Genesis 50 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Genesis 50)

Verse 1

[1] And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.

And Joseph fell upon his father's face and wept upon him, and kissed him — Joseph shewed his faith in God, and love to his father, by kissing his pale and cold lips, and so giving an affectionate farewell. Probably the rest of Jacob's sons did the same, much moved, no doubt, with his dying words.

Verse 2

[2] And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.

He ordered the body to be embalmed, not only because he died in Egypt, and that was the manner of the Egyptians, but because he was to be carried to Canaan, which would be a work of time.

Verse 3

[3] And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.

He observed the ceremony of solemn mourning for him. Forty days were taken up in embalming the body, which the Egyptians had an art of doing so curiously, as to preserve the very features of the face unchanged. All this time, and thirty days more, seventy in all, they either confined themselves and sat solitary, or when they went out, appeared in the habit of close mourners, according to the decent custom of the country. Even the Egyptians, many of them, out of the respect they had for Joseph, put themselves into mourning for his father.

Verse 5

[5] My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.

He asked and obtained leave of Pharaoh to go to Canaan, to attend the funeral of his father. It was a piece of necessary respect to Pharaoh, that he would not go without leave; for we may suppose, though his charge about the corn was long since over, yet he continued a prime minister of state, and therefore would not be so long absent from his business without license.

Verse 11

[11] And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.

The solemn mourning for Jacob gave a name to the place; Abel-mizraim - The mourning of the Egyptians: which served for a testimony against the next generation of the Egyptians, who oppressed the posterity of this Jacob, to whom their ancestors shewed such respect.

Verse 15

[15] And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.

Joseph will peradventure hate us — While their father lived, they thought themselves safe under his shadow; but now he was dead, they feared the worst. A guilty conscience exposeth men to continual frights; those that would be fearless must keep themselves guiltless.

Verse 16

[16] And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,

Thy father did command — Thus in humbling ourselves to Christ by faith and repentance, we may plead that it is the command of his father and our father we should do so.

Verse 17

[17] So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

We are the servants of the God of thy father - Not only children of the same Jacob, but worshippers of the same Jehovah. Though we must be ready to forgive all that injure us, yet we must especially take heed of bearing malice towards any that are the servants of the God of our father; those we should always treat with a peculiar tenderness, for we and they have the same master.

He wept when they spake to him — These were tears of sorrow for their suspicion of him, and tears of tenderness upon their submission.

Verse 19

[19] And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

Am I in the place of God? — He in his great humility thought they shewed him too much respect, and faith to them in effect, as Peter to Cornelius, Stand up, I myself also am a man. Make your peace with God, and then you will find it an easy matter to make your peace with me.

Verse 20

[20] But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Ye thought evil, but God meant it unto good — In order to the making Joseph a greater blessing to his family than otherwise he could have been.

Verse 21

[21] Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Fear not, I will nourish you — See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He did not tell them they were upon their good behaviour, and he would be kind to them if he saw they carried themselves well: no, he would not thus hold them in suspence, nor seem jealous of them, though they had been suspicious of him. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Those we love and forgive we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.

Verse 24

[24] And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

I die, but God will surely visit you — To this purpose Jacob had spoken to him, Genesis 48:21. Thus must we comfort others with the same comforts wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God, and encourage them to rest on those promises which have been our support. Joseph was, under God, both the protector and benefactor of his brethren, and what would become of them now he was dying? Why let this be their comfort, God will surely visit you. God's gracious visits will serve to make up the loss of our best friends, and bring you out of this land - And therefore, they must not hope to settle there, nor look upon it as their rest for ever; they must set their hearts upon the land of promise, and call that their home.

Verse 25

[25] And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

And ye shall carry up my bones from hence — Herein he had an eye to the promise, Genesis 15:13,14, and in God's name assures them of the performance of it. In Egypt they buried their great men very honourably, and with abundance of pomp; but Joseph prefers a plain burial in Canaan, and that deferred almost two hundred years, before a magnificent one in Egypt. Thus Joseph by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, gave commandment concerning his bones, Hebrews 11:22. He dies in Egypt; but lays his bones at stake, that God will surely visit Israel, and bring them to Canaan.

Verse 26

[26] So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

He was put in a coffin in Egypt — But not buried till his children had received their inheritance in Canaan, Joshua 24:32. If the soul do but return to its rest with God, the matter is not great, though the deserted body find not at all, or not quickly, its rest in the grave. Yet care ought to be taken of the dead bodies of the saints, in the belief of their resurrection; for there is a covenant with the dust which shall be remembered, and a commandment given concerning the bones.

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