Genesis 46:26-34 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, who were his direct offspring, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were three score and six; And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, who came into Egypt, were three score and ten. And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are yet alive. And Joseph said unto his brothers, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and show Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brothers, and my father's house, who were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me; And the men are shepherds, for their trade has been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have. And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That you shall say, Your servants' trade has been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
Genesis 47:1-9 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brothers, 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. And he took some of his brothers, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto his brothers, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Your servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers. They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for your servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray you, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen. And Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph, saying, Your father and your brothers are come unto you: The land of Egypt is before you; in the best of the land make your father and brothers to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if you know any men of ability among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old are you? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a 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.
Notice in the passages I shared whole above from the New King James, that it begins with two different accountings of the number of Jacob's sons and grandsons. It refers to the whole lot of them as souls, souls who came with Jacob's old soul. Earlier, the chapter gives the breakdown of the family, along with the names of each child, including Dinah the only daughter. But, two of the sons of Judah had died young, back in Canaan before they came to Egypt. (Note that two of Judah's sons were actually his grandsons, as well. The events are related, in that his son's had both been seen as evil men, and had each been married to Tamar before they each died. Tamar later gave birth to two sons who were fathered by her Father-in-law Judah himself.)
So, back to the two different accountings... first we are told that Jacob had 66 souls with him in Canaan,who came with Jacob to Egypt. This number is not counting the two dead sons, nor Joseph's two sons, who were born in Egypt with Joseph before Jacob ever found him. That would have been comprised of 11 of the 13 sons & daughter, the 53 living grandsons, and the two great grand-sons, who were actually grandsons too, since they were both Judah's sons and grandsons (incest.) This total of 66 is given as the number of souls that were Jacob's direct offspring and left Egypt with him.It also didn't count his daughters-in-law. It is not mentioned here, but it also does not count any of his "wives." Rachel and Leah both were long dead. We are never told when Bilhah and Zilpah died, but it is apparent from this counting that they died in Canaan. The second number we are told is 70 souls as the family that came with Jacob, which would include his 4 daughters-in-law presumably.
Five of these souls... his brothers.... are presented to the Pharoah by Joseph. Pharoah gives them all a warm welcome. Of course, Joseph had already been given authority to move them to Egypt... working passports as such. But, Joseph seemed to want both Pharoah's approval of his family, and his family's social status to be bolstered by an audience with the Pharoah. Then, Joseph brings in his old Father Jacob. Pharoah only had one question for Jacob's old soul... 'How old are you?' Jacob replied very poetically, with the poetry of a sorrowful old man, who has lived through much heartbreak, shame, scandal, and tears.
He replied that he had a pitifully short journey through life, which was true compared to the lives of his fathers. Abraham had lived to be 175 and Isaac after him had lived to the ripe old age of 180. So, Jacob was only 130, and here he was brought low by sorrow and tears, nearing an early death. But, even more shocking is the last thing he tells Pharoah, that he has lived an evil life. By evil, he was referring to the hardships he had endured; he's had a hard life that aged him quicker. He was already aware that death was approaching for him, and he would not live much longer. But, reading on in the chapter you find that he lived another 17 years on the outskirts of Egypt in Goshen, near to Joseph and his two sons. So, it appears that Jacob lost about 30 years from his genetic lifespan expectations through the rough family life he experienced.
It is true that Abraham and Isaac did not have the hard life of Jacob. Abraham didn't even have children until he was a hundred years old. And, then he separated his two families so that they didn't fight. After his wife died, he remarried to Keturah as an old man and had 6 more sons. I don't imagine he helped much with the childraising. And, I'm sure he was retired from the hard work himself. He was a wealthy rancher, with servants working for him. Isaac after him seemed quite well provided for by his Father. He carried on the family business, increasing his wealth by redigging the former wells of his Father. He married one woman, and gave birth to only two sons. That went well until the first of the twins married a woman from another religious background, which really upset Isaac. Then, Esau and Jacob had the spat over the birthright, and Isaac was concerned that Esau would kill Jacob after he died. So Isaac agreed for Jacob to go live with distant relatives to look for work. These were all minor difficulties compared to Jacob's major setbacks and ordeals throughout his life.
Jacob's list of ordeals include the family incest of his son Judah, his daughter's illicit affair, his older sons' mass murderous rage against a whole city, which ended with Jacob leaving town in the middle of the night in fear of the neighbors' retribution, and changing his name for shame. There was the constant squabbles of his wives. One of his sons slept with one of his handmaids. Then, his sons had reported his favorite son Joseph as dead, after they had actually sold him into slavery. Now, here he was years later learning that his own sons had lied about that too, and sold one of their own souls into bondage. It can't get much worse than that... (unless you look years ahead at King David's family.) And, no... Dinah was not part of either number. Her soul was apparently disowned after the affair.
What really sinks in, after reading the story, is the fact that Jacob taught his sons to dispose of their brother's soul... poor Joseph who thought his father loved him so! At least as I see it, Jacob demonstrated the worth of his daughter's soul to his sons, when Dinah had the affair. Then three years later it should have been quite easy to make a decision to throw your brother in a pit and sell him into slavery, once you had seen your father disown your sister because he didn't like her choices. They didn't like Joseph very much, so why not get rid of him?! And, they did for a time. Two more years passed before Tamar deceived Judah and the incest occurred. I'm sure Judah would have carried out his threat to burn her, had he not been confronted as the father later. I wonder if they burned Dinah? Who knows. That was a different time... and it still occurs in modern countries today in the Arab world.
That's what seems insane about the people making critical statements about the Bible because these things happened. Our President has even touted these Biblical events as examples of the Bible's worthlessness today, while holding the Koran up as a piece of sacred literature. The fact is, that was the culture of that day and region of the world, both Jew and Arab. But, it still continues today among the Arabs. So, how can our President say that? The same way our Secretary of State asked yesterday how the Egyptians could do this to us, the people who support them, to kill our ambassador and burn buildings. Note the protestors have not given a reason for the acts. It is not even known if it was a terrorist act or not. The administration is touting in public statements that it is because of this anti-muslim film. But, that is not the only anti-muslim film on YouTube, and it's been there for months. Now, suddenly on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 our embassy is attacked. No, the war on women that Obama's administration is accusing the Republican party of actually exists today in the "tolerant" muslim world. So, this type of behavior was not Biblical at all. It was a product of the Middle Eastern culture. And, how many families today still cut off the souls of their own children because they don't like the choices they make? It happens today. We let them live, we think, yet we dispose of their souls... write them off.
I've gone on too long... wrote all night long. I didn't intend to write this much. I had it in my head, and it grew as I wrote. If you made it this far, I hope it was worth your time.
How old was Jacob, Pharoah asked? He had lived 130 long hard years, but not as long as his Dad and Granddad. Yet, he held onto all that big family of 70 people, bringing them into Egypt where he reclaimed four more souls he had lost. His old soul lived 147 years, fathered 13 children and 58 grandkids. He died with his family around him. Do you think that perhaps your living soul, and the souls of your children are the most valuable asset that you have been given... even more so than the days of your years?