How Old Was Jacob When…?


Genesis 27:41-43

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The scene above pictures Jacob at Bethel, resting after fleeing from his brother Esau! He had stolen their father Isaac’s blessing of the firstborn, and Esau was angry enough to kill him! He came to a place he named Bethel where he slept and dreamt of what is referred to as “Jacob’s ladder” (see Genesis 28:10-22).

But how old was Jacob when he fled his brother’s wrath? This exercise in figuring out this question points to a principle of Bible Study: There are facts and underlying truths to be found in Scripture…..if we do the work of digging them out!

So how do we determine Jacob’s age when he fled from Esau? We start with his answer to Pharoah’s question as the king of Egypt interview him in Genesis 48:8 and 9:

Pharoah said to Jacob, “How old are you?” 
And Jacob said to Pharoah, “The days of 
the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred 
and thirty 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 pilgrimage.”

Jacob was 130 years old when he arrived in Egypt! Now, let’s start subtracting the years that the previous Scriptures state or infer.

We read in Genesis 41:46 that Jacob’s son Joseph was thirty years old when he was elevated to ‘prime minister’ over all Egypt!

  • According to Genesis 37:2, “Joseph [was] seventeen years old…” when he was sold by his brothers to Ishmaelite traders and carted off to Egypt (see Genesis 37:18-28).
  • Many trials and adventures happened to Joseph during those thirteen years before pharoah promoted him to second in command over Egypt. (see Genesis chapters 39 through 41 for the full account).

But how old was Joseph when he brought his father Jacob down from Canaan to dwell in Egypt?

  • Why was he elevated to ‘prime minister’ over all Egypt? He had interpreted Pharoah’s dreams (see Genesis 41:1-8) as revealing God’s plan to send seven years of abundant crops followed by seven years of severe famine! (see Genesis 41:25-32).
  • In Genesis 41:33 through 36, Joseph suggested a wise plan to prepare for the famine. The plan so impressed Pharoah that he put Joseph in charge of carrying it out!
  • Genesis 41:47 tells us, “ plentiful years [where] ground brought forth abundantly…” ended, “…and the seven years of famine began to come…over all the face of the earth…” (Genesis 41:54, 56).
✡   According to Genesis 45:6, it was 
    two years into the famine before 
    Jacob arrived in Egypt.

✡   Considering the travel time of 
    Joseph’s brothers back to Canaan, 
    and Jacob’s family of “...sixty-
    six persons in all...” (Genesis 
    46:25) traveling down to Egypt, 
    we might estimate another six 

Let’s put the above records together:

 130 years – Jacob’s age when he arrived 
             in Egypt
 -17 years – Joseph’s age when he was sold 
             into Egypt
 -13 years – Time passed before Joseph be-
             came ‘prime minister’
 - 1 year  – Perhaps the time before the 
             years of plenty arrived 
 - 7 years – The years of plenty passed
 - 2.5 yearsTime into the famine before 
               Jacob came to Egypt
= 89.5 years

Jacob was almost 90 years old when Joseph was born!

Now let’s explore Jacob’s time in Haran where he worked for his uncle Laban:

  • After working as a shepherd of Laban’s flocks for a month (see Genesis 29:14, 15), Jacob contracted with his uncle and worked fourteen years for Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel, to become his wives! (see Genesis 29:18-28). The wives’ two maids became Jacob’s concubines (see Genesis 29:24, 29).
  • After the birth of Joseph (see Genesis 30:22-24), Rachel’s firstborn and Jacob’s eleventh son, Jacob contracted again with his uncle to work as his shepherd, but also to build his own flocks! This agreement lasted six more years, for a totel of twenty years sereving Laban! (see Genesis 41:31).
  • So Joseph was six years old when Jacob and his family left Haran and headed back to Canaan.

Let’s put these records together:

  89.5 years – Jacob’s age when Joseph 
               was born
 - 6 years –   Joseph’s age when Jacob 
               left Haran
 -11 years –   The years in Canaan before 
               Joseph was sold into Egypt
 - 0.5 yearsEstimated time of Jacob’s 
               travels to and from Haran
= 72 years 

Jacob was 72 years old when he fled from his brother Esau!

What does this exercise in calculating Jacob’s age mean to us?

  • We are never too old to embrace God’s plan for our next steps!
  • We may be very surprised to discover Jacob’s age when he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau. But we calculated his age by careful study of the Scriptural record!


  • …when God leads, follow……whatever your age!
  • …be engaged in Bible study! There are many surprising truths to be found in Scripture!

John’s Nose! – VI


February 17, 2014
I John 3:16-18

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

There is just one in this section of scripture, one of the many of John’s Nose!  Let me correct that, because John would look kind of strange with many noses!  There is one know of many of John’s Knows here in I John 3:16 through 18:

    By this we know love, because He [Jesus] laid down His life for us.  And we
    also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s
    goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how
    does the love of God abide in him?  My little children, let us not love in word
    or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

How does John know – and how can we know love?  It is because Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and me!  Paul writes in Romans 5:8:  “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  This is agape love!  There are three Greek words for love, and the last two listed below are in the New Testament:

•    Eros – This is the physical, sensual love between a husband and wife as portrayed in the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament.
•    Philos – The use of this word designates friendship to another person, or affection toward someone or something.  It is mutual in that such affection must be returned in order to be maintained.  Even with an object, there must be some pleasure derived for philos to continue.
•    Agape – This is the kind of love that God has toward us.  It is freely given and does not depend on being returned to continue.  It is sacrificial love – giving even when nothing is given back.

Being sinners by birth and action, we are selfish – focused on pleasing ourselves.  Sin is ugly to the perfect and holy God – totally opposite of His character.  But He loved us even though we were wallowing in our self-made ugliness.  He chose to send His Son to die for us so we could have eternal and abundant life! (John 10:10)  This is agape love!

We know such love because we have received it from God through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are then called to love our brothers and sisters the same way – sacrificial agape love – even to giving our lives for them if necessary!  And when we are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice of our life, then anything else we are called to give is a lesser sacrifice!

So if one who calls himself a Christian sees a brother or sister in need, and then does nothing to help, “…how does the love of God abide in him? ” James puts it this way in James 2:15 and 16:

    If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says
    to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them
    the things which are needed for the body; what does it profit?

It does not profit!  We are to love one another with deeds of agape love and not just with words!  As James says in the next verse, verse 17:  “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Do you know what the results of dead faith will be?

•    You will be banned from eternal life!  You might even say, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” (Matthew 7:22)  But here is what Jesus will answer: “I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23).
•    All that you have lived for will be dust and ashes!  As it says in II Peter 3:10, “…the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
•    There will be a negative witness to the world!  Jesus said in John 13:34 and 35, “…as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”  If we don’t love one another, how will the unsaved world be drawn to Jesus?

There are other results of dead faith, but these three will help us see what an important issue this matter of loving one another is. 

And one more thing:  loving one another is not a matter of feeling.  It is a matter of the will!  We choose our actions, and feelings will follow actions.  So if we act like we love one another, we will begin to feel affection for our Christian brothers and sisters.  So get to it!  Start treating one another with love – agape love – the same love wherewith the Lord loves us!