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©John Yerkes (whatyousee.kc)

Chapter 47:1-12 (ESV)

Posted on December 08, 2020  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 47:1-12 (ESV) - So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers 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. And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father's household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

Question to consider: Why does Pharaoh ask Jacob how old he was?

Even though Pharaoh had already given permission to Joseph to let his family settle in Egypt, Joseph had his brothers ask permission and explain why they had brought their flocks when Pharaoh had told them to leave everything behind. This gave Pharaoh an opportunity to announce his benevolence to Joseph’s family by offering the best that Egypt has to offer. He compliments them further by offering to let some of them be in charge of his livestock. He probably figured that if Joseph’s brothers were as good at their job as he was at his, they would bless his livestock and increase his wealth.

Pharaoh also seemed excited to meet the father of Joseph. I don’t know if he’d heard stories from Joseph about his father or maybe thought Jacob had been blessed by the gods in order to have such a wise son. Whatever the case, Pharaoh seems a bit taken aback by how old Jacob was. The average lifespan of men in ancient Egypt was 34 and women 30. The evidence for this was obtained by scientists Winkler and Wilfing based on 257 skeletons discovered from about 1700-1550 BC (here is a link). In that group, the oldest was 61 years old so when Pharaoh saw Jacob, he was amazed to see someone sojourning at a ripe old age of 130 years.

I also have to wonder if by providing a place for Jacob and his family, Pharaoh thought the blessing from Jacob would bring about the end of their famine. For Pharaoh and his household had heard Joseph tell his brothers, “And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:7-8) If God had orchestrated Joseph’s position in Egypt to prepare for the famine, surely He would allow the famine to end now that His purpose in sending it had been fulfilled.


Dear heavenly Father, we ask that You help us to live such good lives among unbelievers that they would recognize Your sovereignty and come to know You through us. May we be a blessing to everyone You put in our path. Amen.