Monday, June 27, 2011

Genesis 50:24-26 Joseph's Death

"Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am about to die.  But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Issac and Jacob.'  And Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath and said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place."  So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten.  And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt."  (Genesis 50:24-26 NIV)


This scene reminds me of Jacob's death, when he gathered his sons around him and gave them his final words, filled with prophetic insight.  Joseph has only one message for all of his brothers, the sons of Israel:  the God of Israel would surely come to their aid and take them out of Egypt and into the land which He had sworn to give to them.  Joseph does not want to be left behind; he makes his brothers swear that they will carry his bones out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.

Twice Joseph reassures his brothers that God will come to their aid (v.24,25).  Knowing that God had told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years in a foreign land (Genesis 15:13-14), Joseph knew that difficult times were coming.  He himself would no longer be around to intercede with Pharaoh on their behalf, and he probably knew full well the way a ruler's attitude could change in an instant.  (Remember the dreams which Joseph had translated for the two servants of Pharaoh?  One man had been hanged, the other reinstalled into his former position!)

There was only one Rock upon which his brothers could build their lives, and that was the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.  God had promised on oath to give them the land, and Joseph knew that He would fulfill His word.

Joseph dies at the age of one hundred and ten.  According to the NIV Study Bible note on Genesis 50:26 (pg.84), "...Ancient Egyptian records indicate that 110 years was considered to be the ideal life span; to the Egyptians this would have signified divine blessing upon Joseph."  The Egyptians may have considered this fact and perhaps reflected upon things which Joseph had told them about God during his lifetime.  Even in this small detail,  the God of Israel was continuing to draw the Egyptians into His program of blessing for all nations.

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