Ch.  50

 

 

1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and

kissed him.  Joseph had no doubt closed the eyes of his revered and beloved

parent, as God had promised to the patriarch that he would (ch. 46:4), and now,

in demonstration both of the intensity of his love and of the bitterness of his sorrow,

he sinks upon the couch upon which the lifeless form is lying, bending over the

pallid countenance with warm tears, and imprinting kisses of affection on the cold and

irresponsive lip. It is neither unnatural nor irreligious to mourn for the dead; and he

must be callous indeed who can see a parent die without an outburst of tender grief.

 

2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father:

and the physicians embalmed Israel.  And Joseph commanded his servants,

the physicians - literally, the healersהָרֹפְאִים from רָפָא, to sew together, to mend,

hence to heal, a class of persons which abounded in Ancient Egypt, each physician

being only qualified to treat a single disorder (Herod., 2:84). The medical men of

Egypt were held in high repute abroad, and their assistance was at various times

required by persons from other countries, as, e.g., Cyrus and Darius (Herod., 3:1, 132).

Their knowledge of medicines was extensive, and is referred to both in sacred

(Jeremiah 46:11) and profane (Homer, 'Odyssey" 4 . 229) writings. The Egyptian

doctors belonged to the sacerdotal order, and were expected to know all things

relating to the body, and diseases and remedies contained in the six last of the

sacred books of Hermes. According to Pliny (7:56), the study of medicine originated

in Egypt (see Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol 2. pp. 116, 117). The

physicians employed by Joseph were those attached to his own household, or the

court practitioners - to embalm his father: - literally, to spice or season (the body of)

his father, i.e. to prepare it for burial by means of aromatics; ut aromatibus condirent 

(Vulgate); ἐνταφιάσαι τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ - entaphiasai ton patera autou -

(Septuagint), which is putting part of a proceeding for the whole (Tayler Lewis).

According to Herodotus (2:86), the embalmers belonged to a distinct hereditary

class or guild from the ordinary physicians; but either their formation into such

a separate order of practitioners was of later origin (Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Kalisch),

or Jacob was embalmed by the physicians instead of the embalmers proper because,

not being an Egyptian, he could not be subjected to the ordinary treatment of the

embalming art ('Speaker's Commentary') - and the physicians embalmed Israel. 

The method of preparing mummies in Ancient Egypt has been elaborately

described, both by Herodotus (2:86) and Diodorus Sieulus (1:91), and, in the

main, the accuracy of their descriptions has been confirmed by the evidence

derived from the mummies themselves. According to the most expensive process,

which cost one talent of silver, or about £250 sterling, the brain was first extracted

through the nostrils by means of a crooked piece of iron, the skull being thoroughly

cleansed of any remaining portions by rinsing with drugs; then, through an opening

in the left side made with a sharp Ethiopian knife of agate or of flint, the viscera

were removed, the abdomen being afterwards purified with palm wine and an

infusion of aromatics; next, the disemboweled corpse was filled with every sort

of spicery except frankincense, and the opening sewed up; after that the stuffed

form was steeped for seventy days in natrum or subcarbonate of soda obtained

from the Libyan desert, and sometimes in wax and tanning, bitumen also being

employed in later times; and finally, on the expiration of that period, which was

scrupulously observed, the body was washed, wrapped about with linen bandages,

smeared over with gum, decorated with amulets, sometimes with a network of

porcelain bugles, covered with a linen shroud, and, in due course, transferred to

a mummy case (vide Wilkinson's 'Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,'

vol. 3. p. 471, ed. 1878; Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. pp. 118-123).

 

3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days

of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned(literally, wept

for him threescore and ten days.  I.e. the whole period of mourning, including

the forty days for embalming, extended to seventy days, a statement which

strikingly coincides with the assertion of Diodorus Siculus (1:72), that the

embalming process occupied about thirty days, while the mourning continued

seventy-two days; the first number, seventy, being seven decades, or ten weeks

of seven days, and the second 12 x 6 = 72, the duodecimal calculation being

also used in Egypt (see Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 121;

and in ' Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians: vol. 3. p. 471, et seqq.,

 ed. 1878). The apparent discrepancy between the accounts of Genesis and

Herodotus will disappear if the seventy days of the Greek historian, during

which the body lay in antrum, be viewed as the entire period of mourning

(Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 68; Sir G. Wilkinson in

Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 121), a sense which the words ταῦτα δὲ

ποιήσαντες ταριχεύουσι λίτρῳ κρίηψαντες ἡμέρας ἐβδομήκοντα (Herod. 2:86)

will bear, though Kalisch somewhat arbitrarily, but unconvincingly, pronounces

it to be "excluded both by the context and Greek syntax."

