GENESIS 47:13 - 50:26

THE FINAL DAYS AND LAST WORDS


OF

 JACOB

 

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47:13-26

Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, 'Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.' Then Joseph said, 'Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.' So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year. When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, 'We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.' Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh's. And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands. Then Joseph said to the people, 'Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.' So they said, 'You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.' And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh's.

Pharaoh chose the right man for the job when he picked Joseph to oversee his affairs. Not only was he an honest man, but he had a great business head as well. Pharaoh’s dreams of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine came to pass just as the Lord had revealed to him. The Egyptians had to have heard about Pharaoh’s dreams and Joseph’s part in them. But, apparently, they took them with a grain of salt and did not prepare for what was coming. Nevertheless, year by year Joseph faithfully gathered up a fifth of the grain that was produced and stored it away. Then, suddenly the famine came and the Egyptians found themselves in big trouble. Once again, God’s prophecies proved to be true and his word came to pass.

Now, Joseph was in the driver’s seat. Opening the storage bins of grain he had gathered in preparation for the famine, he began to sell it off. And, ultimately, he had gathered up all the money in Egypt (the Hebrew word used here for “money” means silver). After that, he was then able to acquire of all of the livestock. Then, ultimately, he was able to acquire title to all the land in Egypt. Thus, he not only saved the Egyptians from starvation, but, was able to tremendously advance his master's holdings in the process. I do not fault Joseph for these prudent acts of stewardship. He simply did what any faithful steward would have done.

Finally, the day came when the famine came to an end and Joseph was prepared for that as well. When that day arrived, he gave everyone their necessary seed grain for planting in exchange for a future one-fifth of their harvests. This was written into a statute that would accrue to Pharaoh in perpetuity. Pharaoh was set.

There are two or three biblical principles in all of this that are worth mentioning. 

     First, there is the principle of foresight. That is, looking ahead and being prepared. Common sense demands preparation and forethought be given to what lies in the future. Many things in life fall into this category. Preparing for one’s retirement is one that comes to mind. Working the ground and planting in the Spring so there will be a crop in the Fall, is another. Not long ago, in American culture, this principle was much more pronounced. My grandmother, and her three daughters, canned vegetables and fruits from their garden ... all summer long ... so that when winter came there would be food on the table. They plowed and worked their fields too, raising corn and wheat and melons. They raised livestock and chickens for meat and eggs and butchered and salted their meats, storing them away in their cellar. It was hard, backbreaking work, but it paid off because they never went hungry. Foresight and work are virtues. The Bible says,

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. Proverbs 20:4

And again,

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. Proverbs 6:6-11

Jesus said,

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. John. 9:4

The Apostle Paul said,

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said,

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Joseph was a prudent steward. He gathered when it was time to gather. He distributed when it was time to distribute. He did exceedingly well. How are you doing in the foresight department, dear saint? Are you a procrastinator or a sluggard. Are you doing today what needs to be done before your tomorrows arrive … financially, physically and spiritually? If the answer is … Not really. Well then, get with it. You know what needs to be done. Do it. Make a plan and work your plan. Those who have no target usually hit what they are aiming at! I recall a story about the evangelist, D. L. Moody, who was teaching his students his plan for presenting the gospel to people. One student raised his hand and said … Dr. Moody, I don't like that plan. Dr. Moody said … Well, young man, tell us about your plan. The young man answered … I don't have a plan. Dr. Moody replied … I like my plan better!

     Second, there’s the principle of stewardship. That is, using that which has been entrusted to us to the best possible advantage for the One who gave it to us in the first place. Stewards have the responsibility of being faithful to their benefactors by making profitable that which has been entrusted to them. The classic passage on this principle is found in Jesus’ story of the talents found in Matthew 25. There we read,

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25:13-30 (KJV)

This is a greatly misunderstood story, by the way. That’s because it was spoken by the Messiah to his chosen people, the Jews, who were under the Old Covenant. It was not said to them under the New Covenant, under which we Gentiles now share and live. That Old Covenant time, in God's economy, was different from today. So, when Jesus spoke those words, he was speaking to his people, the Jews, about his Second Coming when he will literally establish his long awaited Jewish kingdom on Earth (at the end of the Tribulation period). At that time, faithful, godly Jews from all ages will join their King and enter with him into his kingdom.

