1-2 Jahweh’s Coming for You. 3-4 Better Lock your Door: Genesis 46

Jacob starts traveling toward Goshen and stops in Beer-Sheba, where he makes sacrifices “to the God of his father Isaac.” I still find it strange that these people don’t consider God their God except by reference to their progenitors. It’s an impersonal and nepotistic brand of religiosity. They don’t seem to have any reason to follow this particular deity except that their fathers did. Moreover, it’s mutual. God doesn’t have any connection with Jacob except through his father Isaac.

and God speaketh to Israel in visions of the night, and saith, `Jacob, Jacob;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

And He saith, `I [am] God, God of thy father, be not afraid of going down to Egypt, for for a great nation I set thee there;

God’s method and manner of communicating with Jacob raises even more questions. On the threshold, there’s the question of why God needs to identify himself. Is he unrecognizable? Does he have to distinguish himself from other Gods that might be speaking to Jacob? If he is the one and only deity, why does he have to identify himself as Isaac’s God to avoid confusion? And why is he now speaking only in dreams and nocturnal visions? There is absolutely no explanation for why somewhere in the middle of Genesis he transmogrified from a quasi-corporeal hangaround into Freddie fucking Krueger.

Also, this “God” character is clearly just reacting to shit that he obviously cannot control. After telling Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and anyone else who would listen that he set aside some really great land for them in Canaan, Canaan ends up being so profoundly shitty that they will literally die if they stay there. When Jacob made up his mind to go to Egypt to survive, God  says “oh, you know, I have a great idea, you should go to Egypt! I made THAT happen for you. You’re welcome.”

After Jacob wakes up from his dream where God takes unjustified credit for Plan B, they continue on their way, and we get a long roster of names of Jacob’s family members who accompany him. A loooong list. Almost 70 people, most of whom sound like Tolkien elves. They have a joyful reunion in Goshen where….Joseph weeps on Jacob/Israel’s neck.  Instead of ending on that note, the chapter ends with a strange rehearsal of what the brothers must say to Pharaoh in order to be permitted to stay in Goshen. They are to tell him that they are shepherds, because shepherds are considered abominations in Egypt, which is why they will be allowed to stay there. O…K…? Let’s not think about that one too much and just assume it has some etiological significance that I don’t give a shit about.


1 And Israel journeyeth, and all that he hath, and cometh in to Beer-Sheba, and sacrificeth sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac;

and God speaketh to Israel in visions of the night, and saith, `Jacob, Jacob;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

And He saith, `I [am] God, God of thy father, be not afraid of going down to Egypt, for for a great nation I set thee there;

I — I go down with thee to Egypt, and I — I also certainly bring thee up, and Joseph doth put his hand on thine eyes.’

And Jacob riseth from Beer-Sheba, and the sons of Israel bear away Jacob their father, And their infants, and their wives, in the waggons which Pharaoh hath sent to bear him,

and they take their cattle, and their goods which they have acquired in the land of Canaan, and come into Egypt — Jacob, and all his seed with him,

his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, yea, all his seed he brought with him into Egypt.

And these [are] the names of the sons of Israel who are coming into Egypt: Jacob and his sons, Jacob’s first-born, Reuben.

And sons of Reuben: Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

10 And sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul son of the Canaanitess.

11 And sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

12 And sons of Judah: Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zarah, (and Er and Onan die in the land of Canaan.) And sons of Pharez are Hezron and Hamul.

13 And sons of Issachar: Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.

14 And sons of Zebulun: Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.

15 These [are] sons of Leah whom she bare to Jacob in Padan-Aram, and Dinah his daughter; all the persons of his sons and his daughters [are] thirty and three.

16 And sons of Gad: Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

17 And sons of Asher: Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister. And sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel.

18 These [are] sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and she beareth these to Jacob — sixteen persons.

19 Sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin.

20 And born to Joseph in the land of Egypt (whom Asenath daughter of Poti-Pherah, priest of On, hath borne to him) [are] Manasseh and Ephraim.

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

22 These [are] sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob; all the persons [are] fourteen.

23 And sons of Dan: Hushim.

24 And sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

25 These [are] sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter; and she beareth these to Jacob — all the persons [are] seven.

26 All the persons who are coming to Jacob to Egypt, coming out of his thigh, apart from the wives of Jacob’s sons, all the persons [are] sixty and six.

27 And the sons of Joseph who have been born to him in Egypt [are] two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who are coming into Egypt [are] seventy.

28 And Judah he hath sent before him unto Joseph, to direct before him to Goshen, and they come into the land of Goshen;

29 and Joseph harnesseth his chariot, and goeth up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and appeareth unto him, and falleth on his neck, and weepeth on his neck again;

30 and Israel saith unto Joseph, `Let me die this time, after my seeing thy face, for thou [art] yet alive.’

31 And Joseph saith unto his brethren, and unto the house of his father, `I go up, and declare to Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and the house of my father who [are] in the land of Canaan have come in unto me;

32 and the men [are] feeders of a flock, for they have been men of cattle; and their flock, and their herd, and all that they have, they have brought.’

33 `And it hath come to pass when Pharaoh calleth for you, and hath said, What [are] your works?

34 that ye have said, Thy servants have been men of cattle from our youth, even until now, both we and our fathers, — in order that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen, for the abomination of the Egyptians is every one feeding a flock.’


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