Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday - Genesis 50 - The Passing of Jacob & Joseph

It is a moving scene. Joseph had been without his father for a couple of decades. Then he had enjoyed his fellowship in Egypt for almost two more decades. But, sadly his father was gone. Now, Joseph laid his face on the face of the body of his deceased father and just cried. Majesty and dignity unleashed in an emotional torrent of tears.
It's hard for us to imagine in our microwave and fast-food culture just how serious the passing of this patriarch was to those who knew him... or just how long they actually mourned his passing. It was either 77 or 117 days that Jacob's death was ritually recognized. There were 40 days which were set aside for the Egyptian method of embalming and 70 days (either in succession or overlapping the first 40) for the Egyptian ritual of bereavement. Then, in addition to travel time, Israel's family wept for him with severe lamentations for 7 days at the threshing floor of Atad in Canaan. It was at least a 77 day process... and could have been well over 117 days. Almost 4 months were dedicated to this man's funeral. In our society we seldom give much more than 4 hours to such ritualistic grief. Great cultural difference, eh?
When it was finally over and they were all back in Egypt, Joseph's brothers became fearful. They were afraid that he would seek vengeance, since their dad was no longer around to be disappointed in him or to speak for them. But, they were wrong. Joseph shed tears yet again when he realized the unuttered dread that his brothers had harbored for all of those years. Once again he reiterated his humble theology, “Am I in the place of God?   You thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
Indeed, he pampered his family until the day of his own death. As his last request he asked them to preserve his bones after his death and to take them back into Canaan when God returned Israel to that Promised Land. It would be several centuries... but it was to come to pass (Exodus 13:19). 

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