Genesis 50 The Burial of Jacob CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Embalming and Mourning (1-3)
Joseph commanded the physicians to embalm Jacob to preserve his body for the trip to and burial in Canaan. Egyptians embalmed corpses to preserve them. They removed the brain through the nostrils, the entrails through an incision in the side and then infused the corpse with spices and soaked the body with balsam or cedar oil and natrum, a form of sodium carbonate.
When a person was embalmed in Egypt, “forty days were fulfilled for him.” In Jacob’s case, the Egyptians mourned for him an additional thirty days, making the total time of mourning for Jacob seventy days. Evidently, the thirty day mourning period was a custom in Egypt because in Num. 20:29, Israel mourned for Aaron thirty days, and in Deut. 34:8, Israel mourned for Moses thirty days.
Procession to Canaan (4-11)
Before Jacob died, he made Joseph swear that he would not bury him in Egypt (Gen. 47:29-31). Joseph swore that he would bury Jacob with his fathers in Canaan (Gen. 50:5). So, after the days of mourning, Joseph obtained permission from Pharaoh to carry his father’s body out of the country. With him went a large funeral procession that included Pharaoh’s servants and elders, the elders of Egypt, Joseph’s household, Joseph’s brethren, Jacob’s household, and chariots and horsemen. They did not travel with their little ones and their livestock (compare Ex. 12:31-32).
As soon as the procession crossed the Jordan River into Canaan, they stopped to mourn for Jacob seven days. The place where they mourned was the threshing floor of Atad, which the Canaanites called Abelmizraim after the mourning.
They buried Jacob in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite. Following the burial, everyone returned to Egypt.
Joseph’s Brothers’ Fear (15-21)
When Joseph’s brothers returned with him to Egypt, they were afraid that Joseph might take revenge on them for selling him into slavery. They figured that Joseph might have withheld his anger as long as their father was alive.
So, they told Joseph that their father had commanded him to forgive them. Joseph wept when he heard this because he had already forgiven them in Gen. 45:5-15. To further demonstrate their sorrow, his brothers bowed before him and professed that they would be his servants (Gen. 37:5-8).
Joseph responded the way Jesus would have:
- Fear not – Jn. 20:19
- Am I in the place of God? – in other words, “if God hasn’t requited the evil, why should I?” Jn. 8:10-11
- God meant it unto good – Rom. 8:28, 1 Pet. 2:19-22
- To save much people alive – Matt. 20:26-28; 1 Tim. 2:4-6
- I will nourish you – Phil. 4:19
- He comforted them – Jn. 14:16-18
- Spake kindly unto them – Lk. 6:35
Joseph’s Death (22-26)
Joseph lived to be 110 years old. At his death, he reminded the children of Israel that God would get them out of Egypt as he promised Abraham (Gen. 15:13-14). Consequently, he made them swear that they would carry his bones out of Egypt when they left. This they did in Ex. 13:19. When Joseph died, they embalmed him and put him in a coffin. The removal of his bones from Egypt (a type of the world) matches the ascension of Jesus Christ out of this world after his resurrection. The promise of getting the Jews out of Egypt matches the promise of our rapture out of this world (1 Thes. 4:16-18).
So, the book of Genesis begins with a free man alive in a garden enjoying fellowship with God everyday and ends with the greatest type of Christ lying dead in a coffin. Things in the earth don’t improve over time. They get worse.