Genesis Epilogue

When creating began, random elements and dark were available. When a further re-creating occurred, random effects of a flood upon a rudderless box with an enclosed space ripe for animal propagation set the foreground of the scene with a mysterious background of unexpected trees with leaves and vineyards untouched by water pressure. Yet another time of creating begins in the land from which languages were confused, and one person (with a household of people) was called to an unknown wilderness from which an internal journey began toward some mythic unity.

At the end of these three (and additional resets not noted here), the image that remains is that of a coffin that works backward to an ark, uncertainness, and dark.

Readers can fruitfully pause here. Reflections can be made on connections and extensions of this multi-layered beginning with one’s journey within and beyond this particular tale. This may be sufficient for the moment but probably does call out for engagement with other tales of beginning.

With a coffin and an empty tomb, I come to the end of a second look at the old stories of Mark and Genesis.

There will be a pause in mostly-regular postings here. If you do not unsubscribe through the process at the bottom of this email, you can expect to hear about any new project when a next posting is made.

At this point, my expectation is to work on publishing a dissertation by Julie Marie Todd on (non)violence and an experimental project—a (non)answer book. Somewhere in there, I may even put out a joke of a book based on the Babel inspired lorem ipsum.

May you be of good cheer as you enter the coffin of your life-to-date and dream of others carrying you further along than you can do for yourself in this boundaried universe.


Genesis 50:22–26

50 22 Thus Joseph remained in Egypt—he and his father’s household. Joseph lived 110 years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons. The sons of Machir, Manasseh’s son, were also born on Joseph’s knees. 
     24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. God will certainly attend to you and bring you up from this land to the land promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, “When God attends to you, bring up my bones from here.” 26 Joseph died at 110 years old. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph lived to be 110, the ideal Egyptian life span. This marks the end of centering for Joseph. He ends as an Egyptian.

Over the course of his last years, Joseph sees grandsons and great-grandsons born into the Egyptian/Hebrew linages of Ephraim and Manasseh. The ascension of second-born Ephraim accomplished by Jacob’s hand continues in the notation.

As Joseph comes to the end of his life, he says to his older and younger brothers—“in keeping with the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you will be centered in G*D’s view and return to Canaan. When such a time comes, carry my bones with you.”

At death, Joseph is embalmed (maintaining more than his bones) and placed in a coffin.

Famous as he was, Joseph may have had a marked grave that could be remembered and found generations later in a stressful departure. It is equally likely that his grave had been destroyed by forgetful Pharaohs to come. Should this second possibility arise, how might later generations remember and carry Joseph’s bones back to Canaan? (This is a difficulty with all relics, provenance.) What would be the value of Joseph’s bones over those of thousands or millions of others not carried along? Regarding any intrinsic value, who would carry them into an unknown and unprepared for future when so much else was left behind, and their weight would slow their travel over difficult terrain?

So long ago, we read of a breath wafting over a deep. Along the way, life has ebbed and flowed. What began in expansion, has contracted to a shallow coffin with a warped and wrapped past.

At question is whether there will be another breath. Does that matter in any significant way?

Genesis 50:1–21

50 1 Joseph flung himself on his father’s face, wept over him, and kissed him. Joseph then ordered his servants, his physicians, to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel. A full forty days were required to complete the embalming. The Egyptians mourned him for seventy days. After the days of mourning had passed, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh’s household: “If I have found favor in your eyes, I ask you to speak to Pharaoh this message: My father made me swear, saying, ‘I am about to die. In the burial site, I prepared for myself in the land of Canaan, there you must bury me.’ Now, let me go up, bury my father, and return.”
     Pharaoh replied, “Go up and bury your father, as he had you swear.”
     So Joseph went up to bury his father. All of Pharaoh’s servants went with him, together with the elders of his household and the land of Egypt. Joseph’s entire household, along with his brothers, and father’s households went up. Only the children, flocks, and cattle remained in the land of Goshen.Along with him also went chariots and horsemen; the procession was prestigious.
     10 When they arrived at Goren ha-Atad/Threshing Floor of Brambles on the other side of the Jordan River, they again keened heavily and deeply mourned. They grieved his father for seven days.
     11 When the natives of the land, the Canaanites, saw the observance of grief in Goren ha-Atad, they said, “This heavy mourning is by Egypt.” Therefore, its name became Abel-Mizraim/Meadow of Mourning. It is on the other side of the Jordan. 12 Israel’s sons did for him just as he had them swear. 13 His sons carried him up to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, which Abraham had purchased as burial property from Ephron the Hittite, facing Mamre. 14 Then Joseph returned to Egypt, he, his brothers, and everyone who had gone up with him to bury his father.
     15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was now dead, they said, “If Joseph holds a grudge against us, he will pay us back for all the terrible things we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph, claiming, “Your father gave orders before he died, telling us, 17 ‘This is what you should say to Joseph: “Please, forgive the crime and offense of your brothers, for the trouble they caused you. Now, I beseech you to  forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God.”’” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
     18 His brothers came and flung themselves before him, and said, “Here we are, your slaves.”
     19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid. Have I replaced God? 20 While you planned something bad for me, God re-planned it for good, to bring about this very day and keep many people alive. 21 So, do not be afraid. I will sustain you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke to their hearts.

