In Genesis 47, the Israelites move in, Jacob blesses Pharaoh, and the famine becomes so severe that all the Egyptians sell their livestock, their land, and themselves into bondage to Pharaoh, just for food to survive. So from that time on, 1/5 of all the produce grown was to be given to Pharaoh (that’s DOUBLE the tithe that Christians have pledged to God!). Joseph also swears to bury his father with his father’s fathers.
In Genesis 48, Jacob is a doting grandfather who blesses his grandchildren. But he does so in a bit of an unconventional way, basically passing on the blessing of his own father – giving the second born child a greater blessing than the first.
In Genesis 49, Jacob blesses the rest of his sons as well. Here at last, Reuben gets called out and “punished” for sleeping with Jacob’s third wife. Simeon and Levi also receive an underhanded blessing – let Levi’s descendants one day become God’s priests. Judah receives a pretty great blessing, especially considering the fact that he was the mastermind behind the Joseph-slavery plan. But that great blessing must have had something to do with his obvious change of heart. I wonder if this is why Jesus is sometimes referred to as the Lion of Judah. Sebulun, Isaachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, and Naphtali receive average, generic blessings (they’ve also had rather bland stories in the Bible). Joseph receives possibly the greatest blessing of them all, with many mentions of God Almighty throughout, and Benjamin, the baby, another favorite, actually receives a little bit of an underhanded blessing – or so it seems. But it is interesting that verse 28 says that Jacob gave “each the blessing appropriate to him.” He obviously knew their hearts and blessed them accordingly. Then Jacob gives them instructions to bury him with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and his own wife Leah (Rachel was buried near Bethlehem where she died giving birth to Benjamin).
In Genesis 50, Joseph also dies. But first, they have a huge funeral procession, including his own brothers and many members of the Egyptian court take Jacob to his burial place. The whole ceremony took at least 117 days (40 for embalming, 70 for Egyptian mourning, and 7 days of mourning at the location – but that isn’t counting travel time). And here after Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers fear his own unforgiveness of them – but he reassures them speaking some of the most famous words in the Bible, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (verse 20). Then, Joseph dies after promising them that God will get them back out of Egypt one day, and he makes them also promise to take his bones to be buried outside of Egypt.
- A father (and mother) know the hearts of their children – and should. Parents ought to raise their sons and daughters in such a way as to try to cultivate lovely hearts that are receptive to God and His Word.
- A father’s blessing (and mother’s) is very important. It is important to the child, not only to receive it, but also to hear it. It is also important to the parent, because with a word, a parent can speak life or death to a child. A parent can – with a word – determine the entire course of a child’s life, his children’s lives, and even the entire course of a generation – with a word. So, a blessing, particularly an appropriate blessing, is very important.
- If we make promises as Joseph did to his father – we must remain true to those promises.
- And as Joseph’s brothers realized, past sins may yet come back to haunt us. Joseph had already forgiven them, but they feared the worst. Therefore, when we forgive someone else, we must be sure that they are clear in understanding our forgiveness. And if they aren’t, we should reassure them as Joseph reassured his brothers.