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50. Death of Jacob and Joseph

And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. 2And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. 3And 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. 4And 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, 5My 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. 6And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

7And 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, 8And 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. 9And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. 10And 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. 11And 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. 12And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: 13For 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.

14And 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.

15And 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. 16And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17So 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. 18And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20But 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. 21Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

22And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. 23And 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. 24And 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. 25And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

7. And Joseph went up. Moses gives a full account of the burial. What he relates concerning the renewed mourning of Joseph and his brethren, as well as of the Egyptians, ought by no means to be established as a rule among ourselves. For we know, that since our flesh has no self government, men commonly exceed bounds both in sorrowing and in rejoicing. The tumultuous glamour, which the inhabitants of the place admired, cannot be excused. And although Joseph had a right end in view, when he fixed the mourning to last through seven successive days, yet this excess was not free from blame. Nevertheless, it was not without reason that the Lord caused this funeral to be thus honorably celebrated: for it was of great consequence that a kind of sublime trophy should be raised, which might transmit to posterity the memory of Jacob’s faith. If he had been buried privately, and in a common manner, his fame would soon have been extinguished; but now, unless men willfully blind themselves, they have continually before their eyes a noble example, which may cherish the hope of the promised inheritance: they perceive, as it were, the standard of that deliverance erected, Which shall take place in the fullness of time. Wherefore, we are not here to consider the honor of the deceased so much as the benefit of the living. Even the Egyptians, not knowing what they do, bear a torch before the Israelites, to teach them to keep the course of their divine calling: the Canaanites do the same, when they distinguish the place by a new name; for hence it came to pass that the knowledge of the covenant of the Lord flourished afresh.220220     Calvin, in his criticism on Joseph’s conduct with reference to his father’s funeral, seems to bear hard upon the motives of the patriarch. As there is nothing in Joseph’s previous history which is derogatory either to his moral courage or his integrity, it is scarcely justifiable to impute a want of firmness and of straightforwardness to him on this occasion. Is not the concluding portion of Calvin’s remarks a sufficient answer to all that has gone before? And may we not conclude, that the whole of the circumstances of Jacob’s funeral were divinely ordered to perpetuate his memory? — Ed.

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