The family of Jacob (Gen 46:8-46:27)

“Now these are the names of the Israelites, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his offspring, who came to Egypt.  Reuben, Jacob’s first-born, and the children of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.  The children of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.  The children of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.  The children of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah, but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan.  The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.  The children of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Jashub, and Shimron.  The children of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.  These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter Dinah.  In all, his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.”

Now we find out who was in the original family of Israel.  From now on they will be called Israelites, rather than sons of Israel, or children of Israel, or people of Israel.  Here are the 33 people of the 6 families that come from Leah, the oldest sister.  This represents nearly half the group.  By way of summary here are the children of the sons of Jacob/Israel with their tribal or clan names:

1)      Reuben (the Reubenites) and his children – Hanoch (the Hanochites), Pallu (the Palluites), Hezron (the Hezronites), and Carmi (the Carmites).

2)      Simeon (the Simeonites) and his children – Jemuel (the Jemuelites), Jamin (the Jaminites), Ohad, Jachin (Jachinites), Zohar, and Shaul (the Shaulites), the son of a Canaanite woman.  Notice that Ohad and Zohar do not have any clans named after them.  They may have died out.

3)      Levi (the Levites) and his children – Gershon (Gershonites), Kohath (Kohathites, and Merari (the Merarites).

4)      Judah (the tribe of Judah) and his children – Er, Onan, (these first two died in Canaan.) Shelah (the Shelanites), Perez (the tribe of Perez), and Zerah (the Zarhites).  Judah is always called a tribe and not Judahnites, as does the children of Perez.  Perez had two sons, Hezron (same name as son of Reuben) and Hamul (Hamulites).

5)      Issachar (tribe of Issachar) and his children – Tola (the Tolaites), Puvah, (the Punites), Jashub (the Jashubites) and Shimron (the Shimronites).

6)      Zebulun (tribe of Zebulun) and his children – Sered (the Seredites) , Elon (the Elonites), and Jahleel (the Jahleelites).

7)      Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, the only daughter mentioned.

“The children of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.  The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, with their sister Serah.  The children of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel.  These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah and these she bore to Jacob, sixteen persons.”

These are the 2 children of Jacob and Zilpah, the maid servant of Leah.  There 16 all went to Egypt.

1)      Gad (the Gadites) and his children – Ziphion (the Ziphonites), Haggi (the Haggites), Shuni (the Shunites), Ezbon, Eri (the Erites), Arodi, and Areli (the Arelites).

2)      Asher (the Asherites) and his children – Imnah (the Imnites), Ishvah, Ishvi (the Ishvites), Beriah (the Berites), and sister Serah.  Beriah has two children, Heber (the Herberites) and Malchiel (the Malchielites).

“The children of Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin.  To Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him.  The children of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.  These are the children of Rachel, who were born to Jacob, fourteen persons in all.”

These are the two sons of Rachel.  There were 14 in all. Benjamin for being so young had the most children, 10.

1)      Joseph’s (tribe of Joseph) sons were Manasseh (tribe of Manasseh) and Ephraim (tribe of Ephraim), but they were already in Egypt.

2)      Benjamin’s (the Benjaminites) sons were Bela (the Belaites), Becher (Becherites), Ashbel (the Ashbelites), Gera, Naaman (the Naamites), Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard (the Ardites).

The children of Dan: Hushim.  The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.  These are the children of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel and these she bore to Jacob, seven persons in all.”

These are the 2 sons of Bilhah, the maid servant of Rachel, 7 persons in all.

1)      Dan’s (the Danites) child – Hushim (the Hushites) (only one child).

2)      Naphtali’s (the tribe of Naphtali) children – Jahzeel (Jahzeelites), Guni (Gunites), Jezer (Jezerites), and Shillem (Shillemites).

“All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own offspring, not including the wives of his offspring were sixty-six persons in all.  The children of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two.  All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.”

This priestly tradition does not include the wives of Jacob’s children.  It does include the names of his 4 wives and there are 2 other women mentioned, Dinah and Serah, but no other daughters.  Why should they count since this is a strong patriarchal society?  Thus this list numbered 66 people and if you count Joseph, his two sons, as well as Jacob you get to 70.

The departure of Jacob for Egypt (Gen 46:1-46:7)

“When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.   God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’  Then he said, I am God, the God of your father.  Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.   I myself will go down with you to Egypt and I will also bring you up again.  Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.’”

On the way to Egypt, Israel went to Beer-sheba and offered a sacrifice to the God of his father, Isaac.  That night Jacob had a vision.  God said that he should not be afraid to go to Egypt.  He was going to make a great nation out of him because God was with him.   His son Joseph would watch him die.

“Then Jacob set out from Beer-sheba.  The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.  They also took their livestock and the goods, that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters.  All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.”

So Jacob took all his children and children’s children and their families with his livestock and provisions as he set out for Egypt.

The return to Canaan (Gen 45:21-45:28)

“The sons of Israel did so.  Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh.  He gave them provisions for the journey.  To each one of them he gave a set of festive garments.  But to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of festive garments.  To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey.  Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel along the way.’”