If one misinterprets the verses above as speaking to the Church (Under the New Covenant), however, you end up with some very strange and unbiblical teachings, such as … Jesus is going to cast many of his children into Hell one day because they have not been good stewards of their gifts! Truth is … he will throw many unbelieving and unfaithful Jews into Hell at his appearing ... Jews who will have totally blown the advantages they were given as Jews by not responded to the will of their great God and Messiah, Christ Jesus. These are the people that Jesus was talking about here. Romans 9:3-5, lists the talents that God entrusted to his Jewish people as follows,

For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

Now, that’s a huge bag of talents (advantages) indeed, which God has bestowed upon his people, the Jews. And, as Jesus said … For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required (Luke 12:48). For the Jew then, at Jesus’ Second Coming, the stakes are going to be very high. The outcome for each one will be either the reward of entering Christ's Kingdom or … being left out and cast into Hell. By way of application to us believing Gentiles, the stakes are high as well. However, they do not involve life and death. They involve reward or loss of reward. As you have it in I Corinthians 3:10-15,

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Joseph was an exceptionally good and faithful steward of what his God had entrusted to him. He will have an abundant entrance into the Lord’s Kingdom at his appearing. We believers, in this Age of Grace, should ask ourselves these questions … How am I doing with what my Lord has entrusted into my hands? What am I building on the foundation of Christ … precious things that will one day bring rewards … or junk that will just burn away at the judgment seat of Christ? Am I like Joseph? Or, am I uninterested and slothful? It’s never too late to begin one's commitment to live for Christ. Titus 2:13-15a, says,

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. (KJV)

     Third, there is the principle of fulfilling one’s obligations. This involves such things as giving government their due by paying one's taxes, for example. Government is an institution of God and should be honored and supported as such. Romans 13:1-7, says,

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Here in Genesis 47, we have the first recorded institution of a flat tax. Before this time, taxes had been arbitrary in Egypt. By Pharaoh’s decree, Joseph simply took what he needed during the years of plenty. During the years of famine, Joseph instituted a 20% tax for the support of the Egyptian government. And, did you note that the people were pleased? I could live with that myself, right here in our good ol’ USA. How about you? It is simple, easy to understand and fair … as opposed to our current IRS code that is so corrupt, arbitrary, inequitable, complex and easily manipulated, that even the tax lawyers can’t figure it out!

Aside from that, however, do you consider the paying of taxes as a stewardship from God? Well, it is. Have you ever given any real thought about to whom you owe honor or fear or custom? Do you neglect or withhold these obligations from anyone? Government is from the Lord, beloved. Therefore, we have an obligation to support it. The Lord will reward us one day, if we have done well in this sphere of our stewardship and responsibility.

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47:27-31

So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the length of Jacob's life was one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ Then he said, ‘Swear to me.’ And he swore to him. So Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.

The hope of the Jewish people was, and is, an earthly hope. The chosen people of God, who lived prior to Christ, looked for an earthly resurrection and expected to enter an earthly Kingdom, and rightly so … for so teaches the Word of God. As Job put it,

For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. Job 19:25-27a

Jacob’s hope was an earthly hope, as well ... centered on the covenant that God had given to him that had been passed down from his fathers, Isaac and Abraham. One of its tenants was the promise of the land of Canaan. Therefore, he was rightly obsessed with being physically there. He would not have left it for all the world, if God had not told him to do so. Therefore, Jacob made Joseph swear that when they left Egypt, they would be sure to carry his bones out with them and place them in the burial place of his fathers, in the cave of Machpelah (25:9). Joseph himself would, one day elicit the same promise from his brethren concerning his own bones (50:25).

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48:1-7

Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, "Indeed your father is sick"; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And Jacob was told, ‘Look, your son Joseph is coming to you’; and Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph: ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.' And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. But as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).

Now, Jacob had come to the end of his days and had fallen ill with the sickness that would take him out of this world. Meantime, during those final days of his life on Earth, the covenant was on his heart. So, he reiterated it afresh to his son, Joseph. It contained three parts … a nationa land … and a blessing. Two thirds of it has now been fulfilled. The land part is still yet future. My, what a stir that part of the covenant is still making today ... way down here in the 21st century! Right today, Jacob’s descendants are still trying to lay hold of the land and Ishmael’s descendants, and the descendants of the Philistines, and others, are trying to keep them from it. The issue will not be settled, however, until Shiloh comes. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Jacob will speak to us about Shiloh in a bit.

Note here, that Jacob officially claims Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own. These words of Jacob are very significant. By claiming Joseph’s two sons for his own, Jacob gave them equal status with his other sons, securing them as half-tribes of the nation of Israel. As such, they would take the place of the tribe of Joseph. From that day on, the 12 tribes of Israel included Ephraim and Manasseh.

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48:8-20

Then Israel saw Joseph's sons, and said, ‘Who are these?’ And Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.’ And he said, ‘Please bring them to me, and I will bless them.’ Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!’ So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near him. Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said: ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.’ But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.’ So he blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel will bless, saying, 'May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!' And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.


Jacob blessing Ephraim and Manasseh painting.


