Highlights we have passed over in Genesis – As Israel (Jacob) nears death, he takes Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh as his own (Gen 48:5). That is why there is not tribe of Joseph in the “Twelve Tribes of Israel”. These two make up the “half-tribes”. Jacob sets Joseph and Ephraim apart, and once again the younger is blessed above the first-born as he says that “his offspring shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen 48:19). He makes it clear that he is to be buried in Canaan, where his people shall end up, and blesses all of his sons. Chapter 49 is full of poetic imagery and prophecy, much of it (particularly verses 8-12) pointing to the empire of King David, and ultimately, the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. In chapter 50, Pharaoh allows Joseph to bury his father in Canaan, and Genesis concludes with the death of Joseph. And so, God’s word picks up 400 years later…
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
Pharaoh Oppresses Israel
The 12 sons of Israel (Jacob) (and Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh) have long since died; and their descendants, now referred to as “the people of Israel” have multiplied greatly – to the extent that the ruler of Egypt fears their numbers. So they are ruthlessly made slaves (verse 13), and the mid-wives instructed to kill all newborn sons. But the midwives feared God (verse 17), and they let them live. “And the people multiplied greatly and grew very strong” (verse 20), as God had promised Abraham in Genesis 13:16. Pharaoh then ordered his people to cast every son that is born to the Hebrews into the Nile.
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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