Genesis 50: The End of Joseph and the End of Genesis

Because of Joseph’s stature, his father’s funeral was grand and well-attended. Not only did many Egyptian dignitaries attend but the vast majority of Joseph’s family did also, minus only their children and animals. All of these went with Joseph back to the cave where Joseph wished to be buried.

Near the Jordan river, ”Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father.” Joseph’s request was fulfilled as he was buried in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. After the burial, Joseph, his brothers, and all of the Egyptian dignitaries returned to Egypt.

With the death of Jacob came the fear of his brothers. They felt that, now that their father was dead, Jacob might no longer be ashamed or afraid to take retribution on them for the way they treated him so long ago. They even went so far as to share a letter Jacob wrote before he died on the brothers’ behalf. It pleaded with Joseph not to treat his brothers badly for what they did to him in the past. When Joseph saw this message he cried, for he had no desire or design to treat his brothers badly.

Joseph understood God’s place for him in the world. He understood God’s plan and the part that he played in being a savior for his family. He knew that all the pain and tribulation that he had to bear was so that he would be in a position where he would take care of his brothers, to make sure his family would be safe and fed during the famine. Joseph’s heart and his faith are revealed to his brothers in the following passage from Genesis 50:19-21: “But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

Joseph had the faith of his fathers, but he didn’t seem to have as much difficulty in maturing in his relationship with God as his forbears did. Joseph was a singularly unique individual, blessed with talents of leadership and organization as well as a thoroughly strong desire to do what was right in the sight of God. He allowed himself to be guided by God and was not fearful in the face of men or under their implied threat. Joseph’s sense of pride early on may have turned some off, but is it pride or bragging if he was right? As a youth, he most likely did not have the social awareness to know that he was bothering his brothers by interpreting his dream that he would rule over them. But he did have the surety of knowing that he believed in his dream. He acted accordingly, and his dreams of himself came true. What if we were as open to God’s plan for us as Joseph was for him? What would that look like for us in this modern age? By fervent prayer and a constant belief that God’s plan is best, we can live out God’s plan for us with an open heart and an understanding of the Bible. It may be true that God might not act in our life in such a dramatic fashion as He did in Joseph’s, but how will we know if we are not open to the possibility?

Joseph’s death occurred when he was 110. He was able to see his children’s children for many generations due to his long life. True, his life was not as long as many that preceded him, but long enough to see up to the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Even in death, Joseph’s faith shone. He asked his brothers to remember to bring his bones back to Canaan, for Joseph believed that God would give the Israelites all of the land of Canaan at a future date. He was buried in a coffin in Egypt until the time that the children of Israel would eventually leave Egypt as victorious slaves.

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