 

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.

That Joseph did not address himself directly to Pharaoh, but through the

members of the royal household, was not owing to the circumstance that,

being arrayed in mourning apparel, he could not come before the king

(Rosenmüller), since it is not certain that this Persian custom (Esther 4:2)

prevailed in Egypt, but is supposed to have been due, either to a desire

on Joseph's part to put himself on a good understanding with the priesthood

who composed the courtly circle, since the interment of the dead was closely

connected with the religious beliefs of Egypt (Havernick), or, what was more

likely, to the fact that Joseph, having, according to Egyptian custom (Herod. 2:36),

allowed his beard and hair to grow, could not enter the king's presence without

being both shaven and shorn (Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Keil). It has been suggested

(Kalisch) that Joseph's power may have been restricted after the expiration of

the famine, or that another Pharaoh may have succeeded to the throne who

was not so friendly as his predecessor with the grand vizier of the realm;

but such conjectures are not required to render Joseph's conduct in this matter

perfectly intelligible - saying, My father made me swear (ch. 47:29), saying (i.e. 

my father saying), Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me - not

bought (Onkelos, Drusius, Ainsworth, Bohlen, and others), but diggedὤρυξα -

oruxa -  Septuagint), fodi (Vulgate). Jacob may have either enlarged the original

cave at Machpelah, or prepared in it the special niche which he designed to

occupyin the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore 

(literally, and nowlet me go up, I pray thee (the royal permission was

required to enable Joseph to pass beyond the boundaries of Egypt,

especially when accompanied by a large funeral procession), and bury my

father, and I will come again.

 

6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee

swear.  Pharaoh's answer would, of course, be conveyed through the courtiers.

 

7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all

the servants of Pharaoh, (i.e. the chief officers of the royal palace, as

the next clause explains),the elders of his house (i.e. of Pharaoh s house),

and all the elders of the land of Egypt (i.e. the nobles and State officials). 

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 (as an escort) both chariots and

horsemen: and it was a very great company.   Delineations of funeral processions,

of a most elaborate character, may be seen on the monuments. A detailed and highly

interesting account of the funeral procession of an Egyptian grandee, enabling us

to picture to the mind's eye the scene of Jacob s burial, will be found in Wilkinson's

'Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 3. p. 444, ed. 1878.  First

servants led the way, carrying tables laden with fruit, cakes, flowers, vases of

ointment, wine and other liquids, with three young geese and a calf for sacrifice,

chairs and wooden tablets, napkins, and other things. Then others followed

bearing daggers, bows, fans, and the mummy cases in which the deceased and

his ancestors had been kept previous to burial. Next came a table of offerings,

fauteuils (wooden arm chair), couches, boxes, and a chariot. After these men

appeared with gold  vases and more offerings. To these succeeded the bearers of

 a sacred boat and the mysterious eye of Osiris, as the god of stability. Placed in

the consecrated boat, the hearse containing the mummy of the deceased which was

drawn by four oxen and by seven men, under the direction of a superintendent

who regulated the march of the funeral. Behind the hearse followed the male

relations and friends of the deceased, who either beat their breasts, or gave token of

their sorrow by their silence and solemn step as they walked, leaning on their long

sticks; and with these the procession closed.

 

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.  And they came to the threshing-floor of Atad. 

The threshing-floor, or goren, was a large open circular area which was used for

trampling out the corn by means of oxen, and was exceedingly convenient for

the accommodation of a large body of people such as accompanied Joseph.

