Genesis 42-45 “There Was Corn in Egypt”
The seven years of plenty ended and the seven years of “dearth” (scarcity) began, which also affected “all countries,” including Canaan, where Joseph’s family was living. Joseph “opened all the storehouses” of food, saving the Egyptians and others from famine (Genesis 41:53-57).
In chapter 42 Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to purchase grain, about 250 miles away. Read verses 1-9, 19-29, 36, noting the following:
- Joseph’s inspired dreams—as related in Genesis 37:5-11—come true in verse 6.
- Joseph and Benjamin are the only sons of Jacob’s first wife, Rachel, which helps us understand verses 4, 20, 36, 38.
- After more than twenty years, the brothers are still feeling guilty for their treatment of Joseph (verse 21). In our own lives—even after many years have passed—we can turn to the Lord (and to others) and find forgiveness for our unrepented sins.
Read chapter 43, verses 1-23, 26-34:
- Verses 8-9 can be considered a foreshadowing of Judah’s descendants, who clamored for the death of Jesus Christ, saying to Pilate, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:24-25).
- Again, in verse 26 we see fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams.
- In spite of all that had happened, Joseph still feels love toward his brothers, showing great kindness toward them in Genesis 42:24-25 and 43:16, 23, 29, 34 (see also 45:14-15).
Read chapter 44, verses 1-34:
- Joseph’s silver cup may have been an instrument of seership (verses 2, 5, 15).
- In verse 14—for a third time and as a third witness—there is fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams.
- In verses 18-34, Judah’s powerful plea to Joseph can be considered a foreshadowing of his Descendant, Jesus Christ, who later offers Himself as a proxy sacrifice for our guilt.
Read chapter 45, verses 1-28:
- Could you be so extremely forgiving (as in verses 4-8) toward others who have utterly wronged you?
- Joseph said twice to his brothers, “I am Joseph” (verses 3-4). He then stated, “God did send me before you to preserve life [and] to preserve you a posterity in the earth” (verses 5, 7). He then followed with his offer to “nourish” the rest of the house of Israel (verse 11; see also 47:12). All this may be taken as symbolic of our message to the latter-day world, a significant portion of it being borne by those whose declared lineage is of Ephraim and Manasseh—Joseph’s two sons—through whom “Joseph is yet alive” (verse 26).
- The Lord is able to make good things come of bad, as Lehi declared to his son Jacob: “Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain” (2 Nephi 2:2).
Genesis 46-47 Israel in Egypt
At Joseph’s invitation and the Lord’s confirmation (by vision), Jacob/Israel and his extended family migrated to Goshen, in the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:9-11, 27-28; 46:1-7).
- In 46:4, the Lord promised Jacob, “I will also surely bring thee up again”—this appears to be a prophecy of the children of Israel departing Egypt under the leadership of Moses, some 400 years later, and “returning” to the land of Canaan (see also Genesis 48:21; 50:24).
- Read Genesis 46:29-30 and picture this reunion in your mind.
- Read Genesis 47:1-7 and note the kindness shared between Pharaoh and Jacob.
- In 47:29-31, Joseph agrees to his father’s request (Jacob now being 147-year-old) to be buried in Machpelah, in the land of Canaan, where Jacob’s grandparents Abraham and Sarah, his parents Isaac and Rebekah, and his wife Leah were buried (see also Genesis 49:29-33; Jacob’s wife Rachel was buried near Bethlehem; see Genesis 35:16-20; 48:7). Joseph’s promise to his father is carried out in Genesis 50:1-13.
Genesis 48-50 Blessings Upon the House of Israel
As Jacob/Israel is about to die, note the significant blessings reiterated upon him, as well as the blessings he pronounced upon his posterity:
- Jacob’s inheritance of the Abrahamic covenant and its blessings (Genesis 48:1-4).
- The designation of Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, as birthright sons to Jacob (Genesis 48:5-6).
- At this point the Joseph Smith Translation restores the following significant text: “Therefore, O my son, he [the Lord] hath blessed me in raising thee up to be a servant unto me, in saving my house from death; In delivering my people, thy brethren, from famine which was sore in the land; wherefore the God of thy fathers shall bless thee, and the fruit of thy loins, that they shall be blessed above thy brethren, and above thy father’s house; For thou hast prevailed, and thy father’s house hath bowed down unto thee, even as it was shown unto thee, before thou wast sold into Egypt by the hands of thy brethren; wherefore thy brethren shall bow down unto thee, from generation to generation, unto the fruit of thy loins forever; For thou shalt be a light unto my people, to deliver them in the days of their captivity, from bondage; and to bring salvation unto them, when they are altogether bowed down under sin” (JST, Genesis 48:8-11).
- Jacob’s blessings upon Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48:8-20; for the fourth consecutive generation, the birthright blessing is given to one who was not the firstborn—Isaac instead of Ishmael, Jacob instead of Esau, Joseph instead of Reuben, and now Ephraim instead of Manasseh).
Chapter 49 records Jacob’s blessings (or pronouncements) upon his other sons, including things that would “befall” their posterity “in the last days” (verse 1):
- Reuben (verses 3-4; see also Genesis 35:22).
- Simeon and Levi (verses 5-7; see also Genesis 34:25-30).
- Judah (verses 8-12). The question is asked in verse 9, “as an old lion; who shall rouse him [Judah’s descendants] up?” Remembering that these pronouncements pertain to the last days (verse 1), the answer to this question may be, “Ephraim shall!”
- The coming of “Shiloh” (verse 10) is a prophecy of Jesus Christ, who descended from Judah (JST Genesis 50:24 identifies “Shilo” as “Messiah”).
- Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, and Benjamin (verses 13-21, 27).
- Joseph (verses 22-26). Verse 22 is generally interpreted to refer to the migration of Lehi (who was a descendant of Joseph’s son, Manasseh; see Alma 10:3) and others to the Americas, as recounted in the Book of Mormon; see, for example, 2 Nephi 3:2-5; see also JST Genesis 50:24-25).
Genesis 50:15-26 Joseph’s Christlike Character
Read Genesis 50:15-21, looking for the following:
- What was the concern of Joseph’s brothers? What did they say to him? How did Joseph respond?
- How would you summarize the life lessons learned from these interactions?
- In these verses, how do you see Joseph—again—as a type of Jesus Christ?
Read the account of Joseph’s death in verses 24-26. In the Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:24 quotes Joseph as having said, “I go down to my grave with joy.” Additional contributions of JST Genesis 50 include Joseph’s prophecy of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage; and a prophecy of a latter-day prophet—named Joseph—who would be like Joseph of Egypt and would be a seer, bringing forth God’s word and performing a work of salvation.