Gen 50. 1-26 gives us a brief account of what happened after Jacob’s death. He was embalmed because he was to be taken to Canaan, and it was the Egyptian way of dealing with important figures. This speaks of the “preservation” of Israel in Egypt until it was time to leave. It also speaks of the preservation of Israel in the world (Egypt). It took forty days to embalm and there was another 30 days of mourning.
Jacob is taken back to Canaan and they observed seven more days of mourning. The Canaanites saw the mourning and named the place ‘Abel-Mizraim” which means “the mourning of Egypt.” Then Jacob was buried in Hebron at the cave called Machpelah. Joseph returns to Egypt as he promised (50.5), along with his brothers. The brothers still had a guilty conscience and wondered whether Joseph would come after them now that their father was dead. There is no evidence that Jacob even knew what they really did to Joseph, but they send a message saying that their father wanted Joseph to forgive them for what they did.
Now, this was not true but it shows that they don’t trust Joseph even after 17 years. Joseph weeps because they still don’t trust him, but his brothers come in person and they fell down before him and said, “We are your servants.” This will be like when Israel, and us, wonder if the Lord still holds our transgressions against us when we stand before him. But Joseph says it is not up to him to execute vengeance. They meant evil to him, but God was in control and it was all part of his plan for good, in order to bring about this present deliverance and to preserve many. So he tells them not to be afraid and that he will provide for them.
Joseph stayed in Egypt and lived to be 110 years old. That means he ruled in Egypt for 80 years. He tells his brothers sometime before his death that God will surely “take care of you.” In Hebrew it is “Pakod Yifkod” or “visit, visit.” It is twice in Hebrew, but you won’t see it in English. This alludes to the Egyptian Redemption, or the First Redemption, and the Messianic or Second Redemption. Luke 1.68 and Luke 19.44 speak of this first “visitation.” Pakod Yifkod is said again in 50.25 and it also means “visit, visit.” The last word in Genesis is “Egypt” and this is a transition to what awaits Israel in the Book of Exodus, called “Shemot” (Names).
Now, that is the basic story that everyone goes over when they read the Torah, but we are going to look at the same story of Joseph at a deeper level and how it relates to the Exodus from Egypt. We are going to use as a source for this material a book called “The Exodus You Almost Passed Over” by David Fohrman and we recommend any of his books. There is more to this story than meets the eye and we are going to take a look at the “the rest of the story.” Joseph’s story takes up 14 chapters of Genesis so the Lord is telling us something. He is telling us there is a lot to know and to see here. So, let’s begin to look at the rest of the story.
In the story of the Exodus, the Lord tells Moses that Pharaoh will notice their path in the desert and come after them (Exo 14.3). Then he says that he will “strengthen the heart of Pharaoh and he will chase after you” (Exo 14.4). The Hebrew phrase “strength of heart” is “chizuk ha lev” and it is a synonym for courage. Pharaoh is going to regret the fact that he let Israel go into the wilderness for three days, and now it looks like they may have left for good (Joseph’s tomb is empty). He will see how exposed Israel will be in the desert as they move towards the Gulf of Suez, and he will see this as an opportunity to get them back. So, the Lord will “strengthen” his heart to follow through with that desire. He does this in the face of all the destruction, suffering and losses he has seen and gone through in Egypt. He is going to go after them with his army anyway.
The second part of Exo 14.4 says “and I will be honored through Pharaoh and his army.” Why is it said that way? Is he speaking of the honor that will come to the Lord after Pharaoh and his army is destroyed? We don’t think so. God doesn’t rejoice over any judgment that takes place when it could have been avoided. In order to understand this verse we must look at other pieces of the puzzle. When the pieces are put together, we will see the whole picture.
To do that we need to look at the Exodus as one end, and see Israel before the Exodus and the story of Joseph and the death of Jacob and his burial as the other end, a front and back door if you will. There is so much meaning in this final story of Genesis that is just not taught, and that is why we are going to bring it out here. It is essential and full of concepts that will illuminate our hearts for the rest of Scripture, especially when we know that Joseph is one of the main types for the Messiah.
