The mourning for Jacob. (Verse 1-6.)
His funeral. (Verse 7-14.)
Joseph’s brethren crave his pardon, He comforts them. (Verse 15-21.)
Joseph’s direction concerning his bones, His death. (Verse 22-26.)
1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
3 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.
The numbers forty and seventy are very important numbers in scripture and should be examined whenever they are mentioned to see if there is a deeper meaning to a particular portion of Scripture than meets the eye. Forty represents testing while seventy symbolizes judgment.
4 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,
5 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.
The famine was not over, and Joseph was still very much needed in Egypt. Israel did not return after the famine ended but remained for four hundred and thirty years until slavery forced them to return to God’s land.
6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
7 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,
8 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.
9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
10 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.
11 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 Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.
It appears that their caravan of mourners did not go the most direct route to Hebron (Mamre) but rather went around the Dead Sea which explains the necessity to mention that it was beyond the Jordan twice.
It may have been longer, but it was the normal trade route that they appeared to travel, and it would be like the one they would travel four hundred years later when they would return not as a family, but as a Nation.
12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
13 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.
[Gen 23:17, Gen 25:9, Gen 49:30, Acts 7:16]
Everyone is buried here except for Rachel, which is buried in the City of David just up the road a way. God wanted a special place for the birth of the Messiah. There would be no conflicts as to who was the greatest in the small town of Bethlehem.
14 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.
15 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.
16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17 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.
[trespass – sin, the breaking of a law]
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 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.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. Joseph forgave his brothers even though they were up to their same old tricks, just as Jesus forgave his brethren. Joseph saved his people physically just as Jesus saved all who would believe on him eternally.
22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
23 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.
24 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.
25 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.
26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
As the title suggest, Joseph is a type of the Messiah, in fact he is the best picture of the ministry of the Messiah in all the Bible. He truly was made in the Image of the Messiah. Joseph saved all his household (the nation of Israel) just as all Israel will be saved at the end of the time of Jacob’s Trouble.
Remember that when you look at all the types in the bible you need to look at them like a three-legged chair, and what I mean by that is that a type in scripture will fall if you put too much weight on the side with no leg and you will fall.
While the story of Joseph’s life has many similarities to the ministry of the Messiah it is not a perfect picture. If you are a Jewish person and you haven’t trusted Jesus as your Saviour because you are not sure he is the Messiah, please meditate on what you have read in this book and look at all the stories in the Tanach and see if many of them do not point to Jesus.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-6 – Though pious relatives and friends have lived to a good old age, and we are confident they are gone to glory, yet we may regret our own loss, and pay respect to their memory by lamenting them. Grace does not destroy, but it purifies, moderates, and regulates natural affection. The departed soul is out of the reach of any tokens of our affection; but it is proper to show respect to the body, of which we look for a glorious and joyful resurrection, whatever may become of its remains in this world. Thus Joseph showed his faith in God, and love to his father. He ordered the body to be embalmed, or wrapped up with spices, to preserve it. See how vile our bodies are, when the soul has forsaken them; they will in a very little time become noisome, and offensive.
Verse 7-14 – Jacob’s body was attended, not only by his own family, but by the great men of Egypt. Now that they were better acquainted with the Hebrews, they began to respect them. Professors of religion should endeavour by wisdom and love to remove the prejudices many have against them. Standers-by took notice of it as a grievous mourning. The death of good men is a loss to any place, and ought to be greatly lamented.
Verse 15-21 – Various motives might cause the sons of Jacob to continue in Egypt, notwithstanding the prophetic vision Abraham had of their bondage there. Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought he would now avenge himself on those who hated and injured him without cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacob’s God. Joseph was much affected at seeing this complete fulfilment of his dreams. He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek the Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Broken spirits must be bound up and encouraged. Those we love and forgive, we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.
Verse 22-26 – Joseph having honoured his father, his days were long in the land, which, for the present, God had given him. When he saw his death approaching, he comforted his brethren with the assurance of their return to Canaan in due time. We must comfort others with the same comforts with which we have been comforted of God, and encourage them to rest on the promises which are our support. For a confession of his own faith, and a confirmation of theirs, he charges them to keep his remains unburied till that glorious day, when they should be settled in the land of promise. Thus Joseph, by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, gave commandment concerning his bones. This would keep up their expectation of a speedy departure from Egypt, and keep Canaan continually in their minds. This would also attach Joseph’s posterity to their brethren. The death, as well as the life of this eminent saint, was truly excellent; both furnish us with strong encouragement to persevere in the service of God. How happy to set our early in the heavenly race, to continue stedfastly, and to finish the course with joy! This Joseph did, this we also may do. Even when the pains of death are upon us, if we have trusted in Him upon whom the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles depended, we need not fear to say, “My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”