Prepared to Die [Genesis 46 Study]

Following the example of Jacob, we learn from Genesis 46 that as we worship God, trust Him, and live for Him, we will be prepared to die.

Prepared to Die [Genesis 46 Study]
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  • Open your Bibles and turn with me to Genesis 46.
  • The title of today's Bible study is Prepared to Die.
  • Please stand for the reading of God's word.


  • Are you prepared to die?
  • On April 20, 1964, in the Rivonia Trial in South Africa, Nelson Mandala testified,

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

  • In this chapter, we will see how Jacob becomes prepared to die.

1. Jacob Worshipped (v.1-4)

  • "So Israel took his journey...came to Beersheba." (v.1a)
    • "So" - marker of consequence from 45:28
    • Jacob likely was still in Hebron (Gen 35:27; 37:14)
    • Beersheba means "well of seven" or "well of oath"
      • Beersheba is southern tip of Canaan (S border of Judah)
      • "Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice."[1] (Genesis 21:31)
      • Abraham later settled in Beersheba. (Genesis 22:19)
      • Later Isaac built an altar in Beersheba. (Genesis 26:23-25)
      • Israel was sent out from Beersheba to Haran. (Genesis 28:10)
  • "offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac." (v.1b)
    • Israel gathers his familiy to Beersheba to worship a final time.
    • "offered sacrifices" used 6x in Torah: usually refers to "peace offering" or an "offering of thanksgiving."
    • Israel is offering a sacrifice of peace, fellowship, and gratitude.
    • Israel's worship was mixed with doubt and uncertainty.
  • "God spoke to Israel in visions of the night." (v.2)
    • During the time of the Patriachs, God gave special revelation using four methods
      1. Theophanies: "angel of the Lord" (Gen 16, 28:13; 32:22-32)
      2. Vision: (Genesis 12:7; 15:1, 12; 26:24)
      3. Dreams of direct revelation and 4) symbolic dreams
    • After years of silence, God appears to Israel in a vision, in a similar way he appeared to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3.
  • "Jacob, Jacob." (v.2b)
    • Similar to "Abraham, Abraham" (Genesis 22:11) and God in the burning bush saying, "Moses, Moses" (Exodus 3:4)
    • Why did God call out the name Jacob and not Israel?
      • "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Genesis 32:28)
      • Reason 1: The original name Jacob stress a man weakened that God comforts, reassures, and encourages.
        • "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! And I tell you, you are Peter (Πέτρος), and on this rock (πέτρᾳ) I will build my church." (Matthew 16:17-18)
        • Jesus later called Peter in John 21, "Simon."
      • Reason 2: Jacob may emphasize the individual, while Israel spotlights the chosen people.
  • "I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to go down to Egypt." (v.3)
    • This is the 4th "fear not" oracle of God (Gen 15:1; 21:17; 26:24)
    • When another famine had plagued Canann, God prohibited Isaac in Genesis 26:2 saying, "Do not go down to Egypt."
    • Why was Jacob afraid? Spurgeon gives four reasons.
      1. Jacob is an old man.
        • Change is easy when we are young, but making major changes late in life is more chalenging.
      2. Jacob is entering an idolatrous country.
        • Jacob saw the negative influences that Canaan had on his family. With time, Jacob had built some protected hedges.
        • Now he uproots his entire family to be subjugated to Egyptian pagan culture.
      3. Jacob remembers the painful legacy of Egypt
        • One of Abraham's lowest points was his flight to Egypt in Genesis 12 because of famine.
        • Abraham's relationship with Hagar fractured their family. Hagar was Sarah's Egyptian handmaid.
      4. Jacob recalls Genesis 15:13
        • "Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years." (Genesis 15:13)
        • Jacob could not have known for certain, but he likely believed his flight to Egypt will suffer painful ramifications.
    • God makes four promises to dismiss Jacob's fear
      1. I will make you into a great nation.
      2. I will go down with you to Egypt.
      3. I will also bring you up again.
      4. Joseph's hand shall close your eyes.
  • Read Genesis 28:10-15
    • God promised to Jacob and to his offspring (seed) (28:13)
    • Similarities between Genesis 28 and Genesis 46:
      • God foreordained Jacob's move.
      • God promises Jacob his presence
      • God promised to bring Jacob back to Canaan.
      • Jacob travelled alone in Genesis 28.
      • Jacob is travelling with his large family in Genesis 46.
      • Jacob's worship was conditional in Genesis 28: "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go,...then the LORD shall be my God." (28:20-21)
        • But in Genesis 46, Jacob worshipped God before God's appearance to bless Jacob.
  • Application: the man of God will worship despite life's predicament.

