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The Goshen Refugees

Goshen (the pronunciation in Hebrew is very similar to the word in English, which is not usually the case e.g. in Hebrew "Moses" is pronounced moe-sheh, "David" is pronounced daw-veed, "Jerusalem" is pronounced yer-oo-shaw-lay-im etc.) was the name applied to the region of Egypt that the Israelites took refuge in to escape a severe famine that was bringing ruin across a vast area of the Middle East. The Scriptures refer to the area, located in The Nile Delta, as "Goshen" (Genesis 46:28 KJV), "the land of Goshen" (Genesis 45:10 KJV), "the country of Goshen" (Genesis 47:27 KJV) or "the land of Rameses" (Genesis 47:11 KJV). In the ancient time, it was "the best of the land" (Genesis 47:6, 11 KJV), but is now dry.

"Let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen"

Upon their return, Joseph presented his brothers (see I Am Joseph Your Brother) to Pharaoh.


"47:1 Then Joseph [see Joseph, Prime Minister Of Egypt] came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.

47:2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh." (Genesis 47:1-2 KJV)

The Pharaoh at that time, unlike the Pharaoh of the Exodus four centuries later "which knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8 KJV), was not fearful or hostile to the people of Israel.

"47:3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation?

And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

47:4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

47:5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: 47:6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle." (Genesis 47:3-6 KJV)

Elderly Jacob was then introduced to the Pharaoh (see also Israel's Departure From Israel):

"47:7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

47:8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? 47:9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: 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. 47:10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh." (Genesis 47:7-10 KJV)

And so the people of Israel (i.e. the family of Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel" - see The Origin Of 'Israel') settled in Goshen.

"47:11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, 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. 47:12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families." (Genesis 47:11-12 KJV)

Their arrival was just in time. The famine, which was already severe, became even worse. Only Egypt, because the Pharaoh heeded the warning to prepare (see The Pharaoh's Dreams), was able to endure.

"47:13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. 47:14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 47:15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth." (Genesis 47:13-15 KJV)

Fact Finder: Where did Jacob obtain the original breeding stock for his flocks that he took with him to Egypt?
See Jacob's Ringstreaked, Speckled And Spotted

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