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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 50

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2315. B.C. 1689.

Here is,

(1,) The preparation for Jacob’s funeral, 1-6.

(2,) The funeral itself, 7-14.

(3,) The settling of a good understanding between Joseph and his brethren, after the death of Jacob, 15-21.

(4,) The age and death of Joseph, 22-26.

Verse 1

Genesis 50:1. Joseph fell upon his father’s face Having first, no doubt, closed his eyes, according as God had promised that he should; and wept upon him, and kissed His pale and cold lips, thus manifesting his love to and his sorrow for the loss of him. Probably the rest of Jacob’s sons did the same, much moved, no doubt, with his dying words.

Verse 2

Genesis 50:2. He ordered the body to be embalmed, not only because he died in Egypt, and that was the manner of the Egyptians, but because he was to be carried to Canaan, which would be a work of time. “Embalming is the opening of a dead body, taking out the intestines, and filling the place with odoriferous and desiccative drugs and spices, to prevent its putrifying. The Egyptians excelled all other nations in the art of preserving bodies from corruption; for some, that they embalmed upward of two thousand years ago, remain whole to this day, and they are often brought into other countries as great curiosities. Their manner of embalming was this; they scooped the brains with an iron scoop out at the nostrils, and threw in medicaments to fill up the vacuum. They also took out the entrails, and having filled the body with myrrh, cassia, and other spices (except frankincense) proper to dry up the humours, they pickled it in nitre, where it lay soaking for seventy days. The body was then wrapped up in bandages of fine linen and gums, to make it stick like glue; and so was delivered to the kindred of the deceased, entire in all its features, the very hairs of the eyelids being preserved. They used to keep the bodies of their ancestors, thus embalmed, in little houses magnificently adorned, and took great pleasure in beholding them alive, as it were, without any change in their size, features, or complexion. The Egyptians also embalmed birds,” &c.

Encyclop. Britan. This practice of embalming, it appears, was common both to the rich and poor, but it was more or less costly, according to the rank and circumstances of the person. Joseph commanded his servants the physicians To perform this office. For, according to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, the same persons who prescribed as physicians for the living, were employed in embalming the dead. As it appears that many of these physicians were wont to be kept in pay, as servants, in the courts of princes, and the families of the great, we may conclude that Joseph, in his office of prime minister, had not a few of them belonging to his household. Indeed, if we may credit Herodotus, all places in Egypt were crowded with them. And no wonder; for “every distinct distemper” says he, “hath its own physician, who confines himself to the study and care of that alone, and meddles with no other. Thus, one class hath the care of the eyes, another of the head, another of the region of the belly,” &c.; (lib. 2. c. 84;) so that their number must have been very great.

Verse 3

Genesis 50:3. Forty days were fulfilled for him That is, for embalming him, this time being, at the least, requisite to go through the process. But according to Herodotus, the body often remained at the embalmer’s seventy days. The Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days Thirty days according to the custom of the Hebrews, Numbers 20:29,

Deuteronomy 34:8, over and above the forty employed in embalming, which also was a time of mourning. During all which time they either confined themselves, and sat solitary, or, when they went out, appeared in the habit of close mourners, according to the custom of the country.

Verses 4-5

Genesis 50:4-5 . Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh Either it was not customary for mourners to enter the royal presence, or Joseph wished to make his request to the king with all possible humility and respect. He therefore made application to Pharaoh, not directly, but through the intervention of some of his courtiers. Let me go up, I pray thee It was a piece of necessary respect to Pharaoh, that he would not go without leave; for we may suppose, though his charge about the corn was long since over, yet he continued a prime minister of state, and therefore would not be so long absent from his business without license.

