Today’s reading begins with Joseph bringing his family to Egypt and concludes with Israel blessing Joseph’s children.
After hearing that Joseph was still alive, Israel agreed to do as Joseph asked and move his family to Egypt to survive the famine that would linger for an additional five years. God came to Israel in a dream and encouraged him to go and that He would make him into a great nation in Egypt.
What follows is a telling of the genealogy of Israel, his sons, and his grandsons. The names of each and their total number are given. The total number of sons that traveled with Israel from Canaan were 70.
Upon arriving in Egypt, Israel is overwhelmed with joy over seeing Joseph again. His dead son had been brought back to life. With Joseph’s strong position in Pharaoh’s court he was able to secure a home for his family in Egypt in Goshen. When Joseph brought Israel before Pharaoh, Israel and his family told Pharaoh that they were shepherds. Pharaoh requested that is there were able men among Israel’s family that they would tend to his livestock.
With the lingering of the famine, all of Egypt grew increasingly desperate. The people of Egypt slowly surrendered all that they owned to Pharaoh in exchange for grain and sustenance, all through the able custodial care of Joseph. It was established during the famine that each Egyptian should give a fifth of all they produced to Pharaoh and through this process, Pharaoh gained complete control of the entirety of Egypt.
After living in Egypt for 17 years, Israel drew close to death. He called Joseph and his two sons to himself. Israel claimed the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh as his own. Israel then blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, and although Manasseh was the first born of Joseph, Israel chose to bless Ephraim above Manasseh. In closing his blessing of Joseph’s sons, Israel told Joseph that God would return his family to their homeland and that Joseph had been given a mountain slope instead of his brothers.
Joseph was certainly Israel’s most favored son and he blessed him above and beyond that of his brothers. Although born into Israel’s favor it was through Joseph that God saved Israel and his family.