The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Compelled By The Word
“Then he went down into Egypt.” This teaches us that he; Jacob was compelled by the “word”. Although this is commonly understood as the “word of God”, we have to wonder which “word”. God speech to Jacob just before the latter went down to Egypt is not forceful, but loving. “I will go down with you. I will also bring you back up.”
When the brothers returned from Egypt after Joseph’s revelation of his true identity they “Spoke (Vayidabiru) to him the words (Divrei) of Joseph that he had spoken (Dibair) to them.” Joseph insisted that they were not the ones who sold him to Egypt. It was God guiding the family and providing for their future. Their actions were not their own. God used the brothers’ actions to manipulate events so that the entire family would descend to Egypt, but have sustenance.
Jacob’s response was to this message: He immediately traveled to Be’er Sheba, the home of Abraham and Isaac, and offered a revolutionary sacrifice; a Shelamim – Peace Offering – which is shared between God and the one making the offering. This was the first Shelamim in history. Jacob was celebrating God guiding Hand.
He then allowed himself to be carried to Egypt, as if to say, that God all along was carrying the family.