Verses 5–27

Old Jacob is here flitting. Little did he think of ever leaving Canaan; he expected, no doubt, to die in his nest, and to leave his seed in actual possession of the promised land: but Providence orders it otherwise. Note, Those that think themselves well settled may yet be unsettled in a little time. Even old people, who think of no other removal than that to the grave (which Jacob had much upon his heart, Gen. 37:35; 42:38), sometimes live to see great changes in their family. It is good to be ready, not only for the grave, but for whatever may happen betwixt us and the grave. Observe, 1. How Jacob was conveyed; not in a chariot, though chariots were then used, but in a waggon, Gen. 46:5. Jacob had the character of a plain man, who did not affect any thing stately or magnificent; his son rode in a chariot (Gen. 41:43), but a waggon would serve him. 2. The removal of what he had with him. (1.) His effects (Gen. 46:6), cattle and goods; these he took with him that he might not wholly be beholden to Pharaoh for a livelihood, and that it might not afterwards be said of them, “that they came beggars to Egypt.” (2.) His family, all his seed, Gen. 46:7. It is probable that they had continued to live together in common with their father; and therefore when he went they all went, which perhaps they were the more willing to do, because, though they had heard that the land of Canaan was promised them, yet, to this day, they had none of it in possession. We have here a particular account of the names of Jacob’s family, his sons’ sons, most of whom are afterwards mentioned as heads of houses in the several tribes. See Num. 26:5-65 Bishop Patrick observes that Issachar called his eldest son Tola, which signifies a worm, probably because when he was born he was a very little weak child, a worm, and no man, not likely to live; and yet there sprang from him a very numerous offspring, 1 Chron. 7:2. Note, Living and dying do not go by probability. The whole number that went down into Egypt was sixty-six (Gen. 46:26), to which add Joseph and his two sons, who were there before, and Jacob himself, the head of the family, and you have the number of seventy, Gen. 46:27. The LXX. makes them seventy-five, and Stephen follows them (Acts 7:14), the reason of which we leave to the conjecture of the critics; but let us observe, [1.] Masters of families ought to take care of all under their charge, and to provide for those of their own house food convenient both for body and soul. When Jacob himself removed to a land of plenty, he would not leave any of his children behind him to starve in a barren land. [2.] Though the accomplishment of promises is always sure, yet it is often slow. It was now 215 years since God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation (Gen. 12:2); and yet that branch of his seed on which the promise was entailed had increased only to seventy, of which this particular account is kept, that the power of God in multiplying these seventy to so vast a multitude, even in Egypt, may appear the more illustrious. When God pleases, a little one shall become a thousand, Isa. 60:22.