now these are the names of the descendants of israel, who came into egypt, jacob and his sons. reuben, jacob’s firstborn, and the sons of reuben: hanoch, pallu, hezron, and carmi. the sons of simeon: jemuel, jamin, ohad, jachin, zohar, and shaul, the son of a canaanite woman. the sons of levi: gershon, kohath, and merari. the sons of judah: er, onan, shelah, perez, and zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of canaan); and the sons of perez were hezron and hamul. the sons of issachar: tola, puvah, yob, and shimron. the sons of zebulun: sered, elon, and jahleel. these are the sons of leah, whom she bore to jacob in paddan-aram, together with his daughter dinah; altogether his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.
the sons of gad: ziphion, haggi, shuni, ezbon, eri, arodi, and areli. the sons of asher: imnah, ishvah, ishvi, beriah, with serah their sister. and the sons of beriah: heber and malchiel. these are the sons of zilpah, whom laban gave to leah his daughter; and these she bore to jacob—sixteen persons.
the sons of rachel, jacob’s wife: joseph and benjamin. and to joseph in the land of egypt were born manasseh and ephraim, whom asenath, the daughter of potiphera the priest of on, bore to him. and the sons of benjamin: bela, becher, ashbel, gera, naaman, ehi, rosh, muppim, huppim, and ard. these are the sons of rachel, who were born to jacob—fourteen persons in all.
the son of dan: hushim. the sons of naphtali: jahzeel, guni, jezer, and shillem. these are the sons of bilhah, whom laban gave to rachel his daughter, and these she bore to jacob—seven persons in all.
all the persons belonging to jacob who came into egypt, who were his own descendants, not including jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. and the sons of joseph, who were born to him in egypt, were two. all the persons of the house of jacob who came into egypt were seventy. [genesis 46:8-27]
out of chaos and sin – the beginnings of fulfillment of God’s promise to abraham
what a crazy list of names. it almost goes without repeating that jacob having multiple wives was sinful, and jacob and his family suffered for that sin over many years. and that sin goes back to laban deceitfully getting jacob to marry his older daughter leah when he thought he was marrying rachel. it is interesting that the very man who deceived his father into giving him the birthright over his older brother falls under similar deceit later by his father-in-law. on the one hand, we see that sin has lasting effects, yet on the other, we see that God’s faithfulness does not depend on our merit, and definitely not on our righteousness. out of abraham’s one son, one generation later abraham’s descendants are the beginnings of a nation.
and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [romans 8:28]
in the words of this writer, we’re not big enough to mess up God’s plans. i hope this can be an encouraging thought—God makes good on His promises every time, and no success or failure or sin or persecution will get in his way. we don’t have to strive in order for God’s plan to work: we work in response to the finished work of Christ on the cross. God is not weak to need your strength; he is not poor to need your wealth—he wants you, and he died for every single one that believes in the name of Jesus.
praise the Lord, oh my soul, at whose whisper the mountains quake, and over whose defamers the oceans rage. blessed be our redeemer!
~ stephen hall