“7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt:Reuben the firstborn of Jacob…
26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.”NIV
“With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all” (27).
“Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky” (Deuteronomy 10:22).
Today’s passage contains a long list of names, and for the purposes of space I have included only the beginning and ending of the said list above. We tend to see these lists as somewhat uninspiring and hard-going. But I’m grateful to Matthew Henry and Tom Hale for helping to make my heart sing over the inspirational truth they uncover in this text:
‘We have here a particular account of Jacob’s family. Though the fulfilling of promises is always sure, yet it is often slow. It was now 215 years since God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation, ch. 12:2 ; yet that branch of his seed, to which the promise was made sure, had only increased to seventy, of whom this particular account is kept, to show the power of God in making these seventy become a vast multitude.’ Matthew Henry.
‘In this section we are given the names of Jacob’s sons and grandsons who made the journey to Egypt. We are told that sixty-six direct descendants of Jacob made the journey (verse 26). If one adds Jacob himself and Joseph and his two sons born in Egypt, the total number of Jacob’s family that settled in Egypt (excluding daughters-in-law) comes to seventy persons (verse 27). Seventy seems like a very small number compared with God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5; Deuteronomy 10:22). But God has no problem multiplying numbers. No matter how small our number, no matter how tiny our offering, God will multiply it (Isaiah 60:22) Indeed, there is only one number God can’t multiply: zero.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.197. (Tom Hale adds a footnote in which he says, ‘God can create something out of nothing, but He can’t “multiply” something that does not exist. We may think that our labour or our offering is insignificant, but it is not insignificant to God; He will multiply it. He will not multiply what we do not offer to Him.’).
“The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly” (Isaiah 60:22).