Monday, October 03, 2011

Jacob Meets Pharaoh - Genesis 47:7-10

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.  Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many years have you lived?”  So Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.”  And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from his presence.

Following the very positive reception that his brothers got from Pharaoh, Joseph now presents his aged father to his boss.  It is possible that the ancient manuscripts actually read, “set him before Pharaoh”.  What an honor it was for a very old Jacob to be so presented.  And perhaps because of that, or maybe it was simply Jacob’s approach to life, that he blessed the younger Pharaoh before him.  Perhaps it was partly as a sign of appreciation of how well he had treated Joseph all these years and now he is treating his entire family the same way.

Pharaoh, on his part, showing respect to his visitor, asks him how old he was, waiting to be amazed.  We do this today when we are with real aged seniors.  We say, “Now, tell me again how old you are Mrs. Smith.”  And Jacob replies in a manner that indicates, at least to me, that he was still unsatisfied with his life.  He says he was 130 years old, but regrettably, he implies, that was not as long as his father lived (Isaac died at 180 years of age).  And to boot, Jacob’s life had been quite unpleasant or as the original manuscript may say, “evil”.  Well, Jacob, maybe God is not finished with you yet.  But it is unfortunate that you feel the way you do when God has been so very much with you and for you.

The last time we added anything to our chronological timeline was back in Genesis 35:28.  There we had decided when Isaac became a father to Esau and Jacob.  Now to that we can add a point (years since the creation of man) in our timeline as to when Jacob and his family had come to live in Egypt:

·      3331    Isaac, at age 60, becomes father to Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:26)
·      . . .
·      3451    The death of Isaac at age 180 (Genesis 35:28,29)
·      3461    The meeting of Jacob and Pharaoh when Jacob’s family moved to Egypt (based on Genesis 47:9 and the dates we had arrived at above)

Based on the above, we note that it was just a mere decade between the time Jacob had buried his father Isaac and the time he and his family moved to Egypt.

The passage ends with Jacob again blessing Pharaoh and then exiting from his presence.  So what are the applications for us?  I think there are two.

First, we must respect those who are older than us.  As mighty as Pharaoh was he had time for Joseph’s aged father.  As I read this passage I am caused to rethink how I view older people – my neighbors, my own relatives, and other seniors I come into contact with.  My attitude towards them must be one of respect and care, affording them the necessary time to tell me their story.

Second, as a senior myself, I must not emulate Jacob in this case.  I need to see my life as a wonderful journey with God, even if I have had my trials and tribulations.  Surely my blessings far outweigh those difficult times, if I really count them properly.  (I wonder if Joseph was a little embarrassed about his father’s somewhat negative account of his life to the Pharaoh?)  And finally, I believe Jacob lost an opportunity to give God glory for his life to Pharaoh.  A missed opportunity to share what God has done for Jacob and his family.  I pray we do not see our own lives like that.  I pray that we will be able to praise our God when retelling the story of our life.


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