powerful movies, popular music, and classic literature written by humanists. When we turn our children over to humanists who refuse to teach the fear of God in history and science, we are doing the most destructive thing possible to the worldview of our children. We are turning them over to the Egyptians to form their minds and erode their faith in the true and living God. Believers must always live in the land of Goshen.


1. What are the themes of Chapters 1 through 46?

2. What did Jacob do in Beersheba before leaving the Promised Land?

3. How many people came down to Egypt with Jacob? How many grandchildren did Jacob have? How does this compare with the average family today?

4. How did Simeon’s marriage differ from that of Jacob and Isaac?

5. What was special about the land of Goshen that made it a good place for the children of Israel?

Family Discussion Questions:

1. Does our family put God first in all that we do? Do we seek God’s will and engage in family worship even when we’re on vacation or traveling in some far country?

2. Are we living in the land of Goshen? How do Christian families retain healthy separation from the pagan tribes around them? Is it possible to separate ourselves too much from our culture