Genesis 50 - The Egyptians and Jacob’s Family Mourn for Jacob
Genesis 50 – The Egyptians and Jacob’s Family Mourn for Jacob
Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father. When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph goes up to Canaan to bury his father.
Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. Genesis 50:1-3
In anticipation of his death, Jacob had sent for all of his sons to gather around him. Joseph remained the entire time that his father blessed the tribes and gave orders about his funeral. After he had passed, Joseph laid his own face to the cold face and pale cheeks of his dead father. Joseph expressed his love for his father with kisses and displayed the grief of the loss of his father with tears.
In ancient Egypt the embalmers were a separate and distinct class. Since Jacob was not an Egyptian, Joseph ordered the court physicians instead of the embalmers to embalm his father. Joseph ordered his physicians to embalm his father, not merely because it was the custom of the Egyptians, but because it was necessary to preserve his father's corpse since his father was to be interred in Canaan.
The cost of embalming could be up to a talent of silver which would be around $15,000 in today’s market. The method of preparing mummies in Ancient Egypt has been elaborately described, both by Herodotus and Diodorus Sieulus. The brain was first extracted through the nostrils by means of a crooked piece of iron, the skull being thoroughly cleansed of any remaining portions by rinsing with drugs; then, through an opening in the left side made with a sharp Ethiopian knife of agate or of flint, the viscera were removed, the abdomen being afterwards purified with palm wine and an infusion of aromatics; next, the disemboweled corpse was filled with every sort of spice except frankincense, and the opening sewed up; after that the stuffed form was steeped for seventy days in natrum or subcarbonate of soda obtained from the Libyan desert, and sometimes in wax and tanning, bitumen also being employed in later times; and finally, on the expiration of that period, which was scrupulously observed, the body was washed, wrapped about with linen bandages, smeared over with gum, decorated with amulets, sometimes with a network of porcelain bugles (tubular beads), covered with a linen shroud, and, in due course, transferred to a mummy case.
When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”
Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.” Genesis 50:4-6
Joseph may have let his hair and beard grow as a sign of mourning and could not enter the king's presence without being both shaven and shorn. Therefore, Joseph did not directly address Pharaoh but spoke to the court officials and asked them to intercede in his behalf.
Pharaoh respected the oath that Joseph had made to his father and gave Joseph permission to bury his father in the land of Canaan.
So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt—besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.
When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim. Genesis 50:7-11
Joseph, attended by a great company, took his father's body out of Egypt, and at the first village across the Canaanite border held the customary funeral rites. The locality where they observed seven days of mourning was called “the threshing-floor of Atad.” The hard, level location of Atad’s threshing floor was probably a more suitable site for setting up their tents than the surrounding stony fields.
The Hebrew word, dta (atad) means “thorn” or “bramble.” Abel-Mitzraim, which is Hebrew for “the mourning of the Egyptians,” was located in the Northern Negev on the road coming from Egypt.
A very significant account involving a threshing floor is recorded in 2 Samuel Chapter 24.
Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”
The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. 2 Samuel 24:1-4
King David took an unauthorized census of the number of fighting men in Israel. According to 1 Chronicles 21:1, it was Satan that moved David's heart, to the numbering of the people. The LORD burned with anger against Israel, so God allowed Satan to tempt David. Instead of trusting in the LORD for protection and victory against the enemies of Israel, David gave into temptation and fell victim to the sin of pride by trusting in the arm of flesh.
David later realizes his sin and confesses. God, through the prophet of Gad, gives David a choice of punishments: seven years of famine, three months of being chased by enemies, or three days of plague. David chooses the plague and so the destroying angel begins to work, killing 70,000 people.
David pleads for mercy with God, stating that he should really be the one to suffer from the plague, and not the people. The angel stops at the threshing floor of Araunah, a Jebusite, located on the top of Mount Moriah, and gives a command through Gad for David to erect an altar there (1 Chronicles 21:18). David asks to purchase the site to build the altar and offer burnt offerings. Arunah offers to give David the site, and the animals for the offerings, but David states that he would not “offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.”
When Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. 2 Chronicles 3:1
The threshing floor on the summit of Mount Moriah that David purchased was used as the location for the building of the LORD’s temple. The site where the destroying angel ceased striking down the people and God’s wrath was appeased became the location where sacrifices would be offered up to make atonement for sin.
John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:16-17
First, cut stalks of grain were spread on the threshing floor and a threshing sledge was pulled over the stalks by oxen. A threshing sledge was made of logs and had sharp flints embedded in the under surface. When the oxen dragged the sledge over the stalks of wheat on the threshing floor, the stones ripped the husk away from the grain. Threshing the wheat could also be accomplished by having the oxen walk over the stalks or by beating the stalks of wheat with heavy sticks.
The grain is heaped and then winnowed by the farmer whose winnowing fork is in his hand. The winnowing fork is a several-pronged pitchfork and is used to toss wheat against the breeze to free it from chaff and crushed straw. Since the grain is heaviest it falls straight to the ground. The straw is blown a short distance and collects in another heap, while the chaff is completely scattered by the wind.
John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus the Messiah would come to gather his wheat into his barn but would burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. Jesus used the term wheat as a symbol for his true followers – the elect in Christ. He also spoke of the master’s barn as a picture of heaven. The chaff burning in unquenchable fire symbolizes the unregenerate sinner who will suffer eternal torment.
So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father. Genesis 50:12-13
Abraham needed a burying-place for Sarah. He bought the field of Machpelah for the price of four hundred silver shekels from Ephron the Hittite. The field was located near Mamre which was in Hebron. At the end of the field was a cave which served as a tomb. This cave became the family burying-place. Sarah was the first to be buried there. Later on Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob were placed there.
After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father. Genesis 50:14
Not only did all of Pharaoh’s officials return, but Joseph and his eleven brothers returned as well because they had left their children, flocks and herds in Egypt.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. Genesis 50:15-17
Despite how well Joseph had treated his brothers after he had revealed himself to them, they were still were anticipating that once Jacob had died, that Joseph would be vengeful towards them. So they fabricate a story that their father had left instructions and send a message to Joseph that their father’s last wish was that Joseph was to forgive them.
Joseph’s brothers were well aware that they had sinned by treating him so badly. Therefore, they not only appeal to Joseph as brothers but as worshippers of the same God, the God of Jacob.
Joseph wept when he received his brothers’ message because of his deep love and attachment to his family and because he is grieved that they believe he is hard-hearted, unforgiving and vengeful.
His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. Genesis 50:18
Although Joseph’s weeping was a sign of his forgiveness and desire for reconciliation, it does nothing to alleviate his brothers' guilt. Unable to accept Joseph's weeping as a sign of his love, they abase themselves and cry out, “We are your slaves.”
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21
One of the most uplifting, encouraging and comforting verses in all the Bible is Genesis 50:20. It speaks of the sovereignty, love and power of God.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives
Joseph endured through rejection, jealousy, hatred, false accusations and suffering and was finally raised to a position of power and authority. Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers eventually resulted in the saving of not only the Egyptians from starvation, but the Canaanites and the Hebrews as well.
Even what man may mean for evil, God can use to accomplish His good and sovereign purposes.
This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. Acts 2:23
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11
Jesus endured through rejection, jealousy, hatred, false accusations, suffering and death and was finally exalted to the highest place and was given all authority in heaven and on earth.
Men acted wickedly by condemning Jesus, who was righteous and innocent, and put Him to death on the cross. But what men meant for evil, God used to accomplish his purpose – the saving of many souls.
Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees. Genesis 50:22-23
Except for the first seventeen years of his life, Joseph lived the rest of his one hundred and ten years in Egypt. For thirteen years Joseph lived in Potiphar's house and in prison. When he was thirty years of age he was brought before Pharaoh. After interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph was highly honored, made governor of Egypt and lived in prosperity for the next eighty years.
Joseph lived to see Ephraim’s great grandchildren and Manasseh’s grandchildren.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt. Genesis 50:24-26
When he saw his death approaching, Joseph comforted his brothers with the assurance of their return to Canaan according to God’s promise to the patriarchs. As a testimony of his own faith, Joseph charges his brothers to keep his remains unburied till that glorious day, when the twelve tribes would be settled in the land of promise. Thus Joseph, by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, had them swear an oath concerning his bones.
