Today’s Reading: Genesis 44-46
The blog post on today’s reading is later than usual because I’ve been digging and digging this morning so that the Holy Spirit could show me Jesus in Genesis 46. And, my mind is blown! It never ceases to amaze me how every part of the scripture bears witness to Jesus.
Genesis 46 is the chapter where God speaks to Israel and tells Jacob to not be afraid to go down to Egypt because in Egypt God will make Jacob a great nation. But, God will not leave Jacob there. He will bring him back up again.
So Jacob sets out from Beersheba with all his sons, their little ones, and their wives on the wagons provided by Pharaoh. Jacob also took all his livestock. Genesis 46:7 says, “All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.”
From verses 8 to 27, there is a list of all the offspring, or persons, that went with Jacob into Egypt. The offspring are presented in four groups.
- Leah’s children – 33
- Zilpah’s children – 16
- Rachel’s children – 14
- Bilhah’s children – 7
After these four groupings are given, we are told that the number of people that came to Egypt with Jacob was 66. Then, we are told that there were two sons born to Joseph in Egypt. Finally, we are told that the total number of people that came into Egypt with Jacob is 70.
This morning, I actually created a spreadsheet with all the names to prove that all of these numbers are correct and how they are correct.
But, why does the Bible tell us these numbers? Why are the numbers so specific? Do they have any meaning?
To fully understand these numbers, it is important to remember all the “numbers” came into Egypt, which represents the world in the Bible. That is all the numbers except the “two” that were born in Egypt.
The Bible contains 66 books. Where did the scriptures come from? According to 2 Timothy 3:16, “all Scripture is breathed out by God.” Many of us know this by heart.
But, I like what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19-20, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Where did scripture come from? God.
Where’s God? Outside the world. He had to exist outside the world, since he created the heavens and the earth.
How did scripture enter the world? On the breath of God, the Holy Spirit.
What do all 66 books of the Bible bear witness to? Jesus!
Judah had two sons that died in Canaan before Jacob went to Egypt. There names were Er and Onan. Er means watchman or watcher. Onan means strong. The “strong watcher” dies and does not come into Egypt with Jacob. This stood out to me because Enoch writes about the “watchers” that corrupted man before the flood. Jude writes about these watchers in his epistle. In verse 6, Jude says, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.”
But, Er and Onan are replaced by the two sons that were born to Joseph in Egypt – Manasseh and Ephraim. When Manasseh was born, Joseph said, “For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (Genesis 41:51) And, when Ephraim was born, Joseph said, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:52) For more on the meaning of these names and their relation to Jesus, see my post The Story of Jesus and Israel Is Incomplete without Manasseh and Ephraim.
So, God replaces the strong watcher with forgetfulness and fruitfulness.
Jesus is born in the world so that God can forget our sin and make us fruitful.
Seventy is the number of all the people that came with Jacob into Egypt. I believe this number represents the true people of God, the people of Jesus, that are part of the new creation. These 70, representing the people of God, were coming back into the world. Why do I believe this?
I believe this because this is not the first time the number 70 appears in scripture. I wrote about the first occurrence of 70 in my post Jesus Undoes Babel and Gathers the Nations. Genesis 10 records a list of 70 nations that were dispersed after the flood, when God “recreated” the world.
Where did these 70 nations come from?
Genesis 9:18-19 says, “The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.”
The 70 nations came from Noah’s three sons. After the flood, the sons of Noah “went forth from the ark.” How did they leave the ark? From the one door that it had built into its side. Jesus had a hole pierced in his side on the cross from which the church, the people of God, came forth.
But, that’s not the only reference to Jesus in Genesis 9:18. When Genesis 9:18 says “the sons of Noah”, that is the 33rd time Noah’s name was used in the Old Testament. Is it just a coincidence that after the flood when the side of the ark is opened and Noah’s three sons come forth from which the 70 nations were dispersed that Noah’s name was used for the 33rd time? Keep reading.
The number 33 appears quite a bit in the Bible.
Leviticus 12:1-4 says that after a male son was born, the woman was unclean for seven days, the boy was circumcised on the eighth day, and then the woman continued in the blood of her purifying for 33 days. Interesting.
1 Kings 2:11 says that David reigned in Hebron seven years and Jerusalem 33 years. David is a type of Christ. This is getting more interesting.
In the account of creation, which spans Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4, the 33rd time Elohim, one of the names of God, is used it says “God finished his work (Genesis 2:2). God finished (keep that in mind for later) the first creation the 33rd time his name was mentioned.
In the first mid-week Bible study in 2017, I spoke on Creation: A Witness to Jesus. In that study, I discussed how John says that Jesus was ushering in a new creation.
How old was Jesus when he died? 33!
How many unique miracles are recorded in the gospels when Jesus was ushering in the new creation? 33!
