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The sorrow of Joseph over his father's death is seen in verse 1. It is an interesting study to consider the times in which Joseph is recorded as weeping. In contrast to burial, as in other countries, Joseph gives orders to the physicians to embalm his father. This required forty days, and he was mourned for 70 days (v.3). Much later than this, Egyptian history records that 30 days were required for embalming and 72 days of mourning were held for a king, which are not significant changes, but the implication is evident that someone did not invent this story later in history, for he would have given the figures he was acquainted with.
Joseph then gained a favorable response from Pharoah as to burying his father's body in Canaan, as he had sworn to Jacob (vs.4-6). this called for a tremendous sized funeral procession all the way from Egypt to Canaan, including all the elders of the house of Pharoah and the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as Joseph's brothers and families except for their little ones (vs.7-8). Not only this, but chariots and horsemen accompanied them (v.9). There was nothing like this at the funerals of Abraham or Isaac, but here God is showing to us the sovereignty of His great power and grace in producing sympathy among the Gentiles for His people Israel. Though Israel's immediate father dies, his descendants remain, God giving them favor among the Gentiles.
Coming to the threshing floor of Atad, the company mourned deeply for seven days (v.10). On the threshing floor the chaff is separated from the grain. It speaks of blessing resulting from suffering, a picture of the nation Israel being eventually blessed through the tribulation (the threshing).
The Canaanites inhabiting the land were so impressed by this sight that they names the place Abel-mizraim, meaning. "the mourning of the Egyptians" (v.11). Because Joseph had saved Egypt, the Egyptians recognized that salvation came from Israel (John 4:22), and therefore Gentiles have every reason to show deep respect for Israel. We today (Christians) must never forget that our Saviour came from Israel.
The Sons of Jacob then buried him in the place he had designated (v.13), which we have seen implies Jacob's faith in a God of resurrection. Then Joseph and his brothers returned to Egypt.
JOSEPH'S CHARACTER REMAINS CONSTANT
When their father had died, the brothers of Joseph were fearful that Joseph's attitude toward them would change to one of hostility in recalling the way they had treated him (v.15). But it was not his father's mediatorship that caused Joseph to show kindness to them for their ill treatment. It was rather his relationship to God that moved him. He had shown the kindness of God to them, just as the Lord Jesus, in a higher way, has manifested the love and grace of God to sinners who had rebelled against Him. More than that, Joseph's words to them had only been good (ch.45:4-8). Could they not simply trust his word? Sometime those who have trusted the Lord Jesus have lingering fears as to whether they might yet possibly be lost. Why is this? Because they do not take simply at face value the truth of His word, such asJohn 5:24; John 5:24.
The brothers send a message to Joseph telling him that their father had told them to request Joseph that he would forgive the trespass and sin of his brothers. Joseph was so deeply moved by this that he wept (v.17). Why? Because he was saddened to think that his brothers were doubting his faithfulness. How much more is the Lord Jesus saddened by our doubts of the fulness of His forgiveness! But the brothers even humble themselves to the point of coming to bow down to Joseph and tell Him they are his slaves (v.18).
Joseph's reply is beautiful: "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?" (v.19). Joseph would not think of judging his own case, for only God is Judge. Also, in spite of his exaltation in Egypt, he faithfully maintained his relationship as brother to all Jacob's sons. He did not excuse their evil thoughts against him (V.20), but insisted that God had used their evil to produce great good in saving many people from death. So also, the Jewish leaders in Israel meant only to do harm to the Lord Jesus in crucifying Him, but they actually fulfilled God's great counsels of love toward mankind in the accomplishing of a perfect redemption. Many have been saved by this from eternal destruction, though others, sadly, have maintained cold hatred against the Lord, and can only expect judgment.
For those who have repented there is not only the fullest forgiveness, but a provision of great blessing, together with words of kindness and comfort, as is seen in Joseph's assurance of blessing for his brothers (v.21). He desired simply that they should trust him and believe his word. This is what the Lord Jesus desires of us.
THE DEATH OF JOSEPH
Joseph remained in Egypt till his death at 110 years of age, far beyond the end of the famine. Before his death he became a great, great grandfather of Ephraim's descendants and also of those of Manasseh (v.23). but his years in Egypt did not change his attitude as regards the promise of God. He still had his heart set on the land of Canaan, as has been the case with Jacob's descendants of centuries, though dispersed throughout the whole world. Though personally Joseph would not enjoy the land, yet he fully desired that the nation Israel would do so, as was true of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore Joseph, calmly speaking of his death, commanded that the children of Israel should carry his bones to Canaan for burial when God had fulfilled His promise that He would bring them back to the land. When he died, his remains were embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt (v.26). There they remained for centuries till being brought out with Moses in the Exodus (Exodus 13:19), and finally buried along with the remains of his fathers in Shechem (Joshua 24:32).
This vitally interesting book of Genesis, the book of life and of origins, ends in great contrast to its beginning -- "in coffin in Egypt." For it is only the beginning of God's revelation. How much more wonderful and beautiful is the last word from God in the book of Revelation, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen".
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 50". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Seventh Sunday after Easter