When we first started homeschooling ten years ago, the five of us studied ancient history together, beginning with Old Testament patriarchs. The next unit study was Ancient Egypt, which I found extremely fascinating. Unfortunately, Emily was only six or seven at that time, and she cannot stand mummies to this day, oops. I, however, still find ancient Egypt quite interesting, especially when it is spoken of in the Bible.
Jacob made Joseph and his other sons swear to bury him in the cave that Abraham had purchased as a burial place for Sarah. He did not wish to be buried in Egypt. Joseph honored his father’s request, but Jacob also was given a royal Egyptian send off.
“When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel… So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his 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. There also went up with them both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company.” ~ Genesis 49:33-50:1-2, 7-9
Jacob was made an Egyptian mummy- sorry, Emily- and then he had an enormous funeral procession, all the way to Canaan and the cave in the field of Machpelah. He was treated respectfully, and mourned as if he were Egyptian royalty. That was an enormous compliment, to both Jacob and Joseph.
After burying their father, Joseph’s brothers panicked, afraid that now Joseph would exact revenge on them for their past wrongs against him. Again, Joseph showed them mercy, grace and forgiveness. And he gave the glory to God.
“‘And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” ~ Genesis 50:20-21
Later on in Genesis 50, Joseph reassured his brothers one last time. God knew that they would be fearful in a strange land, with their protector soon to be gone. What would become of their families?
“And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.’ So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” ~ Genesis 50:24-26
Through Joseph, God reiterated His promise to the people of Israel. Joseph, on his own death bed, gave comfort and care to his brothers. Amazing!
Joseph was mummified and placed in a mummy case. We are told in Exodus 13 that the people of Israel did take his body with them when they left Egypt. He was indeed a great ruler in Egypt, worthy of royal treatment. But more importantly, he was willing to serve the Lord, whether as a slave and prisoner, or a ruler and great leader.
Note: I searched the Internet about Joseph’s sarcophagus, wondering if archaeologists have ever found it. While I didn’t find anything about that, I did find this interesting page about the archaeological discoveries of Joseph’s palace, tomb and statue.