Sunday 25 August, 2019

Genesis 46:8-27

8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob. 9 The sons of Reuben: Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon and Jahleel. 15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all. 16 The sons of Gad: Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah. Their sister was Serah. The sons of Beriah: Heber and Malkiel. 18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all. 19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 21 The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard. 22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all. 23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem. 25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all. 26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

A modern reader probably skips over the genealogies pretty quickly, but these were important markers to the first readers of Genesis. To them it says, “this is a significant point”. It pairs up with a similar list of Jacob’s sons at the very beginning of Exodus. (In Hebrew Exodus begins with “and” – it was written to continue straight on from Genesis.)

It’s as though God is counting everyone into Egypt and he’s counting everyone out at the other end. Nobody is lost on the way. It emphasises his promise in verse 4: “I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.”

He took Jacob and his family to Egypt as a safe place in a devastating famine, as a place for them to grow from a family into a nation; but it was not the place he had prepared for his people. He would need to rescue them from what became a place holding them in bondage rather than God’s blessing.

It reminds me that the journey of my life isn’t always in a place that looks like God’s blessing. But God can and will still achieve his purposes for me in that place and won’t forget to bring me through it to the place he has prepared for me.

Oh God, you are so faithful. You don’t forget any of your people. You don’t leave any of us behind. Even when I’m in a hard place, I will look to you to bring me through to the place you have prepared for me.

Written by David Cornell

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