Joseph has wept upon the neck of Benjamin and his brothers. At the death of his father, Joseph weeps wordlessly upon the face of his father, Jacob. After Jacob died, Joseph had his body mummified. This is an Egyptian tradition, not Hebrew, and can remind readers of the Egyptianization of Joseph. There is also a practical consideration of how to return Jacob’s body to the Cave at Machpelah, the family burial spot so far away in Canaan.

The number of days for mummification and mourning are reported through a Hebraic sensibility, rather than an accurate accounting of Egyptian practice.

Whatever the time frame, after an appropriate time, Joseph approaches Pharaoh for permission to return with his father’s body for burial in Canaan. As Pharaohs do, his permission came with caveats. The Hebrew children and flocks were kept in Egypt. This might be considered as security held to guarantee Joseph’s return. Additionally, Egyptian officials went along with Jacob’s family, and chariots and cavalry guarded the whole procession. These not only protected those going out but ensured they would return. Joseph was too valuable an asset to the Pharaoh to lose.

The procession made it to the Jordan River and Jacob was buried with his grandfather Abraham and grandmother Sarah, his mother Rebekah and father Isaac, and his first wife, Leah.

Either after Jacob’s death or his burial, Joseph’s half-brothers claim Jacob had instructed that Joseph forgive his brothers for their betrayal and sale of him to some Ishmaelites. The brothers deeply bow and offer to become slaves (sheaves) of Joseph. This recapitulation takes readers back to Joseph’s first family dreams, and everyone is reminded that good had come, they are not to fear, and Joseph returns to sustaining his family (though at a distance) and further indebting people for Pharaoh’s gain.

A resolution seems to be made, fearful minds are comforted, all seems right with the world, and they were about to live happily ever after—except Jacob’s multiplying family is not with him in Canaan.