Joseph’s servants, the physicians, embalmed him according to the preservation method of the Egyptians as his father Jacob had been embalmed. Joseph’s funeral would be conducted with all the pomp and circumstance afforded Egyptian nobility and his mummified corpse carefully preserved until the Exodus.
Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:8
God promised Abraham that his descendents would be delivered out of the land of bondage and take possession of the land of Canaan. God not only confirmed his promise to Isaac and Jacob, but stated He would give their offspring the Promised Land as an everlasting possession.
Although the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were given the Promised Land as an everlasting possession, their continued disobedience to God would result in times of exile.
Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. Deuteronomy 28:64
The first exile was the Assyrian exile, the expulsion from the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria in 733 BC, and its completion by Sargon II with the destruction of the kingdom in 722 BC.
It continued with the exile of a portion of the population of the Kingdom of Judah in 597 BC with the Babylonian exile. The Babylonian exile ended after 70 years with Cyrus' declaration that the exiled Jews would be allowed to return to Jerusalem and build the Second Temple.
Following the Siege of Jerusalem in 63 BC, the Hasmonean kingdom became a protectorate of Rome, and in 6 CE was organized as the Roman province of Judea. The Jews revolted against the Roman Empire in 66 AD during the period known as the First Jewish–Roman War which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. During the siege, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and most of Jerusalem. This event marked the beginning of the Roman exile when Jewish leaders and elite were exiled, killed or sold into slavery.
In 132 AD, the Jews under Bar Kokhba rebelled against Hadrian. In 135 AD, Hadrian's army defeated the Jewish armies and Jewish independence was lost. As a punishment and in order to break the deep bond of the Jews to the land of Israel, Hadrian changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, turned it into a pagan city and banned the Jews from living there. Judea and Samaria was renamed by Hadrian to Syria Palaestina.
For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days Hosea 3:4-5
Hosea prophesied the Jewish diaspora. They were dispersed for over 1,900 years. After that time had elapsed they returned to their ancient possession as promised.
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. Isaiah 11:11-12
Israel, a nation that had not existed for over 2,500 years, was declared a new sovereign state by an act of the United Nations on May 14, 1948. The nation was born in a day.
Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Isaiah 66:8
In the not so distant future, there is a judgment coming against all the nations that will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Yehovah shall judge).
In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. Joel 3:1-2
The following is an excerpt from a statement by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, and the European Union) that was issued on February 8, 2015:
The Quartet underlined the importance of the parties resuming negotiations as soon as possible, with a view to reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive peace on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), the Madrid Principles, including land for peace, and the agreements previously reached between the parties. A sustainable peace requires the Palestinians' aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, and those of Israelis for security to be fulfilled through negotiations based on the two-State solution.
In the 1967 war, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank including East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Egypt regained the Sinai as part of the Camp David Accords of 1979.
The disengagement from the Gaza included the eviction of all Israeli residents and evacuation of associated security personnel from the Gaza Strip. It was completed by September 12, 2005. The eviction and dismantlement of the four settlements in the northern West Bank was completed ten days later.
In return for a promise of peace, Israel would have to give over the Golan Heights and the West Bank including East Jerusalem. In the southern theater (because of the demilitarization of Sinai) and in the northern theater (because Israel has resisted handing over the Golan Heights), Israel has two defensible borders.
If terrorist forces were to fire rockets and mortars from the West Bank as they are now doing from Gaza, the entire Israeli home front would be exposed to this threat. The West Bank overlooks Israel’s main cities from a distance of a few miles, and rockets, mortars, and antiaircraft missiles must be kept out of this territory.
Neither the 1967 lines nor the security-fence line can serve as a defensible border for Israel, and that only full Israeli sovereignty over all of the Jordan Valley as a security zone running along the Jordan River, serving as a border, can give Israel security.
If Israel were to give up the land captured in the 1967 war, her borders would be indefensible. All the nations of the world are pressuring Israel to divide the Promised Land for a false promise of peace.
A day of the LORD is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. Zechariah 14:1-3