What does Genesis 46:33 mean?
ESV: When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’
NIV: When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, 'What is your occupation?'
NASB: When Pharaoh calls for you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’
CSB: When Pharaoh addresses you and asks, 'What is your occupation? '
NLT: Then he said, 'When Pharaoh calls for you and asks you about your occupation,
KJV: And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?
NKJV: So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Genesis 46:28–34 resumes a description of Jacob's move to Egypt. The family arrives in the Goshen region, likely along the Nile River, and Joseph rides out on his chariot to meet them. This includes an emotional reunion between Jacob and the son he thought he'd lost. Amid tears, Jacob declares he is now ready to die after seeing Joseph alive. Joseph immediately prepares his family for an audience with Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 46 includes three basic sections. First, Jacob and his large family begin their journey with all their possessions towards their new home in Egypt. Jacob stops in Beersheba and offers sacrifices to God. God responds by assuring Jacob He will continue to be with him and multiply his people. The narrative pauses to count the current descendants of Jacob, then resumes with Jacob's arrival in the Goshen region of Egypt. Joseph meets him there for an emotional reunion. Then Joseph prepares the family to meet Pharaoh.
Chapter Context:
Joseph has just been dramatically reunited with his estranged brothers (Genesis 45). Following Joseph's revelation of his identity Genesis 46 describes the large family's move out of Canaan. Jacob stops in Beersheba to offer sacrifices to God and receive renewed promises from Him. Then the story pauses to provide a count of Joseph's descendants by each of his four wives. Jacob is reunited with Joseph, who prepares his family to meet with Pharaoh. Chapter 47 describes Jacob's meeting with Pharaoh and the family's settlement in Goshen.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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