And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
Verse 1. - And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. Joseph had no doubt closed the eyes of his revered and beloved parent, as God had promised to the patriarch that he would (Genesis 46:4), and now, in demonstration both of the intensity of his love and of the bitterness of his sorrow, he sinks upon the couch upon which the lifeless form is lying, bonding over the pallid countenance with warm tears, and imprinting kisses of affection on the cold and irresponsive lip. It is neither unnatural nor irreligious to mourn for the dead; and he must be callous indeed who can see a parent die without an outburst of tender grief.
And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
Verse 2. - And Joseph commanded his servants, the physicians - literally, the healers, הָרֹפְאִים from רָפָא, to sew together, to mend, hence to heal, a class of persons which abounded in Ancient Egypt, each physician being only qualified to treat a single disorder (Herod., 2:84). The medical men of Egypt were held in high repute abroad, and their assistance was at various times required by persons from other countries, as, e.g., Cyrus and Darius (Herod., 3:1, 132). Their knowledge of medicines was extensive, and is referred to both in sacred (Jeremiah 66:11) and profane (Homer, 'Odyssey" 4 . 229) writings. The Egyptian doctors belonged to the sacerdotal order, and were expected to know all things relating to the body, and diseases and remedies contained in the six last of the sacred books of Hermes. According to Pliny (7:56), the study of medicine originated in Egypt (vide Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol 2. pp. 116, 117). The physicians employed by Joseph were those attached to his own household, or the court practitioners - to embalm his father: - literally, to spice or season (the body of) his father, i.e. to prepare it for burial by means of aromatics; ut aromatibus condirent (Vulgate); ἐνταφιάσαι τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ (LXX.), which is putting part of a proceeding for the whole (Tayler Lewis). According to Herodotus (2:86), the embalmers belonged to a distinct hereditary class or guild from the ordinary physicians; but either their formation into such a separate order of practitioners was of later origin (Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Kalisch), or Jacob was embalmed by the physicians instead of the embalmers proper because, not being an Egyptian, he could not be subjected to the ordinary treatment of the embalming art ('Speaker's Commentary') - and the physicians embalmed Israel. The method of preparing mummies in Ancient Egypt has been elaborately described, both by Herodotus (2:86) and Diodorus Sieulus (1:91), and, in the main, the accuracy of their descriptions has been confirmed by the evidence derived from the mummies themselves. According to the most expensive process, which cost one talent of silver, or about £250 sterling, the brain was first extracted through the nostrils by means of a crooked piece of iron, the skull being thoroughly cleansed of any remaining portions by rinsing with drugs; then, through an opening in the left side made with a sharp Ethiopian knife of agate or of flint, the viscera were removed, the abdomen being afterwards purified with palm wine and an infusion of aromatics; next, the disemboweled corpse was filled with every sort of spicery except frankincense, and the opening sewed up; after that the stuffed form was steeped for seventy days in natrum or subcarbonate of soda obtained from the Libyan desert, and sometimes in wax and tanning, bitumen also being employed in later times; and finally, on the expiration of that period, which was scrupulously observed, the body was washed, wrapped about with linen bandages, smeared over with gum, decorated with amulets, sometimes with a network of porcelain bugles, covered with a linen shroud, and, in due course, transferred to a mummy case (vide Wilkinson's 'Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 3. p. 471, ed. 1878; Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 2. pp. 118-123).
And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
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."
And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
Verses 4, 5. - And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, - that Joseph did not address himself directly to Pharaoh, but through the members of the royal household, was not owing to the circumstance that, being arrayed in mourning apparel, he could not come before the king (Rosenmüller), since it is not certain that this Persian custom (Esther 4:2) prevailed in Egypt, but is supposed to have been due, either to a desire on Joseph's part to put himself on a good understanding with the priesthood who composed the courtly circle, since the interment of the dead was closely connected with the religious beliefs of Egypt (Havernick), or, what was more likely, to the fact that Joseph, having, according to Egyptian custom (Herod. 2:36), allowed his beard and hair to grow, could not enter the king's presence without being both shaven and shorn (Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Keil). It has been suggested (Kalisch) that Joseph's power may have been restricted after the expiration of the famine, or that another Pharaoh may have succeeded to the throne who was not so friendly as his predecessor with the grand vizier of the realm; but such conjectures are not required to render Joseph's conduct in this matter perfectly intelligible - saying, My father made me swear (Genesis 47:29), saying (i.e. my father saying), Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me - not bought (Onkelos, Drusius, Ainsworth, Bohlen, and others), but digged, ὤρυξα (LXX.), fodi (Vulgate). Jacob may have either enlarged the original cave at Machpelah, or prepared in it the special niche which he designed to occupy - in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore (literally, and now) let me go up, I pray thee (the royal permission was required to enable Joseph to pass beyond the boundaries of Egypt, especially when accompanied by a large funeral procession), and bury my father, and I will come again.
My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
Verse 6. - And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear. Pharaoh's answer would, of course, be conveyed through the courtiers.