The goren at which the funeral party halted was named Atad (i.e. Buckthorn),

either from the name of the owner, or from the quantity of buck-thorn which

grew in the neighborhood. Which is beyond Jordan - literally, on the other side

of the Jordan, i.e. west side, if the narrator wrote from his own standpoint (Jerome,

Drusius, Ainsworth, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Wordsworth, et alii), in

which case the funeral train would in all probability follow the direct route

through the country of the Philistines, and Goren Atad would be situated

somewhere south of Hebron, in the territory (afterwards) of Judah; but east

side of the river if the phrase must be interpreted from the standpoint of Palestine

(Clericus, Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Keil, Lange, Gerlach, Havernick,

Murphy, and others), in which case the burial procession must have journeyed

by the wilderness, as the Israelites on a latter occasion did, and probably for not

dissimilar reasons. In favor of the former interpretation may be claimed v. 11,

which says the Canaanites beheld the mourning, implying seemingly that it

 occurred within the borders of Canaan, i.e. on the west of the Jordan; while

support for the latter is derived from v. 13, which appears to state that after

the lamentation at Goren Atad the sons of Jacob carried him into Canaan,

almost necessarily involving the inference that Goren Atad was on the east

of the Jordan; but (see below). If the former is correct, Goren Atad was

probably the place which Jerome calls Betagla tertio ab Hiericho lapide,

duobus millibus ab Jordane; if the latter is correct, it does not prove a post-

Mosaic authorship (Tuch, Bohlen, &c.), since the phrase appears to have had

an ideal usage with reference to Canaan in addition to the objective geographical

one (Hengstenberg 'On the Genuineness of the Pentateuch,' vol. 2. p. 260; Keil's

'Introduction,' vol. 1. p. 189; Kalisch 'On Genesis,' p. 776). And there they

mourned with a great and very sore lamentation. The Egyptians were

exceedingly demonstrative and vehement in their public lamentations for

the dead, rending their garments, smiting on their breasts, throwing dust

and mud on their heads, calling on the deceased by name, and chanting

funeral dirges to the music of a tambourine with the tinkling plates

removed (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 3. p. 440, ed. 1878). 

And he made a mourning for his father seven days. This was a special

mourning before interment (compare  Ecclesiasticus. 22:11).

 

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.  And when (literally, and

the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the

floor of Atad, they (literally, and theysaid, This is a grievous mourning

to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, - 

i.e. the meadow (אָבֵל) of the Egyptians, with a play upon the word (אֵבֶל

mourning (Keil, Kurtz, Gerlach, Rosenmüller), if indeed the word

has not been punctuated wrongly - אָבֵל instead of אֵבֶל (Kalisch),

which latter reading appears to have been followed by the Septuagint

(πένθος Αἰγύπτου - penthos Aiguptou - ) and the Vulgate (planctus AEgypti) - 

which is beyond Jordan (see above).

 

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 burying place of Ephron the Hittite,

before Mamre.  And his sons - the Egyptians halting at Goren Atad

(Keil, Havernick, Kalisch, Murphy, etc.); but this does not appear

from the narrative - did unto him according as he commanded them 

(the explanation of what they did being given in the next clause): for his

sons carried him - not simply from Goren Atad, but from Egypt, so that

this verse does not imply anything about the site of the Buckthorn

threshing-floor (see above, v. 11) - 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 burying-place of Ephron the Hittite, before

Mamre (see ch. 23.).

 

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.

 

 

 

 

                                    The Funeral of Jacob (vs. 1-14)

 

I. THE PRIVATE SORROW. That a great and good man like Jacob, the

father of a numerous family, the ancestor of an important people, the

chieftain of an influential tribe, the head of the Church of God, should

depart this life without eliciting from some heart a tribute of sorrow, is

inconceivable. That any of his sons witnessed the last solemn act of this

great spiritual wrestler, when he gathered up his feet into his bed and

yielded up his spirit into the hands of God, without a tear and without a

pang of grief, although it is only the emotion of Joseph that is recorded, is

what we cannot for a moment believe. Less demonstrative than was that of

Joseph, less deep too, probably, since the heart of Joseph appears to have

been peculiarly susceptible of tender emotions, we may yet suppose that

the grief of Joseph’s brethren was not less real.

