The Life of Joseph - Lesson 37, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 47:28-31, And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years. And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.
Jacob, God named, Israel, lived his last seventeen years apart from Canaan, the promised land.
Most likely those seventeen years were comfortable years in Egypt as he was the father of Egypt's greatest prince and the one who wielded the Pharaoh's authority.
He was settled in a land where his flocks could prosper, where his needs were met and where he could watch his growing family expand.
But his eyes were on the land of promise.
Israel knew where he wanted to be and he knew that someday the promise made to Abraham and to Isaac and to him would be carried out.
He was a pilgrim in Egypt and he had the feeling of pilgrimage.
He never took on the trappings of Egypt even though his son was next to the Pharoah.
He was in Egypt but Egypt was not in him.
He was in the world but not of the world.
And God calls him Israel at the last for at the last he was a man of faith.
The old man in him had failed him but the new man Israel was to trump because the new man is of God.
Seventeen years has passed since the day Israel had entered into Egypt and reunion with Joseph had taken place.
But Israel senses that it is his time to die for the scriptures tell us that the time drew nigh that Israel must die.
This is an important time in Israel's life for business must be taken care of.
He longs for the promised land, he longs to be buried with his fathers and he is about to extract an oath that will see to his desires.
Normally a man's first born would have been called but faith does not normally express itself in normalcys.
We see not Reuben, the first born in this scene, neither is Simeon nor Levi nor Judah, or Dan, nor Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun or Benjamin called.
None of these sons is called at this time, but Joseph is called.
For Israel is about to extract an oath from his most favored son.
Joseph, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him.
Notice the respect that Jacob extends to his son.
He knows that he occupies and eminent and responsible position.
So he gives honor to whom honor is due.
We see here in this account Jacob's heart about the land of promise.
God had a special place for his people and even though his final years were spent in comfort near his beloved son Joseph, his heart was in Canaan.
So he needed Joseph to utter an oath on his behalf.
He knew that if his son Joseph spoke an oath he could rest as if what he oathed was in fact carried out.
put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace.
Genesis 24:1, And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. tpag And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: tpag And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: tpag But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
Accompanying an oath of that day was the placing of the hand of the oath taker under the thigh of the person for whom the oath was taken.
Under the thigh was a symbolic place of the generative or procreative parts of the man.
In other words it was the life of the man and that life continuing through his descendants.
It makes the oath to be taken to include consideration of the descendants of the man.
This is an oath that has regard for the descendants of Israel.
This is an oath that ought to be regarded by all who came out of the loins of this man.
In other words in this case Canaan is the place that all Israelites ought to be, in life and in death.
And it is in regard of that one descendant of Israel who will come to redeem all those who believe.
This oath of Joseph may help explain the Jews zealous connection with the land of Israel for it is the land of promise from where the savior would come.
From the first the land was the place of life.
So Jacob obtains an oath because an oath was a solemn promise that would guarantee the request.
Because Joseph said he would do what Israel desired, Jacob:
bowed himself upon the bed's head.
Some translations render this: and Israel worshipped on the bed's head or he worshipped on the top of his staff.
In any case he expressed himself in a reverent act of thanksgiving to God for answered prayer.
Now Israel could rest easy his remaining few days.
He was now ready to depart and he could say with Paul:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: