So in this very short exchange between Jacob and Pharaoh, I'm just simply curious about what is meant by this word blessed. Should I interpret this as just a courteous greeting or take it as Jacob pronouncing a blessing over Pharaoh?

Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:7-10 ESV)


1 Answer 1


There is a rule in Hollywood that any events that do not add to the story should be omitted. For example there is no point in showing the detectives traveling to the suspect's house if nothing happens in the car, just show them arrive at the door. Or better yet, just jump to them questioning the suspect in their home. Screen time is precious and so is space on the page.

The inverse is also a Hollywood rule: If it isn't in the script then it didn't happen or it doesn't matter. Did the detective have a sister? If we never met her then s/he doesn't or it doesn't matter.

So the fact that it is mentioned strongly suggests (and to my mind establishes) that the blessing was significant.

But what is the significance? Well one might surmise:

  • Jacob is shown to be greater than Pharaoh:

Heb 7:7 It is beyond dispute that the less important person is blessed by the more important person.

  • Jacob was "pursuing peace with all men"

Mat 10:11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. Mat 10:12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. Mat 10:13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

Psa_34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Heb 12:14 Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

  • Jacob was being grateful and returning a blessing for Pharaoh's kind immigration policy. This would have likely been a custom - to bless those who bless you:

Gen_12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

What is key to the discussion is that blessings had power, as we see in the frequent and somber references to the practice:

Gen_27:31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me.

Gen_27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.

Gen_27:38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.

As an example of a blessing at time I'm quoting Isaac's blessing of Jacob (who he thought was Esau):

Gen 27:27 So Jacob drew closer to kiss him. When Isaac smelled the scent of his son's clothes, he blessed him and said, "How my son's scent is the fragrance of the field, that the LORD has blessed. Gen 27:28 May the LORD grant you dew from the skies, and from the fertile land; may he grant you abundant grain and fresh wine. Gen 27:29 May people serve and bow before you; may you be master over your brothers; may your mother's sons bow before you; may anyone who curses you be cursed; and may anyone who blesses you be blessed."

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to give me such a detailed apply. Your into with the Hollywood rules was not only captivating but practical. I really am thankful for these possible reasons you have given. Might I also ask you how a "blessing" in this context would be performed? Would it be something like, "The Lord bless you Pharaoh and make his face shine upon..." as he entered and left, or possibly something different?
    – Lin Wang
    Apr 7, 2016 at 1:16
  • @LukeoX And thank you. I'd look at the example of Jakob blessing his son, though that was quite a blessing: Gen 27:27-29
    – user10231
    Apr 7, 2016 at 8:53
  • I'm new to Stack Exchange and want to follow the guidelines for this site. Since it seems no one else is looking to answer, I was wondering if to wrap up this post nicely as the best answer, should you edit your answer to include your last comment to me about looking to the example of Jacob blessing his son to include the "how" part to the answer in addition to all your reasons for? I just imagine people are less likely to read the comments. Also as a point for further discussion, may I ask why you spell his name Jakob as opposed to Jacob?
    – Lin Wang
    Apr 8, 2016 at 2:28
  • @LukeoX Oops, that was Isaac blessing Jakob. I spell with a "k" because that is my son's name. Either spelling works.
    – user10231
    Apr 8, 2016 at 7:28

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