Jacob’s Death and Burial
Joseph fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days
were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.
4 And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke
to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out
for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’ ” 6 And Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as
he made you swear.” 7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well
as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It
was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and grievous lamentation, and he made a mourning for his father seven days. 11 When
the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning by the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 12 Thus
his sons did for him as he had commanded them, 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the
Hittite to possess as a burying place. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.
I find it interesting that we see in today’s reading that Joseph had Jacob embalmed. Hey… they’re in Egypt! Egyptian custom of embalming involved removal of organs and packing the
chest cavity with mixtures of salt, spices, and herbs to prevent decay. The embalming took 40 days and then they mourned for 30 days. The Lutheran Study Bible states: Jacob insists on burial in Canaan, Israel’s permanent home. He receives
the most ornate funeral in the Bible, which also shows Joseph’s importance. The grief at Jacob’s death reflects the reality of sin, death’s cause (cf 2:17), and yet also the dignity of the human body. Our funeral customs are a way of confessing
that God has promised to raise the dead. Christ Jesus has conquered death for our sake (1Co 15:55–57).”
I pray: O Lord Jesus, we praise You for Your resurrection, which conquered sin and death. Amen.
Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009).
The Lutheran Study Bible (pp. 92–93). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.