The story of the burial of Jacob seems pretty straight forward as we have just seen, or is it? It seems pretty simple, but in reality, it was full of stress, drama and intrigue. A clue to how important this story is can be seen in Gen 50.7-8, where it says, “So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of the household and all the elders of the land of Egypt and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen.”
Why would we care about who is watching the kids and the animals? We have several strange stories in the Exodus story, beginning here. We have God being honored through Pharaoh on one end, and where the kids were on the other. However, we are going to see just how important this information is as we move along in this teaching. We are going to look at the Exodus that actually was by looking at the Exodus as it might have been.
Jacob is eventually buried in Canaan, but it just didn’t happen, It was negotiated between Jacob and Joseph. The context for this negotiation took place 17 years after Jacob came to Egypt (Gen 47.28-31). Jacob calls for Joseph and tells him that he wants to be buried with his fathers. Joseph replies, “I shall do as you have said (Gen 47.30). Jacob then says, “Swear to me (that you will do it)” in Gen 47.31. Why would he question his loyal son? Didn’t Jacob trust him? Joseph takes an oath and then it says that Jacob “bows toward the head of the bed” (Gen 47.31. The word for “bed” is “mitah” and it can mean “legacy” or “children.” One interpretation of this says that Jacob bowed out of thanks because his “bed” or “legacy” was complete.
Joseph had spent nine years as an Egyptian official by the time his brothers arrive for food. Why didn’t he ever tell his father what had happened to him? Why didn’t he ever send him a message like, “Hey Dad, I’m alright and a ruler in Egypt. Will see you soon!” It is not like that would have been impossible. He was one of the most powerful people in the world. He can’t send a delegation to his father in Canaan? Have you ever asked yourself that? Well, the reason is Joseph had no idea what happened to him either. He had to wonder if his father had something to do with it. We know that Joseph is taken out of the pit and sold. Even the brothers never really knew what happened to him. So, to explain his disappearance, they take a goat and kill it, dip his multi-colored coat in the blood and showed it to Jacob. He sees the coat and the blood and surmises he has been killed. The brothers showed him what they wanted him to see. Jacob has been deceived by his sons, and he has the bloody coat. Meanwhile, Joseph is in a caravan on his way to Egypt and doesn’t know what happened. He doesn’t know his father has been tricked. If you were in Joseph’s place, how would you have interpreted these events?
Let’s replay what happened about this sale of Joseph and see how Joseph may have seen it. He is thinking “I was 17 and there was tension in the family about my dreams. Then my father sends me on this trip to Shechem to check on my brothers and the flocks. Why did he do that, and send me alone? He knows it is dangerous and he also knew they were jealous of me. I didn’t feel safe out there with them alone. When I get there they grab me and put me in a pit, and after a time, I am being taken out of the pit by Midianites and sold to Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt. I am going to be a slave. My brothers weren’t even around to say goodbye. They must have really hated me. How could they do that to me? And did my father know of all of this? Is he behind me being put out of the family?” What Joseph doesn’t know is that his father was deceived into believing that he was dead. Joseph may have believed he was thrown out of the family and it isn’t like it hasn’t happened before with his relatives. Sarah had Ishmael expelled. His grandmother Rebecca (Rivka) favored Jacob, and “poof” his uncle Esau is out. Even he was favored over the first-born Reuben, and he was out.
Joseph had a lot of time to think about all of this. Once in Egypt, someone new came into his life. Joseph found himself taken out of the pit of prison and placed in the very presence of Pharaoh. Pharaoh has been having some dreams and he was unable to sleep because they really bothered him. He believed they meant something but nobody could give him a satisfying answer. He needed these dreams interpreted and he hears about how his cupbearer had his dreams interpreted correctly by Joseph when he was being held in prison, so he sends for Joseph and pulls him out of prison (Gen 39.20). In Gen 41.14 the Torah uses the Hebrew word “bor” or “pit” for dungeon. Joseph must have thought that “this has happened before to me.” These events will be happening in reverse. Pharaoh “sent for Joseph” and takes him out of the pit (41.14). Before, Joseph was “sent away” (Gen 37.13) and put into a pit. The first part of Josephs’s story is going to be redeemed. But it doesn’t stop there.
In Part 22 we will pick up here.