The Antiquities of the Jews, 2.168–2.193

Flavius Josephus  translated by William Whiston

« J. AJ 2.91–2.167 | J. AJ 2.168–2.193 | J. AJ 2.194–2.200 | About This Work »

1681. As soon as Jacob came to know, by his sons returning home, in what state Joseph was, that he had not only escaped death, for which yet he lived all along in mourning, but that he lived in splendor and happiness, and ruled over Egypt, jointly with the king, and had intrusted to his care almost all his affairs, 169he did not think any thing he was told to be incredible, considering the greatness of the works of God, and his kindness to him, although that kindness had, for some late times, been intermitted; so he immediately and zealously set out upon his journey to him.

1702. When he came to the Well of the Oath, (Beersheba,) he offered sacrifice to God; and being afraid that the happiness there was in Egypt might tempt his posterity to fall in love with it, and settle in it, and no more think of removing into the land of Canaan, and possessing it, as God had promised them; 171as also being afraid, lest, if this descent into Egypt were made without the will of God, his family might be destroyed there; out of fear, withal, lest he should depart this life before he came to the sight of Joseph; he fell asleep, revolving these doubts in his mind.

1723. But God stood by him, and called him twice by his name; and when he asked who he was, God said, “No, sure; it is not just that thou, Jacob, shouldst be unacquainted with that God who has been ever a protector and a helper to thy forefathers, and after them to thyself: 173for when thy father would have deprived thee of the dominion, I gave it thee; and by my kindness it was that, when thou wast sent into Mesopotamia all alone, thou obtainedst good wives, and returnedst with many children, and much wealth. 174Thy whole family also has been preserved by my providence; and it was I who conducted Joseph, thy son, whom thou gavest up for lost, to the enjoyment of great prosperity. I also made him lord of Egypt, so that he differs but little from a king. 175Accordingly, I come now as a guide to thee in this journey; and foretell to thee, that thou shalt die in the arms of Joseph: and I inform thee, that thy posterity shall be many ages in authority and glory, and that I will settle them in the land which I have promised them.”

1764. Jacob, encouraged by this dream, went on more cheerfully for Egypt with his sons, and all belonging to them. Now they were in all seventy. I once, indeed, thought it best not to set down the names of this family, especially because of their difficult pronunciation [by the Greeks]; 177but, upon the whole, I think it necessary to mention those names, that I may disprove such as believe that we came not originally from Mesopotamia, but are Egyptians. Now Jacob had twelve sons; of these Joseph was come thither before. We will therefore set down the names of Jacob’s children and grandchildren. 178Reuben had four sons—Anoch, Phallu, Assaron, Charmi. Simeon had six—Jamuel, Jamin, Avod, Jachin, Soar, Saul. Levi had three sons—Gersom, Caath, Merari. Judas had three sons—Sala, Phares, Zerah; and by Phares two grandchildren, Esrom and Amar. Issachar had four sons—Thola, Phua, Jasob, Samaron. 179Zabulon had with him three sons—Sarad, Helon, Jalel. So far is the posterity of Lea; with whom went her daughter Dinah. These are thirty-three. 180Rachel had two sons, the one of whom, Joseph, had two sons also, Manasses and Ephraim. The other, Benjamin, had ten sons—Bolau, Bacchar, Asabel, Geras, Naaman, Jes, Ros, Momphis, Opphis, Arad. These fourteen added to the thirty-three before enumerated, amount to the number forty-seven. 181And this was the legitimate posterity of Jacob. He had besides by Bilhah, the handmaid of Rachel, Dan and Nephtliali; which last had four sons that followed him—Jesel, Guni, Issari, and Sellim. Dan had an only begotten son, Usi. 182If these be added to those before mentioned, they complete the number fifty-four. Gad and Aser were the sons of Zilpha, who was the handmaid of Lea. These had with them, Gad seven—Saphoniah, Augis, Sunis, Azabon, Aerin, Erocd, Ariel. 183Aser had a daughter, Sarah, and six male children, whose names were Jomne, Isus, Isoui, Baris, Abar and Melchiel. If we add these, which are sixteen, to the fifty-four, the forementioned number 70 is completed Jacob not being himself included in that number.

1845. When Joseph understood that his father was coming, for Judas his brother was come before him, and informed him of his approach, he went out to meet him; and they met together at Heroopolis. But Jacob almost fainted away at this unexpected and great joy; however, Joseph revived him, being yet not himself able to contain from being affected in the same manner, at the pleasure he now had; yet was he not wholly overcome with his passion, as his father was. 185After this, he desired Jacob to travel on slowly; but he himself took five of his brethren with him, and made haste to the king, to tell him that Jacob and his family were come; which was a joyful hearing to him. He also bid Joseph tell him what sort of life his brethren loved to lead, that he might give them leave to follow the same, 186who told him they were good shepherds, and had been used to follow no other employment but this alone. Whereby he provided for them, that they should not be separated, but live in the same place, and take care of their father; as also hereby he provided, that they might be acceptable to the Egyptians, by doing nothing that would be common to them with the Egyptians; for the Egyptians are prohibited to meddle with feeding of sheep.

1876. When Jacob was come to the king, and saluted him, and wished all prosperity to his government, Pharaoh asked him how old he now was; 188upon whose answer, that he was a hundred and thirty years old, he admired Jacob on account of the length of his life. And when he had added, that still he had not lived so long as his forefathers, he gave him leave to live with his children in Heliopolis; for in that city the king’s shepherds had their pasturage.

1897. However, the famine increased among the Egyptians, and this heavy judgment grew more oppressive to them, because neither did the river overflow the ground, for it did not rise to its former height, nor did God send rain upon it; nor did they indeed make the least provision for themselves, so ignorant were they what was to be done; but Joseph sold them corn for their money. But when their money failed them, they bought corn with their cattle and their slaves; 190and if any of them had a small piece of land, they gave up that to purchase them food, by which means the king became the owner of all their substance; and they were removed, some to one place, and some to another, that so the possession of their country might be firmly assured to the king, excepting the lands of the priests, for their country continued still in their own possession. 191And indeed this sore famine made their minds, as well as their bodies, slaves; and at length compelled them to procure a sufficiency of food by such dishonorable means. But when this misery ceased, and the river overflowed the ground, and the ground brought forth its fruits plentifully, 192Joseph came to every city, and gathered the people thereto belonging together, and gave them back entirely the land which, by their own consent, the king might have possessed alone, and alone enjoyed the fruits of it. He also exhorted them to look on it as every one’s own possession, and to fall to their husbandry with cheerfulness, and to pay as a tribute to the king, the fifth part of the fruits for the land which the king, when it was his own, restored to them. 193These men rejoiced upon their becoming unexpectedly owners of their lands, and diligently observed what was enjoined them; and by this means Joseph procured to himself a greater authority among the Egyptians, and greater love to the king from them. Now this law, that they should pay the fifth part of their fruits as tribute, continued until their later kings.

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