2. Jacob Believed (v.5-7)

  • "The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father," (v.5)
    • Verb translated "carried" means "to lift or lift up" [HALOT] and can be meant literally or figuratively [TWOT]
  • Like Abraham moving from Ur to Canaan in Genesis 11, Jacob resettles his family to an alien country again as sojourners.
  • What was God's purpose to have Jacob's family move to Egypt?
    • Reason 1: Keep Israel holy. Keep Israel a separate people.
      • Protect against the influences of the Canaanite people.
    • Reason 2: Prosper Israel.
      • Goshen was a fertile land with ample natural resources.
    • Reason 3: Prepare Israel for worship and service.
      • God later used the exodus as a picture of salvation.
      • God used Israel to judge Canaan when their sin was complete.
      • God preserved the seed of Israel.
  • "Jacob and all his offspring (seed) with him...All his offspring (seed) he brought with him into Egypt." (v.6b-7)
    • ESV and NIV translates "offspring"; NAS -> "descendants"
    • Follow theme of Israel's seed [זֶרַע] zera [collective singular]
    • "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed." (Genesis 3:15)
    • "She gave birth to a son and name him Seth, for she said, 'God has set for me another seed in place of Abel." (Genesis 4:25)
    • "As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your seed after you;" (Genesis 9:9)
    • "Then Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, 'To your seed I will give this land.'" (Genesis 12:7)
    • "Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have listened to My voice." (Genesis 22:17-18)

3. Jacob Surrounded (v.8-27)

  • Organization: Leah's children (v.8-15), Zilpah's children (v.16-18), Rachel's children (v.19-22), Bilhah's children (v.23-25)
  • Some observations:
    • Only Dinah is named as a daughter, but from Genesis 34, most assume that Jacob had one than one daughter.
    • The title "Jacob's wife" is only ascribed to Rachel (v.19)
    • Differences in Benjamin's genealogy in v.21 with Numbers 26:38-40 and 1 Chronicles 7:6-12.
      • LXX has the same 10 names, but relationships differ: 3 sons, 6 grandsons, and one great grandson.
      • Also, many doubt that Benjamin was old enought to have had all 10 sons before their migration to Egypt.
    • Pattern of the number seven
      • Leah (33 decendents) and Zilpah (16 descendants) make 49.
      • Rachel's linease had 14 members.
      • Bilhah's line are 7 descendents.
      • All the persons listed total 70.
    • “70 is understood here to be a typological rather than a literal number. It is here used, as elsewhere in the biblical literature, to express the idea of totality” (Sarna, 317)[2]
  • Three purposes of the list of Jacob's descendants.
    • Purpose 1: Genealogy affirm this story is historically true.
    • Purpose 2: Genealogy that Jacob's family is a full embryonic nation.
    • Purpose 3: Genealogy provides a backdrop to validate God's prophecy of the promised Messiah.

4. Jacob Reunited (v.28-30)

  • "He [Jacob] had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph" (v.28a)
    • Judah, the appointed leader of Jacob's sons, is commissioned.
    • Jacob had sent Joseph to his brothers back in Gen 37:13-14
    • Now Jacob sends Judah ahead to Joseph.
  • "to show the way before him in Goshen." (v.28b)
    • This is a difficult phrase to translate.
    • Hebrew verb translated in the ESV as "to show the way" means "to instruct, teach" [HALOT]
      • But unlike most of the 46x this Hebrew verb is used in the OT, there is no direct object connected with the verb.
    • Here is another way to translate verse 28: “And Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph in order that Judah might show Joseph the way to Jacob in Goshen; and they arrived in the land of Goshen.”[3] Hebrew Old Testament Text Project]
  • He [Joseph] presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while." (v.29)
    • Similar to Jacob and Esau in Genesis 33.
    • Like Joseph and Benjamin in Genesis 45.
    • "a good while" = "a long time" (NAS, NIV)
    • But the text does not specify or mention that Jacob reciprocates.
  • "Israel said to Joseph, 'Now let me die," (v.30a)
    • Jacob was ready to die.
    • Similar attitude as Simeon in Luke 2:25-30
  • Read Luke 2:25-30

"Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation."

