Monday, March 16, 2009

GENESIS: Chapters 49 & 50

Chapter 49
Summary:Jacob/Israel called together all of his sons, explaining what would happen to them in the days to come.

To Reuben, Jacob says that although he is the oldest son, and at the head of the list in rank and honor, he is unruly and will therefore be demoted in rank due to Reuben having slept with Bilhah*.

He then speaks of Simeon and Levi, stating that they are two of a kind and are both evil men. He states that they are men of violence, citing their murdering and animal cruelty. Therefore, Jacob curses that their descendants will be scattered throughout the land of Israel, that they will not receive land as their brothers so.

To Judah, he tells that his brothers will praise him, he will destroy his enemies, and that his father's sons shall bow before him.

To Zebelun, he says he will dwell on the shore and will be a harbor with borders extending to Sidon.

To Issachar, he calls a strong beast of burden. He appreciates the countryside and willingly goes to task, serving his masters with vigor.

To Dan, he claims he shall govern like the other tribes of Israel, but compares him to a snake biting at the heels of horses to dismount a rider.

He then predicts that a marauding group will stomp Gad, but that he shall rob and pursue them.

He says of Asher, that he shall produce rich foods, fit for a king.

He compares Naphtali to a deer on the loose, producing offspring.

About Joseph, he states that despite having been severely injured by those who have persecuted him, their weapons were shattered by God. He then blesses Joseph again in the name of God.

He compares Benjamin to a wolf that prowls and hunts in the morning, dividing his spoils by nightfall.

Finishing his blessings to his twelve sons, he informs them that his death is at hand. He insists that he must be buried in Canaan, in the cave in the field of Mach-Pelah. Stating that Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; as well as his own wife Leah are all buried there. Jacob/Israel laid back in bed and took his final breath and died.
Notes:1.) This occurs at the end of Chapter 35.
Thoughts:There's not really much to comment on in Jacob's/Israel's deathbed vigil to his sons. He condemns Reuben, Simeon, and Levi for their acts and makes vague and often strange prophecies about the rest, barring Joseph - who gets his utmost blessing.

One interesting note however, is that we find out that Leah was buried in the family cave in Canaan, as opposed to Rachel who got buried near the side of the road going to Bethlehem. It would appear that although you could have many wives, you could only take one (possibly only your first) into the family cemetery. It's rather interesting that Rachel, being the one that Jacob/Israel was truly in love with gets buried by the side of the road, while Leah got the honor of being interred in the family plot.
Chapter 50
Summary:Joseph threw himself over his father's body, wept, and kissed him. He then had his palace morticians embalm his father's body, which took forty days to complete. A period of national mourning commenced for seventy days after.

When the period of mourning was over, Joseph requested to speak to the Pharaoh, asking for permission to go bury his father in Canaan, assuring the Pharaoh that he would return promptly to Egypt afterward. The Pharaoh agreed, and sent along a great number of his staff to accompany Joseph and his family, with the exception of the younger children, to Canaan.

When they arrived at Atad (meaning "Threshing Place of Brambles"), beyond the Jordan River, they held a great yet somber funeral service, with a seven day period of lamentation for Joseph's father. The local Canaanite residents named the place Abel-mizraim (meaning "Egyptian Mourners").

His sons now did as Israel/Jacob had commanded them, and carried his body into the land of Canaan burying him in the cave of Mach-pelah.

Joseph then returned to Egypt with his brothers, who now became frightened that with their father now gone, that Joseph would seek vengeance upon them for all the evil they had done to him long ago.

The brothers decided to send Joseph a message claiming that their father had requested that he forgive his brothers for all the evil they had done to him. When Joseph read the message, he broke down in tears.

His brothers then came and bowed low before him informing him that they were slaves to Joseph. Joseph, however, told them not to fear him, and explained again that God had turned what they had meant as an act of evil into an act of good. He continued by saying that God had given him this high position to save the lives of many people, and reassured them that he would in turn take care of his brothers and their families. So Joseph, his brothers, and their families continued to live in Egypt.

Joseph lived to the age of 110, surviving to see the children of his son Ephraim, and the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh.

Before his death, he told his brothers that he was near the end of his life, but that God would surely come and bring them out of Egypt and back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He then made his brothers promise that they would take his body with them when they returned to Canaan.

Joseph died at the age of 110, was embalmed, and his body laid to rest in a coffin in Egypt.
Thoughts:Just as we wrapped up the story of Jacob/Israel, we now spend the rest of the chapter finishing off Joseph's story as well.

After burying their father in Canaan, Joseph's brothers now become fearful that perhaps their father was the only lynch pin keeping Joseph from seeking revenge upon them for that whole business of attempting to kill him and then selling him off in slavery all those years ago. They decide to make up a last request from their father telling Joseph to forgive them in their father's name, but Joseph upon reading it still can't understand his brothers' hang up.

He tells his brothers once again, that the whole being sold into Egyptian slavery business turned out to be a good thing after all, telling them to look at all the power he managed to assume, and with that power he saved a whole bunch of people - including his family, who surely would have starved during the famine.

So life goes on, until Joseph starts nearing the age of 110 and realizes he's not as fortunate as his 900 year old ancestors, and even missing the mark set by his father who lived to age 147. He tells his brothers (whom we shall remember are all significantly older than him, except for Benjamin) about his last wishes, to be brought back to Canaan when the people of Israel return there, and they see to it that he is embalmed after his death, where Joseph's remains sit and wait resting in an Egyptian coffin until that fateful day.

No comments:

Post a Comment