Genesis – Chapter 50

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The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 50


Joseph threw himself on his father’s face and wept over him as he kissed him.


Then he ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father. When they embalmed Israel,


they spent forty days at it, for that is the full period of embalming; and the Egyptians mourned him for seventy days.


When that period of mourning was over, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh’s courtiers. «Please do me this favor,» he said, «and convey to Pharaoh this request of mine.


Since my father, at the point of death, made me promise on oath to bury him in the tomb that he had prepared for himself in the land of Canaan, may I go up there to bury my father and then come back?»


Pharaoh replied, «Go and bury your father, as he made you promise on oath.»


So Joseph left to bury his father; and with him went all of Pharaoh’s officials who were senior members of his court and all the other dignitaries of Egypt,


as well as Joseph’s whole household, his brothers, and his father’s household; only their children and their flocks and herds were left in the region of Goshen.


Chariots, too, and charioteers went up with him; it was a very large retinue.


1 When they arrived at Goren-ha-atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and solemn memorial service; and Joseph observed seven days of mourning for his father.


When the Canaanites who inhabited the land saw the mourning at Goren-ha-atad, they said, «This is a solemn funeral the Egyptians are having.» That is why the place was named Abel-mizraim. It is beyond the Jordan.


Thus Jacob’s sons did for him as he had instructed them.


They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought for a burial ground from Ephron the Hittite.


After Joseph had buried his father he returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all who had gone up with him for the burial of his father.


Now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought, «Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us and now plans to pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!»


So they approached Joseph and said: «Before your father died, he gave us these instructions:


‘You shall say to Joseph, Jacob begs you to forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers, who treated you so cruelly.’ Please, therefore, forgive the crime that we, the servants of your father’s God, committed.» When they spoke these words to him, Joseph broke into tears.


Then his brothers proceeded to fling themselves down before him and said, «Let us be your slaves!»


But Joseph replied to them: «Have no fear. Can I take the place of God?


Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.


Therefore have no fear. I will provide for you and for your children.» By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.


Joseph remained in Egypt, together with his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years.


He saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation, and the children of Manasseh’s son Machir were also born on Joseph’s knees.


Joseph said to his brothers: «I am about to die. God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.»


Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued, «When God thus takes care of you, you must bring my bones up with you from this place.»


Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. He was embalmed and laid to rest in a coffin in Egypt.

1 [10-11] Goren-ha-atad: «Threshing Floor of the Brambles.» Abel-mizraim: although the name really means «watercourse of the Egyptians,» it is understood here, by a play on the first part of the term, to mean «mourning of the Egyptians.» The site has not been identified through either reading of the name. But it is difficult to see why the mourning rites should have been held in the land beyond the Jordan when the burial was at Hebron. Perhaps an earlier form of the story placed the mourning rites beyond the Wadi of Egypt, the traditional boundary between Canaan and Egypt (⇒ Numbers 34:5; ⇒ Joshua 15:4, ⇒ 47).