Genesis 47:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 47:4, NIV: They also said to him, 'We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants' flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.'

Genesis 47:4, ESV: They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.”

Genesis 47:4, KJV: 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.

Genesis 47:4, NASB: They also said to Pharaoh, 'We have come to reside in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.'

Genesis 47:4, NLT: We have come to live here in Egypt for a while, for there is no pasture for our flocks in Canaan. The famine is very severe there. So please, we request permission to live in the region of Goshen.'

Genesis 47:4, CSB: And they said to Pharaoh, "We have come to stay in the land for a while because there is no grazing land for your servants' sheep, since the famine in the land of Canaan has been severe. So now, please let your servants settle in the land of Goshen."

What does Genesis 47:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Joseph's brothers are being interviewed by the Pharaoh of Egypt. He has already invited Jacob's large family to relocate to Egypt with all they own to survive the famine in the land (Genesis 45:16–20). In the previous verse, Pharaoh asked the question about their occupation, the question Joseph had discussed with them (Genesis 46:31–34). They responded with the practiced answer, declaring themselves to be lifelong shepherds (Genesis 47:1–3).

Now they continue with a formal request to be allowed to settle in the land of Goshen. They explain why they are making this request: The famine in Canaan is severe. They have no viable place to pasture their flocks. This is one possible reason Joseph had them mention shepherding to Egypt's ruler, despite it being a distasteful profession to Egyptians. Such a request would encourage Pharaoh to settle Israel separately from the rest of his subjects, maintaining them as a unique people.

Joseph's brothers describe themselves as "sojourners," meaning travelers and immigrants, and as Pharaoh's servants. This begins to fulfill the exact prophesy given to Abraham about his descendants in Genesis 15:13: "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years."

What Joseph and his family cannot know is this act of great kindness by Pharaoh will eventually result in the centuries-long enslavement of their people. For the moment, however, Pharaoh's positive response to their request will mean the difference between life and death for the family.