Genesis 49:1–33

49 1 Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather around so I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come.
                    2 Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
                                        hearken to Israel your father.
                    3 Reuben, you are my firstborn,
                                        my strength and first fruit of my loins,
                                        first in rank and first in might.
                    4 As unsteady as water, you will not remain first,
                                        for you mounted your father’s bed,
                                        you defiled my couch.
                    5 Simeon and Levi, are brothers,
                                        weapons of violence tie them together.
                    6  In their council, may I never be found,
                                        may my presence never be linked to their group.
                                        In their anger they slaughter men,
                                        and for pleasure they tear down walls.
                    7 Cursed be their fierce fury,
                                        their relentless and remorseless wrath.
                    I’ll divide them within Jacob,
                                        disperse them within Israel.
                    8 Judah, you will be acclaimed by your brothers;
                                        your hand on the neck of your enemies;
                                        your father’s sons will bow down to you.
                    9 Judah is a lion’s cub;
                                        from the prey, my son, you mount up.
                    He crouched and lay down like a lion;
                                        like a king of beasts—who dares rouse him?
                    10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
                                        nor the staff-of-command from between his legs.
                    Tribute will be brought to him;
                                        peoples will obey him.
                    11 He ties his donkey to the vine,
                                        his donkey colt to the grape branches.
                    He washes his clothes in wine,
                                        his tunic in the blood of grapes.
                    12 His eyes, darker than wine,
                                        his teeth, whiter than milk.
                    13 Zebulun will live at the shore of the sea;
                                        his is the harbor of ships,
                                        at his side will be Sidon.
                    14 Issachar is a bone-strong donkey,
                                        bedding down beside village hearths.
                                        15 When he saw a good resting place
                                        and how pleasant was the land,
                    he put his shoulder to load bearing
                                        and became a toiling serf.
                    16 Dan will settle disputes,
                                        among all of Israel’s people.
                    17 May Dan be a snake on the road,
                                        an asp on the path,
                                        biting at a horse’s heels,
                                        so its rider falls backward.
                                        18 I await your deliverance, O YHWH.
                    19 Gad will be goaded by attackers,
                                        but he’ll goad their heels.
                    20 Asher produces rich bread,
                                        and he will create kingly delicacies.
                    21 Naphtali is a wild doe
                                        brings forth beautiful fawns.
                    22 Joseph is a fruitful son,
                                        a fruitful son by a spring,
                                        daughters who stride alongside a wall.
                    23 They fiercely attacked him and fired arrows;
                                        the archers attacked him furiously.
                    24 But his bow stayed taut,
                                        and his forearms were relentless,
                                                  by the hands of Jacob’s Champion,
                                                  by the name of the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel,
                    25  by your father’s God, who helps you,
                                        by Shaddai blesses you
                                        with blessings of the heavens above
                                        and blessings of the deep lying below,
                                        blessings of breasts and womb.
                    26 The blessings of your father exceeded
                                        the blessings of timeless mountains,
                                        the bounty of hills everlasting.
                    May they all rest on Joseph’s head,
                                     on the forehead of the one set apart from his brothers.
                    27 Benjamin, ravenous wolf who hunts:
                                        in the morning he devours the prey;
                                        in the evening he divides out the plunder.”
                    28 These are the tribes of Israel—twelve—and this is what their father spoke to them, blessing each according to their blessing.
                     29 Jacob commanded them, “I am soon to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my ancestors in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite; 30 in the cave that’s in the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre in the land of Canaan, that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah are buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” 33 After he finished giving orders to his sons, he put his feet up on the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Continuing the backstory of the death of Jacob/Israel, readers learn Jacob is more than ambitious for the status of a firstborn. His interest goes beyond instruction about where he desires to be buried—with Abraham and Sarah, Rebekah and Isaac, and Leah. Somewhere along the way, Jacob/Israel moves beyond beauty and favoritism (even though he was increased by and benefited from both).

Jacob gathers his sons around him and, in elevated language, sets the family in order. The poetic fragments join together in a preview of the family in days and years ahead.

Reuben, the eldest son, looking for the lowest ground from which to curry favor, will not be the leader of the brothers. His attempt at a coup is remembered against him.

Simeon and Levi bring the slaughter at Shechem to mind. Ruled by their outrage and fury, they show no wisdom for the difficult position of the Hebrews in an already occupied land. There is no indication here of connecting Levi with a priesthood.

Imagine Judah anticipating a next word after three condemnatory curses? It comes to pass that Judah is the designated leader of the family. With the royal imagery used, it can be suggested that this closing will and testament of Jacob was composed post-David, a descendant of the Lion of Judah.

In short order, we hear Jacob’s recognition of Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali.

Joseph is accorded a longer section as one set apart in both Jacob’s affection and his Egyptian leadership(though not tribal leadership).

The youngest, Benjamin, is paralleled with Judah. Between the lion and the wolf, there is protection for the tribe. Judah’s leadership for the general welfare of the tribe will be protected by Benjamin providing a common defense.

Following this setting of the family, Jacob dies at the age of 147. His last instruction is to rehearse for all the brothers, not just Joseph, his request to be buried in the burial-cave of his ancestors.

