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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 50

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Verse 1


In this chapter we see more the character and the beautiful qualities of Joseph, than his position and the dignities that go with it. He is also here a wonderful reference to the Lord Jesus.

Joseph Weeps over His Father

Joseph weeps over his father. Here we see Joseph weeping for the sixth time. He kisses the dead Jacob and thereby expresses his affection for his father. The bond with his father is broken by death, but Joseph’s love for his father remains. In the resurrection that bond will be restored. Thus the love of the Lord Jesus for His people remains, even though the bond with them has been broken for a time (Hosea 1:9). That bond will be restored (Hosea 3:4-Deuteronomy :).

Verses 2-3

The Embalming of Jacob

The extensive embalming of Jacob shows that he is considered one of the greats of Egypt. He dies, according to the meaning of his name, as a prince of God and receives a royal funeral. If he or Joseph would have wished so, a pyramid would certainly have been built for him. But Jacob wished for no place in his honor.

Prophetically, the embalming tells that God will keep His people, whom He has to reject for a time, over time, until the time has come that He will take them again as His people.

Verses 4-9

Jacob Is Buried in the Promised Land

Joseph gets permission from Pharaoh to bury his father in Canaan because Jacob’s heart was there. Jacob has spoken more than once about his death as a result of his grief at the robbery of children (Genesis 37:35; Genesis 42:38). That is in the time that he has gone his own way. Now the time of his death has come and God has come with him to His purpose, he dies in honor and is accompanied at his burial by all his children and all the distinguished men of the land of Egypt.

Verses 10-11

A Very Great and Sorrowful Lamentation

The lamentation is also a lamentation that suits a great man. A testimony goes out from this. Thus, any burial of a believer can be a testimony to all those who see or hear it. The thorns – Atad means thorn bush – that the earth produced after the fall (Genesis 3:18) and therefore speak of the consequences of sin, point out that Jacob had much to do with the consequences of the sins he committed in his life. What a man sows, he will reap (Galatians 6:7-Ruth :).

It is not just thorns, however. To the thorns the threshing floor is connected. On the threshing floor the wheat is separated from the chaff. The threshing floor therefore points to the discipline in Jacob’s life, by which God has removed the chaff from Jacob’s life. What remains is the wheat as fruit for God. This fruit is revealed at the death of Jacob.

Verses 12-14

Burial and Return to Egypt

Jacob refused the tribute associated with a burial in Egypt and chose to be buried in a cave in Canaan. Canaan is the land of promise. His sons take him there and give their Godfearing father a dignified burial (cf. Acts 8:2). The inhabitants of Egypt and Canaan did not understand this.

Verses 15-21

Joseph Comforts his Brothers

When Jacob’s father is buried, the brothers are afraid that Joseph will revenge himself for what they have done to him. They think he treated them well for the sake of their father. He took care of them for seventeen years. Now that their father is no longer there, they believe that Joseph will change. How badly they know Joseph! It is as if they say, ‘We know what he has done for us, but we don’t know what he feels for us.

Once again, the exceptional character of Joseph is evident. He doesn’t blame the brothers that they must know him better in the meantime. He shows them the unpretentious love he has for them and reassures them with words of comfort. He is not in the place of God. He did not determine the course of events, God did. If there should be any retaliation, then he leaves it to God (Romans 12:19). Joseph submits himself completely to the will of God.

Sometimes we are like the brothers of Joseph. We know that the Lord Jesus has undergone God’s judgment on the cross for us. We know that He cares for us, we have experienced that. However, when a problem arises in our lives, it may suddenly become apparent how little we really trust Him. If there is no direct outcome, we think He is turning against us. We can be very busy with Scripture and know a lot about the Lord, but if it is not combined with a personal, living fellowship with Him Himself, we will react just as Joseph’s brothers do.

Joseph weeps – we read this of him for the seventh time – when he hears what the brothers say. It is a great sadness for him to notice that his love in that way is answered by the brothers. He shows through his tears that their attitude hurts him (cf. John 14:9). Their attitude betrays the lack of trust in him.

There is another lesson to be learned from the behavior of the brothers. When someone around us falls away, it becomes clear whether our faith is only directed at the Lord Jesus or whether we have attached too much to the other in the experience of our faith.

Verses 22-26

Joseph Dies

Joseph’s last words are not about his position in Egypt, but about God’s promise to his ancestors regarding the land of Canaan. Joseph dies, but God abides. Joseph entrusts the brothers to Him. When he dies, all the glory of Egypt is placed in a coffin with him, as it were. Joseph’s faith looks forward to the land of promise. In view of this, he gives command concerning his bones: “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

The oath sworn by the sons of Israel is fulfilled by Moses (Exodus 13:19). For forty years they carry Joseph’s body through the desert to bury him in the land at the place he mentioned (Joshua 24:32). There he is still waiting for the moment that God fulfils His promises.

Joseph does not let his bones to be transferred to Canaan. He wants to emphasize that his bones will be in the midst of the people. He knows that the people will one day move up to the promised land. Until then, the coffin with its bones will be as a testimony with the people. If they will be oppressed – and that time will come – the presence of Joseph, even though he died, will remind them of his words that God will look after them and save them.

The last words Joseph says to his brothers are about the future. They live in the best part of the land and are in the full favor of the king. Their brother Joseph is the second ruler of the land. There is nothing to indicate that a change will occur in this extremely privileged position.

Joseph himself is also happy. He sees his children until the third generation. Yet he says: “God will surely take care of you.” He foresees days of care, days when God alone will be their Helper. In faith Joseph sees the day of Israel’s tribulation. He also sees that God will free them to bring them to the land of promise. Above all, this taking care by God of His people is to be seen in the coming of the Lord Jesus to free His people from the great tribulation and to bring them into the blessing of the kingdom of peace. Just as we have seen with his father (Genesis 49:29-Jonah :), his heart is not concerned with what he leaves behind, but what he will receive in the resurrection.

Then Joseph dies. He is embalmed and placed in a coffin. Of a burial we don’t hear. He remains as a dead man among the people. Joseph, who died among the people, is reminiscent of what Paul says: “Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:10).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 50". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-50.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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