Joseph gave them provisions and garments for the trip.  However, Benjamin got 300 pieces of silver and 5 sets of garments.  To his father he sent 10 donkeys with the good things of Egypt.   His final admonition was not to fight or quarrel of the way to their father.

“So they went up out of Egypt, and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan.   They told him, ‘Joseph is still alive!  He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt.’   He was stunned.  He could not believe them.  But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.  Israel said, ‘Enough!  My son Joseph is still alive.  I must go and see him before I die.’”

The brothers returned to Canaan and told their father that Joseph was still alive.  In fact, he is even the ruler over all of Egypt.  At first, Joseph was stunned and did not believe his sons.  However, after he heard the story and saw all the gifts.  He said okay, my son Joseph is still alive.  I must see him before I die.  The words of his sons and the gifts convinced Jacob that his son was still alive.

The sons of Jacob return with Benjamin (Gen 43:1-43:14)

“Now the famine was severe in the land.   When they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go again, and buy us a little more food.’  But Judah said to him, ‘The man solemnly warned us, saying, `You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’  If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.  But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, `You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’  Israel said, ‘Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?’  They replied, ‘The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, `Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions.  Could we in any way know that he would say, `Bring your brother down?’  Then Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die, you and we and also our little ones.  I myself will be surety for him.  You can hold me accountable for him.  If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.  If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.’”

When they ran out of bread, Jacob wanted to send his sons back to Egypt. The brothers said that they would not go without Benjamin.  Jacob asked them why they said anything about another brother.  The brothers responded that he wanted to know all about them.  Judah asked to have Benjamin go with them otherwise they would all die of starvation.  If they had not delayed they could have gone to Egypt a couple of times.

“Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this.  Take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.  Take double the money with you.  Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks.  Perhaps it was an oversight.  Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man. May God Almighty, El Shaddai, grant you mercy before the man, so that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’”

Finally, Jacob said okay, but he told them to bring extra gifts to this guy, ‘the man’  and double the amount of money, including the money that was in their sacks,  Then he asks the blessing of almighty God (El-Shaddai) before ‘the man,’ so that he might get back both of his sons, Simeon and Benjamin.


The first meeting of Joseph and his brothers (Gen 42:1-42:24)

“When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’  I have heard,’ he said, ‘that there is grain in Egypt.  Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.’  Thus ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt.  But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother, Benjamin, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him.  Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.”

Jacob sent his sons to Egypt because of the great famine.  So ten of his sons, not Benjamin, went to Egypt like the rest of the area. Thus they repeat the trip of Abraham in going to Egypt because of a famine, in this so-called wonderful land of Canaan.

Joseph was governor over the land.  It was he who sold to all the people of the land. Joseph’s brothers came, and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.  When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. ‘Where do you come from?’ he said. They said, ‘From the land of Canaan, to buy food.’ Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.  Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them. He said to them, ‘You are spies.  You have come to see the nakedness of the land.’  They said to him, ‘No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man.  We are honest men.  Your servants have never been spies.’  But he said to them, ‘No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land.’  They said, ‘We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan.  The youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.  But Joseph said to them, ‘It is as I have said to you.  You are spies.  Here is how you shall be tested.  As Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here!  Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.’  He put them all together in prison for three days.”

Joseph had said in his dream that his brothers would bow down before him.  Although Joseph recognized his brothers, he treated them like strangers and was very harsh with them.  He accused them of being spies.  They did not recognize him, since it had been 13 years since they last saw him and he had an Egyptian name.  He wanted to know where they were coming from.  They explained that they were 12 brothers, with one dead and one at home.  Joseph wanted them to bring their youngest brother.  They would all go to jail until one brother left and returned with the younger brother.

 “On the third day Joseph said to them, ‘Do this and you will live, for I fear God.  If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here where you are imprisoned.  The rest of you shall go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me.  Thus your words will be verified, and you shall not die.’  They agreed to do so.  They said to one another, ‘In truth, we are paying the penalty for what we did to our brother.  We saw the anguish when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen.  This is why this anguish has come upon us.’  Then Reuben answered them, ‘Did I not tell you not to wrong the boy?  But you would not listen.  So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.’  They did not know that Joseph understood them, since he spoke with them through an interpreter.  He turned away from them and wept.   Then he returned and spoke to them.   He picked out Simeon and had him bound before their eyes.”

After three days in jail, Joseph said that he would keep one brother until the others returned with the youngest brother.  They said to themselves that they were paying the penalty for what he had done to Joseph.  Reuben remarked that he had told them so, when it happened.  Joseph spoke with them through an interpreter so that they did not know that he heard them.  However, he turned away from them and wept. He decided to keep Simeon and tied him up right before their eyes.

The twelve sons of Jacob (Gen 35:23-35:26)

“Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.  The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s first-born; Simeon; Levi; Judah; Issachar, and Zebulun.  The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.  The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali.  The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.”

The twelve tribes of Israel are now complete.

1)      Leah had six sons, or half of the tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

2)      Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin.

3)      Bilhah had Dan and Naphtali.

4)      Zilpah had Gad and Asher

The two maid servants, Bilhah and Zilpah contributed to a third of the house of Israel.  More information about these children can be found in chapters 29 and 30.