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Scripture reading – Genesis 50
“[When] Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people” (49:33).
Named Jacob when he was born, he fulfilled the definition of that name in the early years of his life, for through his mother, he had supplanted his brother and been a trickster and deceiver. His life, however, was altered at a brook named Peniel (32:27-30) when God changed his name to Israel. Transformed into a man of faith, he became a man upon whom the power of God could rest.
Jacob (Israel) had borne the weight of great sorrows, but at his death, was surrounded by his family and comforted by the embrace of his son Joseph, the second ruler of Egypt (50:1). Jacob was then embalmed in the manner of Egypt, and even “the Egyptians mourned for [Jacob] threescore and ten days” (50:3). Joseph requested, and received, Pharaoh’s blessing for his father’s body to be taken up to Canaan and buried in the ancestral tomb of his father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham (50:4-6).
Imagine the funeral procession that came from Egypt and made its way to Jacob’s tomb (50:7-13).
His body, borne in an Egyptian coffin, was escorted by “all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8And 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” (50:7-8).
The Canaanite people of the region observed the royal procession of mourners and named the place Abel-mizraim, meaning a “mourning or meadow of Egypt” (50:11). Arriving at the tomb, the sons of Jacob buried their father (50:12-13), and then returned to Egypt (50:14). Understanding the evil they had committed against Joseph, his brothers feared in their father’s absence, he might exact revenge for their wrongs against him (50:15-17). Instead of revenge, however, “Joseph wept” (50:17b).
Though abused and rejected in his youth, Joseph had looked past his trials with eyes of faith and rested in the providence of God. He then assured his brothers and said, “Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20But 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” (50:19-20). So he comforted them, and said, “fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them” (50:21).
Sold as a slave when he was seventeen, Joseph lived the rest of his life in Egypt. Though a ruler in Egypt, his heart longed for the land God had promised. In death, he assured his brethren: “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (50:24). Joseph repeated the promise and requested, “ye shall carry up my bones from hence” (50:25). “So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (50:26).
Closing thoughts – I conclude this commentary and thank you for accompanying me on this journey through the Scriptures.
Beginning with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), and closing with Joseph’s death and the request that his bones be taken up and buried in Canaan (50:25-26), we have witnessed God’s sovereignty and loving devotion to those who turn from sin to Him. Joseph confessed to his brothers, “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” (50:20).
It was God who worked to save Jacob, his sons, and the Tribes of Israel so that He might fulfill His Covenant Promise to Abraham that “in [him] shall all families of the earth be blessed” (a promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ who died for the sins of the world, 12:3; John 3:16). It is God who desires all men would be saved, and “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
God is working, and He invites you to “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” and “believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). I invite you to share your decision of faith or thoughts with this author by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.
Questions to consider:
1) How did Joseph and his brothers honor their father after his death, and what lessons might we take from their examples? (Genesis 50:1-14)
2) Why did Joseph’s brothers fear him after Jacob, their father, died? (Genesis 50:15)
3) Rather than seeking vengeance and being bitter for the wrongs he had suffered from his brothers, Joseph expressed confidence in God’s sovereignty and faith in His providences. What did Joseph say? (Genesis 50:19-20)
4) Are you angry or bitter because someone wronged you? How would your life change if you adopted Joseph’s confidence in God’s sovereignty and providence?
5) What was Joseph’s dying wish? (Genesis 50:24-50)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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