Thursday, June 16, 2011

Genesis 50:1-3 Joseph Mourns for Jacob

"Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him.
Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel.
So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days,
for that was the time required for embalming.
And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days."

  Genesis 50:1-3 (NIV)

Joseph was quite sensitive and emotional.  (See Genesis 42:24; 43:30; 45:2,14-15; 46:29)  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Some people seem to feel things really deeply.  I don't look at that as a weakness.  If anything, it's a hyper-sensitivity to the people and happenings around them.  Like one person wrote (and I can't remember where, so drop me a comment if you know the source):

"I'm like an antennae covered with skin."

I thought that was a perfect description.

I, too, am an antennae.  I can get teary at a news video of a lost dog running down a busy highway.  (Yeah, I'm a dog person, too.)  At funeral services at our church, I'm the one at the back busy getting the refreshments ready so that I don't overload from all the (to me) nearly tangible emotion in the room.  Especially if there's music.  (My fellow antennas know what I am talking about.)

Such sensitivity has its advantages, too.  I can walk into a room full of people and within a minute I can tell who is doing fine and who is having a bad day or struggling with some issue.  I can tell if a newcomer felt uncomfortable with someone's flippant remark, or if a child is shy or overwhelmed.  Then I can try to encourage those with struggles or meet the needs of those around me. 

Of course, such an empathetic spirit needs to be reigned in somewhat, so that it doesn't control you.  Like any other characteristic or ability, it has its advantages and its disadvantages:
  •  The guy who is bold in speaking out needs to watch that he is not skewering some poor soul with careless words.
  • The generous person needs to remember to pay her own bills on time, 
  • ...while the frugal ones need to watch that they don't spill over into miserliness.
In other words, one's strength can also be one's weakness, and we need God's Spirit to keep it all balanced.

But I digress...somewhat.  For I had been thinking that probably only someone who has lost their own father can truly relate to Joseph's behavior. This, of course, brought a tear or two to my own eyes, especially since Dad was a bit of an antennae person, too, whose eyes would sometimes, shall we say, 'glisten' while watching Lassie movies.  [That dog had more heart-tugging, near-death experiences than Evel Knievel!]

OK, back to Joseph...

Joseph first throws himself upon his father's body and  weeps over him, then -- administrator that he is -- gets control of himself and directs his doctors to begin the embalming process.  There were probably priest-types [like his father-in-law? (Genesis 41:45)] who would have been glad to do this service for Joseph's father, but Joseph probably wanted to avoid any questionable religious rituals which may have accompanied their ministrations.  Hmm...wonder if that caused any family stress, huh?  Yet Joseph, as usual, remained committed to being a godly example.

The embalming process took forty days, and the Egyptians mourned for Jacob for seventy days.  This was probably done out of respect for Joseph, who was a public figure and had helped Egypt so much during the time of famine. 

No comments:

Post a Comment