Genesis 50:1-26


Verse 1, And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.

I.        The mourning begins for Jacob.

A.     It seems very strange, but there is no mention of anybody except Joseph mourning.

1.       In verse 8, it seems the brothers go to Canaan to bury their father, and we assume they mourned there.

2.       It might be that the brothers are so full of fear of what Joseph will do to them, they aren't able to mourn the loss of their father.

B.     The love that Joseph had for his father is displayed.

1.       Joseph always revealed his love to father.

2.       When Jacob died, it was very natural for Joseph to mourn.

C.     All of Joseph's mourning couldn't bring his father back.

1.       I really doubt Jacob would want to come back to this life.

2.       He was in eternity, experiencing those things he had only thought about before.

3.       When a saved person died, we who are left behind always mourn their death, longing for them to be with us again.

4.       This is really selfish of us, for they are now being comforted, and their pain and sorrow is over.


II.     There is nothing wrong with mourning.

A.     The good side of mourning.

1.       I Thess 4:13 tells us not to sorrow as others, which have no hope.

2.       We are saved, but we still have human emotions.

3.       It is not good to pretend like those emotions don't exist.

4.       Shedding tears and weeping with friends and loved ones is sharing a mutual grief with them.

5.       This draws people closer together in the Lord.

6.       Those that have not gone through such a hurt will see, and learn how to grieve in a Godly manner.

7.       It is not good to let those emotions control us, for we are to be controlled by God.

B.     The bad side of mourning.

1.       I have seen "Christians" go completely crazy at a funeral, making a spectacle of themselves and their belief in Christ.

2.       I have seen "Christians" never completely let go of a dead loved one, thus ruining their Christian testimony.  (You would think a saved person would be looking forward to going to heaven, not some dead saved people coming back to this earth!)


Verse 2,3, And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. {3} And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.

I.        The difficult command.

A.     There are lots of hard things to do in this life.

1.       Giving the command to embalm his father was a very difficult thing to do.

2.       Joseph gave the command to his servants, the physicians.

3.       This command was probably given speedily because the scripture says that Lazarus stinks by the fourth day.

4.       Joseph was a very important man with his personal staff of physicians.

B.     Why was Jacob embalmed?

1.       Joseph knew he would have to travel back to Canaan with his father's body, and that would take at least three weeks.

2.       The Egyptians would consider it necessary to embalm so important a man as Jacob.

3.       It would be very interesting for modern archaeologist to discover the cave in Machpelah, where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah are buried.

4.       They would discover that Jacob's body was embalmed by the Egyptians; thus proving that Israel really was in Egypt, even though there are no Israelite graves in Egypt to prove it.


II.     The embalming and mourning process.

A.     The embalming process took 40 days.

1.       There is no record of how this was done.

2.       No other nation in recorded history has been able to duplicate the embalming process of the Egyptians.

3.       It is likely the Egyptians expected to live eternally in their natural bodies, thus they went all out to make that body last eternally.

B.     This passages indicates that not every Egyptian was embalmed.

1.       Embalming was probably an expensive process, so only those that could afford it were embalmed.

2.       Those Egyptians that weren't embalmed were probably buried and their bodies returned to the dust like God said.

C.     The mourning continued for 70 days.

1.       The mourning started when Jacob died.

2.       It continued during the 40 days of embalming.

3.       The mourning then continued for another 30 days.

4.       The Egyptians also mourned with Joseph.

a.      Jacob was great to them because Joseph was great.

b.      They mourned for Jacob, not because he meant a lot to them, but because their hero, Joseph, was mourning for his father.

D.     This is probably the longest period of mourning in the Bible.

1.       Deut. 34:8 - Israel mourned for Moses 30 days.

2.       Num. 20:29 - Israel mourned for Aaron 30 days.

3.       II Sam. 1:12 - David and his company mourned for Saul and Jonathan one day.

4.       II Sam. 3:31 - David mourned for Abner from one to three days.


Verse 4-6, And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, {5} My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. {6} And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.

I.        Joseph makes request to bury his father in Canaan.

A.     This request is not made until after the 70 days of mourning in Egypt are past.

B.     Joseph doesn't personally approach Pharaoh, but follows the procedure he has always used.

1.       Joseph speaks to some specially selected people in Pharaoh's house, asking them to speak to Pharaoh for him.

2.       It may have been on this instance, that the customs of Egypt would not allow him to approach Pharaoh during the days of mourning.