 

II. THE PUBLIC MOURNING. In accordance with the customs of the

times, and of the country, it was needful that a public ceremonial should be

observed, in honor of the dead. Accordingly, Joseph, as the first step

required by the usages of the people amongst whom he lived, gave

instructions to his court physicians to embalm his father. For details as to

the process, which occupied a period of forty days, the Exposition may be

consulted. Then, along with this, for seventy days, peculiar rites, supposed

to be expressive of the heart’s grief, such as rending the garments, smiting

the breast, throwing dust upon the head, calling on the deceased, were

maintained with the assistance of friends, neighbors, and professional

mourners.

 

III. THE FUNERAL PROCESSION.

 

1. The train of mourners. This consisted of the state and court officials of

Pharaoh’s house, and of the land of Egypt, the members of the houses of

Joseph and his brethren, and a troop of horsemen and charioteers for

protection on the journey.

 

2. The line of march. This was either straight north, through the country of

the Philistines, if Goren Atad was south of Hebron in Judea, or it was

round about by the way of the wilderness, if the halting-place was east of

Jordan.

 

3. The lamentation at Goren Atad. This was intended as a special

demonstration before burial, and was conducted with such vehemence as to

arrest the attention of the Canaanites, who called the place in consequence,

Abel-Mizraim; i.e. the plain or the mourning of Mizraim.

 

4. The advance to Hebron. It is more than probable that the Egyptians,

who had accompanied the funeral procession from Goshen, remained

behind at Goren Atad, while Joseph and his brethren bore the patriarch’s

body on to Hebron.

 

IV. THE SOLEMN INTERMENT. His sons buried him in the ancestral

vault; of Mach-pelah. Reverently, affectionately, tearfully, yet hopefully, let

us hope, they laid the weary pilgrim down to sleep till the resurrection

morn beside the dust of his own Leah, and in the company of Abraham,

and Sarah, and Isaac, and Rebekah. It must have been an affecting, as

surely it was a sublime spectacle, this coming home of an aged exile to lay

his bones in his native land, this returning of the heir of Canaan to claim his

inheritance, this laying down of the last member of the great patriarchal

family among the other inmates of Machpelah. With the burial of Jacob, the

first patriarchal family was complete, and the tomb was closed. The

members of the second household slept at Shechem.

 

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.  And when (literally and

Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they (literally,

and they) said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, - literally, If Joseph 

hated us, or pursued us hostilely (what would become of us?), לוּ with the

imperfect or future setting forth a possible but undesirable contingency

(see Ewald's 'Hebrew Syntax,' § 358a; Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce) - 

and will certainly requite us (literally, if returning he caused to return

upon usall the evil which we did unto him. "What then?" is the natural

conclusion of the sentence. "We must be utterly undone."

 

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.  And (under these

erroneous though not unnatural apprehensions) they sent a messenger unto Joseph,

literallythey charged Joseph, i.e. they deputed one of their number (possibly

Benjamin) to carry their desires to Joseph - saying, Thy father did command

before he died, saying (though not recorded, the circumstance here mentioned

may have been historically true), 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 

(nothing is more inherently probable than that the good man on his death-bed did

request his sons to beg their brother's pardon): and now, we pray thee, forgive the

trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. Joseph's brethren in these

words at once evince the depth of their humility, the sincerity of their

repentance, and the genuineness of their religion. They were God's true

servants, and they wished to be forgiven by their much-offended brother,

who, however, had long since embraced them in the arms of his affection. 

And Joseph wept when they spake unto him - pained that they should for

a single moment have entertained such suspicions against his love.

 

18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they

said, Behold, we be thy servants.   Both the attitudes assumed and the

words spoken were designed to express the intensity of their contrition

and the fervor of their supplication.

 

19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

I.e. either reading the words as a question, Should I arrogate to myself what

obviously belongs to Elohim, viz., the power and right of vengeance

(Calvin, Kalisch, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or the power to

interfere with the purposes of God? (Keil, Rosenmüller); or, regarding

them as an assertion, I am in God's stead, i.e. a minister to you for good

(Wordsworth).

 

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.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good 

(literallyand ye were thinking or meditating evil against meElohim was

thinking or meditating for good, i.e. that what you did should be for good), 

to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (see Genesis 45:5).