Verse 10

Genesis 50:10. They mourned with a very great and sore lamentation “This,” says Sir John Chardin, quoted by Harmer, (vol. 2. p. 136,) “is exactly the genius of the people of Asia, especially of the women. Their sentiments of joy or grief are properly transports; and their transports are ungoverned, excessive, and truly outrageous. When any one returns from a long journey, or dies, his family bursts into cries that may be heard twenty doors off; and this is renewed at different times, and continues many days, according to the vigour of the passion. Especially are these cries long in the case of death, and frightful; for their mourning is right down despair, and an image of hell. I was lodged, in the year 1676, at Ispahan, near the royal square; the mistress of the next house to mine died at that time. The moment she expired, all the family, to the number of twenty-five or thirty people, set up such a furious cry, that I was quite startled, and was above two hours before I could recover myself. These cries continue a long time, then cease all at once; they begin again as suddenly at day-break and in concert. It is this suddenness which is so terrifying, together with a greater shrillness or loudness than any one would easily imagine. This enraged kind of mourning, if I may call it so, continued forty days, not equally violent, but with diminution from day to day. The longest and most violent acts were when they washed the body, when they perfumed it, when they carried it out to be interred, at making the inventory, and when they divided the effects. You are not to suppose that those that were ready to split their throats with crying out wept as much: the greatest part of them did not shed a single tear through the whole tragedy.” It is probable, however, that there was more sincerity in the mourning, even of the Egyptians, for Jacob, than is described in these words; for they seem evidently to have greatly respected him. And their solemn mourning for him ( Gen 50:11 ) gave a name to the place, Abel-Misraim, which, in Hebrew, signifies, The mourning of the Egyptians: which served for a testimony against the next generation of the Egyptians, who oppressed the posterity of this Jacob, to whom their ancestors showed such respect.

Verses 15-16

Genesis 50:15-16 . Joseph will peradventure hate us While their father lived, they thought themselves safe under his shadow; but now he was dead, they feared the worst. A guilty conscience exposeth men to continual frights; those that would be fearless must keep themselves guiltless. Thy father did command Thus, in humbling ourselves to Christ by faith and repentance, we may plead that it is the command of his Father and our Father we should do so.

Verse 17

Genesis 50:17. Forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father Not only children of the same Jacob, but worshippers of the same Jehovah. Though we must be ready to forgive all that injure us, yet we must especially take heed of bearing malice toward any that are the servants of the God of our father; those we should always treat with a peculiar tenderness, for we and they have the same Master. He wept when they spake to him These were tears of sorrow for their suspicion of him, and tears of tenderness upon their submission.

Verse 19

Genesis 50:19. Am I in the place of God? Dare I usurp the prerogative of God, to whom it belongs to take vengeance? Or, can I do what I please with you, without God’s leave? Fear him rather than me, and upon your experience of his wonderful care of and kindness to you, be persuaded he will still befriend you, and therefore I will. Or, perhaps, in his great humility, he thought they showed him too much respect, and saith to them, in effect, as Peter to Cornelius, “Stand up; I myself also am a man.” Make your peace with God, and then you will find it an easy matter to make your peace with me.

Verses 20-21

Genesis 50:20-21 . Ye thought evil, but God meant it unto good In order to the making Joseph a greater blessing to his family than otherwise he could have been. Fear not, I will nourish you See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He did not tell them they were upon their good behaviour, and he would be kind to them, if he saw them carry themselves well: no, he would not thus hold them in suspense, nor seem jealous of them, though they had been suspicious of him. He comforted them And, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Those we love and forgive we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.

Verse 24

Genesis 50:24. I die; and God will surely visit you To this purpose Jacob had spoken to him, Genesis 48:21. Thus must we comfort others with the same comforts wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God, and encourage them to rest on those promises which have been our support. Joseph was, under God, both the protector and benefactor of his brethren, and what would become of them now he was dying? Why, let this be their comfort, God will surely visit you. God’s gracious visits will serve to make up the loss of our best friends: and bring you out of this land And therefore they must not hope to settle there, nor look upon it as their rest for ever; they must set their hearts upon the land of promise, and call that their home.

Verse 25

Genesis 50:25. And ye shall carry up my bones from hence Herein he had an eye to the promise, (Genesis 15:13-14,) and in God’s name assures them of the performance of it. In Egypt they buried their great men very honourably, and with abundance of pomp; but Joseph prefers a plain burial in Canaan, and that deferred almost two hundred years, before a magnificent one in Egypt. Thus Joseph, by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, gave commandment concerning his bones, Hebrews 11:22. He dies in Egypt; but lays his bones at stake, that God will surely visit Israel, and bring them to Canaan.

Verse 26

Genesis 50:26. Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old So for about thirteen years of affliction he enjoyed eighty years of honour, and as much happiness as earth could afford him. He was put in a coffin in Egypt But not buried till his children had received their inheritance in Canaan, Joshua 24:32. If the soul do but return to its rest with God, the matter is not great, though the deserted body find not at all, or not quickly, its rest in the grave. Yet care ought to be taken of the dead bodies of the saints, in the belief of their resurrection; for there is a covenant with the dust which shall be remembered, and a commandment given concerning the bones.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 50". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-50.html. 1857.
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