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Verses 7-10

"And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How many are the days of the years of thy life? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years: few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh."

"And Jacob blessed Pharaoh ..." The word for "blessed," occurring here and in Genesis 47:10, "could be translated `saluted,' but the normal and strongly preferred meaning is blessed."[9] Leupold gave the actual meaning of the word in this passage as, "to bless with an invocation."[10] It is a fad with certain critics to choose the most inappropriate meaning allowed by Biblical terms.

This episode is one of the grand scenes of the Bible. Pharaoh was the autocratic ruler of the mightiest nation on earth; Jacob was the patriarchal head of God's Chosen Race, through whom redemption would come to all mankind. That Jacob was fully conscious of his own status in that situation is evident in what he did. As long as Egypt sheltered and protected the covenant people, that long, God blessed and protected Egypt. But when another king arose who "knew not Joseph," and when Egypt turned viciously upon the Israel of God, the heavenly blessing was withdrawn, and one disaster after another overwhelmed them. One may wonder if Pharaoh appreciated this blessing. To him, Jacob might have seemed to be merely an old man seeking relief from the starvation that threatened to wipe out his family, but the hand of the Almighty was upholding Jacob, and the blessing of God was surely his to bestow.

"The years of my pilgrimage ..." Here is a glimpse of the way Jacob viewed his life. Neither he nor his father ever owned any of the land of promise except the burial place at Machpelah and a few acres around Shechem. "They looked for the city that hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). Jacob's word here is a testimonial to his acceptance of the promise God made to Abraham, and of his absolute belief in the ultimate fulfillment of it. None of the patriarchs viewed the world as their permanent dwelling place, nor the earth as the true home of the soul. The mightiest king on earth had just given him a deed to Goshen, but Jacob was still a "pilgrim." Our English word for "pilgrim" literally means "one who crosses the field," and came into usage during the Crusades, when, upon nearly any given morning, settled residents could see a lonely "wanderer" on the way to the Holy Land, "crossing the field." Montgomery had this:

"A pilgrim is one seeking a country that has not yet been reached. The remembrance of this keeps the life God-ward. Its blessedness consists not in present enjoyment, but in preparation for the life to come."[11]

"Few and evil have been the days ..." Jacob's father and grandfather had attained ages of 175 for Abraham (Genesis 25:7), and 180 for Isaac (Genesis 35:28); and Jacob's words here indicated that he did not expect to live as long a life as his "fathers" had lived. Of course, he lived an additional 17 years after he made this statement, but even at 147, his age when he died, his words remained true.

"Evil ..." This is not a reference to Jacob's wickedness but to the severe and trying experiences which life had brought to him. Not all of the terrible experiences were the result of his own doing, but some were: the preference that his father had for Esau; his purchase of the birthright; the ensuing hatred of Esau; the shameful treatment he received from his father-in-law Laban; the long years of servitude in the outdoors; the unhapppiness of his wives due to internal conditions in his family; the hatred of his sons toward Jacob's favorite, Joseph; their sale of Joseph, represented to Jacob as Joseph's death; rape of Dinah; the shameless massacre of the Shechemites by two of his sons; Reuben's incest with one of Jacob's wives; the bitter famine; the imprisonment of Simeon; Jacob's horror upon learning Benjamin would have to go to Egypt; the following anxiety about him ... all these things left their mark upon the heart of Jacob, hence, his reference to them here.

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