And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,
Verses 7-9. - And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh (i.e. the chief officers of the royal palace, as the next clause explains), the elders of his house (i.e. of Pharaoh s house), and all the elders of the land of Egypt (i.e. the nobles and State officials), and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him (as an escort) both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. Delineations of funeral processions, of a most elaborate character, may be seen on the monuments. A detailed and highly interesting account of the funeral procession of an Egyptian grandee, enabling us to picture to the mind's eye the scene of Jacob s burial, will be found in Wilkinson's 'Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,' vol. 3. p. 444, ed. 1878. First servants led the way, carrying tables laden with fruit, cakes, flowers, vases of ointment, wine and other liquids, with three young geese and a calf for sacrifice, chairs and wooden tablets, napkins, and other things. Then others followed bearing daggers, bows, fans, and the mummy cases in which the deceased and his ancestors had been kept previous to burial. Next came a table of offerings, fauteuils, couches, boxes, and a chariot. After these men appeared with gold vases and more offerings. To these succeeded the bearers of a sacred boat and the mysterious eye of Osiris, as the god of stability. Placed in the consecrated boat, the hearse containing the mummy of the deceased was drawn by four oxen and by seven men, under the direction of a superintendent who regulated the march of the funeral. Behind the hearse followed the male relations and friends of the deceased, who either beat their breasts, or gave token of their sorrow by their silence and solemn step as they walked, leaning on their long sticks; and with these the procession closed.
And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.
And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
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.
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).
And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.
Verse 11. - And when (literally, and) the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they (literally, and they) said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, - i.e. the meadow (אָבֵל) of the Egyptians, with a play upon the word (אֵבֶל) mourning (Keil, Kurtz, Gerlach, Rosenmüller, &c.), if indeed the word has not been punctuated wrongly - אָבֵל instead of אֵבֶל (Kalisch), which latter reading appears to have been followed by the LXX. (πένθος Αἰγύπτου) and the Vulgate (planctus AEgypti) - which is beyond Jordan (vide supra).
And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
Verses 12, 13. - And his sons - the Egyptians halting at Goren Atad (Keil, Havernick, Kalisch, Murphy, etc.); but this does not appear from the narrative - did unto him according as he commanded them (the explanation of what they did being given in the next clause): for his sons carried him - not simply from Goren Atad, but from Egypt, so that this verse does not imply anything about the site of the Buckthorn threshing-floor (vide supra, ver. 11) - into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a burying-place of Ephron the Hittite, before Mature (vide Genesis 23.).
For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.
And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
Verse 14. - And Joseph returnee into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
Verse 15. - And when (literally and) Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they (literally, and they) said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, - literally, If Joseph hated us, or pursued us hostilely (sc. what would become of us?), לוּ with the imperfect or future setting forth a possible but undesirable contingency (vide Ewald's 'Hebrew Syntax,' § 358a; Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce) - and will certainly requite us (literally, if returning he caused to return upon us) all the evil which we did unto him. "What then?" is the natural conclusion of the sentence. "We must be utterly undone."
And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
Verses 16, 17. - And (under these erroneous though not unnatural apprehensions) they sent a messenger unto Joseph, - literally, they charged Joseph, i.e. they deputed one of their number (possibly Benjamin) to carry their desires to Joseph - saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying (though not recorded, the circumstance here mentioned may have been historically true), So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil (nothing is more inherently probable than that the good man on his death-bed did request his sons to beg their brother's pardon): and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. Joseph's brethren in these words at once evince the depth of their humility, the sincerity of their repentance, and the genuineness of their religion. They were God's true servants, and they wished to be forgiven by their much-offended brother, who, however, had long since embraced them in the arms of his affection. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him - pained that they should for a single moment have enter-rained such suspicions against his love.
So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
Verse 18. - And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. Both the attitudes assumed and the words spoken were designed to express the intensity of their contrition and the fervor of their supplication.
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Verse 19. - And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? - i.e. either reading the words as a question, Should I arrogate to myself what obviously belongs to Elohim, viz., the power and right of vengeance (Calvin, Kalisch, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or the power to interfere with the purposes of God? (Keil, Rosenmüller); or, regarding them as an assertion, I am in God's stead, i.e. a minister to you for good (Wordsworth).
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Verse 20. - But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good (literally, and ye were thinking or meditating evil against me; Elohim was thinking or meditating for good, i.e. that what you did should be for good), to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (vide Genesis 45:5).
Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
Verse 21. - Now therefore (literally, and now) fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. Thus he repeats and confirms the promise which he had originally made to them when he invited them to come to Egypt (Genesis 45:11, 18, 19). And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them - literally, to their hearts (cf. Genesis 34:3).
And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
Verse 22. - And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. Wordsworth notices that Joshua, who superintended the burial of Joseph in Shechem, also lived 110 years. Joseph's death occurred fifty-six years after that of Jacob.
And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees.
Verse 23. - And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: - i.e. Ephraim's great-grandchildren (Kalisch, Lange), or Ephraim s great-great-grandsons (Keil, Murphy), which perhaps was not impossible, since Ephraim must have been born before Joseph's thirty-seventh year, thus allowing at least sixty-three years for four generations to intervene before the patriarch's death, which might be, if marriage happened early, say not later than eighteen - the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh-by a concubine (1 Chronicles 7:14) were brought up upon Joseph's knees - literally, were born upon Joseph's knees, i.e. were adopted by him as soon as they were born (Kalisch, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or were born so that he could take them also upon his knees, and show his love for them (Keil).
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Verses 24, 25. - And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God (Elohim) will surely visit you, - literally, visiting will visit you, according to his promise (Genesis 46:4) - and bring you out of this land unto the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, - as his father had done of him (Genesis 47:31), - saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. The writer to the Hebrews (Genesis 11:22) refers to this as a signal instance of faith on the part of Joseph.
And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Verse 26. - So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old (literally, a son of a hundred and ten years), and they (i.e. the children of Israel) embalmed him (vide on ver. 2), and he was put in a coffin (or chest, i.e. a mummy case, which was commonly constructed of sycamore wood) in Egypt, where he remained for a period of 360 years, until the time of the Exodus, when, according to the engagement now given, his remains were carried up to Canaan, and solemnly deposited in the sepulcher of Shechem (Joshua 24:32).