Genesis covers the last years of Jacob and Joseph together. We see Jacob (Israel) leave Canaan (Genesis 46) in order to settle in Egypt (Genesis 47), and there he will die (Gen. 49:29–50:21). And yet, even in this Egyptian setting, the prospect of the Promised Land still looms large in the background (Genesis 50:22–26).
As soon as Jacob arrives in Egypt, Jacob blesses Pharaoh (Genesis 47:7–10), thus fulfilling (partially, of course) the Abrahamic promise to be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3). Later, about to die, Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons (Genesis 48). Jacob also blesses his own sons (Genesis 49:1–28) and makes impressive predictions concerning each of them in the context of the future 12 tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:1–27).
The fact, however, that Israel “dwells” in exile, in Egypt as strangers, is in tension with the hope of the Promised Land. And though the book
of Genesis itself ends with the children of Israel in Egypt, some of the last words of Joseph point to another place: “ ‘I am dying; but God will
surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob’ ” (Genesis 50:24, NKJV).
Thought question: Dwell on the fact that although God intimately knows the future, we are still free in the choices we make. How do we reconcile these two ideas?
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