And the time drew near that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said to him, If now I have found grace in your sight…
This request was rooted in something deeper than the merely natural desire of a man to have his body laid beside those of his nearest kindred. Under the New Testament dispensation, indeed, we have learned that it makes no matter where our bodies are buried, for by His brief occupancy of the tomb of Joseph the Lord Jesus Christ has consecrated the whole earth as a cemetery for His people; and by His resurrection from the grave He has given us the assurance that they that sleep in Him, wheresoever their resting-places are, shall hear His voice at the last great day, and shall come forth in spiritual and incorruptible forms to meet Him in the skies. The mere locality of our grave, therefore, is of comparatively small importance, whether we are laid away under the arctic snows, like the brave explorers who accompanied the dauntless Franklin, or beneath the shade of tropical shrubs on the rim of the Dark Continent, like those missionary martyrs who by their sepulchres have taken possession of the Machpelah in that new Land of Promise, or in the dark, unfathomed caves of ocean, with the white foam of the waves for our shroud, and the whistling of the winds for our requiem. It is all one to the Christian where his body is laid. And yet even the Christian has the natural desire to be laid beside his kindred; so that in all our cemeteries we have family lots, and in many of our old country homesteads we come yet upon the quiet and secluded enclosure where the ashes of the first settlers and those of their successors lie. But Jacob's desire that his body should be laid in Machpelah had a deeper root than nature. The land of Canaan was his by God's covenant. He had not yet obtained it. For aught that he could see, he was to die without entering on its possession; but even in his death he would show that he still believed that his children would have its ownership, and therefore he made Joseph swear that he would bury him in the sepulchre of his fathers. Nor was this all. He wanted his sons and his descendants to know that Egypt was not their rest. He desired to fix their minds on Canaan, and to fan in their hearts the desire to return thither when God should open up the way.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:
WEB: The time drew near that Israel must die, and he called his son Joseph, and said to him, "If now I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please don't bury me in Egypt,