3.       But it is also true that scripture never records Joseph making a personal request to Pharaoh.

a.      He always did what was necessary to carry out the duties Pharaoh assigned to him.

b.      He always had a personal request carried to Pharaoh by someone else.


II.     Joseph's request.

A.     To fulfill a family obligation.

1.       The Egyptians would understand the nature of this request, for they also had preference of a burying place.

2.       Joseph was very important in Egyptian society, but did not do things without the permission of his "boss".

3.       It is good for us to do things only with the permission of God, our heavenly Father.

4.       If God has placed people over us in this life, it is very good if we would receive their permission and blessing upon our endeavors.

B.     According to 14:11, Jacob is setting a precedence of not burying any Israelites in Egypt.

1.       Genesis 50:25,26 - When Joseph died, he was embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt, expecting to leave Egypt when the rest of Israel did.

2.       There doesn't seem to be any problem with any Egyptian or Israelite, concerning not burying Israelites in Egypt.

3.       This fact, there are no Israelite bones found in Egypt, has caused many archaeologists to believe Israel wasn't in Egypt.

4.       We must be very careful in what we do, for we are setting a precedence for the next generation.

C.     I will return.

1.       Joseph added these words to reassure the Egyptians that he wasn't leaving for good.

2.       They also left their children, flocks, and herds in Egypt.

3.       Joseph is not forsaking the promises of God given to Israel through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

4.       It might look that way on the surface, but there is more to this subject than meets the eye.

D.     This would have been an excellent time for Israel to permanently leave Egypt.

1.       People who do not understand the ways of God would think that Israel made a mistake by staying in Egypt.

2.       The fact is that Israel couldn't look into the future, therefore, didn't know that Egypt would oppress them.

3.       The truth is that Israel couldn't leave at this time.

a.      God wouldn't allow it because it wasn't time yet.

b.      God uses the love, respect, and desire for leadership the Egyptians have for Joseph to keep Israel in Egypt.


III.   The request is granted.

A.     We do not know if Joseph appeared before Pharaoh or not.

1.       It could have been that Pharaoh told the people who brought Joseph's message to him.

2.       The procedure used is not important, but it is important to note that Joseph leaves Egypt only by permission from Pharaoh.

B.     The request is limited in scope.

1.       Joseph is allowed to return to Canaan for the specific purpose of burying his father as requested.

2.       Pharaoh will allow Joseph to do nothing else.

3.       There is little doubt in my mind that Joseph would desire to see his old homeland once again, especially since this is the land promised to Israel by God.


Verse 7, And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, {7} And 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. {9} And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

I.        The company that traveled to Canaan.

A.     Israel.

1.       All the house of Joseph.

a.      This would include Joseph's wife but not his children.

b.      All of Joseph's servants would also go.

2.       All the brothers of Joseph, their wives and servants.

3.       All the children, the flocks, and herds remained in Egypt.

4.       This was a sure token that Israel would return.

B.     The Egyptians.

1.       These people went, not to make sure Joseph came back, but to share in the mourning over Jacob.

2.       They went as ambassadors from Egypt to Israel.

3.       In this day and time, when a high official dies in one country, many other countries will send their high officials as a token of sympathy.

4.       Egypt did the same thing our country would do today.

C.     There were three categories of Egyptians.

1.       The servants of Pharaoh.

a.      Probably all the servants of Pharaoh didn't go, for Pharaoh would have nobody to take care of the needs at home.

b.      More than likely, most of the servants went to personally represent Pharaoh who couldn't leave the country.  (He was the ruler and there wasn't instant communication in case of an attack.)

2.       The elders of Pharaoh's house.

a.      This is the leaders of Pharaoh's house.

b.      They would include some slaves and some "employees".

3.       The elders of the land of Egypt.

a.      This is the leaders of the land of Egypt.

b.      These are those people in top government positions who are in charge of running the country under the direction of Pharaoh.

D.     A great company of chariots and horsemen.

1.       Great leaders wouldn't travel alone for fear.

2.       The chariots and horsemen would not only be for protection, but also to show their grief with Joseph.

3.       I think it is possible for many of the "common" people to also have travel to this funeral service, but more than likely, they couldn't afford to make the trip.


II.     The quality and quantity of many important people going to Canaan for the funeral must have left a big gap in the government of Egypt.

A.     This shows how important Joseph was to the Egyptians.

1.       If they didn't think Joseph was very important, they would have seen less important people to Canaan.

2.       It has been about 12 years since the famine ended, but the people of Egypt have not forgotten that Joseph saved their lives and their nation.

