Chapter 50

  1. Jacob’s Burial

    • Joseph leaned over his father, kissed his face, and cried.

    • Joseph had Jacob embalmed by the Egyptian physicians and the process took 40 days to complete.

    • The Egyptians mourned Jacob’s death for 70 days.

      • HCSB commentary notes, “Embalming was common only among royal family at this time.”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The Egyptians mourned for Jacob for seventy days, just two days short of the mourning period for a pharaoh. This showed the great respect that the Egyptians had for Joseph.”

    • When the mourning period was over, Joseph told Pharaoh about the oath that he had made to his father to bury him in his tomb in Canaan, and asked his permission to go bury his father and return afterward.

    • Pharaoh told Joseph to keep his oath to his father.

    • When Joseph went to bury his father, he was accompanied by all of Pharaoh’s servants, the elders of Pharaoh’s household, all the elders of Egypt, all of Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. The only people that didn’t go were their children and livestock. The impressive procession included horses and chariots. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, across the Jordan River, they held a solemn memorial service and mourned for seven days. When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw what was going on, they renamed the place Abel-mizraim, which means “mourning of the Egyptians”.

      • Pharaoh not only allowed Joseph to take a leave of absence to go to Canaan and bury Jacob in the family plot in the cave of Machpelah, he also sent an impressive entourage to accompany him in honor of both Joseph and his deceased father.” (HCSB commentary)

      • “Luther remarks that there is no burial recorded in the Scriptures quite as honorable as this or with such wealth of detail.” (Leupold from Guzik’s commentary)

    • So, Jacob’s sons did what he had commanded them to do. Joseph then returned to Egypt along with everyone else who had accompanied him to bury his father.

  1. Joseph’s Kindness

    • Joseph’s brothers became afraid that since their father had died, Joseph would finally reveal that he was angry with them and repay them for the bad things they had done to him.

    • The brothers sent Joseph a message, “Before our father died, he told us to say this to you, ‘Please forgive your brothers for their sin of treating you so cruelly.’ So, please, forgive us- the servants of the God of your father.”

    • When Joseph received their message, he cried.

    • Joseph’s brothers came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves.”

      • Guzik offers this insight, “This story was probably made up. They didn’t feel they had the moral right to ask Joseph for mercy, since they sinned against him so greatly. So they put the request for mercy in the mouth of their honored and dead father. Joseph probably wept because it seemed that his brothers thought so little of him and they doubted his character so greatly. They backed up their plea for mercy with a genuine display of humility.”

    • But Joseph comforted and reassured them by speaking kindly, “Don’t be afraid of me. I’m not God with the authority to punish you. You meant to harm me, but God intended to use the situation for good by putting me in the position to save the lives of many people. So, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.”

      • “From a human perspective, Joseph had the right and the ability to bring retribution upon his brothers, but he knew God was God and he was not. Such retribution was God’s place, not Joseph’s. Joseph did not have the text of Romans 8:28, but he had the truth of it: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Sadly, many of us who have the text do not have the truth. Ultimately, our lives are not in the hands of men, but in the hands of God, who overrules all things for His glory.” (Guzik)

      • In Guzik’s commentary he includes a beautiful story to illustrate this difficult truth, “There was an old minister who had a unique gift to minister to the distressed and discouraged. In his Bible, he carried an old bookmark woven of silk threads into a motto. The back of it, where the threads were knotted and tied, was a hopeless tangle. He would take the bookmark out and show the troubled person this side of the bookmark and ask them to make sense of it. They never could. Then the pastor would turn it over, and on the front were white letters against a solid background saying, “God is love.” When events in our life seem tangled and meaningless, it is because we can see only one side of the tapestry.”

  1. Joseph’s Death

    • Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt.

    • Joseph lived to be 110 years old. He got to see three generations of Ephraim’s descendants, and he got to see the birth of Machir’s (Manasseh’s son) children. Joseph claimed Machir’s children as his own.

      • According to NLT Illustrated Study Bible- regarding claiming Machir’s children as his own, the Hebrew in verse 23 literally reads “who were born on Joseph’s knees”. The NLT explains further, “Placing them on his knees at their birth was a symbolic act signifying that they came from him and belonged to him (Job 3:12).”

    • Joseph told his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will certainly come to help you and lead you out of Egypt and bring you to the land that He promised to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

    • Then Joseph made them swear this oath, “When God comes to lead you back, you must bring my bones with you.”

    • Joseph was 110 years old when he died. The Egyptians embalmed him, and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

      • “According to this passage and Hebrews 11:22, Joseph was never buried. His coffin laid above ground for the 400 or so years until it was taken back to Canaan. It was a silent witness for all those years that Israel was going back to the Promised Land, just as God said. All during that time, when a child of Israel saw Joseph’s coffin and asked what it was there for and why it was not buried, they could be answered, “Because the great man Joseph did not want to be buried in Egypt, but in the Promised Land God will one day lead us to.” This promise was fulfilled some 400 years later, when Israel left Egypt (Exodus 13:19) This command showed that Joseph’s heart was in the Promised Land. It also proved him to be a man of great faith, trusting in things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:22).” (Guzik)

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “From this point forward, God dealt with Israel as a nation.”

* The historical accuracy of the Bible often comes under fire when compared to Egyptian archaeological findings that don’t seem to corroborate what is recorded in the Bible. Where are the corroborating evidences in Egyptian history? Do we have any findings in Egypt that could point to Joseph’s time in Egypt? If you’re interested in further research on this topic, you can check out my blog post, Does Egyptian Chronology Prove the Bible is Historically Inaccurate?

This concludes our study in the book of Genesis! Let’s get started in Exodus!