The Life of Joseph - Lesson 49, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 46:1-4, And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
Before Jacob could allow himself to go down to Egypt to meet his long lost son Joseph he offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
God put his stamp of approval upon Jacob’s journey and he told Jacob that Joseph would put his hand upon his eyes, meaning that Joseph would be the one to close Jacob’s eyes upon Jacob’s death.
We meet the fulfillment of this act here in Chapter 50, the concluding chapter of the book of Genesis.
Genesis 50:1-3, 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. 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 fell upon his father’s face and put his hand upon his father’s eyes to close them in death.
We are not told of the others brother’s grief but perhaps Joseph as the leader represents them in this act of mourning.
But he takes charge as the one son with the power to take charge. God had given him a position whereby he could make the necessary things happen.
A long journey was ahead and preparations were necessary to be able to take that long journey.
The process of an Egyptian embalming took 40 to 70 days.
He we are told that 40 days were required for Jacob.
Jacob’s body was to be prepared for a state funeral and the long journey to Hebron for burial in the cave of Machpelah.
The seventy days of mourning by the Egyptians indicated that Jacob was an important personage in the country.
The greater number of days of mourning was directly related to the importance of the individual.
This of course reveals the high esteem held for Joseph by the Egyptians.
His role as savior of Egypt was not forgotten but this also indicates that Joseph continued to hold his high position of second in command 12 years after the famine ended.
Also note that among Joseph’s servants he had a retinue of physicians as his servants which he called upon to ready his father for burial.
Some say that Joseph had a retinue of physicians because every physician treated only one special kind of disease. Specialists!
There is definitely nothing new under the sun.
Genesis 50:4,5, 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, 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.
I think it well to note that Joseph did not go before the Pharaoh directly as he well could.
He was second in command in the kingdom and could easily have requested this favor in person.
But he did not.
The days of his mourning were past, he could now shave and cut his hair and be presentable before the Pharaoh but I think that Joseph did not appeal to the Pharaoh directly because this was not an official matter, but a family matter.
He did not want to use his position for personal matters so he did what any common citizen would do, he appealed to the Pharaoh though the house of the Pharaoh.
He went through the proper channels, thru the proper chain of command.
He asked that his vow to his father be honored and he promised that he would return to take up his duties in Egypt.
The Pharaoh knew Joseph to be a man of his word and certainly was comforted that Joseph promised to return to take up his important ministerial duties.
There was no hesitation on the Pharaoh’s part and he did as he had done 17 years earlier, he supported Joseph’s personal need to attend to family matters.
For Joseph was the one who had brought Egypt thru the famine, who had consolidated the Pharaoh’s empire and made Egypt supreme among the nations.
The father of such a man is not to be buried as a common man but will be given all that Egypt can provide to make the funeral procession a glorius and noticed thing.
Genesis 50:6-9, And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear. 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, 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. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
This Pharaoh let Israel go.
But the little ones, the flocks and their herds stayed in Egypt this time.
They would go with Moses 400 years further down the road.
But what a caravan it was leading Jacob back to the land promised to Israel by God himself.
A few stayed behind in Goshen to care for the little ones, to care for the flocks and the herds but Goshen was for the most part emptied.
All Joseph’s house and his brother’s houses are on the march to Canaan.
And Pharaoh directs all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt to attend. And to protect this great number the Pharaoh sent chariots and horsemen.
This was to be a state affair and all those in power in Egypt knew that this was to be an event where it was appropriate and politically advantageous to attend.
This was a unique event in the history of Egypt and of Canaan.
This impressive entourage was embarking on a lengthy trip perhaps of two to three weeks length.
It was not because of Jacob but it was because of Jacob’s son, Joseph.
This most generous support of Joseph at this time would probably exalt Joseph more in the eyes of all Egypt than any special one time honor would afford.
Joseph had indeed glorified Jacob by his service to the Lord in Egypt.
As Christ glorified His father so to did Joseph glorify his father by his life of faithfulness.
Genesis 50:10,11, 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.
From the description given in these verses it appears that the funeral procession took a roundabout route east of the Jordan River, for we are told that the threshing floor of Atad was beyond Jordan.
This route may have been very similar to the route taken by Moses upon exiting Egypt 400 years later.
Perhaps this route was taken to avoid direct contact with the Canaanites and their customs which were disgusting to the Egyptians.
Apparently the custom of the Egyptians was to have a seven day period of mourning when they came close to the burial site.
The sight of this great gathering so impressed the inhabitants of the land that they named the area Abelmizraim, which means meadow of the Egyptians.
With a slight play on words it can also mean mourning of the Egyptians.
But this was a memorable event, nothing like it had occurred or would ever occur again.
The Egyptians were a very practiced people with regard to funerals and their mourning process was very dramatic and religious.
They rent their clothes, they smote their breasts, threw dust and mud on their heads, they called on the deceased by name and they chanted funeral dirges to the sound of the tambourine.
No doubt much of it was done to impress Joseph because of his high position.
But all this must have been very confusing to the local people for in their minds, why in the world would they be burying a very high Egyptian official so far from Egypt?
Genesis 50:12,13, And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: 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.
It is revealed to us here that only Jacob’s sons carried him across the Jordan for burial.
The official party of Egyptians did not go but waited on the east side of Jordan for Joseph and his brothers to return.
As they again cross the Jordan they perhaps looked at the inheritance promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This is the last time these men or their children or their children’s children will see Canaan.
Joseph had not been in Canaan since he was 17 or 18 and now he is 56 or 57 years old.
Joseph knows from the word given his great grandfather that Israel is to serve another people for 400 years.
So Joseph by faith and in honor of his word to the Pharaoh turns away from this promised land knowing that he most likely will never see it again.
This is the second time that he has left Canaan, once in the hands of the Midianites and now in the hands of the Egyptians.
But Joseph always knows that he is simply doing God’s will.
Whether in the bonds of captivity or in the freedom of the court of Pharaoh Joseph carries out God’s plan for him as Christ always did the will of his father.