Genesis 47:1-12


Verse 1, Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.

I.    As far as the Bible is concerned, this is the second time Joseph has come to Pharaoh.

A.     The first time was in Genesis 41:14 when he came out of prison to interpret Pharaoh's dreams.

1.       We sometimes assume that Joseph and Pharaoh talked often.

2.       This may be true, but it is also true that Joseph retained his professional respect for Pharaoh, not only as his superior but also as a man.

B.     Genesis 46:17 states that Pharaoh told Joseph what to tell his brothers, but it doesn't state that Joseph came to Pharaoh.


II.    It is good for Joseph to inform Pharaoh of his family's presence.

A.     The land of Egypt did not belong to Joseph, thus he could not give any of it to anybody.

B.     It is true that Pharaoh knew Joseph's family was coming.

1.       This fact did not relieve Joseph of the obligation of informing Pharaoh of their coming.

2.       It is always good to retain excellent communication, even to the point of repeating some things.


Verse 2,  And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.

I.    Joseph took five brothers to Pharaoh.

A.     Five is the Bible number for grace.

1.       It is by the grace of God that Israel has come into Egypt.

2.       There is no way to tell which of the five brothers Joseph brought before Pharaoh.

B.     The five brothers Joseph brought to Pharaoh are not more worthy of this grace than the others.

1.       All of the brothers except Benjamin was guilty of selling Joseph into slavery.

2.       The Bible doesn't declare that Benjamin was one of the five.


II.    The probable result of this meeting.

A.     The brothers would have more respect for Pharaoh.

1.       They would see his majesty and splendor first hand.

2.       Before they went before Pharaoh, they might imagine how great the man was, but now they know for themselves.

B.     The Egyptians would have more respect for Israel.

1.       Many of the ways of Israel is an abomination to the Egyptians.

a.      Gen. 43:32 - Eating with the Hebrews.

b.      Gen. 46:34 - Shepherds are an abomination to the Egyptians.

2.       The Egyptians would have trouble accepting these "abominations" and therefore have difficulty accepting the Jews.

3.       The meeting with Pharaoh would remain in their minds and bring honor upon Israel.

4.       This would probably avoid trouble as long as this particular Pharaoh was alive.


Verse 3,  And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

I.    Why does Pharaoh ask what their occupation is?

A.     This is a very natural question that is asked when people want to get acquainted.

B.     He is also looking out for the welfare of his nation.

1.       No nation can long survive if its people won't work.

2.       If they will not work, they shall not eat of his bread, especially during a time of shortage.

3.       Verse 6 - It may be that Pharaoh had in mind to find out if any of the men could work for him.

4.       II Thess 3:10 - It is very strange to hear Pharaoh declare a Bible truth, "If you don't work, you won't eat."

a.      There is no doubt in my mind that the above scripture is talking about taking the Lord's Supper.

b.      There is also no doubt that it is a very good policy that those able to work and won't, shouldn't eat.


II.    The brothers told Pharaoh exactly what Joseph told them not to.

A.     It is very likely they didn't know what they were saying.

1.       They didn't understand the ramifications of shepherds being an abomination to the Egyptians.

2.       It is a cultural blunder that a person new to a community would make.

3.       It is very fortunate that:

a.      They were new to the community and would thus be more easily forgiven.

b.      The Egyptians liked Joseph so much they would overlook his family's occupation being an abomination to them.

B.     It is very sad, but may offences are nothing but cultural blunders.

1.       Every place has its own particular customs which are regarded as sacred.

2.       When a newcomer breaks one of these customs, there is often nothing said.

3.       But when that same person has lived there a while and breaks the custom he stands to lose many friends.


Verse 4,  They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

I.    Sojourn, meaning to dwell for a while.

A.     The nation of Israel has not come to live in Egypt, but to sojourn.

1.       Somewhere along the line, Israel decided it was easier to stay in Egypt than to move back to Canaan.

2.       This was a grave mistake, bringing much trouble and sorrow to them.

3.       Compare to the Jews in the days of Easter who decided to stay in Shushan instead of going back to Israel.

B.     Hebrews 11:13 - The Jews all confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth.

1.       When the brothers confessed their desire to sojourn in Egypt, they were also confessing their promised inheritance was Canaan.

2.       We ought to realize that this world is not our home, we are just passing through.


II.    What the brothers tell Pharaoh is exactly the truth.

A.     There is no pasture, or food for them in Canaan.

1.       But this is a terrible way to get a favor from a person with the power of Pharaoh.

2.       If a person goes looking for a job, he seldom finds a job because he is starving.

3.       He is hired because he can be a benefit to the company.

4.       There were many other people that didn't have decent pastures for their flocks, but they weren't invited to live in Egypt.

B.     Israel has been invited to live in Egypt because of Joseph, not because of their need, or honesty about their need.

1.       They weren't invited because of their good works toward Joseph, their dad, their God or anybody else.

2.       It is a matter of grace.


Verse 5,6,  And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: {6} The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

I.    Pharaoh makes no mention of the need of the children of Israel, or for anything they have said for that matter.

A.     Pharaoh turns to Joseph, and remarks that the family has come to him.

B.     Notice the pronouns used to indicate that the family is come to Joseph, and Joseph is to have complete control over them.


