Sticking With The Plan

Jacob was fortified by the belief that his feckless sons had, for once, told the truth when they said *Joseph was still alive* – the Joseph who was son Jacob loved above all the others, except perhaps Benjamin.

With gladdened heart, Jacob – and his 11 sons, and all his other extended family, livestock and chattels – set out for Egypt, the land where Joseph had become the second most powerful man. Their first stop was the town of Beersheba, where Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, and also his father, Isaac, had lived for a time. On arrival in Beersheba, Jacob made the sacrifice of a goat in honour of God.

God, wanting to speak with Jacob because He hadn’t spoken with him in ages, said to Jacob later that night, “Psst, this is God. I want a word with you.”

“God?”

“Yes, God. The God of your father.”

“Oh, that God. Look, I’m tired. I’ve travelled all day. Can’t you wait till morning”?

“This won’t take long. I know you fear going down to Egypt, and are only going there because Joseph is there. But I want to tell you, you’ve nothing to fear there. I, your God, am in control of everything. I will make you a great nation. I’ll be with you all the way to Egypt, and I’ll bring you back again. And Joseph will be with you when you die. Trust me.”

Jacob scratched his head, and said, “I remember it being passed down to me as part of our tribal folklore, that You’d once said something similar to my grandfather, Abraham. Well, grandfather did go to Egypt as You’d told him to, but he ended up being ignominiously *expelled from there* by the Pharaoh.”

“That was then. But this is now.”

“And I also remember it being passed down to me as part of our tribal folklore, that You’d told grandfather that his descendants – among whom I count myself – would have to live in a foreign land, where they would be enslaved for *four hundred years*.”

“Indeed. But you conveniently forget that I also told your grandfather, Abraham, that I will punish those who enslave his descendants. Not only that, I’ll also ensure that his descendants come out with great possessions when their four hundred years of slavery is up.”

“Are You still sticking with this plan for us?”

“Er………..yes.”

“Oh God On High, this is of no comfort to me. I mean, I would be long dead when this four-hundred years is up.”

“Stop thinking only of yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about the nation of Israel that I’ve chosen to represent Me on earth.”

The next morning, Jacob and his retinue resumed their journey to Egypt.

****

Shortly before arriving in Goshen – the pastoral area of Egypt where Joseph had said they could all settle – Jacob had sent Judah ahead to meet Joseph and tell him his family was about to descend on Goshen. Joseph forthwith sped there in his chariot.

When Jacob and Joseph saw each other for the first time in over twenty years they embraced and wept and said all the things expected after so long a separation.

Jacob said, “Now I’m ready to die.”

“Oh, come on Father” said Joseph, “you’re not that old, are you?”

“Well, not unless you think one-hundred-and-thirty isn’t old.”

“One-hundred-and thirty’s nothing these days. Remember, your grandfather Abraham died at one-hundred and seventy-five, and your father Isaac died at one-hundred and eighty. You’ve a long way yet, Father.”

***

“Before I forget, Father” said Joseph, “when you meet the Pharaoh, and if he asks what your occupation is, you must say you’re a shepherd, just as our fathers were before us. It’s important you say this because Egyptians look upon shepherds as an abomination.”

“I’m confused.”

“Looking upon shepherds in the way they do, Egyptians will completely eschew Goshen, which we and all our family will then have completely to ourselves. So Egyptian blood won’t contaminate our blood.”

“I see.”

Source: Genesis 46

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