Generous God, giver of life, provider of all good things, You have sustained and supported me. I thank You and bless Your name.
Read Genesis 49:29 – 50:14
The Death of Jacob
29 Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.[a]”
33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
50 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, 5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’”
6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him—the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt— 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen[b] also went up with him. It was a very large company.
10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.[c]
12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectReflect on 1 Corinthians 2:9. What is God saying to you?
Jacob was desperate to be buried in the land of his ancestors, but this raised questions in Egypt and locally (11). A burial outside of Egypt required Pharaoh’s permission, which could be secured only by Joseph. Jacob had made Joseph swear to his request (Genesis 47:29–31). Again, before his death, Jacob repeated his request to all his sons (29). So why was Jacob so insistent on the location of his burial?
The site at Machpelah had been bought by Abraham for the burial of Sarah (Genesis 23). It was a possession, not simply land to which Abraham, a nomad, had access for his flocks. In the wider context of the Bible, it is the first installment of the promised land that Israel would possess, and Jacob becomes the first installment of the exodus of God’s people from Egypt. His insistence on being buried at Machpelah is a powerful statement to his sons that they do not belong in Egypt: they are inheritors of God’s promise to Abraham and they must not settle for anything less.
When life is demanding, it is easy for us to lose sight of the bigger picture of God’s purposes for us. Scripture urges us to ‘make every effort’ to enter into the destiny God has for us (Hebrews 4:8–11).
Allow God to search your heart today. Am I ‘settling for Egypt’? Is there something greater that God is calling me to? Has my heart become hardened to His voice? (Psalm 95, Hebrews 3:7–19.)
Merciful Father, I thank You for the meaning You give to life and death. In Christ I can live fully now, and one day I will live forever. I praise Your name.
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