Although Jacob had claimed Joseph’s two sons as his own, he had not yet physically seen them. So, Joseph brought them in and introduced them to his father. Jacob was ecstatic. He said he had not expected to ever see Joseph again and, now, God had shown him Joseph’s offspring as well. Ephesians 3:20-21, comes to mind, does it not?

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Isn’t that just like our great and wonderful God!? Have you found him to be so? Jacob was thrilled to see and bless Joseph’s two sons before he died and to add them to the tribes of Israel. When he was about to bless the boys, however, he got confused. Inadvertently, he began to bless them in the wrong order ... putting the younger ahead of the older. Joseph, thinking it was due to Jacob’s age and illness, tried to correct his father's hands … attempting to place Manasseh, the oldest, under Jacob’s right hand … so he would be blessed first. Jacob however, rejected Joseph’s maneuver and informed him that he had it right, pronouncing that the older would serve the younger. And, so it would come to pass in history.

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48:21-49:2

Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.’ And Jacob called his sons and said, ‘Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days: ‘Gather together and hear, you sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel your father.’

  In the closing page, here in the book of Genesis, we take up Jacob’s final words to each one of his sons. To begin with, he gave Joseph the property he had taken by the sword from the Amorites as the result of Dinah being raped (34:28). After giving Joseph that gift, Jacob instructed his sons to gather around so he could bless them and prophesy over them concerning the things that would befall them in the last days.

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49:3-27

Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father's bed; Then you defiled it; He went up to my couch. Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father's children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk. Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea; He shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon. Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens; He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves. Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider shall fall backward. I have waited for your salvation, O LORD! Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph at last. Bread from Asher shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties. Naphtali is a deer let loose; He uses beautiful words. Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall. The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father have excelled the blessings of my ancestors, up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

I am only going to hit the high points of Jacob’s prophetic words to his sons here. To the first three boys, his words were negative and condemning. Reuben was rebuked because he had defiled his father’s concubine, Bilhah (35:22). Simeon and Levi were rebuked because they had murdered all the males of an entire town over the rape of Dinah, their sister (34:24-30). Jacob never forgot the horror of that incident and prophesied over those two sons accordingly.

Jacob’s words to Judah, his fourth son, are the centerpiece of this entire chapter and the highpoint of his final words to his sons. In verse 8, Jacob predicted that Judah would be the son that would shine … and that his line would rule over his brethren. Eventually, the tribe of Judah became the southern Kingdom of Israel, and within its territory, was the holy city, Jerusalem. From Judah, kings came, and one day, the King of kings himself came. Centuries later, King David, a descendant of Judah, spoke of this ancient prophecy by Jacob saying,

Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel… 1 Chronicles 28:26-27

In verse 9, Jacob likened Judah to a young lion and because of these words … the lion became the symbol of the tribe of Judah. One day, from Judah’s line, The Lion of the Tribe of Judah would come. As you have it in Revelation 5:5,

And one of the elders saith unto me, ‘Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.’

Jesus is called … The Lion of the Tribe of Judah … because he will one day rule over his people, Israel. When the angel Gabriel was sent to tell Mary she would give birth to Christ, he said to her,

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:31-34

Verse 10, is the Hallelujah Chorus of this prophecy over Judah. There, Jacob said … The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Shiloh is among the first names of Christ Jesus that are found in Scripture. It means, Rest, and refers to the coming of Messiah who will provide rest for his people. One day, centuries later, Jesus would say,

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

His name is Shiloh, dear reader. He alone is able to impart real rest to the restless and heavily burdened hearts of his people, Israel. Ezekiel, the prophet, speaking to the end of a long line of one of Judah’s morally bankrupt kings said,

And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him. Ezekiel 21:26-27

Even so come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20b).

Verse 11, speaks of Christ’s wealth. Jesus came out of the ivory palaces, beloved. The Messianic Psalm 45, says that the very smell of him … speaks of where he is from.

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad. Psalm 45:6-8 

This passage is quoted in Hebrews 1, where it emphasizes that these were words which the Father spoke to his Son. Sweet!

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49:28-50:3

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing. Then he charged them and said to them: ‘I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.’ And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up 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 IsraelForty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

Here, we come to the recorded death of a great saint of God. When God began to work with Jacob, he was a deeply flawed young man from a deeply dysfunctional family. As such, he is a wonderful illustration of what God is able to do in a life. He can pick up and fix anyone. He did so with Jacob. He loved him. He called him. He disciplined him. He led him. He preserved him and blessed him beyond anything Jacob could have asked or dreamed. He can do so for you too, dear reader. No matter what is in your past or what your present circumstances are, God can fix it and make you a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). He loved you so much that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16). Many centuries later … from the days of which we have been reading … the Apostle Paul would say, 

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15

I repeat, our great and loving God is in the people saving and changing business. He did it for Jacob. He can do it for you. He has done it for me. Nothing is too difficult for him.

