Gen. 50:1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
Gen. 50:2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
Gen. 50:3 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.
Joseph was full of grief and cried as he kissed his father. He had the physicians embalm him, which took a full forty days. The Egyptians mourned him for 70 days.
Guzik: “A royal mourning period in Egypt was 72 days. Jacob was obviously a greatly honored man.”
Arnold Fruchtenbaum provides quite a detailed explanation of how they would have embalmed Jacob in his commentary on Genesis. It was too gruesome to want to include. He did, however, provide insight as to why we are told that he was embalmed by the physicians: “Joseph deliberately chose physicians to do the embalming processing and not the professional embalmers, probably to avoid the magic and mysticism practiced by the Egyptians embalmers.” At one point in the embalming process the embalmers would preserve the liver, lungs, stomach and intestines separately and dedicate them to the four genies of the underworld.
Gen. 50:4 And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
Gen. 50:5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
After the days of mourning, Joseph asked Pharaoh for permission to take Jacob’s body and bury him in the family tomb in Canaan as his father had made him swear to do.
Smith: “Now though he was buried in a cave and they didn’t need to dig the grave that way, yet in these caves they dug niches in the walls and they would lay the bodies in these niches in the wall….so he had dug out his own niche and so that’s where he means ‘in the grave, which I dug.’ He had dug out his niche in this cave when he dug out Leah’s niche. He probably no doubt dug out his own niche to be buried by her in the cave.”
Gen. 50:6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
Gen. 50:7 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,
Gen. 50:8 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.
Gen. 50:9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
Pharaoh gave his permission. All the dignitaries of Egypt, his brothers, his father’s household, and a large company of chariots and horsemen (bodyguards I presume) accompanied Joseph on his journey.
Gen. 50:10 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.
Gen. 50:11 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.
Gen. 50:12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
Gen. 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.
Gen. 50:14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
When they came to Atad near the Jordan River, Joseph observed another seven days of mourning. The Canaanites who lived there called the place “Abelmizraim,” mourning of the Egyptians, because of what they saw. After obeying their father’s last instructions for his burial, the whole entourage returned to Egypt.
Fruchtenbaum specifies that Atad was on the west bank of the Jordan River.
Gen. 50:15 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.
Gen. 50:16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
Gen. 50:17 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.
Gen. 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
Joseph’s brothers began to wonder if he might have thoughts of revenge toward them now that their father was gone. Instead of confronting him in person, they sent him a note in the name of their father asking him to forgive their sin against him. To top it off, they emphasized that they were servants of the God of his father. I’m sure they felt that was their trump card. Joseph cried when he received the message. He had long since accepted events as part of God’s provision for his family and had already forgiven his brothers. His brothers finally summoned the courage to appear before him in person and threw themselves at his feet as his slaves.
Gen. 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Gen. 50:20 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.
Gen. 50:21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
Joseph told them not to fear his judgment against them. The clause, “am I in the place of God?” infers that judgment is God’s prerogative. He didn’t mince the facts, however, he candidly admitted that he knew that his brothers had acted against him with evil intent. Joseph told them that he knew that God had been in control all along and had intended it all for good for the saving of many lives. He then told them that he intended to continue to provide for them and their children.
I think this is a very important principle for us to learn. Though God may allow evil to affect us, He will always use that situation for good!
This reminds me of an old poem, but I couldn’t pin down the author.
“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
Joseph was a true picture of the Redeemer in his actions. Although it sounds like he might have been a little obnoxious as a teen, all of his actions as recorded from the time he arrived in Egypt appear to be without reproach. I take that back—there was the mental anguish he caused his brothers before revealing himself to his family. It’s interesting that God never called Joseph a man after his own heart.
Gen. 50:22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
Gen. 50:23 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.
Gen. 50:24 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.
Gen. 50:25 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.
Gen. 50:26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph lived to see the third generation of Ephraim’s children—to the age of 110. We are told that he held his great grandchildren through Makir, son of Manasseh, at their births.
When Joseph knew he was dying, he reminded his brothers that God would keep his promise to take them from this land to the “promised land.” This act of faith in the life of Joseph was singled out for inclusion in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. It was a statement that showed he believed God would keep His promise.
Hebrews 11:22 “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.”
When God led the nation out of Egypt to go possess the promised land, they were to take his bones with them. Joseph made them swear an oath to this effect. When he died, he was embalmed and placed in a coffin. He had ruled in Egypt for 80 years.
Good observation by Morris: “Joseph then died and his body, like that of Jacob was embalmed and placed in a coffin (or wooden mummy case) in Egypt. In that way, it could be seen by his descendants and those of his brothers, serving as a perpetual reminder of God’s promise to them—and therefore also as a reminder of God’s purpose—that they would all someday return to Canaan."
I liked this closing observation from Fruchtenbaum: “First, the book opens up with life, as God creates life during the six days of creation, but it ends with death. Jacob is dead, and Joseph is dead. Second, it opens with God, in the beginning God; but it closes with a coffin in the land of Egypt. Third, the reason is because of the entrance of sin, resulting in death. Fourth, Genesis sets the stage for the Book of Exodus, which will be the book of redemption.”
Note from first time through Genesis: Well, it is September 29, 1998, a full 4-1/2 months since I started. I’m sure this has been my most enjoyable trip through the book of Genesis. Although I still have many questions, I feel I was given some special insights along the way. I’m already looking forward to the time when I get to come back to these notes on another go round.
Though I have been back to this journal several times for updates and revisions, it has taken 21 years to get back to this book for a complete revision after having completed my journaling through every book of the bible.