August 2, 2017

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART IV: JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN (Gen. 37:1-50:26)

Topic #E: THE MIGRATION INTO EGYPT. (Gen. 46:1-47:21)                                                   

                                                                                                                                              

Lesson IV.E.4: Offspring by Rachel. (Genesis 46:19-22)                                     

 

Genesis 46:19-22 (KJV)

19 The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.

20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

21 And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naabe hhe heads man, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

22 These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

 

Introduction

To the first readers of Genesis, the names in verses 19-22 mean something.  This is a list of the sons of Jacob born to his favorite wife, Rachel. She bore him two sons, Joseph, and Benjamin. “And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him” (21). These two sons of Joseph would not only be the head of a major family group, but would lend their name to two of the twelve tribes that later formed the nation of Israel.  Every Hebrew knew his family ancestry.  The division of labor, the organization of the army, and the parceling of the land all were done according to tribe.  This list of names reminds original readers of their identity as God’s people in fulfilling His purposes. In the 400 or so years from Jacob’s time to Moses’, the number of Israelites had mushroomed from 70 to more than two million!

 

Commentary

19 The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.

20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

21 And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

22 These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

 

Once again, a genealogical list is used to bring closure at the end of a large narrative unit. In fact, there were two lists before this one: Jacob’s sons by Leah (46:8-15) and Jacob’s sons by Zilpah: (46:16-18).   The tales of the patriarchs in the land of Canaan are now concluded, and as Jacob and his Clan journey southward for the sojourn in Egypt, we are given an inventory of his offspring, a large family already exhibiting in embryo the configuration of the future tribes of Israel.

 

Jacobs sons (listed with their sons) that were born to his favorite wife, Rachel (19), were Joseph (20) and Benjamin (21).  Joseph’s sons were born in Egypt (41:51-52) and probably some of Benjamin’s sons were as well, for he was a young man at the time of the move and could hardly have had 10 sons already.  The total number of descendants was 14 (22).

 

Besides the two sons of Joseph (20), ten sons are assigned to Benjamin (21), though he was still young. The list of Benjamin’s sons (21) seems to go on and on.  If Benjamin, as some believe, was about 22 years of age at the time of the migration, he must have married quite young.  Or perhaps he had several wives, or perhaps his wife had a number of multiple births.  At his young age, few would expect he would already have 10 sons.  Whichever way we look at it, old Jacob must have been astonished at the size of Benjamin’s family, for sons were what counted in those days.  The other brothers must have been astonished too.  If it went on like that, Benjamin would have the largest tribe in Israel.  As it happened, the tribe of Benjamin ended up as the smallest of them all, for the promise of those early days was ruined by tribal sins. 

 

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