At the age of 147, Jacob (Israel) died, surrounded by his twelve sons. He had enjoyed seventeen years of peace in the land of Egypt. I am sure he spent a lot of time catching up with Joseph, who fell on him weeping when he passed. All of Egypt joined the mourning while Jacob’s body was mummified Egyptian-style.
Joseph had promised his father that he would bury him in the family tomb in Canaan. The long funeral procession must have been quite a production: all the adults of Jacob’s family made the trip, along with a large Egyptian entourage and a military escort of horses and chariots. “It was a very great company” (v.9), a fitting send-off for the great father of the Israelite nation.
With their father gone, the older brothers were afraid that Joseph might be preparing the embalming table for them, too. Would he finally get his revenge and kill them? They must not have known Joseph — or his God — very well.
They fell before him, quoting the (probably made-up) dying plea of Jacob that Joseph forgive his brothers. But Joseph had already released them from guilt seventeen years before!
Once again, in a final display of astounding grace, Joseph “comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (v.21). His kind statement in verse 20 has become his epitaph — a one-sentence testimony of one of the greatest men of faith the world has ever known. It needs no comment from me, so I close this blog and our 25-day journey through Genesis with it.
Tomorrow we will fast-forward to the gospel of Matthew to spend eleven days at the feet of Jesus.
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)