How many unique parables did Jesus speak when he was telling us about the new creation? 33!
So, including Leah, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 33. Or, Jesus came into the world to begin creation anew and at the age of 33 he finished his work.
Almost everyone, given how often it is used in weddings, knows that 1 Corinthians 13 is about love.
Do you know many characteristics Paul lists about love in 1 Corinthians 13? 16!
- Love is patient.
- Love is kind.
- Love does not envy.
- Love does not boast.
- Love is not arrogant.
- Love is not rude.
- Love does not insist on its own way.
- Love is not irritable.
- Love is not resentful.
- Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
- Love rejoices with the truth.
- Love bears all things.
- Love believes all things.
- Love hopes all things.
- Love endures all things.
- Love never ends.
Agape (the noun not the verb) is the Greek word for God’s love. It is used 18 times in 1 John. But, the 16th time the noun love is used John writes, “But perfect love casts out fear.”
So, we are seeing a connection between the number 16 and the word love. But, not just any love, perfect love.
But, 16 is eight times two. Eight is the number that represents new creation. We saw that above in Leviticus 12:1-4 when it said the male child was circumcised on the eighth day. Circumcision, baptism, death to life, and old man and new man are tied together in the New Testament.
The new creation, God’s kingdom, comes to earth through Jesus. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
What is the will of the Father? His commandments.
In Matthew 22, a lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” In verses 37-40, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
In the new creation (8), there are commandments (2) that must be obeyed.
So, including Zilpah, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 16. Or, Jesus came to usher in the new creation by establishing two commandments of perfect love – for God and for neighbor – by which the whole creation would be renewed.
The number 14 is found in some interesting places throughout the Bible too. Benjamin, the son of my right hand, inherited 14 cities. Jerusalem was one of those 14 cities. In Ezekiel 43:17, the ledge of the altar was 14 by 14 cubits. Somewhat interesting.
The Passover took place on the 14th day of the first month. That’s more interesting.
Jesus was crucified on the Passover, the 14th day of the first month. Aha!
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Remember, Jesus summed up all of the law and prophets with just two commandments – perfect love for God and perfect love for your neighbor.
When Jesus was on the cross on the 14th day of the first month, John 19:28, 30 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’…When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
But, 14 is seven times two. We saw above that the number two speaks of the two commandments of perfect love. Seven is the number that represents completion in the Bible.
So, on the 14th day, Jesus said, “It is finished.” In other words, Jesus completed, or fulfilled, the two commandments of God – love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. John 17:4 records Jesus’s fulfillment of the first command, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” In other words, Jesus loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. The fulfillment of the second command is recorded in John 13:1, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
Recall from above that God’s name, Elohim, was used the 33rd time in the creation account when Genesis says “God finished his work.” And, Jesus finished his work when he was 33 years old.
So, including Rachel, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 14. Or, Jesus came to usher in the new creation by establishing two commandments of perfect love – for God and for neighbor – which he fulfilled.
Interestingly, Numbers 29 records what is to be offered on each day of the feast of tabernacles. For the first seven days, 14 male lambs were to be offered. But, on the eighth day, the day of new creation, only seven male lambs were to be offered. I will let you meditate on the reason why after you read the following.
I have already mentioned that the number seven represents completion in the Bible. But, it also represents rest.
The number seven is found all over the Bible, but let’s just focus on the creation account. Many of the Hebrew words in the creation account are used in multiples of seven. If I remember correctly, Elohim is used 35 times. Bara, the Hebrew word for create, which only God does, is used seven times. And, Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had done.”
But, there is something different about this seventh day of creation. Have you ever noticed that it has no end? Every other day of creation ended with a statement like “And there was evening and there was the morning, the sixth day.” But, the seventh day has no such statement. In other words, when God, when Jesus, is done creating, when the work of establishing and fulfilling the commandments of love is complete, there is rest without end.
Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” The government, God’s two commandments of perfect love, are on Jesus’ shoulders. He bears the weight of them. And, as we abide in him, we can fulfill them too. His government, God’s two commandments of perfect love, will increase without end. The result is peace with no end. Jesus established this government, God’s two commandments of perfect love, with justice and righteousness now and forevermore.
Hebrews 4 is a wonderful chapter that ties all of this together. I will just quote parts of it, because I find it so stirring. Verse 1 says, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Verses 6 and 7 say, “Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day.” Finally, verses 9-11 says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
So, including Bilhah, the children she had of Jacob that came into Egypt were 7. Or, Jesus came to usher in the new creation by establishing two commandments of perfect love – for God and for neighbor – which he fulfilled. As we obey those commandments, abiding in Jesus and under his government, our work is finished and we have rest.
66, 2, 70, 33, 16, 14, and 7. They all bear witness to Jesus.