The Plan of God in the Book of Genesis—Part 36

Jacob’s Burial and Joseph’s Death


VERSES 1-14  “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 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.
“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.
“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 Abel-mizraim, which is beyond Jordan.
“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.
“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.”

The account of Jacob’s burial says, ‘Only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen’ when they went back to Canaan to bury Jacob. This included, in addition to Jacob’s sons and their grown children, ‘all the servants of Pharaoh.’ This was a wonderful tribute of respect and love for Jacob, and revealed the high esteem in which he was held by his family. Besides, it showed that they shared their father’s faith in God’s promises pertaining to Canaan.

VERSES 15-21  “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.
“And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
“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.
“And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
“And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
“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.
“Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”

Until the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brethren had taken for granted he would not endeavor to inflict special punishment upon them for their attempt to do away with him in earlier life. But now they became fearful lest his leniency toward them had been on account of the great love he had for his father; and for the first time they formally and humbly asked his forgiveness, explaining that this was the deathbed request of their father.

Joseph was ever head and shoulders above his brethren in matters of righteousness, and he assured them that they had no cause to fear. ‘Am I in the place of God?’ he inquired, then explained that while they had sought to do him harm ‘God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.’ Since God’s will had been manifested in what had taken place, why should he hold anything against them? Thus Joseph comforted his brethren, and ‘spake kindly unto them.’

VERSES 22-26  “And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”

Our account ends saying, ‘So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old.’ ‘The dreamer,’ as his brethren had called him, had lived to see his prophetic dreams come true—his brethren had bowed down before him, yea, even his father had become dependent upon his mercy. He had not misused the authority and power which Divine providence had entrusted to him; but rejoiced that God had given him the honor of being the savior of his people, the preserver of the ‘seed’ of promise.

It was his faith in God’s promises that caused him to arrange that his body should be embalmed and ultimately taken to Canaan. In exacting an oath from his brethren that they would carry out his wish in this respect, Joseph said to them, ‘God will surely visit you, … and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.’ Joseph’s willingness to have his bones remain in Egypt until the Exodus might indicate his desire not to impose an unnecessary burden upon his brethren by asking that they make a special funeral trip to Canaan as they had done in the case of Jacob. Or possibly he realized that when he was dead his people would not enjoy the same degree of freedom to come and go as they did while he was alive and serving as deputy ruler.

So we come to the end of the first book of the Bible which shows the outworking of the Divine plan for human salvation. We also come to the end of the Patriarchal Age, the first age in this present evil world. With the Book of Exodus, the Jewish Age begins.

While historically the Book of Genesis covers the first world, or age, and the Patriarchal Age, prophetically it embraces all the ages, including the Millennium, when as promised to Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. The development of the spiritual ‘seed’ of promise has been the work of the present Gospel Age. The promises of the book applying to the deliverance of the natural seed of Abraham from Egypt, and planting them in the Land of Promise, were fulfilled during the Jewish Age.

In this wonderful book, we are told of the creation of man, and the Divine purpose concerning him—that he was to ‘multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it.’ We are informed of the entry of sin and of its tragic results, man’s loss of life and his earthly home. We are assured, nevertheless, of God’s continued love, and that a provision would be made for the redemption and recovery of the human race from the result of its own transgression.

This provision is the seed, first referred to as the ‘seed of the woman’ and later as the seed of Abraham. With the aid of the New Testament, we learn that primarily this seed is Christ Jesus, the Redeemer and Savior of the world; also that his faithful followers of this Gospel Age, the church, as members of his mystical body, are a part of that seed, ‘and heirs according to his promise.’

Thus does the opening book of the Bible introduce the main features of the plan of God, and wonderful is the harmony of the entire Bible as we trace the reiteration of these features throughout its sacred pages.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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