|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
50:1-6 Though pious relatives and friends have lived to a good old age, and we are confident they are gone to glory, yet we may regret our own loss, and pay respect to their memory by lamenting them. Grace does not destroy, but it purifies, moderates, and regulates natural affection. The departed soul is out of the reach of any tokens of our affection; but it is proper to show respect to the body, of which we look for a glorious and joyful resurrection, whatever may become of its remains in this world. Thus Joseph showed his faith in God, and love to his father. He ordered the body to be embalmed, or wrapped up with spices, to preserve it. See how vile our bodies are, when the soul has forsaken them; they will in a very little time become noisome, and offensive.
Verse 3. - And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those who are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned (literally, wept) for him threescore and ten days - i.e. the whole period of mourning, including the forty days for embalming, extended to seventy days, a statement which strikingly coincides with the assertion of Diodorus Siculus (1:72), that the embalming process occupied about thirty days, while the mourning continued seventy-two days; the first number, seventy, being seven decades, or ten weeks of seven days, and the second 12 x 6 = 72, the duodecimal calculation being also used in Egypt (vide Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 121; and in ' Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians: vol. 3. p. 471, et seqq., ed. 1878). The apparent discrepancy between the accounts of Genesis and Herodotus will disappear if the seventy days of the Greek historian, during which the body lay in antrum, be viewed as the entire period of mourning (Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 68; Sir G. Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. p. 121), a sense which the words ταῦτα δὲ ποιήσαντες ταριχεύουσι λίτρῳ κρίηψαντες ἡμέρας ἐβδομήκοντα (Herod. 2:86)will bear, though Kalisch somewhat arbitrarily, but unconvincingly, pronounces it to be "excluded both by the context and Greek syntax."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Forty days were fulfilled for him,.... Were spent in embalming him:
for so are fulfilled the days of those that are embalmed; so long the body lay in the pickle, in ointment of cedar, myrrh and cinnamon, and other things, that it might soak and penetrate thoroughly into it: and so Diodorus Siculus (d) says, that having laid more than thirty days in such a state, it was delivered to the kindred of the deceased:
and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days; during the time of their embalming him; for longer than seventy days the body might not lie in the pickle, as before observed, from Herodotus. According to Diodorus Siculus (e), the Egyptians used to mourn for their kings seventy two days: the account he gives is, that"upon the death of a king, all Egypt went into a common mourning, tore their garments, shut up their temples, forbid sacrifices, kept not the feasts for seventy two days, put clay upon their heads (f), girt linen clothes under their breasts; men and women, two or three hundred together, went about twice a day, singing in mournful verses the praises of the deceased; they abstained from animal food, and from wine, and all dainty things; nor did they use baths, nor ointments, nor lie in soft beds, nor dared to use venery, but, as if it was for the death of a beloved child, spent the said days in sorrow and mourning.''Now these seventy days here are either a round number for seventy two, or two are taken from them, as Quistorpius suggests, to make a difference between Jacob, and a king of theirs, who yet being the father of their viceroy, they honoured in such a manner. Jarchi accounts for the number thus, forty for embalming, and thirty for mourning; which latter was the usual time for mourning with the Jews for principal men, and which the Egyptians added to their forty of embalming; see Numbers 20:29.
(d) lBibliothec. l. 1. p. 82. (e) lbid. p. 65. (f) Vid. Pompon. Mela de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. the Egyptians mourned, &c. It was made a period of public mourning, as on the death of a royal personage.
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