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Genesis 50:4-9

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    Gen 50:4a . . and when the mourning period was over, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh's court

    It's curious that Joseph didn't meet with Pharaoh in person; I mean, after all, Joseph was second in command over the entire country of Egypt, and certainly outranked all of Pharaoh's courtiers. It's guessed by some that in the Egypt of Joseph's day, a dead man's close kin were deemed unfit to approach a Pharaoh. Whether it was for religious reasons, or just simply customary propriety is unknown.

    Gen 50:4b-5a . . saying; Do me this kindness, and lay this appeal before Pharaoh: "My father made me swear, saying; I am about to die. Be sure to bury me in the grave which I made ready for myself in the land of Canaan."

    Apparently some time in the past, prior to his immigration to Egypt, Jacob spent some time in Abraham's cemetery preparing a spot in it for his own burial so that his surviving kin only had to take him there-- no muss, no fuss, no money problems, and no legal hassles. It's a good idea for people to make arrangements for their own burials rather than leaving it all up to the inconvenience of their kin.

    Gen 50:5b . . Now, therefore, let me go up and bury my father; then I shall return.

    It's quite probable that Joseph's assurance of his return anticipated Pharaoh's anxiety that Joseph might stay back in the land with his brothers if permitted to leave the country and thus The Man would lose the services of not only his kingdom's best cattle ranchers but also the services of an extraordinarily capable bureaucrat.

    Gen 5:6 . . And Pharaoh said: Go up and bury your father, as he made you promise on oath.

    Pharaoh's choice of words, though inadvertent, were quite appropriate. Travel to Israel is to go "up" and to leave it is to go down. Israel is biblically regarded as the top of the mountains. (Isa 2:2-3)

    Gen 50:7-8 . . So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the officials of Pharaoh, the senior members of his court, and all of Egypt's dignitaries, together with all of Joseph's household, his brothers, and his father's household; only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the region of Goshen.

    Leaving the children and the flocks back in Egypt was not only a practical consideration but served to reassure Pharaoh that Joseph and his family fully intended to return as he had promised; which sort of reminds me of a scene in Goodbye Girl when Richard Dreyfuss leaves his guitar behind when he goes to a new acting job to assure Marsha Mason he'll be back.

    When people pick up and move; lock, stock, and barrel; you pretty much know they aren't coming back; which is probably why a later-to-come Pharaoh wouldn't let Moses go to worship with everything his people possessed. (Ex 10:24)

    Precisely why Pharaoh's courtiers, and all of Egypt's dignitaries came along is hard to understand unless protocol and custom demanded they pay their respects because of Joseph's rank. Though he wasn't really a home boy, Joseph's marriage to the daughter of the priest of On, and his Pharaoh-given name of Tsophnath Pa'neach, made him a naturalized Egyptian; and he was entitled to just as much of the nation's respect afforded its native sons.


    NOTE: I've heard it said that the reason half of us go to funerals is to pay our respects to people we couldn't be bothered with when they were alive.

    Gen 50:9 . . Chariots, too, and horsemen went up with him; it was a very large troop.

    The unit of fighting men was no doubt to safeguard all the dignitaries. Palestine was a frontier in those days; and a caravan of aristocrats would be a really tempting target for brigands.
    _

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