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In the Haggadah, we read that Ya'akov Avinu descended to Mitzrayim 'compelled by Divine decree.' Most understand this to mean that Ya'akov understood that his reunion with Yosef would begin the fulfillment of the prophecy to Avraham regarding the centuries-long exile and oppression of Bnei Yisrael.

When his sons meet Par'o, however, they speak as if this was to be a short-term stay (until the famine was over when they could return to K'na'an and its pasture land).

Were they 'out of [or not yet in] the loop,' or looking to avoid overstepping Par'o's hospitality, or just being disingenuous?*

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    "Most understand this to mean that Ya'akov understood that his reunion with Yosef would begin the fulfillment of the prophecy to Avraham regarding the centuries-long exile ..." Can you bring examples of those understanding it that way? My understanding is that God compelled Ya'akov (and his family) to go down to Mitzrayim, by bringing about the famine, and by placing Yosef in a position of authority there, in fulfillment of His prophecy to Avraham - not that Ya'akov was aware of His intent. – Tamir Evan Apr 30 at 3:02
  • Although a 210 (or even 400) year stay may be a long time, it's still not permanent. So, even if Ya'akov's sons were aware that they would be staying in Mitzrayim for that long, they would have also known that they (or rather, their descendants) would be leaving eventually. As they didn't actually say they'd be leaving soon after the famine was over, and as Par'o didn't seem particularly eager to throw them out (even when their descendants eventually came to leave), it could be that nobody present at that meeting expected them to leave Mitzrayim once the famine was over. – Tamir Evan Apr 30 at 3:26

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