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Israel's Journey to Egypt (Genesis 46-47)

Once again, God spoke to Israel (Jacob) to reassure him of His divine protection. Just as Joseph had recognized, God confirms that it was His plan all along to bring the family of Jacob to Egypt, where he would make of them a great nation. Only God knew everything He still had in store for Israel's descendants—events to be recorded in the book of Exodus.

In Genesis 45:28, Jacob expressed the desire that will make his life complete: to go to Egypt and see his son Joseph again. That is enough. Here, God comforts Jacob in a way that must have brought the deepest and greatest joy to him. God promises not only that Jacob's family would be made great in Egypt, but He confirms that Jacob's last hope will be fulfilled—he will most certainly see his long-lost son. The firstborn of Rachel will be by his side on the day of his death. Their reunion at last arrives and with many tears of rejoicing, Jacob's sorrow has finally ended, his life is fulfilled and he can face the day of his death in peace.

Jacob's life has been a long and painful struggle of reaping the seeds of corruption sown in his youth. His own sons had deceived him about what had happened to Joseph using the same items with which he himself had deceived his father Isaac to receive the birthright—a slain goat and a special coat. And for more than 20 years Jacob had believed the lie that Joseph was dead. Jacob told the Egyptian pharaoh, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the years of my life" (47:9). So sad—and yet so true.

Jacob's life should be a lesson to us about reaping what we sow (see Galatians 6:7). Of course, all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). And we can be thankful that, upon our repentance, God will relieve us of some of the consequences of sin. But He won't remove all of them in this life—so that we may learn important lessons, as Jacob's story shows. His life, in the end, wasn't all bad. After all, he became a man whose name was changed to Israel, meaning "Prevailer with God" (Genesis 32:28). Though he was ready to die upon seeing Joseph, God gave Jacob 17 more years to spend with Joseph and the rest of his growing family (47:28). Indeed, in our next reading we will see Jacob state at the end of his life that God had "redeemed [him] from all evil" (48:16), at last finding happiness in his final years.

Still, it was a long and difficult road in getting there. But it didn't have to be—if Jacob hadn't sown the corrupt seed he did in earlier years. This lesson is "written for our learning" (Romans 15:4). If we've been sowing bad seed, the answer is to stop now—asking God's forgiveness—and to start, with His help, sowing good seed to reap a better tomorrow. The choice is ours to make.

Finally, Genesis 46 catalogs the names of all the members of the family of Israel that immigrated to Egypt. Once there, counting Joseph and his family, the total came to 70 persons. We know from the book of Exodus that this small group of people will grow to 600,000 men at the time of their deliverance from Egypt (12:37), which probably indicates a total population of two to three million people. Joseph settles his father's family in the land of Goshen—the part of Egypt closest to Canaan and a land well watered with rich soil and well furnished with pastures for their herds—where the family and its descendants will live until the time of the Exodus.

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