 

 

                        Intended Bane an Unintentional Boon (v. 20)

 

“Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” Joseph must

have been deeply pained by the mistrust of his brethren. They implied that

it was only out of consideration for his father that he had been kind to

them. Yet Joseph had forgiven them. They could not so easily believe in

the forgiveness; just as man now is forgiven by God, but he has the

greatest difficulty in believing in the reconciliation. Joseph’s brethren sent a

messenger unto him, probably Benjamin. They who had once sold Joseph

as a slave now offer to be his slaves. The offer is to him humiliating.

Moreover, it is great pain to him. To a noble soul designing only good to

others there is no greater offensiveness than to have his doings viewed with

suspicion. Joseph repudiated the mistrust, and refused the offered self-

enslavement.  He assures his brethren of full forgiveness in words which

must have been as softest balm to wounded spirits. In a spirit of the highest

magnanimity he tries even to make them view with complacency the result

of their wrong-doing. In the text we have the “grand golden key to the

whole of his life’s history.” Notice how:

 

I. INTENDED BANE OFTEN BECOMES UNINTENTIONAL BOON.

Evil works evil to others, but sometimes good. Intended evil is overruled

by God when He has some good object in view. “Man proposes, God

disposes.” God always knows what the result of certain actions will be. If

they are good actions they work in line with His will: if evil, he overrules

them. If the horse keeps the road it feels not the rein, but if it will turn

aside, the sharp bit must draw it back again. Whatever speculation there

may be about our absolute freeness, we feel that we are free. It is the glory

of God to be able to trust with freedom a being with such great powers for

moral evil, like man. He would teach us to use our wills, by giving us full

freedom. We frequently pain him by our misuse and our abuse of our

powers. What evil we devise and strive to carry out! The brethren of

Joseph even intended murder, and modified it by selling their brother into

slavery. They acted more cruelly than some of the men-stealers of Africa.

The latter steal strangers to sell them, but these ten men sold their own

brother. They thought they were rid of him. Egypt was a long way off;

Joseph was but a weakling, and might soon perish. They would be free

from his presence, and could divide their guilty gains. They hardened

themselves against his tears and entreaties; and even in malicious spite

were ready to slay the weeping youth because he did not appreciate their

considerateness in selling him into slavery instead of killing him outright. It

was an evil deed. Those who looked on could see no good to come out of

it. There were, however, several great results.

 

1. He was personally advanced in life, and was able to make the best of it.

 

2. He saved thousands of people from perishing, and among them his own

family.

 

3. He was the means of bringing Israel into Egypt, where it developed as a

people. Its deliverance gave occasion to the mightiest display of Divine

power.

 

4. He became a type of the Messiah — rejected of men. Thus we know not

the results of any of our acts. God can overrule, to the development of

character and spiritual power, circumstances seemingly most opposed to

our best interests. God knows what is best. He could break the plans of the

evil in pieces. Instead of this He oft confounds the wicked by letting them

see that the ends they did not desire have been attained in spite of their

opposition, and even by the very existence, that the intended bane becomes

an unintentional boon. Thus Joseph’s brothers found it, and bowed their

heads.

 

II. THERE ARE SEVERAL LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THE

WAY IN WHICH, BY GOD’S OVERRULING, INTENDED BANE

BECOMES A BOON.

 

1. It is a dangerous thing to scheme against others. Especially is it a

dangerous thing when a good man is the object of the attack. It is likely to

be checked and to recoil. “A greater power than we can contradict may

thwart our plans.” There are a thousand chances of check or change. Men

have so noticed this that even a French moralist said, “I do not know what

hidden force it is that seems to delight in breaking up human plans just at

the moment when they promise to turn out well.” Yes, there is a “hidden

force,” ever watchful, ever balancing human actions, ever ordaining, either

in this world or the next, the just need of praise or blame, of retribution or

reward. See how the scribes and Pharisees:

 

(a)  held councils against Jesus, the gentle, pure, loving teacher of

       truth, and healer of diseases,

(b) they sought how they might kill Him.

(c) they excommunicated Him,

(d) they sent others to entrap Him.

(e) they succeeded at length in nailing Him to the cross.

 

They carried out their evil intentions; but that cross became the throne of the

Savior’s power, the salvation; and the death of Christ became the life of the

world.

