Joseph, his brothers, and a large envoy travel to Canaan and bury Jacob, who was embalmed in Egypt. Despite their fears, Joseph informs his brothers that he will not take revenge on them for selling him. Before his death at the age of 110, Joseph makes his brothers swear to bring his embalmed body back to Canaan.
Joseph is embalmed: “Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” (v. 26)
1-14. Joseph and his brothers bury Jacob
1. Joseph mourns on his father’s corpse
2-3a. Joseph’s physicians embalm Israel (called such) for 40 days
3b. The Egyptians mourned Israel 70 days
4-6. Pharaoh allows Joseph to bury his father in Canaan
7-9. Joseph travels with his family and the Egyptian leaders with chariots and horsemen
10. Joseph’s group mourn seven days at Goren Ha-Atad in Transjordan
11. The Canaanites named the site “the mourning of Egypt” (Abel Mizraim)
12-13. Israel’s sons buried him as he asked
14. Joseph returns to Egypt with his entire group
15-21. The brothers reconcile (again)
15. Joseph’s brothers still fear retribution from their brother
16-17a. The brothers send a (fabricated?) message from Jacob telling Joseph to forgive them
17b. Joseph cries when he hears the (fabricated?) message
18. The brothers bow to Joseph and are prepared to be his slaves
19-21. Joseph sees the best in the situation and will still support his brothers’ families
22-26. The death of Joseph
22. Joseph’s years: 110
23. Joseph lived to see Ephraim and Manasseh’s children
24. Joseph reminds his brothers of Yahweh’s promise bring them to their land
25. Joseph has his brothers swear to bring his bones out of Egypt
26. Joseph dies at 110 and was embalmed in Egypt
III. Select Verses
1: Joseph flung himself upon his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.
2-3: Then Joseph ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel. It required forty days, for such is the full period of embalming. The Egyptians bewailed him seventy days.
7-9: So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the officials of Pharaoh, the senior members of his court, and all of Egypt’s dignitaries, together with all of Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household; only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the region of Goshen. Chariots, too, and horsemen went up with him; it was a very large troop.
13: His sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, the field near Mamre, which Abraham had bought for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite.
15-22: When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong that we did him!” So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before his death your father left this instruction: So shall you say to Joseph, ‘Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.’ Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him. His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him, and said, “We are prepared to be your slaves.” But Joseph said to them, “Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result — the survival of many people. And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your children.” Thus he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
24-26: At length, Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. God will surely take notice of you and bring you up from this land to the land that He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” So Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “When God has taken notice of you, you shall carry up my bones from here.” Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
This chapter touches upon many of the themes found in the second part of the book of Genesis. For example, in chapter 37, Joseph was ostracized for dreaming that his brothers would bow before him:
There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.” (37:7)
He dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (37:9)
In verse 18 of our chapter, Joseph’s brothers do bow to him in servitude, thus fulfilling the prophecy contained in the dreams:
His brothers went to him themselves, flung themselves before him, and said, “We are prepared to be your slaves.”
While the brothers had bowed to Joseph as the viceroy of Egypt before (Gen 42:6; 43:26, 28), this is the first time they bowed with the knowledge of who Joseph was.
There was a great deal of trickery in the book of Genesis, including but not limited to Abraham tricking Abimelech about Sarah (ch. 20); Rebekah and Jacob tricking Isaac about the first blessing (ch. 27); Laban tricking Jacob regarding marrying Rachel (ch. 29); Jacob tricking Esau by traveling to Shechem and not Edom (ch. 33); and Jacob’s sons tricking the people of Shechem with circumcision (ch. 34). The name Jacob itself connotes trickery (Genesis 25:26; 27:36). In our chapter, trickery is implied when the brothers send a message to Joseph in the name of their father:
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong that we did him!” So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before his death your father left this instruction: So shall you say to Joseph, ‘Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.’ Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” (vv. 15-17a)
While it is possible that Jacob did tell the brothers this message, no such message is mentioned previously. For all we know, Jacob still did not know about the brothers’ selling of Joseph, even in his old age. It seems that the brothers are lying due to their fear of Joseph, much like the brothers were acting out of jealousy and hatred when they sold Joseph in 37:12-36.
One last theme encountered in Genesis was the etymologies of personal and place names. There are two explanations for the name Beer Sheba (the well of 7), Zoar is explained, and Bethel, which was once Luz, is also explained. A final geographical etymology is provided for Abel Mizraim (“the mourning of Egypt”) in verses 10-11:
When they came to Goren Ha-Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and solemn lamentation; and he observed a mourning period of seven days for his father. And when the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning at Goren Ha-Atad, they said, “This is a solemn mourning on the part of the Egyptians.” That is why it was named Abel-mizraim (“the mourning of Egypt”), which is beyond the Jordan.
V. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
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