Genesis 46:31-47:6: Not ashamed.

“31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.” 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, “What is your occupation?” 34 you should answer, “Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.” Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.’47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, ‘My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.’ He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.Pharaoh asked the brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’‘Your servants are shepherds,’ they replied to Pharaoh, ‘just as our fathers were.’ They also said to him, ‘We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.’Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.’ NIV


Gordon Wenham, writing in the ‘New Bible Commentary’, suggests that the expression:’’…for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians’’ (46:34), conveys the suspicion of the settled urban population for the more nomadic peoples (e.g. somewhat like the negative feeling towards gypsies and travellers we sometimes still encounter today).

Although Joseph’s brothers were ordinary working men, who would be despised by the cultured Egyptians, Joseph was not ashamed of them before Pharaoh – not ashamed to speak up for them to the king. In fact, he coached them in what to say: they were not looking for jobs or food, just pastureland for their livestock. Our God is a generous God, and we are surely meant to see His providential Hand yet again in that Pharaoh gave instructions that they should live in ‘’the best part of the land’’ (6). See the abundant goodness of God.

‘The Egyptians detested shepherds (verse 34); the highly civilised Egyptians preferred not to mix with rustic country folk. This contempt on the part of the Egyptians would work to the advantage of Jacob’s family, because once it was known they were shepherds they would be left to themselves in the countryside around Goshen, where they could prosper and multiply without being exposed to the idolatry of Egypt.’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.197.

I read this story and recall that Jesus is ‘’not ashamed’’ to call us His brothers (Hebrews 3:11). I would be ashamed to call me my brother (!!) knowing what I do about myself. But Jesus is unashamed of any who trust Him. We are clothed in His righteousness, and that is how He sees us.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus for the difference trusting you has made in my life, and that I am now ‘’accepted in the Beloved’’.