Israel Goes to Egypt

Israel was the name given to Jacob at the time he wrestled with the angel at Peniel. Later, Israel was used as the name of the Hebrew nation and, in Genesis 49:28, the twelve tribes of Israel. In Genesis 42, we have the account when Israel was an old man, and a drought came over Egypt and all the neighboring countries, including Canaan where Israel was living with his eleven sons. The drought lasted many years and was so severe that no crops could grow. When their supply of grain was depleted and Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other? . . . I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”—Gen. 42:1,2, New International Version

By God’s providence, Joseph already lived in Egypt, and had been elevated to the highest position next to the Pharaoh, with supreme authority and rulership. Joseph’s brothers visited Egypt twice to procure food. During their second visit, Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers and invited the entire family to come and settle in Goshen. When the brothers brought news of Joseph back to Jacob, he said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”—Gen. 45:28, New American Standard Bible

With his entire household of seventy persons, Jacob left his native land, but not before he had visited Beer-Sheba, where he offered sacrifices to God. Here, God appeared to him and told him not to be afraid to go to Egypt, because God would be with him and eventually turn his small family into a great nation.—Gen. 46:1-3

After they arrived (Genesis 47:1, Good News Bible), Joseph went to see Pharaoh and told him, “My father and my brothers have arrived from the land of Canaan. They have come with all their flocks, their herds and all that they own. They are now in the region of Goshen.” Pharaoh was pleased with Joseph’s brothers, and honored five of them by appointing them as overseers of his domestic concerns. Jacob, who seemed to be dying for years, lived longer than he expected. For seventeen years in Egypt, Jacob continued to put his faith and trust in God and enjoyed his remaining years in peace and safety with his twelve sons and their families.

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