Why Is This? Please Comment.


When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up 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. Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days. Genesis 49:33-50:3

         I’m posting this on Facebook today to get your thoughts as you contemplate these verses. I’m also inviting your comments here on my blog.

         I confess that I do not understand why the Egyptians would mourn over Jacob’s death for 70 days. The quick assumption would be that it was out of respect for Joseph. That’s the easy answer but it just doesn’t explain it to me. Seventy days were how long people mourned the death of their Pharaoh. Jacob was not a pharaoh. He was not even an Egyptian, but a Hebrew. To further baffle me is the fact that Egypt did not value Israelites. They saw them as peculiar, as outsiders.

         Did Joseph just rule so well that people loved his father also? Was Judah a visible presence to the people throughout the 17 years he lived there? Did he make a mark somehow?

         I am wide-eyed over this. I’m missing possible explanations.

Lord, what is there for me to learn here? Please speak to Your people and teach us. In Jesus’ name, Amen


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4 thoughts on “Why Is This? Please Comment.

  1. If I remember correctly, that time frame would fit the amount of time required for embalming and anointing during the historical period. I believe he also would have been perceived as royalty which required a prolonged period of mourning. When homeschooling my youngest daughter this topic was addressed and thinking back (it’s been awhile) I believe that was what our “research” determined.

  2. I was just thinking again. I wonder if they usually entombed the embalmed body after the seventy days but in Jacobs case, he was being taken back to Canaan (?) so the body would be exposed to heat while travelling back. Also I wonder if he was placed in an Egyptian coffin. Wouldn’t it be a rare thing to find such a coffin in Israel today, assuming it’s the same land which I know nothing about. Wouldn’t it be the most amazing thing if archaeologists discovered his coffin and remains?

  3. I looked it up at http://www.blueletterbible.org. It says that thirty days were needed to complete the embalming and then forty more days for anointing the body with spices. Also it is said the Egyptians were highly skilled at this and that they could preserve even the finest of features. It also says that seventy days of mourning was the custom for royalty. Considering Pharoah was considered a god and all the future first born sons were considered a god and Joseph was held in high esteem by Pharoah, it would be logical that Jacob also was held in high esteem. Just thinking. Also you indicated in another devotional that when Jacob arrived, Pharoah asked for a blessing from him even though as an Israelite and shepherd, he would usually be held in low regard. This is an interesting question. I too will have to look further.

  4. What I am finding in my bible and what I am able to make out is this:
    The embalming took 40 days and because they were traveling back to Canaan, that is why they preserved the body, something that was not normally practiced in Israel. But I am not sure how much travel time it was but it night have taken that long to travel to Canaan where Jacob was buried in the cave with the others from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. That might be why the 70 days of mourning. Joseph had great favor in Pharaoh’s. This must have been done in respect of Joseph. Only speculating. According to Chapter 47, Jacob spoke a blessing over Pharaoh and according to the Voice Bible, words spoken as a blessing have great meaning at this time. Maybe that was why Jacob was also respected and regarded highly. You’ve go t me thinking. And searching…

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