From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty
Land of Plenty
Genesis xlv: 25,
to l: 26.
eleven brothers went home to their old father with
the glad news that Joseph was alive and was ruler
over the land. It was such a joyful surprise to
Jacob that he fainted. But after a time he revived;
and when they showed him the wagons that Joseph had
sent to bring him and his family to Egypt, old Jacob
said, "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I
will go and see him before I die."
Then they went on their journey, with their wives,
and children, and servants, and sheep and cattle, a
great company. They stopped to rest at Beersheba,
which had been the home of Isaac and of Abraham, and
made offerings to the Lord, and worshipped. And that
night the Lord appeared to Jacob, and said to him:
"Jacob, I am the Lord, the God of your father; fear
not to go down to Egypt; for I will go down with
you; and there you shall see your son Joseph; and in
Egypt I will make of your descendants, those that
come from you, a great people; and I will surely
bring them back again to this land."
They came down to Egypt, sixty-six of Jacob's
children and grand-children. Joseph rode in his
chariot to meet his father, and fell on his neck,
and wept upon him. And Jacob said, "Now, I am ready
to die, since I know that you are still alive; and I
have seen your face." And Joseph brought his father
in to see King Pharaoh; and Jacob, as an old man,
gave his blessing to the king.
The part of the land of Egypt where Joseph found for
his brothers a home, was called Goshen. It was on
the east, between Egypt and the desert, and it was a
very rich land, where the soil gave large harvests.
But at that time, and for five years after, there
were no crops, because of the famine that was in the
land. During those years, the people of Israel in
the land of Goshen, were fed as were all the people
of Egypt, with grain from the store-houses of
Jacob lived to be almost a hundred and fifty years
old. Before he died he blessed Joseph and all his
sons, and said to them:
"When I die, do not bury me in the land of Egypt,
but take my body to the land of Canaan, and bury me
in the cave at Hebron, with Abraham, and Isaac my
And Joseph brought his two sons, Manasseh and
Ephraim, to his father's bed, Jacob's eyes were dim
with age, as his father Isaac's had been, and he
would not see the two young men. And he said, "Who
And Joseph said, "They are my two sons, whom God has
given me in this land."
"Bring them to me," said Jacob, "that I may bless
them before I die."
And Jacob kissed them, and put his arms around them,
and he said:
"I had not thought that I should ever see your face,
my son; and God has let me see both you and your
And Jacob placed his right hand on Ephraim's head,
the younger, and his left on Manasseh the older.
Joseph tried to change his father's hands, so that
his right hand should be on the older son's head.
But Jacob would not allow him, and he said:
"I know what I am doing, God will bless the older
son; but the greater blessing shall be with the
younger, for his descendants, those who spring from
him, shall be greater and stronger than the
descendants of his brother."
And so it came to pass many years after this; for
the tribe of Ephraim, the younger son, became
greater and more powerful than the tribe of
Manasseh, the older son.
When Jacob died a great funeral was held. They
carried his body up out of Egypt to the land of
Canaan, and buried it, as he had said to them, in
the cave of Machpelah, where Abraham and Isaac were
When the sons of Jacob came back to Egypt after the
burial of their father, they said one to another:
"It may be that Joseph will punish us, now that his
father is dead, for the wrong that we did to him
many years ago."
And they sent a message, asking Joseph to forgive
them, for his father's sake. And again they came and
bowed down before him, with their faces to the
ground; they said, "We are your servants; be
merciful to us."
Jacob wept when his brothers spoke to him, and he
"Fear not. Am I in God's place to punish and to
reward? It is true that you meant evil to me, but
God turned it to good, so that all your families
might be kept alive. Do not be afraid; I will care
for you, and for your children."
After this Joseph lived to a good old age, until he
was a hundred and ten years old. Before he died he
said to his children, and to all the children of
Israel, who had now increased to very many people:
"I am going to die; but God will come to you, and
will bring you up out of this land, into your own
land, which he promised to your fathers, to Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob. When I die do not bury me in
Egypt, but keep my body until you go out of this
land, and take it with you."
So when Joseph died they embalmed his body, as the
Egyptians embalmed the dead; so that the body would
not decay, and they placed his body in a stone
coffin, and kept it in the land of Goshen among the
people of Israel. Thus Joseph not only showed his
faith in God's promise, that he would bring his
people back to the land of Canaan; but he also
encouraged the faith of those who came after him.
For as often as the Israelites looked on the stone
coffin that held the body of Joseph, they said to
"There is the token, the sign, that this land is not
our home. This coffin will not be buried until we
bury it in our own land, the land of Canaan, where
God will lead us in his own time."
Land of Plenty