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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.

19. Am I in the place of God? Some think that, in these words, he was rejecting the honor paid him: as if he would say, that it was unjustly offered to him, because it was due to God alone. But this interpretation is destitute of probability, since he often permitted himself to be addressed in this manner, and knew that the minds of his brethren were utterly averse to transfer the worship of God to mortal man. And I equally disapprove another meaning given to the passage, which makes Joseph refuse to exact punishment, because he is not God: for he does not restrain himself from retaliating the injury, in the hope that God will prove his avenger. Others adduce a third signification; namely, that the whole affair was conducted by the counsel of God, and not by his own: which though I do not entirely reject, because it approaches the truth, yet I do not embrace the interpretation as true. For the word תחת(tachat) sometimes signifies instead of, sometimes it means subjection. Therefore if the note of interrogation were not in the way, it might well be rendered, “Because I am under God;” and then the sense would be, “Fear not, for I am under God;” so that Joseph would teach them, that because he is subject to the authority of God, it is not his business to lead the way, but to follow. But, whereas ה(he,) the note of interrogation, is prefixed to the word, it cannot be otherwise expounded than to mean that it would be wrong for him, a mortal man, to presume to thwart the counsel of God. But as to the sum of the matter, there is no ambiguity. For seeing that Joseph considers the design of divine providence, he restrains his feelings as with a bridle, lest they should carry him to excess. He was indeed of a mild and humane disposition; but nothing is better or more suitable to assuage his anger, than to submit himself to be governed by God. When, therefore, the desire of revenge urges us, let all our feelings be subjected to the same authority. Moreover, since he desires his brethren to be tranquil and secure, from the consideration, that he, ascribing due honor to God, willingly submits to obey the Divine command; let us learn, hence, that it is most to our advantage to deal with men of moderation, who set God before them as their leader, and who not only submit to his will, but also cheerfully obey him. For if any one is impotently carried away by the lust of the flesh, we must fear a thousand deaths from him, unless God should forcibly break his fury. Now as it is the one remedy for assuaging our anger, to acknowledge what we ourselves are, and what right God has over us; so, on the other hand, when this thought has taken full possession of our minds, there is no ardor, however furious, which it will not suffice to mitigate.


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