Jacob strictly charged his sons to bury him alongside of his fathers in the cave of the field of Machpelah in the Promised Land. There, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and his own Leah were already buried. Having given this last instruction, Jacob folded up his feet and died. Again, notice that the Word of God says here that he was gathered unto his people. I love it?! Seconds later, while Joseph and Jacob’s sons were beginning to grieve for their father … Jacob, himself, was rejoicing in the arms of his Lord and with his beloved Rachel and Leah, his dad and mom, Isaac and Rebekah, his grandpa and grandma, Abraham and Sarah and many others. For a child of God, death is just a change of address … a time to see for themselves the face of their God … and a time of great reunion. This is our legacy. As Paul put it in Philippians 1:21,

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

One final thought here. Joseph had Jacob’s body embalmed, according to the burial customs of the Egyptians. That being the case, it would have then been placed in a sarcophagus and taken to the cave of Machpelah and interred there. If ever there was a sacred spot on this present Earth, I believe it is that cave. Somewhere, in the southern part of the Holy Land, six of God’s greatest saints are buried in a cave. And, one of them, Jacob, is in a sarcophagus. It is therefore very likely that he is still quite recognizable … having been preserved by mummification unto this day.

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50:4-14

And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 'My father made me swear, saying, "Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me." Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’ And Pharaoh said, ‘Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.’ So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's house. Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering. Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father. And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, ‘This is a deep mourning of the Egyptians.’ Therefore its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan. So his sons did for him just as he had commanded them. For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite as property for a burial place. And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father. 

Jacob’s funeral was huge. It astonished the Canaanites of the land when they saw it coming. One can only imagine the endless train of Egyptians and Hebrews that descended on the land of Palestine that day. Because of it, they even changed the name of the threshing floor of Atad to Abel Mizraim ... meaning the mourning of Egypt

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50:15-21

And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father. When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.’ So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, ‘Before your father died he commanded, saying, 'Thus you shall say to Joseph: "I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you." Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father. And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Forgiveness is a very misunderstood thing by those who make it a habit of not forgiving. When God forgives, the Bible says he forgets the transgression altogether. As you have it in Hebrews 8:12,

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

This is the way our great God is. We humans, however, live on a very different plain, do we not? We forgive, but we don’t forget. Do you know what God says when you and I ask him to forgive us for a certain sin that we have already asked him to forgive us for? He says … Sorry, I don’t remember that. Joseph’s brothers knew that Joseph had not forgotten what they had done to him and they figured that there was a very good possibility that he would eventually get his revenge. They didn’t really know their godly brother very well, did they? When Joseph heard of their fears … he wept! It is a hard thing when you forgive someone and they don’t believe you have forgiven them. It is hard for a man or woman and it is hard for God. I wonder if God weeps when we bring our old, already forgiven, sins up to him all over again? It says here, Joseph, sweet man that he was, comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

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 50:22-26

So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw Ephraim's children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph's knees. And Joseph said to his brethren, ‘I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’ So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph lived a good and long life. He saw his children’s children and bounced them on his knees. There is not a single negative statement in all of the Word of God about him. He was, and is, one of God’s greatest saints. His final concern was that his bones would be carried out of Egypt to the Promised Land, when the people of Israel left Egypt. As I have stated before, the hope of the Jews is an earthly hope and will have an earthly fulfillment. One day, the mummified body of Joseph will rise from the dead over there in the Promised Land at the appearing of The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Then, Joseph’s faithful eyes will behold his Savior and King coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7). And he will enter into Christ’s Kingdom along with all the rest of the Lord’s godly Old Testament and Tribulation saints.

Finally, please note that two of God’s great saints were mummified by the Egyptians … Joseph and his father, Jacob. There is a good possibility then, that their bodies are still intact in that cave over there in the Holy Land.

Well, that’s it. We have come to the end of Genesis, God’s book of beginnings and this commentary that I’ve titled First Work. Praise God for his matchless Word, aye? In this great first book of the Bible, we are given the true answers to the origin of all things … including the history of the origin of mankind itself. It gave us the ancient history of the earth … encapsulated in four great events ... The Creation, The Fall, The Flood and the Tower of Babel. Then, it gave us the history of the beginning of God’s revelation of himself to the Jews … beginning with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Their lives culminated in the nation of Israel.

The time span of the book of Genesis covers from the creation to the death of Joseph, a period of approximately 1916 years. May God richly bless, edify and sanctify you, dear reader, by this book of his eternal, immutable and infallible Word. Amen.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.