Prelude: Chapter 49 of Genesis has Jacob giving the official blessing to his sons and then his death. One of the things we see is Jacob calling Joseph to his side and telling him not to leave his bones in Egypt.
So, when Jacob dies what does Joseph do?
|Pharaoh, the king of ancient Egypt, is often depicted wearing the nemes headdress and an ornate kilt. Based on New Kingdom tomb paintings. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
He goes to Pharaoh and requests permission. Now, why would the number two man in Egypt need to ask Pharaoh for the leave to bury his father? We are not given that answer, though the answer may be right before our faces. The idea that dominates my thinking on this is respect; not only for the man but his position. And, why not? Didn't Pharaoh give Joseph a tremendous amount of grace and leeway when he extracted him from prison and placed him in the position of number two man in Egypt? The one stipulation to Joseph's job and position is that he has to answer to Pharaoh and none other.
One other thing. After telling Pharaoh his intent, Jacob is given the full Egyptian burial treatment, and all of Egypt's leaders and dignitaries join in the travel and mourning for Jacob. This scene, entirely played out, is reminiscent of what we saw when President John F. Kennedy was laid to rest. There was horse drawn carriages, full-color guard, and dignitaries from all over the world.
It is a time of mourning. And thus begins chapter 50.
Genesis 50:1 NASB Then Joseph fell on his father's face, and wept over him and kissed him.
From Gill's commentary: “Laid his own face to the cold face and pale cheeks of his dead father, out of his tender affection for him, and grief at parting with him; this shows that Joseph had been present from the time his father sent for him, and all the while he had been blessing the tribes, and giving orders about his funeral:”
I think the obvious factor is that Joseph held a deep affection for his father.
Genesis 50:2 NASB Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel.
From the IVPBBC: “embalming. Although it was the usual practice in Egypt for everyone who could afford it, the embalming of Israelites is found only in this passage. This was an elaborate and ritual-filled procedure performed by a trained group of mortuary priests. It involved removing the internal organs and placing of the body in embalming fluids for forty days. The idea behind this is based on the Egyptian belief that the body had to be preserved as a repository for the soul after death.”
|Ägypten, Sakkara, Stufenpyramide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
One of the things I have contended is that Joseph had become well integrated into the Egyptian culture. Working for Potiphar required that he understand the Egyptian culture to do the household ordering. Learning the language would have been necessary for him to expand into the management of the “ranch.” This comprehension would have included an understanding of embalming and why. Before we get all judgmental, there is no established law from God and therefore no condemnation.
Genesis 50:3-4 NASB Now forty days were required for it, for such is the period required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. 4) When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying,
- “Now forty days were required for it, for such is the period required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.”Suppose you only read this part, “Now forty days were required for mourning.” Where would we have found this command? We don't, and so we are left to assume unless we have some verifiable information such as historians provide for us.Typically we do not get this level of information from the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge but this is good, and so we will use it here:“We learn from the Greek historians, that the time of mourning was while the body remained with the embalmers, which Herodotus says was seventy days. During this time the body lay in nitre, the use of which was to dry up all its superfluous and noxious moisture, and when, in the space of 30 days, this was sufficiently affected, the remaining forty, the time mentioned by Diodorus, were employed in anointing it with gums and spices to preserve it, which was properly the embalming. This sufficiently explains the phraseology of the text.”
- “When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph addressed the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying,”Joseph, while his father's body is being addressed by the Egyptian embalmers, is apparently weeping. Because we know that the length of time played into their ritual-filled procedures, it is easier to envision Joseph stepping aside to weep – we already know that he is capable of deep emotion.Mourning is such a personal thing that it is unfair to designate a behavior pattern to a broad populace.
- “When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying,”If we use the information from the TSK, then designated time of mourning is about 70 days. Joseph having had more than enough time to weep and lament the loss of his father is ready to get him buried, and so he approaches Pharaoh.Why would the second most powerful man in Egypt go to Pharaoh, giving the appearance of asking Pharaoh's permission? Maybe the answer to this is as simple as one word, respect. Do you believe Joseph was a man that would forget what brought him to this position? Pharaoh brought him out of prison; gave him a prestigious position; a home; a family, and his dignity was restored. It is not irrational to have a love for the man.