II.    As far as governmental control of immigration is concerned, we must notice that Egypt is very careful who they let into their country.

A.     Just anybody can't get in, regardless of their terrible financial condition.

B.     Strangers are allowed in only at the recommendation of a high official.


Verse 7,  And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

I.    Joseph brings his father before Pharaoh.

A.     I would imagine this is a very emotional moment for Joseph.

1.       Evidently Joseph kept his father out of Pharaoh's sight until he was ready to present him.

2.       In Joseph's mind, his father is the very best, therefore he withholds him from Pharaoh until the very last.

B.     It is very appropriate for a son to show proper respect for his father.

1.       Eph. 6:1-3 - Children are to honor and obey their parents.

2.       There is never a time when children can lay this commandment aside.

a.      Even if the parents are dead, the children can still honor their memory.

b.      Honoring their memory is not done by keeping their grave site and tombstone nice.

c.      It is by honoring the principles they have lived by and taught.


II.    It is very interesting to notice that Pharaoh evidently doesn't speak first, but Jacob speaks first, with a blessing for Pharaoh.

A.     This is a blessing from a greater nation to a lessor nation.

1.       Israel is the greater nation, and Egypt is the lessor nation.

2.       Israel is greater spiritually, for all nations of the world will be blessed through her.

3.       Egypt is lessor spiritually, for they don't worship the true God.

4.       Egypt may be the greater materially right now, but shortly, they will be brought low.

B.     As a father, Jacob blesses Pharaoh for the good treatment of Joseph.

1.       A father has great admiration and respect for anybody that treats his children well, and untold wrath for the person that treats them wrong.

2.       There is no mention that Jacob blesses the nation of Egypt.

C.     Note that it is not Israel that blesses Pharaoh, but Jacob.

1.       This is a blessing from a man to another man, not God to man, although it is apparent that God will bless Egypt because they help Israel.

2.       Later, God will destroy Egypt because they try to destroy Israel.


Verse 8 - 10,  And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?  And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.  And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.

I.    Pharaoh's question.

A.     This is a very normal question to ask.

B.     A great age should be respected.

1.       It is not necessary for the old people to ask for more respect than is due them.

2.       Younger people should "naturally" give this respect.


II.    Jacob's answer.

A.     This is a most dignified answer.

1.       Jacob's answer is most remarkable when you consider his life.

2.       He has always been the sort of person who worked things around so he would benefit.

3.       Now that he has gained a few years and lots of good experience, he knows there is more to life than material wealth.

B.     Jacob speaks of his life as a pilgrimage, meaning a journey from one place to another.

1.       Hebrews 11:13 - The Bible says the true believers will come to the place of knowing their life does not consist of what we have here.

2.       True living consists of accepting this life for what it is, and looking forward to eternity with Christ.

3.       All true believers are on the same pilgrimage Jacob was on.

C.     What Jacob says about his days.

1.       Jacob doesn't say he has lived years, but days.

a.      Ps. 39:4 - Teach us to know our end and to measure our days, so we will know how frail we are.

b.      Ps. 90:12 - Teach us to number our days, not our years.

c.      It is amazing that Jacob has learned the principles of God's word before they were ever written down in the book of Psalms!

d.      If we will take care to measure our days, the years will take care of themselves.

2.       They are few.

a.      To a young person, a 130 year lifetime is a long life, but to a person 130 years old it isn't very long at all.

b.      They are short compared to my ancestors.

c.      Jacob is referring to the lengthy lives of Adam, (930 years), Seth (912 years), Enos (905 years), etc.

d.      All the individuals in Genesis 5 lived longer than Jacob.

3.       They are evil.

a.      He admits that his days have been evil.

b.      He doesn't speak of any good days at all.

c.      The reason for that is that he is looking for a city which hath foundations, to a better life with his God, and the time spend down here on earth cannot be good when waiting for eternal bliss.


III.    Jacob again blesses Pharaoh.

A.     Jacob blesses Pharaoh on arriving and again on leaving.

1.       This doesn't seem to bother Pharaoh at all.

2.       A person in the position of power that Pharaoh is in will gladly welcome God's blessings.

3.       A person who doesn't understand the responsibility of a great position will be offended when they are given the Lord's blessings.   

B.     Pharaoh doesn't bless Jacob at all.

1.       Pharaoh knows he has no blessings to give this dad who is reunited with his son after 22 years.

2.       All spiritual blessings must come from he who is spiritual, regardless of his position in life.

3.       A person of high office may not be able to give spiritual blessings if he is not spiritual.

4.       It is interesting to note that in all this conversation, that Jacob is the only one of Joseph's family that Pharaoh talks to.


Verse 11, 12,  And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. {12} And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.

I.    Joseph obeyed the commands of Pharaoh.

A.     He did what Pharaoh told him to do, not just what Joseph wanted to do.

1.       God so ordained that the desire of Joseph was the same as Pharaoh commanded.

2.       Pharaoh issued the command according to what Joseph wanted.

B.     The best of the land was Rameses, which is apparently the land of Goshen.

C.     The word "nourished" indicates that Joseph provided all the needs of his family.

1.       The power of Joseph was not wasted on private interests.

2.       He could have lived like a dictator, but instead used his power for the best interests of God's people.

3.       This is the way we ought to live our lives.