And they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Threshingfloor of Atad.—Atad means “a thorn-bush,” the rhamnus paliurus of Linnaeus, translated “bramble” in Judges 9:14. As agriculture was only beginning to be practised in Canaan, this threshing. floor would be common property, situated in some place easy of access, and probably a village would grow up near it.
Beyond Jordan.—It is disputed whether this means on the east or on the west of the Jordan. It is certain that the route taken by Joseph lay to the east of the Dead Sea; for Goren-Atad is placed by Jerome at Beth-Hoglah, which lay between the Jordan and Jericho, and Joseph could have gone thither only by travelling through the territories of Moab and Amnion. This may seem a long detour, but, as may be seen in the Excursus on the Expedition of Chedorlaomer, the route through the wilderness of Judah was very difficult; and though the western shore of the Dead Sea was practicable as far as Engedi, it was necessary there to ascend a mountain-path so steep that a few Amorites might have guarded it against any number of invaders; and probably it was absolutely impracticable for chariots. It would have been easy, however, to reach Hebron through the Philistine country; but it is remarkable that we find hostilities going on between the descendants of Joseph and the Philistines (1Chronicles 7:21); and if raids were of common occurrence between the Semitic clans in Goshen and the Philistines, Joseph would not expose his father’s remains to the danger of an attack. Possibly they may even have refused their consent, and hence the attack upon them by Ephraim’s sons. On the other hand, the sons of Esau would show great respect to the body of their uncle—(Jewish tradition makes even the sons of Ishmael and of Keturah take part in the mourning)—and moreover they had not yet attained to any great power; and we gather from Esau’s march through the lands on the west of the Dead Sea (Genesis 32:6) that the natives there were too few and feeble to resist the chariots and horsemen which formed the escort. While therefore “beyond Jordan” would naturally mean “on the east of Jordan,” it may here express the fact that Joseph had just crossed the Jordan when the lamentation was made. The only other tenable explanation is that Goren-Atad was really on the eastern bank of the Jordan, and that though Beth-Hoglah was the nearest village, the two were not identical. It would be natural to make the solemn seven days’ mourning, either when just about to enter the Canaanite territory or at the tomb.Genesis 50:10. They mourned with a very great and sore lamentation — “This,” says Sir John Chardin, quoted by Harmer, (vol. 2. p. 136,) “is exactly the genius of the people of Asia, especially of the women. Their sentiments of joy or grief are properly transports; and their transports are ungoverned, excessive, and truly outrageous. When any one returns from a long journey, or dies, his family bursts into cries that may be heard twenty doors off; and this is renewed at different times, and continues many days, according to the vigour of the passion. Especially are these cries long in the case of death, and frightful; for their mourning is right down despair, and an image of hell. I was lodged, in the year 1676, at Ispahan, near the royal square; the mistress of the next house to mine died at that time. The moment she expired, all the family, to the number of twenty-five or thirty people, set up such a furious cry, that I was quite startled, and was above two hours before I could recover myself. These cries continue a long time, then cease all at once; they begin again as suddenly at day-break and in concert. It is this suddenness which is so terrifying, together with a greater shrillness or loudness than any one would easily imagine. This enraged kind of mourning, if I may call it so, continued forty days, not equally violent, but with diminution from day to day. The longest and most violent acts were when they washed the body, when they perfumed it, when they carried it out to be interred, at making the inventory, and when they divided the effects. You are not to suppose that those that were ready to split their throats with crying out wept as much: the greatest part of them did not shed a single tear through the whole tragedy.” It is probable, however, that there was more sincerity in the mourning, even of the Egyptians, for Jacob, than is described in these words; for they seem evidently to have greatly respected him. And their solemn mourning for him (Genesis 50:11) gave a name to the place, Abel-Misraim, which, in Hebrew, signifies, The mourning of the Egyptians: which served for a testimony against the next generation of the Egyptians, who oppressed the posterity of this Jacob, to whom their ancestors showed such respect.Atad, a man so called; or, of thorn, or thorns, as the word signifies, Judges 9:14 Psalm 58:9. So it might be a place either abounding or encompassed with thorns.
Beyond, or on this side; for the word signifies both, and it may be taken either way here; the one in respect of Egypt, the other in regard of the place in which Moses wrote. It is certain they fetched a great compass, whether for the commodiousness of the way for their chariots, and for conveniences for so great a company, or to prevent all jealousies in the people, as if they came thither with ill design, is not material.
There they mourned, because there was the entrance into that country or territory where he was to be buried. Though the Egyptians were not much grieved nor concerned for Jacob’s death, yet they used bitter cries and lamentations, which possibly were made or aggravated by persons hired and used upon such occasions. See Jeremiah 9:17.
