Genesis 50: Jacob’s Death and Burial

1 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. 4 And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’” 6 And Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear.” 7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company.

-Can you imagine ALL the servants of Pharaoh going with him? With the exception of the livestock, this procession was even greater than when they moved all of Jacob’s household down to Egypt. You would think Jacob was a fallen emperor with the treatment they have given him.

10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days. 11 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 12 Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.

-There is no known place as “Atad” or “Abel-mizraim” so we do not know exactly where this was. By the description of “threshing floor” and considering the size of the company, it may have just been a large field rather than the name of a town or settlement. This was like a large army and so they obviously couldn’t just stay in a population center and had to move in areas large enough to stick together. The word “Atad” in Hebrew means “thorns/bramble” so instead of a name, it is possible this passage is just saying “the field of thorns” without a name that was perhaps given a name later when it was settled.

God’s Good Purposes

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

-Joseph demonstrates true wisdom to understand it is not about him and he does not have the authority to cast judgment and pass sentence on someone else. If only all of us can be so wise! I personally believe Genesis 50:19-20 is one of the most beautiful sets of verses in all the bible. God always turns evil into good in the end. God is always in control. God’s will is always done, even when we defy Him. He is so good that we cannot escape His goodness. The only way is if we consciously reject Him, He is so good that He gives us our wish and separates us into hell from Him forever.

The Death of Joseph

22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own. 24 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

-And thus concludes the first book of the bible, the Book of Genesis. Joseph dies in Egypt and he is placed in a coffin in Egypt but a promise is made that he be returned to the promised land someday. And discussed before, Joseph and everyone else have not been told about heaven and don’t have any kind of understanding of this kind of life after death. They assume the life they have is as good as it gets. So their hope, because they believe God’s promise, is that they will resurrect in Canaan to inherit the promised land. They will in the new earth so their belief is not faulty but it is better than they could have possibly imagined. Joseph lives 110 years and so we are now entered the lifespan of believability within today’s world.

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