Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Genesis 47:1-12 comments: our pilgrimage on this earth

1 ¶  Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. 2  And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. 3  And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. 4  They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. 5  And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: 6  The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. 7  And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8  And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? 9  And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. 10  And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh. 11  And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12  And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.

Remember, every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians but this Pharaoh was very welcoming and confirmed Joseph’s grant to his family to dwell in the land of Goshen. Note in this passage how evil is defined in the context of a long, wearisome and difficult life. Jacob laments that not only have his days been full of trouble but that he has not lived as long as his father and grandfather.

Here, we also see, by way of comparison between verses 6 and 11 with the land of Goshen and the land of Rameses being linked synonymously. Scholars locate these areas, as well as the Hyksos capital of Egypt, in the northeastern part of Egypt and the new capital of the Egyptian so-named 19th dynasty (by us, not them), what is called Lower Egypt in the area of the eastern Nile delta. Again, whether this is correct or not we will never know in this life most likely. But it is an educated guess based on what evidence has been found. This will become more important in our study of Exodus and the actual location of the crossing of the Red Sea. If scholars are correct then the branch of the Red Sea that the Hebrews are near to would be what we call today the Gulf of Suez.

Joseph supplied his family with the means they would need to survive and the Pharaoh made whomever Joseph thought competent, made them herdsmen over his own cattle.

In verse 9 I like the use of the word pilgrimage to describe our sojourn on the earth in a physical body. Physical life since the fall of man is relatively short and contains an inordinate amount of pain especially, for people who don’t die suddenly, when we die. Although that is not always the case it certainly is in many cases. Our life here is a pilgrimage and we must not forget that. It is a journey with a beginning and an end, then, if the person believes the testimony of Jesus Christ, there is a spiritual life with God that goes on for eternity.

The Greek poet Homer used Aeon to refer to a life or a lifespan. This is unlike Plato who used it to refer to the spiritual world behind the one we see. In some cases, like in Matthew 12:32 aeon is used to refer to the world as it is set up today, the world or period of time or age between the fall of man and eternity. But, here, in this passage the Hebrew word mawgur is used for pilgrimage whereas elsewhere it is used for a dwelling place or to sojourn or to be a stranger. 

We are strangers here, passing through. Our lifetimes are an age, a period of time, and a journey. It is something to think about.

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