Genesis 48:1–22

48 1 After these things happened, they said to Joseph, “Your father is sick.” He took his two sons with him—Manasseh and Ephraim. When someone told Jacob, “Your son Joseph is coming to you,” Israel gathered his strength and sat up in bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “God Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, blessed me, and said to me, ‘I will make you bear fruit and multiply you; I will make you into many peoples and give this land to your seed after you, to hold for the ages.’ Now, your two sons who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they are mine. Ephraim and Manasseh, like Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine. Those whom you will beget after them, they are yours, but their inheritance will come through their brothers’ names. Ahh, when I came back from Paddan, Rachel died … my grief … in the land of Canaan, on the road, with some distance yet to go to Ephrath, so I buried her there, on the way.” [Ephrath is Bethlehem.]
     Israel saw Joseph’s sons and said, “Who are these?”
     Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.”
     Israel said, “Bring them to me, and I will bless them.” 10 And Israel’s eyes were heavy with age; he could not see. Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them.
     11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never thought I would see your face, but now God has also let me see your seed.” 
     12 Then Joseph drew them from Israel’s knees, and they bowed low, face to the ground. 13 Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim in his right hand to Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left hand to Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on the head of Ephraim, the younger one, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head; he crossed his hands though Manasseh was the firstborn.15 He blessed them and said,
               “The God before whom my fathers walked,
                    Abraham and Isaac,
               the God who has looked after me
                    all my life until this day,
               16 the messenger who protected me from all harm,
                    bless these lads.
               May my name be called through them
                    and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac.
               May they multiply into a great multitude
                    throughout the land.”
     17 Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head. He was upset and took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head and place it on Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, this one is firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.”
     19 But his father refused, saying, “I know, my son, I know. He will also become a people, and also be great. But his younger brother will be greater than he, and his seed will become many nations.” 20 Israel blessed them that day, saying,
               “By you shall Israel invoke blessings, saying,
                    ‘God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
So Israel put Ephraim before Manasseh. 
     21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Look, I am dying. God will be with you and return you to the land of your fathers. 22 As for me, I intentionally give you one portion more than to your brothers, a portion that I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

Having heard that Jacob’s death was imminent, the storyteller revisits the beginning of Jacob’s birth and his wresting away of primogeniture from Esau. A variation on the wrestling of brothers is extended to father and son, following the motifs of Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac, and Esau and Jacob. Readers learn more about Jacob and Joseph, Jacob and his grandsons.

Joseph, learning of Jacob’s entering hospice, brings his sons to Jacob. A question arises: Is this the first time Joseph has brought the Egyptian and Hebrew parts of his family together?

Remembering his dream at Bethel and the promise of a plenitude of seed, Jacob proceeds to adopt Joseph’s children by the Egyptian Asenath. Jacob locates his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim, on the same plane as the sons of Leah.

There is confusing talk about later sons of Joseph. If there are any, they will be connected to Canaan through Ephraim and Manasseh (those who have received a blessing directly from Jacob’s/Israel’s hand.

After a remembrance of Jacob’s first great loss, Rachel, he returns unaware of introductions already made. His age-blinded eyes were as his father Isaac’s when deceived by Rebekah and himself.

Embracing the lads, and perhaps smelling them for a scent of ascendancy, Jacob finds them placed with the firstborn, Manasseh, as his right hand, for a primary blessing, and Ephraim at his left, for a secondary blessing.

At this point, Jacob repeats the actions of his father, Isaac—he crosses his hands and offers a blessing to both while his right hand rests on the younger and his left on the older.

Joseph, desiring order that the center be clear, objects.

Jacob claims to know what he knows and confirms that the younger Ephraim will be “greater” than Manasseh. The shift from younger to older continues—Abel/Shem, Isaac, Jacob raised over Cain, Ishmael, Esau. Israel completes the ritual, “May YHWH adopt you as Ephraim the Younger and Manasseh the Older.”

Joseph is promised a return to Canaan. A question: in what capacity or leadership?

