And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that [is] in the field of Ephron the Hittite
Having finished his blessings, Jacob reiterates his last request and dies:
And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
Joseph’s response, as one might expect, is both emotional:
And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
Apparently Jacob (or at least Joseph) was so revered that even the Egyptians mourned (bakah) him:
And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,
as well as the rest of the family, of course:
And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.
Interestingly, they leave their stuff behind; clearly they plan to return, even though the famine is over. Was it because of Joseph’s responsibility? Or are they just comfortable? Or maybe it was in response to Jacob’s direction.
And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which [is] beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This [is] a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which [is] beyond Jordan.
The events are marked by filial obedience to Jacob’s final command (tsavah ):
And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
which the brothers seek to rely upon when they realize their seemingly precarious situation:
And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
Interestingly, they bow down
to him one more time — perhaps the first since they realized he was Joseph
their brother, in a self-conscious fulfillment of prophecy:
And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we [be] thy servants.
Joseph, though they couldn’t bring themselves to believe it, really has processed his grief and anger:
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for [am] I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; [but] God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save much people alive.
Having made his peace with God from all that happened, he is able to extend peace to others:
Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
I have found that true in my own experience: reconciliation with God is both necessary and sufficient for forgiving others. And arguably the secret to a long and happy life:
And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
as well as good relations with his own family:
And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third [generation]: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees.
Interestingly, he ends his life by extracting the same promise (shaba`) that Jacob did:
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
Though, for whatever reason Joseph’s departure (`alah, exodus?) is linked to when the rest of them will leave. So like his daddy he becomes a mummy, to wait.
So Joseph died, [being] an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
God, finally a happy ending, for both Jacob and Joseph. O, to live a life that would be celebrated by both my family and my co-workers, enough to be remarked upon even by those who don’t know me. The secret seems to be ultimately and intimately tied up with trusting you, and your purposes for my life. God, help me to forget the past, and live fruitfully in the present, in order to provide a glorious future for my family. By your spirit, Amen.
I finally realized I some more substantial background information on cultural issues, so I plan to start linking to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. I’ll try to use that exclusively for links inside verses, for easier identification.
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