The Bible tells the story of Jacob and his sons, particularly Joseph, in some detail. The brothers were all strongly aware of their being sons of one father and distinct from the people around them. They seem to have been of fresher and hardier stock than the prosperous indolent town dwellers of Canaan and abhorred their pagan practices. Each city and each season had its own deity which was worshipped by uninhibited orgies and fertility rites, in which celebrants gashed themselves until they were bloody and gave themselves to sexual excesses. Magic and sorcery were widespread. Human - often child - sacrifices were practised to appease the gods. Jacob and his sons recoiled from this, and a great deal of their revulsion can be seen in later biblical legalisation against such practices. This attitude prevented the Tribes of Israel from assimilating into their surroundings. They lived a life apart on the fringes of the settled areas, tending their flocks and following good pasture. Both Abraham and his grandson Jacob purchased plots of land from the native inhabitants; the former bought the Machpelah cave at Hebron to be the family burial ground, and the latter, a tract at Shechem (Nablus) to establish some sort of permanent residence.
There was a certain amount of friction between the brothers. Reuben was the first born son but Joseph was the first child born to Rachel, the most beloved wife, who had died young. Jacob favoured Joseph, and this caused jealousy among the brothers, who sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph, after many trials and tribulations, prospered there and became viceroy to Pharoah. He directed the measures that were taken to cope with a major famine. The Bible recounts that Jacob and his sons and their families eventually joined Joseph in Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan. These kinsmen, the Children of Israel, are presumably among the first waves of western Semites who arrived in Egypt by the nineteenth century bce. there is no direct extra- biblical evidence on this subject.
On his death bed in Egypt, Jacob blessed his assembled children and instructed them to bury him in the Machpelah cave with his fathers. Joseph saw that this was done and at his own death made the same request assuring his brothers that God would ultimately take them back to their own land.