Genesis 47:11–31

47 11 Joseph settled his father and brothers and gave them holdings in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh had said. 12 Joseph sustained his father, his brothers, and his father’s entire household, including the mouths of the little ones.
     13 Of bread, there was none in all the land, because of the severity of the famine. The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan shriveled during the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the silver to be found in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan in exchange for the grain which people bought. The silver was deposited in Pharaoh’s treasury. 15 When the silver from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan was exhausted, all of the Egyptians came to Joseph saying, “Bread! We need bread! Why should we die in front of your eyes? The silver is gone.”
     16 Joseph said, “Give me your livestock. If the silver is gone, I will give you bread for your livestock.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them grain for the horses, flocks, cattle, and donkeys. He got them through that year with bread in exchange for all of their livestock.
     18 When that year ran out, they came to him the next year saying, “We can’t hide from my lord that the silver is gone and the livestock belongs to my lord. Nothing remains for my lord than our dead bodies and our farmland. 19 Why should we die in front of your eyes? As for us, for our farmland—possess our farms and us in exchange for bread, and our farms and we will be slaves to Pharaoh. Give us seed that we can live and not die, and so that our farmland will not turn to desert.” 
     20  Joseph acquired all the farmland of Egypt for Pharaoh because every Egyptian sold his field when the famine deepened. The land became Pharaoh’s. 21 The people were resettled, town-by-town, throughout the borders of Egypt. 22 However, Joseph did not acquire the soil of the priests because the priests had a subsidy from Pharaoh, and they ate from the allotment from Pharaoh. Therefore, they did not sell their farmland.
     23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have purchased you and your farmland for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Sow the soil. 24 When the harvest comes, you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. The other four parts are yours to seed the field, and to feed your household and your children.”
     25 The people said, “You have kept us alive! May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” 26 So Joseph fixed a law lasting to this day: from Egypt’s soil, Pharaoh receives one-fifth. Only the soil of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.
     27 Israel dwelled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. They took holdings there, bore fruit, and greatly multiplied. 28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years. Jacob’s days, the years of his life, were seven years and a hundred and forty years. 29 Israel’s days neared death. He called his son Joseph, and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh, and act toward me with steadfast kindness—Do not bury me in Egypt! 30 When I lie down with my fathers, carry me up from Egypt and bury me in their place of burial.”
     Joseph said, “I will do it according to your words.”
     31 Israel said, “Swear to me!” and Joseph swore. Then Israel bowed, at the head of the bed.

Joseph settles his Hebrew family (different from his Egyptian family) in Rameses (a synonym for Goshen or a foreshadowing of the place of Hebrew enslavement).

Where there was no bread to be had in the inhabited world, Joseph fed his birth family.

All others had to pay for grain from which they could make sustaining bread. The silver from these transactions impoverished Egyptians, Canaanites, and others, while, correspondingly, the coffers of the Pharaoh were enriched.

Eventually, every form of economic transaction fails. It was not long before there was no silver to be had, outside of Pharaoh’s treasury.

Nonetheless, pleas for bread continued. Joseph then agrees to receive any remaining livestock in lieu of silver.

In relatively short order, hunger returns. A post-silver, post-livestock appeal for grain rises to Joseph. As before, Joseph shifts the required payment for grain to the soil itself and the lives of those living on it. Enslavement to Pharaoh was the cost of continued breathing and eating.

As has happened in every enslavement, relocation occurs. There is a removal of people from their place—a dislocation that removes community and organized resistance from people consolidates the power of Pharaoh (and, of course, Pharaoh’s administrator, Joseph). For a current example of this tradition, readers might see Netanyahu in the role of Joseph.

Note the church/state (priest/Pharaoh) connection that enriches the priests—with food and other perks from Pharaoh, priests are able to maintain their land.

Joseph offers the landless an offer they cannot refuse and remain alive. They become share-croppers with a tax level that will keep them poor (enslaved) in perpetuity.

Israel’s household profited in the same way as did the priests. They essentially had state support that privileged them. They were able to see their seed moving toward numbers such as the sand and stars.

As Jacob neared death, he called Joseph to promise for him not to be buried in Egypt, but with his ancestors in the cave purchased by Abraham

.Joseph was with Jacob for 17 years. Israel was with Joseph for 17 years. These numbers mark an identified episode.

Genesis 47:1–10

47 1 Joseph came and told Pharaoh, saying, “My father and brothers with their sheep, oxen, and all that is theirs have come from the land of Canaan and are here in the land of Goshen.” From his brothers, he selected five men and set them before Pharaoh.
     Pharaoh said to Joseph’s brothers, “What is it you do?”
     They said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, we and our fathers.” And they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land because there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is heavy in the land of Canaan. We ask you to let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.”
     Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Let them dwell in the land of Goshen. If you know capable men among them, make them chiefs of my livestock. 6 [Joseph’s father and brothers had come to him in Egypt, and Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, heard. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is open to you. In the best of the land, settle your father and brothers. Let them live in the land of Goshen.]
     Joseph brought Jacob, his father, and had him stand before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of your life?”
     Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourn are thirty and a hundred years. I’ve been a traveler for 130 years. Few and trying have been the days of the years of my life. They have not achieved the years of my fathers in their days of sojourning.” 10 Jacob gave Pharaoh a farewell blessing and went out from Pharaoh’s presence.

