Sabbath School Summary
By Elder Dr MASIMBA Mavaza
Israel in Egypt
Memory Text: “So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly” (Genesis 47:27, NKJV).
Genesis covers the last years of Jacob and Joseph together. We see Jacob (Israel) leave Canaan (Genesis 46) in order to settle in Egypt (Genesis 47), and there he will die (Gen. 49:29-50:21). And yet, even in this Egyptian setting, the prospect of the Promised Land still looms large in the background (Gen. 50:22-26).
As soon as Jacob arrives in Egypt, Jacob blesses Pharaoh (Gen. 47:7-10), thus fulfilling (partially, of course) the Abrahamic promise to be a blessing to the nations (Gen. 12:3). Later, about to die, Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons (Genesis 48). Jacob also blesses his own sons (Gen. 49:1-28) and makes impressive predictions concerning each of them in the context of the future 12 tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:1-27).
The fact, however, that Israel “dwells” in exile, in Egypt as strangers, is in tension with the hope of the Promised Land. And though the book of Genesis itself ends with the children of Israel in Egypt, some of the last words of Joseph point to another place: “ ‘I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob’ ” (Gen. 50:24, NKJV).
SABBATH: When famine overtook Jacob, he found corn in Egypt. In his old age when the pain of the loss of his darling child broke his bones, he found Joseph in Egypt. After years apart, the father & son were reunited to mark the start of Israel. Jacob moved from Canaan to Egypt but God would return the 12 tribes to Canaan (Gen. 46, 47). Jacob blessed Pharaoh & Joseph’s sons in Egypt (Gen. 49, 50:21-26).
SUNDAY: In the decisive journey to Egypt (Gen. 46), God bid Jacob; “ ‘do not fear’ ”, the same words He spoke to Abraham when He called Him (Gen. 46:3; 12:2; 15:1). Thus, aside from the fact that Jacob will meet Joseph & will not be hungry, God’s covenant with Abraham was still alive in him. The tall list (70) of Israelites’ names shows totality & how the childless Abraham was now fruitful. Salvation is for all.
MONDAY: Abraham’s days in Egypt was bitter & God bid Isaac not to enter the land. Was it wise to leave the Promised Land to Egypt? God reassured Jacob (Deut. 17:16, Gen. 46:2). Joseph presented five of his brothers to Pharaoh to get lands for their future home. He won him his master’s heart. He advised his brothers to truly tell Pharaoh their work (Gen. 47, PP, p. 233). The stranger, Jacob, blessed Pharaoh.
TUESDAY: The years in Egypt did not dim the light of God’s covenant with Abraham in Jacob. As he was about to die, he blessed Joseph’s sons; the only grandsons Jacob blessed (Gen. 35:1-15, 48:4, 17:8); elevating them from grandsons to sons (Gen. 48). In blessing them, He uplifted God’s name by citing how He saved him (Gen. 48:15, 16, 31:13, 32:26-29, 12:3). He believed that God will take care of them.
WEDNESDAY: The foreknowledge of God does not rob man his free will (choice). With a prophetic eye, Jacob spoke of their future; both immediate (history of the tribes of Israel) & beyond (the salvation in the Messiah, Christ). God willed for the Messiah to come from Judah who stands for royalty & praise (shown as lion, king of the forest). Christ is King (Gen. 49:1-28, Isa. 2:2, Dan. 10:14, Phil. 2:10, PP, p. 236).
THURSDAY: Before the end of the Genesis story, three events inspire hope of the Promise Land in God’s people (Gen. 49:29-50:21). First, Jacob & Joseph’s deaths & burials are told in a way that Israel will return to Canaan (Gen. 49:28-31). Second, God will turn evil into good. Joseph did not seek for revenge (Gen. 15:1, 50:18-21, 45:5, 7-9). Third, God will save fallen man (Gen. 50:25, Exod. 13:19).
FRIDAY: Joseph is a type of Christ. Envy moved his brothers to sell him as a slave & stop his dreams of being greater than themselves. So did the Jewish priests & elders, jealous of Christ put Him to death to stop Him from being king. But God can turn evil into God. Both Joseph & Christ were exalted. In Egypt, Joseph became a savior to his family but the brothers were guilty. So were Christ’s murderers.
—Ellen G. White, “Joseph and His Brothers,” pp. 233–240, in Patriarchs and Prophets.
Jacob- The patriarch’s name was changed to Israel.
Canaan- The name of the Promised Land (Land of Promise).
The 70 people who initially settled in Egypt- The number “seventy” (including Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons) expresses the idea of totality (there’s no distinction between Jew & Greek in God—Rom. 10:12, 13). It is “all Israel” that goes to Egypt. It also is significant that the number 70 corresponds to the number of nations (Genesis 10), suggesting that
the destiny of all the nations also is at stake in Jacob’s journey.
Sons of Joseph- Ephraim (the second) was to be more exalted than the Manasseh (the first).
Goshen- The best & peaceful land in Egypt was gifted to Joseph’s family.
The work of Joseph’s brothers- They were shepherds. Egypt saw such work as an abomination. Their work will keep Egyptians from associating themselves to them to tempt them.
SUNDAY- Jacob Goes to Joseph
MONDAY- Jacob Settles in Egypt
TUESDAY- Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons
WEDNESDAY- Jacob Blesses His Sons
THURSDAY- The Hope of the Promised Land
📌 Once Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers feared that now Joseph would get revenge. What does this teach about the guilt that they still harbored? What does Joseph’s reaction teach us about forgiveness for the guilty?
📌 What other parallels can you find between the lives of Joseph and Jesus?
📌 Dwell on the fact that although God intimately knows the future, we are still free in the choices we make. How do we reconcile these two ideas?