Genesis 50:5 NASB 'My father made me swear, saying, "Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me." Now, therefore, please let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.'"
Previously, “ Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh.” Perhaps they chose to restrict access to their father, as everyone is getting older and wished to protect him. Who knows? Joseph passes along the information knowing that it will get to Pharaoh. That is trust with confidence.
Genesis 50:6 NASB Pharaoh said, "Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear."
We make the assumption that Pharaoh spoke directly to Joseph, and that may not be the case. Picture the scene from the Ten Commandments, when Yul Brenner (as Pharaoh,) disgusted, leans his head on one hand and says GO! And take your people with you. But this is different, for this Pharaoh, as we will see, has a deep and loving relationship with Joseph.
Genesis 50:7-8 NASB So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8) and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father's household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen.
- “So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh.”I hate telling you this because many will say, it makes God look stupid or something similar, but there is no way that all the servants of Pharaoh went because someone has to mind the household.Scripture is trying to convey that this is an overwhelming majority and a display of respect coming from the house of Pharaoh. We might compare what is taking place to the death of a well-respected national dignitary, like say, former President Ronald Reagan. World leaders came to pay their respects to the man.
- “and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father's household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen.”
- all the household ofI am not sure why we see such a distinction here. One of the things that stand out to me is how distinctly different all these brothers are. It seems the only sane one is Joseph. Is it possible that God had to remove him from the family to keep him sane? If you wish to challenge the concept of normalcy, go back and reread Jacob's blessings and cursing over his sons. You find things there you did not expect, and they should challenge your thinking. Examples of this come from Levi, who grouped together with Simeon, are deemed to be irrational with their anger and violent men. And, the hope of Joseph once he learns he has another brother, Benjamin. We wanted to assume that Benjamin, now the apple of his father's eye, is out of control as well.
- his brothers
- his father's householdAsk yourself a question – who is writing this history for us? The answer, we assume and rightfully so, is Moses. But how did Moses come to know all this? Go back and read Exodus 2: 1-11. The point here being that Joseph, and man of only one wife, may not have approved of Jacob's “wives”/handmaids and their offspring. After all, did not many of them cause Joseph so much of his grief?
- “they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen.”
So there was no one left at home except for four to eleven-year-old children to take care of everything. You know that is not right, and therefore, the functional concept is that trusted servants and slaves stayed to take care of the home front and children.
Genesis 50:9 NASB There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company.
- “chariots and horsemen; and a very great company.”
What did we see when Pharaoh said, go get your family when they first came to Egypt? “chariots and horsemen; and a very great company.”
Does that mean that all these chariots and horsemen were the property of the Pharaoh? No, because we observed that the Hebrews began to amass great wealth in Egypt. They were, after all, the guests of Egypt, given the best of the land and plenty of food. And, not forced to sell off everything they owned, including themselves, to survive. What they were given was the job of being the ranchers for the Pharaoh/Egyptian government. They may have been the only ones, for quite some time, that had jobs.
- “a very great company.”Israel brought many with him, and now, seventeen years later, Joseph has grandsons. The Hebrews have possibly grown to the third generation.
Genesis 50:10 NASB When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father.
From the Bible Knowledge Commentary: “Along the way the mourning of the bereaved for seven days at a threshing floor.… near the Jordan River gave rise to naming the place Abel Mizraim, meaning “meadow (’āḇēl) of Egyptians,” but by a wordplay it suggests “mourning (’ēḇel) of Egyptians.” The Canaanites recognized that this was a great event. The trip back to Egypt was the fourth time the majority of the brothers made that journey to Egypt, and it was Joseph’s second trip.”
There is something about this that is grabbing my attention.
- “ they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan,”A blatantly obvious fact is that to be beyond the Jordan is to be west of it. They are in Canaan's land.The IVPBBC tells us: Abel-Mizraim - ā´bel-miz´rā̇-im (אבל מצרים, 'ābhēl micrayim, “meadow of Egypt”): A name given to “the threshing floor of Atad,” East of the Jordan and North of the Dead Sea, because Joseph and his funeral party from Egypt there held their mourning over Jacob (Gen_50:11). The name is a pun. The Canaanite residents saw the 'ēbhel, “the mourning,” and therefore that place was called 'ābhēl micrayim.Others say it is west of the Jordan. I can find nothing to back me up on this, but I feel strongly about it. What if this was the area where Christ was crucified? Long before Israel was a nation Abraham was led to Mount Moriah, a place West of the Jordan. The result of his act of faith was to offer a sacrifice. King David found significance in this area for several reasons:
2 Samuel 24:16 NASB When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who destroyed the people, "It is enough! Now relax your hand!" And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
As you can see, here too, it is a threshing floor.
