Genesis 50:3
And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him three score and ten days.
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(3) Forty days.—Herodotus (ii. 86) describes the process of embalming as occupying seventy days, but he was speaking of what he saw at Thebes, whereas Memphis was the Egyptian capital in Joseph’s time; and the mummies of Thebes are, we are told, far more perfectly preserved than those of Memphis. Diodorus agrees very nearly with the periods mentioned here, saying (i. 91) that the embalming took somewhat more than thirty days, and the mourning for a king seventy-two. The usual period of mourning among the Israelites was thirty days (Numbers 20:29 : Deuteronomy 34:8). Probably, therefore, the forty days spent in the embalming were included in the “threescore and ten days,” during which the Egyptians mourned for Jacob.

Genesis 50:3. Forty days were fulfilled for him — That is, for embalming him, this time being, at the least, requisite to go through the process. But according to Herodotus, the body often remained at the embalmer’s seventy days. The Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days — Thirty days according to the custom of the Hebrews, Numbers 20:29,

Deuteronomy 34:8, over and above the forty employed in embalming, which also was a time of mourning. During all which time they either confined themselves, and sat solitary, or, when they went out, appeared in the habit of close mourners, according to the custom of the country.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.After the natural outburst of sorrow for his deceased parent, Joseph gave orders to embalm the body, according to the custom of Egypt. "His servants, the physicians." As the grand vizier of Egypt, he has physicians in his retinue. The classes and functions of the physicians in Egypt may be learned from Herodotus (ii.-81-86). There were special physicians for each disease; and the embalmers formed a class by themselves. "Forty days" were employed in the process of embalming; "seventy days," including the forty, were devoted to mourning for the dead. Herodotus mentions this number as the period of embalming. Diodorus (i. 91) assigns upwards of thirty days to the process. It is probable that the actual process was continued for forty days, and that the body lay in natron for the remaining thirty days of mourning. See Hengstenberg's B. B. Mos. u. Aeg., and Rawlinson's Herodotus.3. the Egyptians mourned, &c. It was made a period of public mourning, as on the death of a royal personage. For him, i.e. for his embalming; that so the drugs or spices which were applied might more effectually reach to all the parts of the dead body, and keep it from corruption. And the effect of their diligence and so long continuance in this work was, that bodies have been preserved uncorrupt for some thousand of years.

Threescore and ten days, i.e. thirty days, (according to the custom of the Hebrews, Numbers 20:29 Deu 34:8, to which doubtless the Egyptians in this case did accommodate themselves,) besides the forty days spent in embalming him, which also was a time of mourning. And thus I suppose the Egyptians reckoned those seventy-two days which Diodorus Siculus saith they spent in mourning for their deceased kings. 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.

And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him {b} threescore and ten days.

(b) They were more excessive in lamenting than the faithful.

3. forty days] Herod. ii. 86 mentions 70 days, and Diodorus (i. 72) mentions 72 days as the time required for the process of embalming.

threescore and ten days] It is here specially mentioned in honour of Jacob, that the Egyptian nation mourned him for 70 days.

The period of mourning for Aaron and for Moses was 30 days (Numbers 20:29; Deuteronomy 34:8). In later historic times the period of mourning for the dead was seven days (cf. 1 Samuel 31:13; Job 2:13; Sir 22:12; Jdt 16:24).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." Death of Jacob. - After the blessing, Jacob again expressed to his twelve sons his desire to be buried in the sepulchre of his fathers (Genesis 24), where Isaac and Rebekah and his own wife Leah lay by the side of Abraham and Sarah, which Joseph had already promised on oath to perform (Genesis 47:29-31). He then drew his feet into the bed to lie down, for he had been sitting upright while blessing his sons, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered to his people (vid., Genesis 25:8). ויּגוע instead of ויּמת indicates that the patriarch departed from this earthly life without a struggle. His age is not given here, because that has already been done at Genesis 47:28.
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