Genesis 50:1-26. MOURNING FOR JACOB.
1. Joseph fell upon his father's face, &c.--On him, as the principal member of the family, devolved the duty of closing the eyes of his venerable parent (compare Genesis 46:4) and imprinting the farewell kiss.
2. Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father, &c.--In ancient Egypt the embalmers were a class by themselves. The process of embalmment consisted in infusing a great quantity of resinous substances into the cavities of the body, after the intestines had been removed, and then a regulated degree of heat was applied to dry up the humors, as well as decompose the tarry materials which had been previously introduced. Thirty days were alloted for the completion of this process; forty more were spent in anointing it with spices; the body, tanned from this operation, being then washed, was wrapped in numerous folds of linen cloth--the joinings of which were fastened with gum, and then it was deposited in a wooden chest made in the form of a human figure.
3. the Egyptians mourned, &c. It was made a period of public mourning, as on the death of a royal personage.
4, 5. Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, &c.--Care was taken to let it be known that the family sepulchre was provided before leaving Canaan and that an oath bound his family to convey the remains thither. Besides, Joseph deemed it right to apply for a special leave of absence; and being unfit, as a mourner, to appear in the royal presence, he made the request through the medium of others.
7-9. Joseph went up to bury his father--a journey of three hundred miles. The funeral cavalcade, composed of the nobility and military, with their equipages, would exhibit an imposing appearance.
10. they came to the threshing-floor of Atad, &c.--"Atad" may be taken as a common noun, signifying "the plain of the thorn bushes." It was on the border between Egypt and Canaan; and as the last opportunity of indulging grief was always the most violent, the Egyptians made a prolonged halt at this spot, while the family of Jacob probably proceeded by themselves to the place of sepulture.
15-21. When Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, &c.--Joseph was deeply affected by this communication. He gave them the strongest assurances of his forgiveness and thereby gave both a beautiful trait of his own pious character, as well as appeared an eminent type of the Saviour.
22, 23. Joseph dwelt in Egypt--He lived eighty years after his great increase in the prosperity of the kingdom, and also of his own family and kindred--the infant Church of God.
24. Joseph said unto his brethren, I die--The national feelings of the Egyptians would have been opposed to his burial in Canaan; but he gave the strongest proof of the strength of his faith and full assurance of the promises, by "the commandment concerning his bones" [Hebrews 11:22].
26. and they embalmed him--His funeral would be conducted in the highest style of Egyptian magnificence and his mummied corpse carefully preserved till the Exodus.