 

They went by wagging their heads, but at last they had to wring their hands.

 

They themselves were left in their sin, and their “house left

unto them desolate,” while unto the Christ they hated all men are being

drawn.  “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me!”  (John 12:32)

 

2. That God overrules evil is no license to do evil. Many would say, “Let us

do evil that good may come. Whose damnation is just.  (Romans 3:8)

This would suit carnal nature. They would say, “Sin is not so great an evil,

since God can overrule it.”

 

·         To talk like this would be like throwing dust in our own eyes when

      we have reached an eminence from whence we might behold a

            beautiful landscape.

 

·         It would be like a youth who, seeing a gardener pruning

            trees, should take a knife and cut and slash all the trunks.

 

·         Or, it would be like  the act of one who, seeing how an artist had

      wrought in a picture some blunder into a beauty, should

            take a brush and streak with black the brilliant sky.

 

We are not at liberty to sin that God may bring good out of it.

 

3. That God overrules evil should make us feel our dependence on Him.

If we could succeed in good without Him, if all we intended to do could

surely be calculated upon, we should become proud. It is well that God

sometimes even breaks up our good plans in order that we may learn this

lesson. We might even intend good without Him otherwise, and that would

lead to evil in ourselves. But we are dependent on Him to check the evil of

our own lives and of others intentions.

 

4. It should make us hopeful also with respect to our affairs. Surely out of

this thought we may get “royal contentment,” as knowing we are in the

hands of a noble protector, “who never gives ill but to him who deserves

ill.”

 

5. It should make us hopeful with respect to the order and destiny of the

world. In some way, far off, God’s glory may be advanced, even by the

way in which He will have subdued, by Christ, all things unto Himself.

“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto ... 

His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to

subdue all thing unto Himself.”  (Philippians 3:20-21) 

 

6. Intended good is not always a benefit to those for whom intended. God

intends good to men, and provides a way to bless, but men refuse. See at

what a cost the way has been provided. Those who refuse are under worse

condemnation. “It were better for them not to have known the way of

righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy

commandment delivered unto them.”  (II Peter 2:21)

 

7. We must all face our wrongdoing some time or other. We shall find that

the evil we have sown has produced a harvest of weeds, which we shall

have sorrowfully to reap. We ought to pray earnestly, “Deliver us from

evil.”  (Matthew 6:13)

 

21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones.

And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.  Now therefore 

(literally, and now) fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. 

Thus he repeats and confirms the promise which he had originally made to

them when he invited them to come to Egypt (ch. 45:11, 18-19). 

And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them - literally, to their hearts 

(compare ch. 34:3).

 

22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph

lived an hundred and ten years.  Wordsworth notices that Joshua, who

superintended the burial of Joseph in Shechem, also lived 110 years.

Joseph's death occurred fifty-six years after that of Jacob.

 

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.  And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation:

I..e. Ephraim's great-grandchildren (Kalisch, Lange), or Ephraim s great-great-

grandsons (Keil, Murphy), which perhaps was not impossible, since Ephraim

must have been born before Joseph's thirty-seventh year, thus allowing at

least sixty-three years for four generations to intervene before the

patriarch's death, which might be, if marriage happened early, say not later than

eighteenthe children also of Machir the son of Manasseh - by a

concubine (1 Chronicles 7:14were brought up upon Joseph's knees -

literallywere borne upon Joseph's knees, i.e. were adopted by him as soon as

they were born (Kalisch, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or were

born so that he could take them also upon his knees, and show his love for

them (Keil).

 

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 swear 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.  And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die:

and God (Elohimwill surely visit you, - literally, visiting will visit you,

according to His promise (ch/ 46:4) - and bring you out of this land unto the

land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took

an oath of the children of Israel, - as his father had done of him (ch. 47:31),

saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

The writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:22) refers to this as a signal instance

of faith on the part of Joseph.

 

26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they

embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.  So Joseph died, being

an hundred and ten years old (literally, a son of a hundred and ten years)

and they (i.e. the children of Israelembalmed him (see on v. 2), and he was

put in a coffin (or chest, i.e. a mummy case, which was commonly constructed

of sycamore wood) in Egypt, where he remained for a period of 360 years, until

the time of the Exodus, when, according to the engagement now given, his

remains were carried up to Canaan, and solemnly deposited in the sepulcher

of Shechem (Joshua 24:32).

