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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 50

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 26


‘So Joseph died.’

Genesis 50:26

Death is an unescapable experience alike for prince and for peasant. Joseph was great and good, but he was mortal, and, in God’s appointed time, went the way of all the earth. Death is always impressive whether it be the decease of an exalted ruler, or of an obscure day-labourer. Its lessons are essentially the same for every age, whether the soul takes its flight from under the shadow of the pyramids, or from amid the bustling scenes of a great modern metropolis.

I. When his long life task was complete, Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten, after ninety years of varied experience in Egypt. Apparently he continued to be held in honour until the day of his death. There are characters that seem to have their allotted amount of trial early in life, and after that enjoy comparative immunity from care or trouble. Nearly eighty per cent (or fourscore years) of Joseph’s life has been prosperous. In other lives this order appears to be inverted, for after an earlier season of prosperity, misfortune and tribulation cloud life’s afternoon and evening. Yet in every case God ‘means it for good.’

II. Gifted to the last with the prophetic instinct, Joseph foretold on his dying bed the subsequent exodus of God’s people from the school life of Egypt, and their entrance upon the covenanted blessings of the Promised Land. It has been given to few to read history before it happens, but Joseph was one of these favoured seers. In his dying visions he looked backward to Abraham’s time and onward to the stirring scenes attending the return to Canaan, and he loved in all to trace the guiding wisdom of the Lord. With calm faith he gave direction that his embalmed body should be left unburied in Egypt until such a time, years afterward, as the people of Israel should form in line for the great desert march Canaanwards, and his bones be finally laid away in the soil of the land of promise.

III. So Joseph died, calmly, peacefully, full of faith and hope. His taking off was like the harvesting of a full sheaf of grain from the fertile Nile delta whose stores he had gathered in in the years of plenty. Joseph had been tried for a time, but he was triumphant at last. His faith and faithfulness gave him favour both with God and man. Only so can life be made worth living for anyone, and death, robbed of its terrors, appear at last, as the herald of immortal blessedness.


(1) ‘Faith has its noblest office in detaching from the present. All his life long, from the day of his captivity, Joseph was an Egyptian in outward seeming. He filled his place at Pharaoh’s court; but his dying words open a window into his soul, and betray how little he had felt that he belonged to the order of things in which he had been content to live. He too confessed that here he had no continuing city, but sought one to come. Dying, he said, “Carry my bones up from hence.” Living, the hope of the inheritance must have burned in his heart as a hidden light, and made him an alien everywhere but upon its blessed soil. Faith will produce just such effects. Does anything but Christian faith engage the heart to love and all the longing wishes to set towards the things that are unseen and eternal? Whatever makes a man live in the past and in the future raises him; but high above all others stand those to whom the past is an apocalypse of God, with Calvary for its centre, and all the future fellowship with Christ and joy in the heavens.’

(2)‘We’ve no abiding city here;

Sad truth, were this to be our home!

But let this thought our spirits cheer,

We seek a city yet to come.

We’ve no abiding city here,

We seek a city out of sight;

Zion, its name; the Lord is there,

It shines with everlasting light.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 50". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/genesis-50.html. 1876.
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