Indebted to the help provided by Joseph, Pharaoh graciously granted the Israelites their own Egyptian settlement, a place called Goshen.
You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. (Genesis 45:10 NASB)It has been speculated that Goshen was somewhat isolated from Egypt proper based upon Pharaoh’s comment that “every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34 NASB).” Colin J. Humphreys (b. 1941) speculates that the Israelites “lived in their own separate geographic location...which almost certainly was not in the prime property market area next to the highly desirable waters of the Nile, which the Egyptians would have kept for themselves. Thus the ancient Israelites were probably living a few miles away from the Nile and its main branches–close enough to where the Egyptians lived to walk to work, but far away enough away to be a distinct community (Humphreys, The Miracles of Exodus: a Scientist Reveals the Extraordinary Natural Causes Underlying the Biblical Miracles, 146).”
Although not uncontested, in 1885 Swiss Egyptologist Edouard Henri Naville (1844-1926) identified Goshen as the 20th nome of Egypt, located in the eastern Delta, and known as Gesem or Kesem during the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (672-525 BCE).
Goshen would become significant several centuries after it was bequeathed to the Israelites when a new ruler who “knew not Joseph” assumed power (Exodus 1:8 KJV). The Egyptians had forgotten the blessing the Israelites had one been and perceiving their increasing numbers as a threat, enslaved them (Exodus 1:9-14).
In the process of liberating the Israelites, God famously sent ten plagues upon Egypt (Exodus 7:14-11:10). The only place unaffected by the disasters was Goshen (Exodus 8:22, 9:26). God spared Goshen while the rest of Egypt suffered. Goshen stood out like a sore thumb or perhaps more accurately as a healthy thumb in a sea of sore thumbs.
Though no longer prevalent, “Land O Goshen” entered the Southern lexicon as an exclamation of amazement or frustration presumably due to the unique qualities it displayed in Exodus.
Have you ever been in an area that was inundated with inclement weather while it was sunny just a few miles down the road? Why does God not always give his followers the reprieve he gave the Israelites?
These were special circumstances. The dramatic difference between Goshen and the rest of Egypt left no doubt as to the reason for the calamity. The enslaved Israelites received sanctuary
While modern day believers may not always receive a reprieve from calamity (Matthew 5:45), they should in some ways be set apart from the world around them.
If you are a believer, in what ways does this make you different than those who do not believe? What difference does your faith make?