 

 

 

                        Retrospect and Prospect (vs. 1-26)

 

The fellowship of Egypt with the children of Israel in the burial of Jacob is

full of significance. “A very great company went with them.” “Abel-

Mizraim the Canaanites called it, “a grievous mourning to the Egyptians.”

It seemed to them altogether an Egyptian funeral. Yet we know that it was

not. The work of God’s grace will transform the world that it shall not be

recognized. The funeral itself said, Egypt is not our home. It pointed with

prophetic significance to the future of God’s people. Canaan, the home of

God’s people, is the symbol of the everlasting home. Strange that the

conscience should wake up in the brethren of Joseph after the father’s

death. How great the power of love in subduing fear!  The true-hearted,

tender piety of Joseph both towards God and towards his father and his

kindred, is not influenced by such considerations as affected the lower

characters of his brethren. They feared because they were not as true as he.

“Joseph wept when they spake unto him,” wept for them, wept to think

they had not yet understood him. It is a great grief to a good man, a man of

large, simpler loving nature, to be thought capable of unkindness and

treachery. Joseph recognized that his life had been a Divine thing. He was

only an instrument in the hands of God, in the place of God. He saw

Providence working with grace. The influence of real religion is to sanctify

and exalt natural affections. Joseph’s end, like his father’s, was a testimony

to the faithfulness of God, and a fresh consecration of the covenant people

to their Divine future. “I die, and God will surely visit you.”  He was a truly

humble man to the last. His people’s blessedness was not of his making.

His death would be rather their gain than their loss. Yet “by faith he gave

commandment concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22), not in any

foolish feeling of relic worship, but because he would have the people

while in Egypt not to be of Egypt. Those who live on the promises of God

will feel that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of

things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) and confess, not by word only but by deed,

and to the last moment of life, “that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth,”

seeking a better city, even a heavenly.”  (ibid. vs. 13; 10)  

 

 

 

                                     The Last of the House of Jacob (vs. 15-26)

 

I. JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN (vs. 15-18).

 

1. The unworthy suspicion. After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brethren began to

fear lest he should seek to revenge himself on account of his early injuries.

It was perhaps natural that such an apprehension should arise within their

breasts, considering the enormity of the wickedness of which they had been

guilty; but remembering all the tokens of Joseph’s love which already they

had received, it was surely unkind to Joseph to suffer such a thought for

even a moment to find a lodgment in their breasts.

 

2. The friendly embassage. Deputing Benjamin, it is thought, to be the

bearer of their wishes, they instructed him to remind Joseph of their dead

father’s desire that he should forgive the evil he had suffered at their hands,

and to solicit an express assurance from his own lips that it was so.

 

3. The voluntary humiliation. Whether they allowed their messenger to

return or followed close upon his heels cannot be certainly concluded. But

they appear to have resorted in a body to Joseph’s palace, and placed

themselves unconditionally in his power: “Behold, we be thy servants,”

meaning, “Do with us what seemeth good in thy sight.”

 

4. The generous assurance. As they desired, he explicitly declared, though

with tears at their unkindness, that they had no cause whatever to

anticipate his anger, that he was not in God’s place that he should seek to

punish them for a sin which had turned out so providentially for good, and

that on the contrary he would continue to nourish them and their little ones

so long as they remained in Egypt.

 

II. JOSEPH AND HIS CHILDREN’S CHILDREN.

 

1. The children of Ephraim. He lived long enough to see the children of

Ephraim’s grandchildren born into this sinful world, and then he died at the

good old age of 110 years.

 

2. The children of Manasseh. He saw the offspring of Manasseh’s son

born, and either adopted into his own family, or brought up in his own

house.

 

III. JOSEPH AND THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.

 

1. Josephs premonition of approaching death. “Joseph said unto his

brethren,” — i.e. the descendants of his brethren, his actual brethren having

in all probability predeceased him, — “I die.” Along with this Joseph

recalled to their minds the sacred promise that God would eventually visit

them and cause them to return to their own land. It is well when death

approaches to remember God’s promises. The thoughts of God are very

suitable for dying hours.