B.     There are times of emergency when leaders must be gone.

1.       It is during those times that younger people can have a little practice at running things.

2.       If you are a leader, it is important that you train others to take over you job, for you won't always be around to do it.

3.       If you are a young person, you must take the opportunities given to you for personal growth and enlargement of responsibilities.


Verse 10,11 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. {11} And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.

I.        The location of this threshingfloor.

A.     The words "beyond Jordan" means the other side of Jordan.

1.       Atad would be located on either the east or west side of Jordan, according to where the writer was.

2.       Many times in scripture, directions are given as if Jerusalem is the center, but this doesn't seem to be the case here.

3.       Atad is also called Abel-mizraim.  If this place is later called Bethhogla, it is located on the west of Jordan just north of the Dead Sea.

B.     There is really no way to tell where the threshingfloor of Atad is, except:

1.       Genesis 23:2 - Sarah died in Hebron, which is south of Bethhogla.

2.       Abraham bought the field of Machpelah from the sons of Heth.

3.       It seems very safe to assume that the field of Machpelah was very near Hebron, and that Sarah was buried the day she died or the next day because there was no way to preserve the body.

4.       Using simple logic (which sometimes is very dangerous in scripture interpretation!) to determine the travel route, it would seem that the threshingfloor of Atad would be south of Hebron, not north.


II.     The mourning at Atad was go great that the Canaanites names it "Abel-Mizraim" meaning "meadow in Egypt."

A.     The Canaanites said it was a grievous mourning to the Egyptians.

1.       There is no doubt they knew the funeral was not for an Egyptian, but a Jew.

2.       It is very obvious that the Egyptians had great esteem for Joseph and all his people.

3.       The death of good people is a grievous loss, not only for the family, but for all who had dealings with them.

B.     Egypt has a name in Canaan.

1.       This may seem like a very small thing, but it is the beginning of Egypt and Israel being together.

2.       Isaiah 19:18-25 - There is coming a day when Egypt, Assyria and Israel will be united.

a.      They will remain as separate nations, but will be united in purpose.

b.      They shall be worshipping God together, and will be a power to be dealt with.

3.       It is true that Israel erroneously sought Egypt's help many times.

a.      Abraham and Isaac went down into Egypt instead of seeking the Lord to feed them during the famine.

b.      Jacob, being blessed by God, went down into Egypt and was blessed by Egypt, and blessed them in turn.

c.      When Israel sought Egypt's help instead of God's, they were ahead of God's plan.

C.     It is remarkable that the Hebrews were an abomination (Genesis 43:32) to the Egyptians, but they came to love that which was previously an abomination.

1.       Some people consider good things an abomination, but they come see that they were wrong.

2.       Some people consider bad things an abomination, but they come to love that which is wrong.

D.     The change in Egypt should be noted.

1.       At this time, Egypt loves Israel greatly, partly because they realize Israel has saved them from the famine.

2.       In just a few years, there will be another Pharaoh that knows not Joseph, and the attitude toward Israel will reverse.

3.       May God help us to never take friendships for granted, but always strive to build old friendships and develop new friendships.

E.      For a discussion of the term "beyond Jordan", see my notes on verse 10.


Verse 12,13, And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: {13} For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

I.        Jacob's sons carry out his wishes.

A.     The Egyptians have nothing to do with the burial of Jacob.

1.       They have nothing to do with the promises God gave Abraham.

2.       The Egyptians can grieve for Jacob, and rejoice at the blessings of God upon Israel, but they can have nothing to do with the promises.

B.     We often do not die like we think.

1.       Genesis 27:1,2 - Isaac thought he was old and would soon die, but lived another 20 years, Genesis 35:29.

2.       Genesis 42:36, 43:14, 44:30-34 - Jacob often spoke of dying because of bereavement over his sons, but lived to see them all.  All of his sons, and the heads of the most powerful nation in the world, were present at his funeral.

3.       Jacob thought he would die at the hand of Esau, but God kept Esau from doing any harm to him.

4.       It would be good if we would be more concerned with living to the glory of the Lord instead of dreading the loneliness of sorrow and death that may never come.


II.     Why is the description of the burying place given once again?

A.     There can be no doubt as to where Jacob is buried.

B.     To show that Jacob's sons honored his request.

1.       His sons were also a part of the promise.

2.       His sons were honorable men to do that which their father couldn't do and wouldn't know if they had done it or not.


