2.36 The Inheritance of Jacob
God spoke to Jacob in a vision one last time, and told him to take his family to Egypt (Gen 46:3-4).
a. God will make of him a great nation
b. God will be with his descendants in Egypt
c. God will bring them back again to Canaan
66 people formed Jacob's household when he left Canaan. This did not include the wives and sisters, nor the household servants. The actual size of the party must have been a few hundred. No mention was made of the names or origins of the 11 brothers' wives, except one son is called "the son of a Canaanite woman" (Gen 46:10). In all likelihood, all the wives were Canaanites, possibly captives from the murderous raid on Shechem (Gen 34:29).
The Israelites settled in Goshen. There may have been some form of caste segregation involved in allocating land. Joseph told his brothers:
"You will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians" (Gen 46:34).
Yet Pharaoh allowed Jacob's sons to have charge of his own livestock (Gen 47:6). At this time, Israel was welcome in Egypt.
The parting gift of Jacob was to bless his sons (Gen 49). He recalled for Joseph the first appearance of God to himself at Bethel, in which God promised him:
a. numerous descendants
b. possession of the land of Canaan forever
Jacob then made an extraordinary alteration in the line of succession. He stripped Reuben of his birthright, because Reuben had had intercourse with Bilhah, Rachel's maid (Gen 35:22). He awarded that right to Joseph's two sons, and then switched their blessing, setting Ephraim the younger son before Manasseh the older. Poor Reuben, it was he who had convinced the other brothers not to kill Joseph (Gen 37:21-22). One act of righteousness did not cancel out one act of sin (1 Chron 5:1-2). Jacob explicitly set Joseph over his brothers (Gen 48:22).
This was a revolution in the custodianship of the Promise of God. Not that the other brothers were sloughed off, as in prior generations. But priority was given to, of all contenders, the "half-breed" sons of Joseph and Asenath! The hands of Jacob upon the heads of these boys represented the blessing of God over their lives. This shows us, for one thing, the loose concept of "race" that God has, even in the Old Testament. He was in the process of creating a holy people, a people set apart from the rest of mankind. But the raw materials of this chosen people now included Mesopotamian, Canaanite and Egyptian bloodlines.