Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.
7 Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. 11 Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.
Joseph presents his father before Pharaoh and then settles him in the best lands of Egypt. From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary at verse 7:
(7) Jacob blessed Pharaoh.—The presentation of Jacob to Pharaoh seems to have been a much more solemn matter than that of Joseph’s brethren. Pharaoh looks upon them with interest as the brothers of his vizier, grants their request for leave to dwell in Goshen, and even empowers Joseph to make the ablest of them chief herdsmen over the royal cattle. But Jacob had attained to an age which gave him great dignity: for to an Egyptian 120 was the utmost limit of longevity. Jacob was now 130, and Pharaoh treats him with the greatest honour, and twice accepts his blessing. More must be meant by this than the usual salutation, in which each one presented to the king prayed for the prolongation of his life. Pharaoh probably bowed before Jacob as a saintly personage, and received a formal benediction.
As the note mentions, this meeting was more solemn than the previous meeting with Joseph’s brothers. The Pulpit Commentaries adds a little more to what is meant by the fact that Jacob “blesses” Pharaoh:
And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh. It has been thought that Jacob’s presentation to the Egyptian king was deferred till after the monarch’s interview with his sons because of the public and political character of that interview, relating as it did to the occupation of the land, while Jacob’s introduction to the sovereign was of a purely personal and private description. And Jacob—in reply probably to a request from Pharaoh (Tayler Lewis), but more likely sua sponte—blessed Pharaoh. Not simply extended to him the customary salutation accorded to kings (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Alford, and others), like the “May the king live for ever!” of later times (2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Kings 1:25; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9, &c.), but, conscious of his dignity as a prophet of Jehovah, pronounced on him a heavenly benediction (Murphy, ‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ and others)—hoe verbo non vulgaris et profana salutatio notatur, sed pia sanctaque servi Dei precatio (Calvin).
[from Strong’s] blessed = בָּרַךְ bârak, baw-rak’; a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the king, as treason):—× abundantly, × altogether, × at all, blaspheme, bless, congratulate, curse, × greatly, × indeed, kneel (down), praise, salute, × still, thank.
Continuing with The Pulpit Commentaries:
And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?—literally, How many are the days of the years of thy life? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage (literally, of my sojournings, wanderings to and fro without any settled condition) are an hundred and thirty years. Since Joseph was now thirty-seven years of age (Genesis 45:6), it is apparent that he was born in his father’s ninety-first year; and since this event took place in the fourteenth year of Jacob’s residence in Padan-aram (Genesis 30:25), it is equally apparent that Jacob was seventy-seven years of age when he left Beersheba after surreptitiously securing the patriarchal blessing (Genesis 28:1). Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. As Jacob’s life fell short of that of his ancestors in respect of duration, so it greatly surpassed theirs in respect of the miseries that were crowded into it.
And Jacob blessed Pharaoh (as he had done on entering the royal presence),—
As the note shares, much of what we know about Jacob’s timeline can be pieced together because of the ages which are here stated explicitly.
Ellicott also provides us with some additional information regarding “few and evil,” and “the land of Rameses” mentioned in verse 9:
(9) My pilgrimage.—Heb., my sojournings; and so at end of verse. The idea of a pilgrimage is a modern one. Even in 1 Peter 2:11 “pilgrim” means in the Greek a stranger who has settled in a country of which he is not a native. So, too, here Jacob was not a pilgrim, for he was no traveller bound for religious motives to some distant shrine, but he was a sojourner, because Canaan was not the native land of his race.
Few and evil.—Evil certainly: for from the time when he deceived his father, Jacob’s life had been one of great anxiety and care, in addition to his many sorrows. If he had gained wealth in Haran, it had been by great industry and personal toil, aggravated by Laban’s injustice. On his return, there was the double terror of Laban’s pursuit behind and Esau’s menacing attitude in front. He had then long lain ill at Succoth, waiting till time healed his sprained hip. His entry into the promised land had been made miserable by his daughter’s dishonour and the fierce conduct of his sons. And when his home was in sight, he had lost his beloved Rachel; and finally, been compelled to remain at a distance from his father, because Esau was there chief and paramount. His father dies, and Esau goes away; but the ten years between Isaac’s death and the descent into Egypt had been years of mourning for Joseph’s loss. All these troubles had fallen upon him, and made his days evil; but they were few only in comparison with those of his father and grandfather. In Pharaoh’s eyes Jacob had lived beyond the usual span of human existence; but to himself he seemed prematurely old. His end came after seventeen years of peaceful decay spent under Joseph’s loving care.
The land of Rameses.—See Note on Genesis 45:10. Though the LXX. take “land of Rameses” as equivalent to Goshen, it was more probably some special district of it, for, as we have seen, Goshen was a territory of vast extent. Raamses (Exodus 1:11) is the same word, though the Masorites have given it different vowels; but whether such a town already existed, or whether when built it took its name from the district, we cannot tell. If there were such a place, it would at this period be a poor village, consisting of a few shepherds’ huts; but long afterwards, in the days of King Rameses II., “it was the centre of a rich, fertile, and beautiful land, described as the abode of happiness, where all alike, rich and poor, lived in peace and plenty.”—Canon Cook, Excursus on Egyptian Words, p. 487. It deserved therefore its description as “the best of the land.”
The note believes that this reference to “the land of Rameses” is likely a district within Goshen. Continuing to the end of this section with The Pulpit Commentaries:
And Joseph placed his father and his brethren (i.e. gave them a settlement, the import of which the next clause explains), and gave them a possession (i.e. allowed them to acquire property) in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses,—either that district of Goshen in which Jacob and his family first settled (Michaelis, Rosenmüller), or, what seems more probable, the land of Goshen itself (LXX; Keil, Hengstenberg, Kalisch, et alii), being so named proleptically from the town Rameses, which was subsequently built (Exodus 1:11), or, if the town existed in the time of Joseph, and was only afterwards fortified by the Israelites, deriving its designation from the name of its chief city’—as Pharaoh had commanded.
And Joseph nourished—ἐσιτομέτρει (LXX.), i.e. gave them their measure of corn—his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families—literally, to, or according to, the mouth of the little ones, meaning either in proportion to the size of their families (LXX; Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), or with all the tenderness with which a parent provides for his offspring (Murphy), or the whole body of them, from the greatest even to the least (Calvin), or completely, down even to the food for their children (‘Speaker’s Commentary’).
Ellicott add the following to verse 12:
(12) According to their families.—Heb., according to the “taf” This, as we have seen above, means “according to the clan or body of dependants possessed by each one.” Dan, with his one child, would have been starved to death if the allowance for himself and his household had depended upon the number of his “little ones,” which is the usual translation of this word in the Authorised Version. (See margin.)
In the next section, we see the remaining fallout of the famine and how Joseph benefitted the reign and power of Pharaoh.