Genesis 46:31-47:26

 |  April 9, 2018

Gen. 46:31-47:26

  1. Locate the passage

As Joseph’s family arrived in Egypt, he initiated a meeting with Pharaoh. He instructed them on the official protocol when addressing the king. This pericope is rich in detail. Whereas only one verse (47:11) would have sufficed to record what happened, instead the narrator records instructions, conversations, and details that add flavor to the narrative.

This passage records the settling of Joseph’s family in Goshen and the harsh reality of a protracted famine confronting the people of the land of Egypt. The details accentuate the significance of Joseph’s rescue of his family and juxtapose the comfort of the Israelites with the plight of the Egyptians. While most in Egypt were starving and selling off their lands and ultimately themselves into slavery, Joseph’s family lived in the nicest land and enjoyed the best that Egypt had to offer.

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative and records instructions from Joseph to his brothers, the conversation between Jacob and Pharaoh, and the people of the land and Joseph.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

46:31-47:6 – Joseph introduces his brothers to Pharaoh

47:7-10 – Joseph introduces his father to Pharaoh

47:11-12 – Joseph provided for his family

47:12-19 – Joseph’s plan to provide food for Egypt worked

47:20-26 – The long-term implications of Joseph’s plan

  1. Exegete the passage

For most of us, it’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to meet the most powerful man on earth. How should you act? What should you say … or not say? That’s the scene as this pericope unfolds. Joseph knew that his uncouth brothers would have no idea how to address a king, so he prepared them.

But, the narrator saved the most poignant encounter for last and addressed it separately. As Jacob met Pharaoh, the Patriarch twice blessed the king. Jacob’s response to the king’s inquiry is blunt and shockingly honest.

46:31-34 – Joseph had to prepare both Pharaoh and his brothers for their initial encounter. The brothers would have no idea how to address the most powerful man on earth. So, Joseph told Pharaoh his brothers were shepherds and instructed his brothers to echo the same message. Vs. 34 gives the reason for this explanation. Since the Egyptian people detested shepherds (lit. “an abomination”), locating Joseph’s family in Goshen made even more sense. Joseph had initially proposed the land of Goshen as their future home (45:10), but Pharaoh, to this point, had not yet decreed it (though he had stated that the best of the land could be theirs; cf. 45:20).

47:1 – Joseph informed Pharaoh that his family had come and that they had settled in the land of Goshen.

47:2 – He chose 5 of his brothers

47:4 – We have come to sojourn

47:5-6 – Let them live in the land of Goshen

47:7-10 – Joseph presented Jacob to Pharaoh

47:11-12 – The “Israelites” settle in Egypt

47:13 – No food in all the land

47:14-19 – Joseph gathered all the money, livestock, and land in Egypt for Pharaoh

47:20-22 – The famine was severe

47:23-26 – Joseph imposed a tax on the people

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

Exp. The passage reveals the people who were blessed by Joseph (family, people of Egypt, Pharaoh, and the kingdom of Egypt).

Exp. Joseph showed wisdom:


Application: One day all who have been saved by God in Christ will rejoice and proclaim, “You have saved our lives (cf. 47:25)!”

Category: Sermon Structure
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