Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bible Commentary - Genesis 50

In this chapter, Jacob is buried in Canaan and Joseph dies, signalling the end of the patriarchal era.

I'm so excited!  We're at the end of Genesis and about to begin our voyage into the book of Exodus.  As I've mentioned a couple times, the character and composition of Exodus is pretty drastically different from Genesis, and this chapter is the final linchpin that rests between them.

This chapter begins with the account of Jacob's embalming and subsequent burial in the cave of Machpelah where Abraham and Isaac were also buried.  I don't feel a need to say anything about this, it's pretty straightforward.

The account of Joseph's brothers here is amusing.  They invent a message from their dead father for Joseph to not kill them, which was certainly a possibility when you consider the pattern we previously saw with Jacob and Esau: in that case, Isaac was the parental barrier for Esau to murder Jacob, so Jacob had to flee before Isaac died.  And in that case too, Isaac came back to Esau as a servant, with humility, because Esau was in a position of strength.

In this case Joseph is in a position of strength, and like Esau he chooses not to harm his brothers.  Perhaps even more interesting to me is how it says Joseph weeps when his brothers speak to him, showing the same emotional vulnerability we have seen from Joseph all along.

On a minor note, it says that the sons of Makir (or Machir) were born on Joseph's knees.  This is the same phrase we saw before with Jacob claiming Ephraim and Manasseh as his own children, though I'm not sure if this verse means that Joseph is claiming Makir's sons or if it's just trying to convey that he was alive when they were born.

Lastly, Joseph gives a different command about his body than Jacob.  Jacob wanted them to bury him in Machpelah, but Joseph commands them to bring his body with them when they as a people leave Egypt.  This is foreshadowing what is to come right next, the Exodus from Egypt.  :)

1 comment:

Anna Tan said...

Re: Makir's children - The NIV has a footnote: "Genesis 50:23 That is, were counted as his."
This probably has implications on inheritance if referenced back to Gen 48:5-6.