Joseph comes to Pharaoh to complete the task of bringing his family to Egypt. He brings five brothers with him. Readers are not told which five he brings. The words in Hebrew are not direct but points toward these five as being representative of them (half the number who sold him into slavery—they are only half bad?) or as the pick or best of the brothers. Given the way Genesis plays with numbers, the five-times as much given to Benjamin might be weighted toward those who will present the best appearance.

Of course, even the best appearing shepherd is still a shepherd—not an endearing quality for Egyptians. Immigrants in today’s anti-immigrant America would be an apt similarity.

There is a tension between the Masoretic and Septuagint texts in verses 5 and 6. The text above follows the Septuagint, via Alter, to smooth the conversation. Other readers may have a different sensibility and record it otherwise.

The brothers successfully complete their role with Pharaoh and receive a blessing to reside in Goshen. As they depart, Jacob enters, and Pharaoh shifts his question from “What do you do?” to “How old are you?”

Jacob responds that he is 130. This is impressive to Pharaoh as the Egyptian ideal for a well-lived life is 110.

Jacob goes on to acknowledge his life, though he received all he wanted—the status of firstborn, beautiful Rachel, and wealth—he has been discontented (notably with the presentation of Joseph as dead and the risk of losing Benjamin). Not only does Jacob not have a satisfied mind, but he is also shorter-lived than his ancestors (Noah, Shem, Arpashad, Shela, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram, and Isaac). [Note: This does accord with a direct-line movement toward the mandate following the Flood of an upper limit of 120 years.]

As the elder, Jacob blesses Pharaoh and, unbeknownst to anyone at this point of drawing his life to a close, lives another 17 years.

Genesis 46:28–34

46 28 Israel had Judah sent ahead for Joseph to give directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the land of Goshen, 29 Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When Joseph appeared, he threw his arms around his neck and wept, weeping long upon his neck. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “I can die now, after seeing your face, for you are still alive!”
     31 Joseph said to his brothers and his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, saying, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of Canaan have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds. They have always cared for livestock. They have brought their flocks and herds and everything that is theirs.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls for you and says, ‘What do you do?’ 34 then say, ‘Your servants have handled livestock from our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you will be able to settle in the land of Goshen. Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

Now in Egypt, Jacob does not rely on Joseph but turns to Judah to lead his house to the land of Goshen, metaphorically halfway back to Canaan—held between Nile and Desert—a productive land not caught by either luxury or want.

Once settled in Goshen, Joseph puts on his newest exceptional presence, a state chariot instead of a coat, and appears in his glory before Jacob. The language here is reminiscent of a manifestation of a God before a human.

It turns out Joseph has come to weep over the past but does not know how to move into a different future.

After hearing his father Israel’s absolution for past separation and pain, Joseph turns to his brothers and proposes that he will let Pharaoh know that the family, for which Pharaoh had provided wagons and provisions to bring them to Egypt, has arrived.

Joseph gives instructions that his brothers are to claim the status of shepherds that they might reside in the land of Goshen with their flocks.

As far as safety from famine goes, this is good for the family. A difficulty arises in that Joseph continues to claim special status as Pharaoh’s chief administrator. Joseph and his family are separated in the same space of Egypt—Joseph in the seat of power and the rest of the family as the support of that power by way of providing a resource that can be exploited by the powerful—food.

To this day, resources, sustainable or not, are levers of power for a few that enslave many.

To be in the center and bowed toward is ground from which power plays its dividing game—to separate Joseph and Pharaoh from Jacob/Israel and sons. Political, military, economic, resource controllers do not mix with their bowed servants.

