Genesis 47 Commentary

Genesis 47 Commentary

The aged Jacob summons Joseph. If you are blessed to have aged parents you easily appreciate these summons. Aged men are full of them! Joseph must take leave from his national duties to attend to what appears to be a normal old man’s request.

Jacob instructs Joseph (and not Reuben, Simeon or Levi) concerning his burial. His body has to be taken back to Canaan to rest with his fathers, Isaac and Abraham. In the immediate context the importance lies in the claim to the land that the LORD had given them. They needed to connect to that land. They needed to connect to a land where their fathers lay. Egypt was always going to be a temporal residence for them.

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.”
Genesis 47:9 NIV. By his own admission, Jacob’s years had been few and difficult. We all agree.

Chapter 47 is winding down what has been a truly absorbing story. But in reality we have the high points here, even as the notes and lights diminish. Jacob settles down in Goshen under the protection of Joseph and the goodwill of Pharaoh. They increase in number and prosper – the blessing of the LORD on Jacob. Israel becomes a nation.

At the same time the nations are blessed via Jacob. They come to buy food. The commercial operation of Joseph enriches the nation. Pharaoh becomes wealthy and more powerful. This gives us a picture of the saint. But importantly Isaiah’s depiction of the suffering servant comes to mind (Isaiah 52/53).

The servant suffers but through the suffering of the servant the nations get their blessing. The servant also gets elevated in the process. The two stories are reflecting on what the real seed would go through much later on. So Jacob spends his last years in blissful and peaceful contemplation, wonder and appreciation of the LORD’S presence, providence and sovereignty. What a climax!

Recommended resources – Summary on Genesis

Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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