Leslie M. John
In the land of Goshen there lived a great family. God chose the family and the land that they should live in their turbulent times. God gave Jacob and his children the land of Goshen in Egypt, when they came over from Canaan to have food during the great second famine. The first famine was during Abraham, ass recorded in Genesis 12:10.
Joseph was one among the twelve children of Jacob, whose grandfather was Abram. God changed his name as “Abraham” and his wife’s as “Sarah”. Abraham and Sarah were long dead when Jacob their grandson came into Egypt. There were very significant incidences in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Isaac was the promised son, who was blessed.
To Abraham was born Ishmael by Hagar the handmaid of Sarai. Ishmael was born twelve years before Isaac was born, and yet God said in no less strong words that it was Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, who would receive the blessings because he was the promised child.
In the land of Canaan, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in different periods of time, there occurred famine three times – one each during the periods if these patriarchs.
It was a marvelous deliverance for Sarai, wife of Abram, from the hands of Abimelech, king of Egypt, who could have had her, but for God’s intervention. Abram forced Sarai to depart from telling the truth for the sake of protecting his own life. The truth was that Sarai was his wife, and before his marriage with her, she was his half-sister. After marriage she was not his half-sister, but his wife. However, Abram forced her in the land of Egypt to say that she was his sister.
Sarai was no doubt his half-sister but not after he married her. Sarai was his wife, and yet, he for the sake of not getting killed for her sake, handed over his wife to the lies, thus stumbling in his faith.
It was very unpleasing act before God that Abram, who was a man of faith, and to whom his faith was reckoned as righteousness, stumbled in his faith, first by travelling to Egypt, and second by fearing that he would be killed for his extremely beautiful Sarai sake. Abimelech, king of Egypt desired to have her. However, although Abimelech took Sarai in to his house, yet he could not lay his hand on her because God was with her.
God protected Sarai. The LORD interfered strongly by inflicting Abimelech and his family with plagues for Sarai. Abimelech sensed the strong outstretched hand of God and sought the truth from Abram as to who Sarai was. When Abram revealed the truth that Sarai was his wife, and he told a lie for fear, Abimelech admonished him and said to him to take his wife and go away.
Man is feeble and frail and no one is perfect. God, who is longsuffering, and ever present to help His children, protected and delivered Sarai. She was chosen by God to become the mother of the children of Israel.
Next, when there was a second famine during the period when Isaac was in Canaan, he and his family migrated to Gerar in the land of Philistines, where Abimelech was the king. (Abimelech during the period of Isaac was another king and not the one who was king during the period of Abram). God said to Isaac not to go to Egypt, and he obeyed God. Yet he sinned in a similar way his father did, by calling his wife as his sister. King Abimelech saw Isaac sporting his wife Rebecca, and called for him. When the king sought the truth, Isaac confessed that he feared his life that someone may kill him for Rebecca, who was also an extremely beautiful lady, and, therefore, he said to her to say that she was Isaac’s sister. Abimelech was angry at Isaac and said to him to take his wife and go away. He also said to all the people that none should touch Rebecca. Thus Isaac was admonished by pagan king. This is how God protected Rebecca.
The third famine was in Canaan during the period when Joseph was the second in authority in Egypt, where Pharaoh was the king.
When Joseph broke out in tears before his brothers saying he was their brother, he gave glory to God and said he was sent to the land of Egypt beforehand to save the children of Jacob, who was renamed as “Israel” by God.
Jacob and his family were Hebrews they were all shepherds by profession. Joseph’s brothers were all shepherds. Egyptians hated Hebrews. Joseph was Governor in the land of Egypt, and he being the second in command in the land of Egypt had much influence with Pharaoh, who readily conceded the request of Joseph and allowed Joseph’s entire family to live in the land of Goshen during the famine.
Pharaoh identified the land of Goshen as the best of all the lands. Goshen was a land where Egyptians’ cattle grazed and the land was called the “land of Goshen”. It was a pastoral district. The LORD chose the land for them and He blessed it.
Although the children of Israel were happy when Pharaoh was on the throne and Joseph was Governor in the land, yet there arose a king in Egypt who did not know who Joseph was. He subjected them to harsh labor, even to the extent of not providing raw material for making bricks. The king feared that the children of Israel would be large in number and they would become a threat for him to face.
The children of Israel worked as slaves in Egypt for four hundred years and cried to the Lord to redeem them from the bondage of slavery. God heard their cry and provided them a leader who would redeem them from their slavery.
It was Moses, who was chosen by God to be their leader.