- We can say we are "ready to die" when our eyes have seen God's salvation.

5. Jacob Settled (v.31-34)

  • "I will go up and tell Pharaoh" (v.31)
    • Joseph will report that Pharoah's instructions to him are fulfilled.
  • "shepherds" and "keepers of livestock" (v.32)
    • Jacob's family have long survived by keeping sheep and other livestock.
  • The designation of their occupation is important.
    1. Egyptians will want to segregrate themselves from the Hebrew shepherds.
      • "The Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians." (Genesis 43:32)
      • One commentator notes that shepherds "are rarely portrayed in their [Egyptian] paintings."[4]
      • For Joseph to instruct his family to admit their occupation proved that they will be transparent and honest.
    2. Pharoah will be encouraged to grant them the land of Goshen.
      • By bringing their herd, Joseph's family prove they have no desire to burden or leech off the Egyptian people.
      • They were not looking for jobs nor food; they needed land.
    3. Pharoah and his court will not be threatened by Joseph's family who have no interest to pursue political power or influence.
      • Joseph had no plan to show nepotism and place his family in positions of power within Egypt.
      • Martin Luther wrote, "Herdsmen and shepherds are regarded as being in the lowest station of life or—like executioners, butchers, and hangmen—are...not admitted to public offices or honorable social gatherings."[5]
  • We will read how Pharoah responds in our Bible study next week.


  • Let me close our time by offering three applications
    1. Worship God when life is unclear and uncertain.
      • Jacob offered sacrifices of thanksgiving while he remained fearful, and God's direction was indistinct.
      • You must worship God amidst predicament.
    2. Trust God, and your belief will lead to action.
      • Often, a life of inaction is a life lacking faith.
    3. Live for God, and you will be prepared to die.
      • "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
      • "To die is gain" is only true for believers who have tasted God's free gift of salvation.
      • Let us be like Jacob and Simeon and say, "Let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation."

  1. Masterman, E. W. G. 1915. “Beersheba.” In The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, edited by James Orr, John L. Nuelsen, Edgar Y. Mullins, and Morris O. Evans, 1–5:424. Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company. ↩︎

  2. Wenham, Gordon J. 1994. Genesis 16–50. Vol. 2. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. ↩︎

  3. Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. 1998. A Handbook on Genesis. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies. ↩︎

  4. Wenham, Gordon J. 1994. Genesis 16–50. Vol. 2. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. ↩︎

  5. Luther, Martin. 1999. Luther’s Works, Vol. 8: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 45-50. Edited by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 8. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House. ↩︎

Bible Studies on the Story of Joseph

  1. Introduction to the Joseph Narrative in Genesis
  2. Joseph the Dreamer (Genesis 37:2–11)
  3. Joseph Sold to Slavery (Genesis 37:12–36)
  4. Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38)
  5. Joseph Tempted by Potiphar's Wife (Genesis 39)
  6. God Remembers Joseph in Prison (Genesis 40)
  7. Pharoah's Dreams Interpreted (Genesis 41:1–36)
  8. Joseph Made Prime Minister (Genesis 41:37–57)
  9. Jacob's Sons' First Trip to Egypt (Genesis 42)
  10. Jacob Accepts Judah's Guarantee (Genesis 43:1–14)
  11. Joseph Reunites with Benjamin (Genesis 43:15–34)
  12. Joseph Plants His Silver Cup (Genesis 44:1–17)
  13. Judah's Plea for Benjamin (Genesis 44:18–34)
  14. Judah Becomes Surety for Benjamin (Genesis 44)
  15. A Portrait of Forgiveness (Genesis 45:1–8)
  16. It Is Enough (Genesis 45:9–28)
  17. Prepared to Die (Genesis 46)
  18. God Rescues Egypt (Genesis 47:1–26)
  19. "God Will Be With You" (Genesis 47:27–48:22)
  20. Lion of Judah: When All Is Said and Done (Genesis 49)
  21. God Meant It For Good (Genesis 50)