Israel in Egypt

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Genesis 45-50
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 13

Israel in Egypt

(Genesis 45-50)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: I love happy endings! When a book or movie end on a sour note, it makes the entire story less appealing. We all want happy endings for our personal stories. Let’s jump into our study as we finish up Genesis to see how this story ends. But, like many stories, the author drops a hint at the end that the story will continue in another book. Let’s get into it!

  1. The Move
    1. Read Genesis 45:16-18. Is this an offer you cannot refuse? Recall that the family is in a situation in which they feared starvation.
    2. Read Genesis 45:21-24. Why would Joseph give Benjamin more if he is worried about his brothers quarreling? Has that family learned nothing about showing favoritism? Or, is this another test for the brothers?
    3. Read Genesis 45:26-28. Is this a happy ending to the grief of Jacob (Israel)?
      1. What problem does it pose for the brothers?
      2. Does this create a problem for Jacob? What about the promise of Canaan as the dwelling place for his descendants? God never mentioned Egypt as a future home.
    4. Read Genesis 46:1-4. What does God say about this move and the Canaan promise?
      1. Has Jacob decided to make the move before he receives God’s permission? (Look again at Genesis 45:28. Jacob is not committing to a permanent move. He simply says that he will “see [Joseph] before I die.” I don’t think Jacob is making any permanent decisions ahead of God’s leading.)
      2. Note that Genesis 46:1 refers to moving “with all that he had.” How much do you think that was? (If they were facing starvation, and that is the reason Jacob let Benjamin go to Egypt (see Genesis 43:8), then I imagine that Jacob and his family have eaten most of the livestock.)
    5. Read Genesis 46:29. What a great reunion! Why does Joseph take his chariot? (Horses and chariots were the latest advance in military technology. No doubt Joseph’s chariot was extremely fancy. He is giving his father visual evidence that he has wildly succeeded in life.)
    6. Read Genesis 46:31-34. Why is it a good idea to say that your occupation is something that is considered an abomination by the Egyptians? “Hi, my family is deplorable!” (Commentators have several excellent explanations. We have seen that the Egyptians grow corn. They were farmers on land which was periodically flooded by the Nile. Goshen never flooded, it was better for grazing livestock. This would keep God’s people and the Egyptians separate - which Joseph wisely considered to be consistent with God’s will. In addition, Joseph’s family ate animals that the Egyptians worshiped, which was another reason to keep them tucked away in Goshen. Finally, Goshen was closer to Canaan.)
  2. The Destination
    1. Genesis 47 recounts that Pharaoh is true to his word and things work out just as Joseph planned. Read Genesis 47:7-10. We are told twice that Jacob blessed Pharaoh. We recently discussed that Pharaoh was considered the connection between humans and the gods. Why would Pharaoh allow this? Isn’t this a huge insult? An arrogance on the part of Jacob? (Recall from our recent discussion that Pharaoh recognized that same “god-connection” quality in Joseph. Pharaoh has abundant proof that Joseph is connected with God by the way things are working out. Since Jacob is Joseph’s father, I think that makes the blessing a good idea and not an insult. Plus, Pharaoh’s question shows that Jacob looked old - Pharaoh might have considered the blessing a quaint part of advanced of age.)
      1. Has Pharaoh been blessed by the true God? (He is receiving an extraordinary blessing.)
    2. Read Genesis 47:12. What results from the move? (The family has enough to eat.)
  3. Big Government?
    1. Read Genesis 47:13-14. What is Joseph doing for the wealth of Pharaoh? (It is a huge transfer of wealth from Canaan and the average Egyptian to the government of Egypt.)
    2. Read Genesis 47:15-17. What do you think about this?
    3. Read Genesis 47:18-21. What do you think about this?
      1. Recall that the food was a tax originally paid by the people (Genesis 41:34). Why should the people have to pay for the food that they originally raised?
      2. If you were a smart farmer, what should you have done? (The same thing the government was doing - storing 20% of the bumper crops.)
    4. Read Genesis 47:23-25. Is Joseph a villain or a savior?
    5. Read Genesis 47:26. What is the basis for this tax? (Everything now belongs to Pharaoh, so this seems more than generous.)
      1. Is Joseph directing how they should plant? (No, a free-market economy is still in place.)
  4. The Blessings
    1. Read Genesis 48:8-11. Is this an emotional time for Jacob? Has God been kind to him?
      1. What problem does Jacob have, aside from getting old? (His sight is poor.)
    2. Read Genesis 48:17-19. How is this possible since Jacob cannot see well enough to recognize the boys? (God’s spirit is strong in him. It is God who directs his.)
    3. Read Genesis 48:20-21. Could Joseph have avoided the enslavement of his people if he had returned to Canaan during his reign? Is Jacob telling Joseph to return?
      1. Read Exodus 12:50-51. Is this how Jacob saw God leading the people back to Canaan?
      2. Read Exodus 13:19. How was Jacob’s prophecy actually fulfilled?
    4. Read Genesis 48:22. What additional portion of land does Jacob give to Joseph?
      1. How do you think the brothers would react to that?
      2. I’ve always thought that the favoritism towards Joseph was a bad thing. Do you think this is something that God inspired, like the switch in the blessings on Joseph’s sons?
  5. The End of Jacob
    1. Read Genesis 50:1-3. How do you explain this when shepherds were deplorable to Egyptians? (Either this is out of respect for Joseph, or Jacob has become a prominent figure among the leadership in Egypt.)
    2. Read Genesis 50:5-8. I’ve spent time trying to confirm that Goshen was close to Canaan, and I’m still uncertain. What do these verses suggest about their proximity? (They must be close. Consider all the people who are going to Jacob’s burial!)
    3. Read Genesis 50:12-14. Is the return a mistake?
      1. Do you think Joseph and his brothers even thought about the fact that they were returning to Egypt, and the promise was that they would inherit Canaan?
    4. Read Genesis 50:22-24. Joseph has not forgotten the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Is the luxury of Egypt keeping them in place? Is inertia keeping them in place? (Read Genesis 46:1-4 and Exodus 1:6-7. God was blessing them in Egypt. I think they were waiting for God to give them specific directions to return. Perhaps without the following slavery, most of God’s people would have decided to stay in Egypt.)
    5. Read Genesis 47:8-9. How does Jacob view his life in Canaan? Is that part of the reason to stay in Goshen?
    6. Friend, God gives Jacob and Joseph happy endings to their life stories. But, both look forward to God’s promise of family greatness in the land of Canaan. A similar promise of a heavenly Canaan is made to you! Will you accept God’s offer of salvation today so that your future is bright?
  6. Next week we begin a new study on the topic of Jesus and suffering.