Genesis 46:1–27

46 1 Israel journeyed on with all that was his and came to Beer-Sheba. There he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God said to Israel in a vision of the night, “Jacob! Jacob!” He said, “Here I am.” He said, “I am El, the God of your father. Do not fear to go down to Egypt because a great nation I will make of you there. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I myself will bring you up again. Joseph will lay a hand on your eyes.” 
     Then Jacob arose from Beer-Sheba, and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives on the wagons Pharaoh had sent for carrying him. They took their livestock and the possessions that they had gained in the land of Canaan, and arrived in Egypt—Jacob and all his seed with him. His sons and the sons of his sons, his daughters and the daughters of his sons: all his seed he brought with him to Egypt.
     These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt—Jacob and his sons. Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben and the sons of Reuben: Enoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Saul, 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 (Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). Perez’s sons were Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Iob, and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15 These are the sons of Leah she bore to Jacob in Paddan-Aram, and also Dinah, his daughter. All of these persons, including his sons and daughters, totaled 33.
     16 The sons of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. Beriah’s sons were Heber and Malchiel. 18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah. She bore these to Jacob, 16 persons.
     19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, were Joseph and Benjamin. 20 To Joseph, in the land of Egypt, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him were Manasseh and Ephraim. 21 The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. 22 These are the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob, 14 persons.
     23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. 25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel. She bore these to Jacob, 7 persons. 
     26 All of the persons who came with Jacob to Egypt—those going out of his loins, excluding the wives of Jacob’s sons—totaled 66 persons. 27 The sons of Joseph born to him in Egypt were 2 persons. All the persons of Jacob’s household who came to Egypt totaled 70.

On the way to Egypt, there is a stop along the way to visit the memory of ancestors—Beersheba. As Jacob, he engages the G*D of his father Isaac, who was constrained to the land of Canaan. As Israel, a vision of the night comes to him. This dream releases Israel from the bounds of Canaan. Word comes that it is in the unlikely place of Egypt that the promise of seed as numerous as sand and stars will be generated. Thus Israel is not to fear to go to Egypt.

Israel had left in joyous haste to be reunited with Joseph. Along the way, a second thought, as patriarch, may have entered his mind—“This is the land promised by G*D.”

Noteworthy is this particular G*D leaving his claimed territory and journeying with Israel and Company down to Egypt. Joseph has already claimed this G*D to have been with him and his interpretations of dreams. He has previously stated that being sold by his brothers has been turned to their benefit. Included in the message of this dream is a return to Canaan, followed by Israel dying and having his eyes closed by Joseph.

In time, this sequence will find Israel’s return, and his dying reversed. It will take generations for the return of his seed to Canaan.

Following this visionary episode, Jacob, yes, back to Jacob, and his sons break camp and continue on their way to see Joseph.

Having left homestead and possessions behind (limited by the capacity of the wagons sent by Pharaoh), the provisions for the journey up to Canaan and back down to Egypt were sufficient to arrive. The sons of Israel and their sons and daughters, his seed stock, arrive in Egypt. The auspicious number seventy is a large symbolic whole-number for the fullness of enough. The nucleus of a nation settles in, ready to multiply.

To honor the shift to a next part of the story—a genealogy.

Genesis 45:25–28

45 25 And they went up from Egypt and came to the land of Canaan, to Jacob, their father. 26 They said to him, “Joseph is still alive! He is ruler of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob’s heart failed him, for he did not believe them.
27 They spoke to him all the words Joseph had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him down, Jacob revived. 28 Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I must go and see him before I die.”

The caravan from Egypt to Canaan steadily made its way through the wilderness of Sinai. There was time to consider how to deal with Jacob, so resistant to losing the land promised to his father and father’s father. If Jacob only risked sending Benjamin until all other options for survival had been exhausted, how long would all this bounty coming his way delay his leaving?

Sorting through their options, it was decided that the strongest emotion of Jacob surfaced when it involved Joseph. Their plan needed to begin by using Joseph as a lure.

Upon arriving at Jacob’s tent, the brothers begin their practiced song-and-dance routine that Joseph was alive and living in Egypt.

As might be expected, such news caused Jacob’s heart not just to skip a beat, but to intermit—to hold its life-breath, to simply stop.

The brothers applied their verbal shock-paddles to Jacob and repeated Joseph’s words to Jacob. When he finally saw the wagons sent by Joseph, it is recorded that Jacob revived. This resurrection was different than anything Jacob had experienced with a vision of a ramp, the sighting of Rachel, his return meeting with Esau, or word about Joseph’s death.

Jacob’s usual behavior took a backseat to relief, and he wanted to start back without checking their water supply or the strength of the animals. He was so ecstatic that he had no regret for all that needed to be left behind.

Jacob was on his way to Egypt without hesitation. Where the brothers wondered how they could convince Jacob to leave, they now had to figure out how to constrain him from driving everyone and their remaining flocks into the ground.