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Genesis Chapter 50
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Benjamin; Conclusion
50:1 Joseph fell on his father's face. He wept there and kissed [his father].
50:2 Joseph then ordered his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father. The physicians thus embalmed Israel.
50:3 It took forty days, since that was the time required for embalming. Egypt mourned [Jacob] for seventy days.
50:4 When the period of mourning of Jacob was over, Joseph addressed Pharaoh's court and said, 'If you would do me a favor, give the following personal message to Pharaoh:
50:5 'My father bound me by an oath and he declared, 'I am dying. You must bury me in the grave that I prepared for myself in the land of Canaan.' Now, if you allow me, I will head north and bury my father. I will return.' '
50:6 'Go bury your father,' said Pharaoh, 'just as he had you swear.'
50:7 Joseph headed north to bury his father, and with him went all of Pharaoh's courtiers who were his palace elders, as well as all the [other] elders of Egypt.
50:8 All of Joseph's household, his brothers, and his father's family [also went]. All they left behind in Goshen were their small children, their sheep and their cattle.
50:9 A chariot brigade and horsemen also went with them. It was a very imposing retinue.
50:10 They came to Bramble Barn (Goren HaAtad) on the bank of the Jordan, and there they conducted a great, imposing funeral. [Joseph] observed a seven day mourning period for his father.
50:11 When the Canaanites living in the area saw the mourning in Bramble Barn, they said, 'Egypt is in deep mourning here.' The place on the bank of the Jordan was therefore called Egypt's Mourning (Avel Mitzraim).
50:12 [Jacob's] sons did as he had instructed them.
50:13 His sons carried him to Canaan, and they buried him in the cave of Makhpelah Field, bordering Mamre. [This is] the field that Abraham bought for burial property from Ephron the Hittite.
50:14 After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt along with his brothers and all those who went with him to his father's burial.
50:15 Joseph's brothers began to realize [the implications] of their father's death. 'What if Joseph is still holding a grudge against us?' they said. 'He is likely to pay us back for all the evil we did him.'
50:16 They instructed [messengers] to tell Joseph: 'Before he died, your father gave us final instructions. He said,
50:17 'This is what you must say to Joseph: Forgive the spiteful deed and the sin your brothers committed when they did evil to you.' Now forgive the spiteful deed that [we], the servants of your father's God, have done.'

As [the messengers] spoke to him, Joseph wept.

50:18 His brothers then came and threw themselves at his feet. 'Here!' they said, 'We are your slaves!'
50:19 'Don't be afraid,' said Joseph to them. 'Shall I then take God's place?
50:20 You might have meant to do me harm [but] God made it come out good. [He made] it come out as it actually did, where the life of a great nation has been preserved.
50:21 Now don't worry. I will fully provide for you and your children.' He thus comforted them and tried to make up.
50:22 Joseph remained in Egypt along with his father's family. He lived to be 110 years old.
50:23 Joseph saw Ephraim's grandchildren, and the children of Manasseh's son Makhir were also born on Joseph's lap.
50:24 Joseph said to his close family, 'I am dying. God is sure to grant you special providence and bring you out of this land, to the land that he swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.'
50:25 Joseph then bound the Israelites by an oath: 'When God grants you [this] special providence, you must bring my remains out of this place.'
50:26 Joseph died at the age of 110 years. He was embalmed and placed in a sarcophagus in Egypt.



Commentary:

embalm
  However, Jews do not practice embalming today. The embalming process consisted of infusing and soaking the body with balsam or cedar oil and natrum, a form of native sodium carbonate, found in a lake in the Lybian desert (Zohar 1:250b, 2:141b; Sh'muel ben Chofni; Abarbanel. Cf. Herodotus 2:87; Diodorus Siculus 1:91). It appears that he was prepared as a mummy (Sh'muel ben Chofni).

seventy days
  Forty for embalming, and thirty for mourning; (Rashi); cf. Numbers 20:29, Deuteronomy 34:8. Although embalming normally required 70 days (Herodotus loc. cit.), Jacob was only given a partial embalming, for 40 days. Nevertheless, the normal waiting period would still be 70 days (Sh'muel ben Chofni; cf. Midrash Aggadah.

prepared
  (Targum). Literally 'dug.'

Bramble Barn
  Or 'Bramble Threshing Floor' (see Judges 9:14, Psalms 58:10; Targum on Genesis 2:18; Shevi'ith 7:5). On the basis of the Septuagint and cognate Semitic words, the atad here is identified as the Box Thorn (Lycium europaeum), which is known to grow on the bank of the Jordan. As Maimonides notes (on Shevi'ith 7:5; cf. Saadia), it has black edible seeds (Sherashim). The Septuagint and the Vulgate translate it as Rhammus; while the Radak renders it in Spanish as cardon, the spurge.

bank
  Literally, 'on the other side of the Jordan.' Usually, this is given with relation to the Holy Land, so this would be the east bank of the Jordan (Rabbenu Meyuchas). Cf. Numbers 32:19, Deuteronomy 1:1, 3:8, 4:49, 11:30; Joshua 1:14. This would indicate that instead of coming to Canaan along the coastal route, Joseph took the King's Highway (Numbers 20:17, 21:22), which lead to the trans-Jordan region. This was the route of the Exodus. According to others, however, 'the other side' here denotes the west bank of the Jordan (Sekhel Tov; Chizzkuni).

seven day mourning period
  Cf. 1 Samuel 31:13, Job 2:13. According to some sources, this is the source of the practice of sitting seven days in mourning (shiva) (Yerushalmi, Mo'ed Katan 3:5; Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 17).

Avel Mitzraim
  Or 'plain of Egypt' (cf. Rashi on Genesis 14:6 and on Numbers 33:49). On geographical grounds, this may be identified with Evel Shittim (Numbers 33:49).

the messengers
  (Lekach Tov).

Shall I then take...
  See Genesis 30:2. Jacob used the exact same words to Joseph's mother, Rachel.

tried to make up
  See Genesis 34:3.

grandchildren
  Literally, 'third generation.' Actually, the term can be interpreted to indicate Ephraim's children (the third generation from Joseph; Sh'muel ben Chofni); Ephraim's grandchildren (Sh'muel ben Chofni); or Ephraim's great-grandchildren (Ralbag). The generations were: Ephraim, Shuthelach, Eran (Numbers 26:35,36; cf. 1 Chronicles 7:20).

children of Manasseh's son Makhir
  Most notably Gilead (Numbers 26:29. See 1 Chronicles 7:14, 16; Numbers 27:1, 32:29, 36:1, Joshua 17:3).

close family
  Literally, 'brothers.'

special providence
  See Genesis 21:1.





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