Why here? Why did the Angel of the Lord stop here?
Even the name ('âṭâd / aw-tawd - From an unused root probably meaning to pierce or make fast; a thorn tree) carries significance, for that is what they did to Jesus.
With nothing to back me up, it is just a thought.
Genesis 50:11 NASB Now when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, "This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians." Therefore it was named Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.
Often scripture is blatantly self-explanatory.
Genesis 50:12-14 NASB Thus his sons did for him as he had charged them; 13) for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. 14) After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.
- “his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite.”You can find the details of this story in Genesis 23. Sarah had died in the land of Canaan and Abraham barters for some land to bury her. At this point the conversations were respectful. Obviously, attitudes can change.
Genesis 50:15-22 NASB When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!" 16) So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father charged before he died, saying, 17) 'Thus you shall say to Joseph, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18) Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." 19) But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? 20) "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21) "So, therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. 22) Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father's household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.
- “When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!" 16) So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father charged before he died, saying, 17) 'Thus you shall say to Joseph, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father."While scripture leaves us to figure some aspects out, such as – where did Cain find a wife, we have nothing that indicates that Jacob felt a need to address this issue. Certainly, Jacob has been apprised of their lies, especially since he was the target of the lie about Joseph being dead (that would be a tough one to forgive.) So, we are left to assume that this is a lie as well.
- “And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18) Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants.”We have come to discover that Joseph can be very emotional; why now?If Joseph had a need to get some payback that could have easily happened 17 years earlier when they came looking for food. What a perfect opportunity. Joseph did squeeze them a little when he cast Simeon into the prison until they brought Benjamin back for him to see.Another thought on this. The brothers have had 17 years to see what Joseph is made of, and it is not vengeance. After all this time, how could you possibly think I would do that to you?
- “But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place?””A personal commentary: When we do not forgive, holding those who have offended us in the imaginary prison in our minds; what are we doing? We are trying to set ourselves up as God and judging those people.Here is the problem with not forgiving:
- Judgment is not our job or place.Oh sure, I have heard the excuse that we are to judge and therefore have the right. When you say that, you prove your lack of understanding of scripture. , for the verses you are misusing have more to do with assessing a situation to determine its safety.When I do a search for the word judge, staying within the writings of Paul, beginning with the letter to the Romans and include the book of Hebrews, I only find 22 instances of the word judge. The application of this word falls into two categories, with one exception. Those categories tell us that we are not to judge or that all judgment is given unto Christ. The one exception is found in 1Corinthians 11:28-29 NASB, and it reads like this, “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.”Allowing scripture to interpret scripture we note that the passage opens with, “But a man must examine himself.” This phrase, "But a man must examine himself," pertains to the communion table and has everything to do with remembering “the new covenant in my blood.” This agreement came about by his death, and we are supposed to keep that in mind. If he does not do that he “eats and drinks, .. judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.”judgment = Gk krima; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against.judge = Gk: diakrino; to separate thoroughly.
So, this judgment is an act of acceptance in contrast to the world that chooses not to believe in the new covenant in my blood. In doing this, you are judging yourself. To not judge yourself correctly, or disbelieve, brings the decision or effect against yourself.
- Assuredly, not everyone in this world is safe.Oh sure, they may look okay, but their minds are darkened, sometimes by the damage they have sustained in life, and they will spew that damage upon you. After repeated efforts on your part to address their boundary stomping patterns have failed, it is time to put some distance between those people and their ability to hurt you. An example for this is when the disciple asked Jesus how many times do I have to forgive? Jesus response is a ridiculous number considering that no one would keep track like that. So what does that tell us? Go to the extreme in giving people grace. Trust me, (I speak from experience here) the day will come when you have had enough. In recovery, we make amends for the wrongs we have committed when it is safe. That means, if I offended you, by stomping on your boundaries, then I would go you individually, or sincerely to the group, and own by lousy behavior and ask for forgiveness. If someone does that sincerely, then give them the grace to be a momentary idiot. I am not saying allow them to slash at you with a knife, or hit you again. Patterns tend to remain patterns, and some things demand law enforcement. But you, need to remain a forgiving person. That merely means they do not owe you, and therefore do not take up free rental space in your head, wasting your time as you maintain the prison cell you keep them in.If they have committed a crime against you or someone else, then we have a legal system, designed by God, for our protection. Use it, but don't judge. Keep in mind that we have the admonition that says, we will be judged in the same manner we judge. The question then is, do you want mercy from God or judgment?
