Design By Humans

Genesis 46. Jisrael, You'll all be saying it.

Genesis 46.

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.

 Israel again? I thought we'd reverted to Jacob. Either way, he's journeyed to Beersheba, where Abraham discarded a son and Isaac spoke to God. Is Israel expecting an audience with God?

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

 Well if he was he was right, or sort of, is "visions of the night" just a euphemism for "dreams". Did Israel walk all the way to Beersheba, expecting to speak with God because he heard stories from Isaac that he had done the same only to have his expectation met in a dream? If you've been thinking about something all day, you're pretty much guaranteed to dream about it. Ah well, let's see what God has to say for himself.

3 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:

 First God has to clarify which God he is. Wait a minute! With the addition of the Egypt bit, this is exactly the same message he gave to Isaac while he was at Beersheba, again finding the need to explain that he is the 'God of his father', specifically identifying himself as one of many potential gods that could be speaking.

4 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.

 Israel is going to have a travelling companion. I'm guessing that God isn't omnipresent yet then? Israel and Isaac before him had to go specifically to Beersheba to talk to him and apparently in order to have a presence in Egypt, God is going to have to go with Israel. Will he no longer be present at Beersheba? And what's with the eye thing?

5 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.


6 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:


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

 Right, so a whole lot of people then. By my calculations the journey will have been almost a month.

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

 Great, more generations. Will we have ages that we can extrapolate dates from?

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

 No! No ages, oh well. Perhaps we should count how many people embark upon this epic journey.

 Reuben plus children equals five. Note this is five males, it specifically said above that wives and daughters were on this jaunt but none are named

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

 Adding Simeon plus his children equals twelve. It does mention a Canaanitish woman here but I think I have to resign myself to counting only males. Counting women and girls would be pure conjecture at this point and it has become pretty clear that this book doesn't place any value on either.

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

 The comparatively unproductive Levi adds three sons and himself bringing us to sixteen.

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

 Judah and his offspring then. Well, Er and Onan died back in Genesis 38 so they're not coming. There's Shelah, Pharez and Zerar and Pharez's boys which brings us to twenty-two.

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.

 Oh, so the author has counted them for me. OK, So with Dinah that's thirty-two which leaves us one short and I've counted them over and over. Who are we missing?

 OK let's sort this out.

 Reuben 1
   Hanoch 2
   Phallu 3
   Hezron 4
   Carmi 5

 Simeon 6
   Jemuel 7
   Jamin 8
   Ohad 9
   Jachin 10
   Zohar 11
   Shaul 12

 Levi 13
   Gershon 14
   Kohath 15
   Merari 16

 Judah 17
   Shelah 18
   Pharez 19
     Hezron 20
Hamul 21
   Zerah 22

 Issachar 23
   Tola 24
   Phuvah 25
   Job 26
   Shimron 27

 Zebulun 28
   Sered 29
   Elon 30
   Jahleel 31

 Dinah 32

 No. Definitely one missing. Oh well, let's move on and I'll stick with my count rather than rely on the author.

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.

 I concur. That is sixteen more people.

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

 OK, so Joseph is already there so we can't count him. Benjamin makes forty-nine and Jacob/Israel makes fifty people that the author thought worth a mention.

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.

 We're going a bit off-narrative now, this started as list of people who Israel brought with him but I think we're just counting up his descendants now. 

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

 Wait! Benjamin has sons!? this is very clumsily put together but no one can deny that Benjamin's sons get to come on the trip so let's keep counting.

 We've already counted Benjamin so adding ten sons equals sixty.

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

 Agreed, but some of them aren't on this trip.

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.

 No argument here.

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;

 I make it Sixty-seven, so without Jacob/Israel that is indeed threescore and six. Given that we are in agreement now, where or who was that extra person back in verse fifteen?

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.

 Agreed, Including Joseph and his children, we have seventy people.

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

 Having gotten almost all the way to the part fo Egypt in which Joseph lives 'Jisrael' (It's just easier this way) and his sixty-six family members stop in Goshen. Jisrael instructs Judah to go and get Joseph.

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.

 Joseph arrives in Goshen and an emotional reunion occurs.

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

 I suppose that's the usual dramatic response, I'm so happy that I could die. Is this the first recorded instance of that sentiment?

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;

 Having reunited with his family, Joseph is going to report back to Pharaoh with the happy news.

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.

 He's going to tell Pharaoh that his family are shepherds.

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.

 He instructs his family that when asked they are to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds. The apparent reason being that they want to stay and live in Goshen and not move further into Egypt and that Pharaoh will grant this because, and I'm not sure how this is possible, all shepherds are an abomination unto the Egyptians. An abomination? Now I know the Ancient Egyptians ate goat, lamb and mutton but how did they come by it if shepherd are an abomination. I could understand if they were swineherds.

What have we learned from Genesis 46?

  •  We've learned the size of Jisrael's family - excluding any wives or potential granddaughters.. or servants, handmaidens or dare I say slaves? basically we have no idea how big the tribe that moved from Canaan to Egypt was.
  •  We've learned that the narrator cannot decide between Jacob or Israel and I've learned that Jisrael is a handy shorthand.
  •  I think we can say that we've learned that God lived in Beersheba but has moved with his friend Jisrael to Egypt.
  •  We've learned that while enjoying goat, lamb and mutton, the Egyptians consider shepherds an abomination.
  •  Let us also not forget that we've learned that the author cannot count.

 Right, The tribe of Jisrael have made it to Egypt, can we move on now? Let's find out in Genesis 47.

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