Genesis 46:1-4 – Jacob had reservations about leaving the land that was promised to him by God. (Gen. 35:12). Likely sensing the hand of God in all that had unfolded Jacob began his journey. He had no word not to go and it seemed that this was the right thing to do. He traveled from Hebron to Egypt and along the way came to Beersheba where he grew up. It was here that he came before the Lord offering sacrifices to Him. That night the Lord appeared to him in a vision and calmed his fears about leaving the land of promise to Egypt. God promised that He would bless him and protect him while he was in Egypt. He promised that He would bring Jacob back to this land. This promise was never fulfilled in his lifetime except through Joseph bringing his body back to the land to be buried. Jesus gives us some insight into this in (Mat 22:3132). We need to also remember that Jacob was renamed Israel and through his children God brought Israel back to the land. The reason God brought Jacob and sons, to Egypt was to make them into a great nation. Egyptian pride and custom kept the sons of Jacob separate from intermarrying with the Egyptians. In Canaan, Esau, Judah and Simeon, had intermarried. It was in the territory of Goshen that God caused Israel to multiply from 70 to over 3 million in 400 years of Egyptian isolation. This number made it a simple matter to be able to occupy the entire land all at one time, and after giving Israel the Torah, God began the process of making Israel into a great nation. That Egypt was an advanced people educationally would also help in some way God’s chosen people.
Genesis 46:5-7 These verses record the arrival of the family to Egypt, beginning in verse 5 with the departure from Israel and their arrival in the land of Egypt. Moses lists Jacob and all his offspring, or literally seed. Note that daughters are plural which tells us that Dinah was not his only daughter, but she was the only one named because of her role in the events of chapter 34. Finally, the summary statement by Moses is that all of his offspring came. The whole people of Israel went down into Egypt, and Jacob spent the last seventeen years of his life in the land of Egypt.
Genesis 46:8-10 – The listing of the whole House of Jacob begins in verse 8. V 8-15 lists the sons of Leah, beginning with Reuben who is his first-born. He had four sons Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. In verse 10, Moses deals with Simeon who had six sons. Moses points out that Shaul was the son of a Canaanite woman which means that he had a different mother than the other sons of Simeon. So Shaul’s mother was either a concubine or she was a second wife since only he is listed as her son. What this also implies is that most of the sons were not married to Canaanites. Judah, of course, was and Simeon was, but it implies that most of the other sons were not married to Canaanites but this shows us the need to get Jacob’s sons out of the Land of Canaan. In Egypt Israel was set apart from the rest of the nation because of their vocation as shepherds. It is interesting that this is one of the callings of Israel; to shepherd the nations in the ways of God.
Genesis 46:11-12 lists the sons of Levi, who had three sons: Gershon, spelled as Gershom in I Chron 6:16; Kohath, whom Moses is descended from, and Merari. Verse 12 deals with Judah, and his five sons; but two of these sons died in the Land of Canaan: Er and Onan, who are not numbered, since they did not go down to Egypt. Shelah who was Judah’s son by Tamar, and who was the mother of Judah’s other two sons Perez and Zerah. He then lists the sons of Perez who are Judah’s grandsons. Two are mentioned: Hezron, the seed-son, and Hamul.
Genesis 46:13-15 deals with Issachar, and his four sons, Zebulun, and his three sons. Verse 15 makes a summary: These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore unto Jacob in Paddan-aram, with his daughter Dinah. The total of all these sons and the daughter was thirty-three. The figure of thirty-three does not include Er and Onan who died in the Land of Canaan, but it does include one son of an unnamed wife and the two grandsons of Judah who were actually born in Egypt. All these names add up to thirty-two, but the figure thirty-three also counts Jacob. So the figure thirty-three includes: Jacob, six of his sons, 24 grandsons (not including the two who died), and two great grandsons.
Genesis 46:16–18 lists the sons of Zilpah, the maid of Leah. V 16 deals with Gad and his seven sons. Verse 17 deals with Asher and his five children including Serah, the only granddaughter of Jacob actually named. The sons of Zilpah were 16 which included two sons, eleven grandsons, one granddaughter, and two great grandsons of Jacob. V 19–22 lists the sons of Rachel, who is the only one named as Jacob’s wife because of her being his favorite. Their two sons are listed, Joseph and Benjamin. In v 20, the focus is on Joseph and his two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim, Moses points out that they were born in Egypt and theri mother was, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother had 10 sons.
Genesis 46:23–25 lists the sons of Bilhah the maid of Rachel which included Dan and Naphtali.
Genesis 46:26–27 gives the grand total of Jacob’s family at 66. This figure counts only the children outside Egypt and excludes Jacob, Joseph, and the two sons of Joseph. Verse 27 gives the total of 70, and this counts Joseph, and the sons of Joseph, who were born in Egypt. The 70 includes Jacob and all his sons and grandsons: The House of Leah (32); the House of Zilpah (16); the House of Rachel (14); the House of Bilhah (7); and Jacob (1). This figure excludes all the wives and husbands of daughters or granddaughters, and so the number was actually far greater than just seventy. If you count the servants and wives plus the women and children absorbed from Shechem (34:29), probably the entire figure would be about three hundred or more. In Acts 7:14, Stephen gave a total figure of seventy-five (75), a figure taken from the Septuagint section of Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:5, a figure also supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls. These add to the figure of seventy the five grandsons of Joseph: the son and grandson of Manasseh and the two sons of Ephraim (Num. 26:28–37, I Chron. 7:14–27).
Genesis 46:28-34 – The caravan from Canaan would first come to Goshen which is before the city that Joseph lived in. Judah was sent by Jacob to Joseph to tell him that they were on their way to Goshen and needed instructions as to where they should go in Goshen. It seems that Judah had become the trusted son of Jacob and was now the acting spiritual head of the family. This is not only because of his wise counsel to his father when he was negotiating to bring Benjamin to Egypt as required by Joseph (Gen. 43) but also because his older brothers had disqualified themselves from leadership by their bad behavior; Reuben, by his immorality with his step mother’s maid (Gen 35:22), Simeon and Levi for their slaughter of the sons of Hamor (Gen. 34). While their sins were probably forgiven the consequences of their sins must be reckoned with. Too often we think that since we have been forgiven that we no longer are liable to the consequences, this is not true. When Joseph learns that his father is on his way to the land of Goshen he immediately leaves to meet him there. Their reunion was beyond what words could describe. For Jacob it had to be something like the joy we will experience when we will meet our loved ones who have died in the Lord. When finally Jacob was able to speak he told Joseph that now he could die in peace since he had seen his face. Joseph understood the importance of keeping the sons of Israel separate from the Egyptians so that the seed would remain pure for the coming of the Messiah; this is why he instructed his brothers to emphasize their work in shepherding. The Egyptians loathed shepherds as an unclean and undesirable people by trade. If this had not been emphasized by Pharoah then the people of Egypt probably would have insisted that Jacob and his sons live and intermarry with them. God however wanted Israel to remain a people set apart, just as he wants us to be set apart (Ex 19:6, Lev 20:26, 1 Pet. 2:9-10).