- “"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21) "So, therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
If you only garnered one thing out this reading, let it be this: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
I lead an anger group in Recovery. One of the men who attends is doing what I did and drags those who harmed him around with him, locked in the shackles and bars his mind has developed. He has been doing this for over fifty years. Now, I am not saying this to diminish the horror of what happened to him, but you will are the one in prison, not them.
Joseph got it. Perhaps this was a lesson learned in prison, for it is in Psalms, by the mouth of David, that we learn what the Hebrews understood, that the iron of the shackles or bars or both, cleaved to his soul.
Psalms 105:16-19 KJV Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. 17) He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: 18) Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: 19) Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
Psalms 107:10 KJV gives us such a picture, but, you will not see it until you look up the meaning of the word affliction. It is the Hebrew word ‛ŏnı̂y/on-ee' and means depression, that is, misery. It becomes tightly defined the ways in which Joseph suffered, and depression was one of them. He knew full well how this came to be, and yet he set all vengeance and anger aside.
- “So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”Look up the word comforted in the Strong's concordance and you find this: nâcham 1) to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted.It would be so easy to apply those aspects to oneself, and I cannot say that Joseph did not do some of that. But when I consider the context, I see that he is using repentance and regret to stir his brothers. Why? We already understand that he wept when he the sewage they spewed from their mouths, and, considering the time frame, 17 years, you would think they knew him better than that. They did not, and sadly, they were the same people who threw him in the well and then sold him into slavery.Kindly is Hebrew word lêb/labe and means the heart. Because he had found recovery over depression and could recognize it in them, he was able to speak healing words to his brothers. He did this by speaking to their hearts. He talked to them on an emotional level.
Genesis 50:22 NASB Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father's household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.
This idea that Joseph remained in Egypt seems so unimportant; hardly worth the mention. So why did the Holy Spirit bring it up?
Let's do a quick timeline as see what we find.
- Sold to the Egyptian, Potiphar at age seventeen.
An interesting aspect of this is that scripture surrounding this event, describe Joseph as a youth. As though he should not be respected, or not having maturity. Telling his brothers about his dreams may have proved that out.
We do not know how long it was before Mrs. Potiphar tried to seduce him. Long enough for him to grow into a muscular young man, who happened to manage the entire ranch for Mr. Potiphar. Regardless, Potiphar, we learn from history, was the executioner and toyed with no man. Fortunately for Joseph, his life was spared, and he merely went to prison.
- At age thirty he is called out of prison to stand before Pharaoh. Potiphar, if he is still alive, has no say in this. Pharaoh puts him in charge of managing the kingdom and makes him second in command over the kingdom. It suddenly occurs to me the impact that could have on Potiphar and his lovely wife. Interesting, because we never hear of them again.
- Five years of plenty and two years of severe drought has forced the brothers to seek for the grain like everyone else. That would make Joseph now 37.
- The whole family comes, and Jacob finally dies 17 years later. That would make Joseph 42. At 42 Ephraim, the second of his sons has made him a grandfather at least twice, while Manasseh apparently only had one son. The family, stemming from Jacob, has grown exponentially in the second and third generation.
But we have more information from scripture: Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father's household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.
- Since we know that Joseph was 42 when his father died, and he is now 110 years old, Joseph has lived for another 68 years, in Egypt, as an Egyptian, perhaps a Hebrew.
Genesis 50:23 NASB Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim's sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph's knees.
My how time flies.
Genesis 50:24-26 NASB Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob." 25) Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here." 26) So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
This is comparable to what Jacob had made Joseph swear to, with a minor exception - he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. There is more to this story, and I believe they, the Hebrews, took Joseph's bones out of Egypt when they left.