Verse 14, And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.

I.        This passage is put here so there can be no doubt concerning Joseph's return into Egypt.

A.     Joseph had made a promise to Pharaoh, and he will keep it.

1.       Joseph was a man of God, full of honor.

2.       A man is only as good as his word.

3.       It is good when we keep our word so others will see Christ in us.

B.     They traveled together.

1.       All of the mourners had traveled together toward Canaan, and they stay together on the trip back to Egypt.

2.       Their respect for Jacob and Joseph was so great they did not scatter on the way home, the swift traveling on ahead while the slower dragged behind.


II.     They returned to Egypt after they had accomplished their stated purpose.

A.     The purpose of going to Canaan was to bury Jacob, not spy out the land for the purpose of returning.

B.     When that purpose was accomplished, Joseph returned to his home.

1.       We might think that Joseph should have stayed in Canaan because the promise is to possess that land.

2.       Joseph has no instructions from God to return to Canaan, even though to the natural man, it looks like that is the thing to do.

3.       We must be very careful not to follow what looks logical to us, but to follow the commands of God, for that is what is logical to God.


Verse 15-22, And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. {16} And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, {17} So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. {18} And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. {19}  And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? {20} But 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. {21} Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. {22} And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.

I.        The fear of Joseph's brothers.

A.     The scripture indicates that the brothers didn't have a fear of Joseph until after their father died.

1.       It is apparent they believed they were safe from Joseph's vengeance as long as their father was alive.

2.       Now that Jacob is dead, the brothers fear what Joseph will do to them and their families.

B.     Why do the brothers fear Joseph?

1.       They have never asked Joseph to forgive them, therefore their sin remains before them.

a.      Joseph has forgiven them, but has not said anything to them, because they haven't said anything to him.

b.      He doesn't think it is necessary to say anything.

c.      It is possible to forgive somebody without them asking and without telling them, but these sins remain in the mind of the guilty party and often leads to wild thinking about the consequences.

2.       As long as Jacob was alive, the brothers were contend to believe Joseph wouldn't do anything to them.

3.       They mistakenly believe that Jacob, not God, restrains Joseph.

4.       They do not understand the peace and contentment Joseph has about the course of his life.

5.       They only have guilt about what they have done to him.

C.     The brothers believe Joseph is like them.

1.       The brothers would retaliate, not forgive, anybody who hurt them.

2.       Therefore, they believe that is what Joseph will do.


II.     The action taken by the brothers.

A.     They first send a note to Joseph.

1.       They were afraid to appear before Joseph.

2.       To bring up the subject so long buried is to fearful for them.

3.       I personally do not believe Jacob commanded the brothers to ask Joseph to forgive them.

4.       The brothers say Jacob commanded them to ask Joseph for forgiveness.

5.       My believing this does not mean I doubt the inspiration of the scriptures.

a.      The Bible in absolutely true in all cases.

b.      In this case, the Bible is simply recording the truth of what happened.

c.      This is similar to the Bible recording the lie told to Adam's wife (Woman, later named Eve) by the serpent.

6.       The reason the brothers say Jacob asks Joseph to forgive them is because they believe Jacob is the reason Joseph hasn't punished them.

B.     They all come before Joseph.

1.       They do not ask for forgiveness, but commit themselves into his hands.

2.       They know Joseph can forgive them, but they are unable to forgive themselves.

3.       They know they deserve punishment, not forgiveness.

C.     The comparison of Joseph's brothers with lost sinners.

1.       Joseph's brothers believe their sin is so grievous they deserve any measure of punishment Joseph puts upon them.

2.       The sinner must know that his sin is terribly grievous and he deserves any and all punishment given to him.

3.       It is at this point they both receive what they know they don't deserve - everlasting forgiveness and comfort from the one they hurt the most.


III.   The action taken by Joseph.

A.     Joseph wept.

1.       Joseph never dreamed his brothers still carried the weight of their sin.

2.       They had carried this guilt for 39 years.

a.      22 years from the time they sold Joseph into slavery until they came into Egypt.

b.      17 years from the time they came into Egypt until the death of Jacob.

3.       They had spend many wasted years, uselessly worrying about the consequences of forgiven sins.

4.       Many saved people doubt their salvation and waste the bigger part of their lives worrying about past sins that have been forgiven.