 

2. Josephs preparation for death. He took an oath of the children of Israel

that they would carry up his bones to Canaan, in this following the example

and imitating the faith of his revered father Jacob.

 

3. Joseph s falling asleep in death. “Joseph died, the son of an hundred

and ten years.” He had lived a shorter life than any of the four great

preceding patriarchs; but his life had been eminently honored and useful,

and his death, we may be sure, would be beautifully calm and peaceful.

 

4. Josephs body after death. It was embalmed, and the mummy put into a

coffin for better preservation, until the time approached when it could be

taken for consignment to the holy land.

 

·         LEARN:

 

1. How difficult it is to shake oneself free from the evil consequences of

sin, even after it has been forgiven.

 

2. How painful to a loving heart it is to be suspected of cherishing a feeling

of revenge.

 

3. How generously God sometimes rewards his servants on earth, by

permitting them to see children’s children, born and brought up, and

sometimes also brought into the family of His Church.

 

4. How peacefully a child of God can die; and

 

5. How hopefully he ought to look forward to the resurrection

 

 

 

 

                                    The Lessons of a Life (v. 26)

 

Joseph’s life is remarkable for the variety of his experience, and for the

consistency of his character through it all. A man full of human sympathy,

who also walked with God. Here the charm of his history. We can

thoroughly enter into his feelings. In his boyhood, deservedly loved by his

father, and on that very account hated by his brethren (1 John 3:13); in

his unmerited sufferings; in his steadfast loyalty to God and to his master;

in his exaltation, and the wisdom with which he ruled Egypt; and in his

forgiveness of those who had sold him as a slave, we feel for him and with

him. But Joseph died. His trials and his triumphs passed away. The scene

where he had played so conspicuous a part is filled by other forms. And he

who was the means of saving a nation must share the lot of the most

commonplace life. One event happens to all.  (Ecclesiastes 2:15).\

 

I. THE UNCERTAIN TENURE OF EARTHLY GOOD. No care can

keep away misfortune, not even care to walk uprightly before God. Sin

brings sorrow sooner or later; but it is a great mistake to think that all

sorrow springs from faults committed (Psalm 73:5). Joseph’s slavery

was because his Godward life condemned his brothers and made them

angry. His being thrown into prison was because he would not yield to

temptation. This is often a stumbling-block. If God really marks all that is

done, why are His most faithful servants often so sorely smitten? We can

neither deny the fact nor trace the reason of the stroke. It is nough to know

that it is part of God’s plan (Hebrews 12:6), to fit us for the end of our

being. As Christ was perfected by suffering (ibid. ch. 2:10), so must

we be. And just because to bear the cross is needful for a follower of Christ

(Matthew 16:24) — and this is not the endurance of suffering at our

own choice, but the willing receiving of what God is pleased to send — the

uncertainty of life gives constant opportunity for that submission to His will

which is the result of living faith.

 

II. THE ONE END OF ALL LIVING (Exodus 1:6). How varied

soever the outward lot, wealth or penury, joy or mourning, one day all

must be left behind. To what purpose then is it to labor for good, or to

dread impending evil? Can we not remember many whose name was much

in men’s mouths, full of youthful vigor or mature wisdom? And they are

gone, and the world goes on as before. Joseph, embalmed in Egypt with

almost royal honors, was as completely separated from all his wealth and

power as if he had never possessed them. Others filled his place and

occupied his gains, in their turn to give them up, and awake from the

dream of possessions to join the company of those who have left all these

things behind. And is this all? Has life nothing worth striving for? Is there

no possession that we can really regard as our own?

 

III. LIFE HAS ABIDING TREASURES. Was it nothing to Joseph that

he possessed and showed a forgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15), and

singleness of heart, and earnest benevolence, and watchful consciousness

of God’s presence? These are treasures the world thinks little of. But these

are treasures indeed, ministering comfort without care. And when earthly

things slip from the grasp these abide, reflections of the mind of Christ, and

telling of His abiding in the soul (Revelation 14:13).   “And I heard a voice

from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the

Lord from henceforth:  Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their

labors; and their works do follow them.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

 

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