Genesis Chapter 47  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Genesis 47
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Gen 47:9

Jacob was born when Isaac was 60 years old (Genesis 25:26), and lived 147 years (Genesis 47:28). The key to dating the events of Jacob’s life is that Jacob was 130 years old when he stood before Pharaoh (Gen. 47:9), which was in the second year of the famine (Gen. 45:6, 9). There had been seven years of wonderful harvest in Egypt, and now there had been two years of famine. Joseph was promoted by Pharaoh when he was 30 (Gen. 41:46) so now, when Jacob was 130, Joseph would have been 39. So if Jacob was 130 when Joseph was 39, Jacob would have been 91 years old when Joseph was born, which was the last year of the 14 years of service that Jacob owed Laban as a dowry for marrying Leah and Rachel. So Jacob would have left Israel and fled to Haran and become betrothed to Rachel (although it turned out to be Leah) when he was 77 years old.

Joseph was born the last year of Jacob’s 14-year service for Laban (Gen. 30:25-26), and Jacob could not leave Haran until the 14 years of service were over (the fact that Jacob had eleven sons in seven years is not impossible because he had two wives and two concubines, all of which had children).

The wording of Genesis 30:25-26 shows us that Joseph was born that fourteenth year, when Jacob was 91.a That means that Jacob was 77 years old when he started working for Laban and 84 years old when his first seven years of dowry-service were over and he was allowed to marry Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29:19, 26-30). After Joseph was born, Jacob stayed six more years in Haran, working for Laban and building his wealth of flocks and herds (Gen. 31:38, 41). So Jacob was 97 when he returned from Haran to the land of Judah (Gen. 31:38-41). Rachel died in childbirth when Jacob and his family were back in Israel, but they had not yet reached Bethlehem (Gen. 35:16-19).

Cp. Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament.
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Gen 47:28

“were 147 years.” For an overview of the chronology of Jacob, see commentary on Genesis 47:9.

Gen 47:29

“The days drew near for Israel to die.” Jacob was getting old, so the time when he would die was drawing near. Although some versions say, “must die,” that is not what the Hebrew text says. In the Hebrew text, “to die” is an infinitive.

“put your hand under my thigh.” This is a euphemism for “take hold of my genitals,” and it was done as part of the oath Jacob wanted Joseph to swear to him.

[For more on the practice of swearing an oath while holding the genitals, see commentary on Gen. 24:2.]

Gen 47:30(top)
Gen 47:31

“He said, ‘Swear to me,’ and he swore to him.” Joseph swore that he would bury Jacob in Canaan in the cave with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and where Jacob had buried his first wife Leah, and Joseph kept his word (Gen. 50:13).

“bowed down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body and face to the earth. Here Jacob would likely just bow his upper body down on the bed. It may have been at this time or a little earlier that Jacob was also using his staff for support (Heb. 11:21).

[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.]


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