Genesis 49-50: Jacob and Joseph both die

Jacob speaks to his sons, telling them the fortunes of their tribes.  For example, Judah will be “king of beasts” and “your father’s sons shall bow low to you”; Zebulun shall dwell by the seashore and be a haven for ships; Joseph will be a wild ass.  Jacob asks to be buried in the field of Ephron the Hittite, where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah were all buried.  He then dies.  Joseph orders Jacob embalmed, and the Egyptians then bewail him 70 days.  After burying Jacob, Joseph forgives his fathers and remains in Egypt with his household.  At 110, he also dies and is embalmed.

Commentary:

  • Jacob’s tribal sayings are rich with wordplays, and is probably one of the older parts of the Torah.  God is referred to as “Mighty One of Jacob (or Bull of Jacob)”, “the Shepherd”, and “the Rock of Israel”–all unusual epithets in the Hebrew Bible.  Significantly, the Canaanite god El ,who may be a polytheistic version of the same deity known to the patriarchs, is often called “the bull god”.
  • Embalming is an Egyptian practice, not an Israelite one.
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