Seven days, according to the custom. See 1 Samuel 31:13. Judges 9:14 and it was usual to make a hedge of thorns round about a threshingfloor (o), that it might be preserved; mention is made in the Talmud (p) of the wilderness of Atad, perhaps so called from the thorns and brambles in it: Jerom says (q) it was three miles from Jericho and two from Jordan, and was in his time called Bethagla, the place of a circuit, because there they went about after the manner of mourners at the funeral of Jacob. This, according to some (r), was two hundred and forty miles from On, where Joseph was supposed to live, sixteen from Jerusalem, and forty from Hebron, where Jacob was buried: nay, Austin (s) says it was above fifty miles from that place, as affirmed by those who well knew those parts:
which is beyond Jordan; as it was to those that came out of Egypt:
and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation; being now entered into the country where the corpse was to be interred; and perhaps they might choose to stop here and express tokens of mourning, that the inhabitants might be apprised of their design in coming, which was not to invade them and make war upon them, only to bury their dead: this mourning seems to be made chiefly by the Egyptians, which was done in an external way, and it may be by persons brought with them for that purpose; since both the name of the place after given was from their mourning there, and the mourning of Joseph is next observed as distinct from theirs:
and he made a mourning for his father seven days; which was the time of mourning, afterwards observed by the Jews, see 1 Samuel 31:13, this Joseph ordered and observed after he had buried his father, as Aben Ezra says, is affirmed by their ancient Rabbins, and perhaps might be at this same place upon their return.
(o) T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 13. 1. & Gloss. in ib. Aruch in voc. fol. 39. 4. (p) T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 40. 1.((q) De locis Heb. fol. 87. G. (r) Bunting's Travels, p. 79, 80. (s) Quaest. is Gen. l. 1. p. 54. "inter opera ejus", tom. 4.And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. the threshing-floor of Atad] Goren-ha-Atad, a threshing-floor of “the thornbush,” or “bramble” (Jdg 9:14-15). The place is nowhere else referred to.
beyond Jordan] By this expression is generally meant “on the east side of Jordan.” If so, we must suppose that for some reason the burial company leaving Egypt travelled round the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. But this appears extremely improbable. The traditional burial-place of Jacob was at Machpelah. No Israelite could suppose that, even for the purpose of doing honour to Jacob, it would have been necessary to go round into trans-Jordanic territory. Winckler conjectures that the original reading was “on the other side of the river” (viz. “the River of Egypt,” or ‘El-Arîsh, the boundary of Egypt and Canaan, cf. Numbers 34:5; 1 Kings 8:65), and that this was carelessly altered by the error of a scribe to the more familiar phrase “beyond Jordan.” Whether this conjecture be accepted or not, the present text is unintelligible. It is very unlikely that any legend would have arisen connecting Jacob’s burial-place with the eastern bank of the Jordan.
seven days] See note on Genesis 50:3. “Lamentation” (cf. Genesis 23:2), i.e. the Oriental custom of “wailing” for the dead.Verse 10. - And they came to the threshing-floor of Atad. The threshing-floor, or goren, was a large open circular area which was used for trampling out the corn by means of oxen, and was exceedingly convenient for the accommodation of a large body of people such as accompanied Joseph. The goren at which the funeral party halted was named Atad (i.e. Buckthorn), either from the name of the owner, or from the quantity of buck-thorn which grew in the neighborhood. Which is beyond Jordan - literally, on the other side of the Jordan, i.e. west side, if the narrator wrote from his own standpoint (Jerome, Drusius, Ainsworth, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Wordsworth, et alii), in which case the funeral train would in all probability follow the direct route through the country of the Philistines, and Goren Atad would be situated somewhere south of Hebron, in the territory (afterwards) of Judah; but east side of the river if the phrase must be interpreted from the standpoint of Palestine (Clericus, Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Keil, Lange, Gerlach, Havernick, Murphy, and others), in which case the burial procession must have journeyed by the wilderness, as the Israelites on a latter occasion did, and probably for not dissimilar reasons. In favor of the former interpretation may be claimed ver. 11, which says the Canaanites beheld the mourning, implying seemingly that it occurred within the borders of Canaan, i.e. on the west of the Jordan; while support for the latter is derived from ver. 13, which appears to state that after the lamentation at Goren Atad the sons of Jacob carried him into Canaan, almost necessarily involving the inference that Goren Atad was on the east of the Jordan; but vide infra. If the former is correct, Goren Atad was probably the place which Jerome calls Betagla tertio ab Hiericho lapide, duobus millibus ab Jordane; if the latter is correct, it does not prove a post-Mosaic authorship (Tuch, Bohlen, &c.), since the phrase appears to have had an ideal usage with reference to Canaan in addition to the objective geographical one (Hengstenberg 'On the Genuineness of the Pentateuch,' vol. 2. p. 260; Keil's 'Introduction,' vol. 1. p. 189; Kalisch 'On Genesis,' p. 776). And there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation. The Egyptians were exceedingly demonstrative and vehement in their public lamentations for the dead, rending their garments, smiting on their breasts, throwing dust and mud on their heads, calling on the deceased by name, and chanting funeral dirges to the music of a tambourine with the tinkling plates removed (Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 3. p. 440, ed. 1878). And he made a mourning for his father seven days. This was a special mourning before interment (cf. Ecclus. 22:11). Genesis 50:5) signifies "to dig" (used, as in 2 Chronicles 16:14, for the preparation of a tomb), not "to buy," In the expression לי כּריתי Jacob attributes to himself as patriarch what had really been done by Abraham (Genesis 24). Joseph required the royal permission, because he wished to go beyond the border with his family and a large procession. But he did not apply directly to Pharaoh, because his deep mourning (unshaven and unadorned) prevented him from appearing in the presence of the king.
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