5.       Probably the biggest part is that the brothers have not understood God's will.

B.     Joseph spoke to them.

1.       He did not "brush their feelings aside", but understood how they felt and why they felt that way.

2.       Joseph was very honest with the brothers.

a.      Honesty is always the best policy.

b.      The brothers are being very honest with Joseph.

c.      At times like this, men's hearts are open to their sinfulness and are able to receive the truth.

3.       Joseph admits that they meant evil toward them.

a.      The brothers would certainly agree with that.

b.      It is important to notice that Joseph mentions nothings concerning his anguish, or hatred toward them.

c.      It is not the time to vent anger or renew old hurts, but to offer comfort to those who were formerly our enemies.

4.       Joseph explains that God used their evil to bring good.

a.      This is never right to do evil that good may come.

b.      Joseph does not say that God predestinated the evil, but that He used it to produce good.

5.       The brothers have evidently never seen any good in the situation, only their sin.

a.      Down through the years, Joseph had much peace and tranquility because he saw and understood the way God had worked in his life.

b.      The brothers, on the other hand, didn't have peace and tranquility because of their guilt.

1)      All they could ever see was what they had done to Joseph.

2)      They had never seen what God had done with their evil.

3)      It is probably correct that they hadn't been able to see any good in the situation.

4)      They had sinned a very grievous sin and they must pay for that sin by, at least, a guilty conscience.

6.       It is good for Joseph to understand the trouble his brothers have.

a.      It is good for us to understand the feelings of others.

b.      There are times when we could give comforting words to them, and other times when we could give chastening words.


Verse 23, And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees.

A.     This verse shows the blessings of God upon Joseph.

1.       He was able to see his great grand children.

2.       It is always a blessing for old people to see the new generation.

3.       All of Joseph's sons were blessed of God, for they were fruitful in bearing children.

4.       There was a continual decrease of age.

a.      Abraham lived 175 years.

b.      Isaac lived 180 years.

c.      Jacob lived 147 years.

d.      Joseph lived 110 years.


Verse 24-26, And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and 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. {26} And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. {27} So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

A.     The time of Joseph's death drew near.

1.       There is no way to tell how much time goes by between verse 23 and 24.

2.       All we know is that Joseph lived long enough to see his grand children and great grand children.

a.      We do know there is approximately 64 years from the death of Joseph until the birth of Moses.

b.      This gives plenty of time for the four generations of Israel to live in Egypt, Genesis 15:16.

3.       There is no mention in scripture that Joseph death was mourned.

a.      It is very likely that the Egyptians and Israelites had a very great mourning.

b.      Joseph did not appoint this mourning, pointing instead to the promise of God to come out of Egypt.

c.      There is no doubt in my mind that the Egyptians understood that Israel would one day leave their land.

d.      Joseph was not buried (and the Egyptians knew this), for he was in a temporary place.


B.     The commandment of Joseph.

1.       Concerning the redemption of Israel from Egypt.

a.      Israel does live in a pagan nation, but they still worship and serve God.

b.      They are not to get to comfortable in Egypt for God has something better for them.

c.      We are not to get to comfortable on this earth, for God has something better for us.

d.      Israel does not leave on their own.

e.      They are waiting on the command from God to leave Egypt.

f.       Some people would proclaim that since they know they will leave, and that since they know they have an inheritance in Canaan, they should go an possess it.

g.      This thought may seem logical to some, but it is not what God wanted them to do.

h.      May God help us to know, not only what He wants us to do, but to also know when He wants us to do it.

2.       Joseph is going by scripture in commanding Israel to wait for the right time to leave Egypt.

a.      Genesis 15:16 is a prophecy God gave to Abraham many years ago.

b.      Joseph desires for Israel to yield themselves to God's revealed will and wait until the proper time to leave.

c.      When there are clear prophecies concerning our future, we should also yield ourselves to those prophecies.

d.      If we don't yield ourselves, God will work in some other circumstances to bring us under His directive will.

C.     Concerning his body.

1.       Joseph does not command his body to be embalmed.

2.       It is very likely he thinks they will do that, however.

3.       Joseph commands that his bones, not his body, be carried out of Egypt.

D.     The fulfilling of that command.

1.       When Joseph died, his body was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

2.       He was not buried in Egypt.

3.       This is a very clear picture to the Israelites that they should expect to return to Canaan.

4.       Exodus 14:11 declares that there are no Israelite graves in Egypt.

5.       Joshua 24:32 states that Joseph's bones were buried in Shechem.