Genesis 46:33 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 46:33, NIV: When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, 'What is your occupation?'

Genesis 46:33, ESV: When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’

Genesis 46:33, KJV: And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?

Genesis 46:33, NASB: When Pharaoh calls for you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’

Genesis 46:33, NLT: Then he said, 'When Pharaoh calls for you and asks you about your occupation,

Genesis 46:33, CSB: When Pharaoh addresses you and asks, 'What is your occupation? '

What does Genesis 46:33 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The ruler of Egypt—known by the title Pharaoh—had personally commanded Joseph to move his family to Egypt with all they own to survive an intense famine (Genesis 45:16–20). Ever responsible, Joseph is coaching his family about the best way to respond to questions Pharaoh may ask about their occupation. His strategy includes honesty, but with a level of tact, respecting Egyptian culture and customs.

Joseph intends to present his family as herdsman. He doesn't want to suggest they do any other kind of work. This echoes a concern expressed in modern cultures about immigration. Joseph might have been eager to reassure the people of Egypt about the new Hebrew immigrants. Some may have feared that newcomers connected to a powerful man like Joseph might take jobs or business away from Egyptian citizens. Instead, Joseph will encourage his family to insist that they are and have always been shepherds and herdsman.

At the same time, Joseph's advice is to emphasize the family's work with livestock. Cattle were honored in Egyptian culture, while sheep were not. This might have had the additional motive of encouraging separation. By referencing shepherding, Joseph would also encourage settlement of Israel apart from Egyptian culture at large.