Genesis 46:28–47:12: Few and Evil, the Days of our Sojourning

by May 24, 20210 comments

Download Complete PDF Now


Now that all of Joseph’s family, including Jacob, knows that Joseph is alive, the nation of Israel begins the journey down to Egypt. This is a massive journey, with massive implications that will play out over the next four centuries in the history of the nation. First things must come first, however. In this section, we see the long-awaited reunion between Jacob and Joseph, more than two decades since they were separated from one another. Then, we see the plan come together for settling the nation of Israel in the land of Goshen, where Joseph will provide for his family as they ride out the rest of the famine.

The striking theme that comes up in this passage in a variety of ways builds off the theme from the last passage, where we saw that Israel was headed down to Egypt as a nation. Here, we see that this nation will not be a nation that rises to the pinnacle of earthly power, privilege, and prestige. Rather, this will be a nation that will continue as a sojourner, as they have been since Abraham began sojourning in Canaan so many years ago. Nevertheless, despite their precarious position, this passage also demonstrates that God makes sojourners into superiors.

Discussion Questions

1) Why does Judah go ahead of the rest of the family to Goshen (Gen. 46:28)? How does the reunion of Jacob and Joseph echo the earlier reunion between Jacob and Esau? How are those stories different in the nature of each respective separation? Why does Joseph coach his family to acknowledge that they are shepherds, even though “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (Gen. 46:34)? Why shouldn’t Joseph take advantage of his position and connections at this time?

2) Why do the brothers follow through with the plan to acknowledge that they are shepherds, even though such an admission must have been humiliating? Why do you think they did not try harder to gain some privileged position through their connections to Joseph? What does their willingness to work hard at common, despised labor suggest about their character and values? How are Christians likewise to do our work quietly (2 Thess. 3:12)?

3) How does this narrative acknowledge the superiority of Jacob over Pharaoh? How does Jacob possibly qualify as superior over Pharaoh, when Pharaoh owns far more land than Jacob, a sojourner (cf. Gen. 47:13–26)? How does Jacob qualify as superior over Pharaoh, when Jacob’s days have been “few and evil” (Gen. 47:9)? How does the outward superiority of Pharaoh over Jacob compare to the account of Esau in Genesis 36? What do those accounts teach us about Jacob?

4) Why do we read in the New Testament that we are also sojourners and exiles (1 Pet. 2:11)? What kind of sojourning do we experience, even if we own our own physical real estate in this world? How does God intend us to inform the way we live our lives by this sojourner mindset? How does living as a sojourner keep our minds set on things above, and not on the things below, here on earth (Col. 3:1–2)? Why is this important as we live the Christian life?