Richard Agee

Genesis 50: Yisra’el pleads with Yosef to forgive his brothers

Richard AgeeAfter the death of Yisra’el, fka Ya’akob (Jacob), 10 of his dozen sons approached Yosef (Joseph) with a message from their father: Don’t seek revenge for selling him as a slave. Yosef lived out the “second greatest commandment” in his response, showing he trusted God’s plan that had violently separated him from his family and landed him in prison for a few years.

When Yisra’el died, Yosef commanded his servants to have Yisra’el embalmed. The Hebrew word for that is חָנַט chanat (Strong’s lexicon No. H2590), which means to spice, spicy or embalm. In those days, they used salts, oils and spices to embalm a body to prevent or control decomposition. This embalming period took 40 days. The number 40 shows up in the Bible in contexts of preparation and testing.

The mourning period was 70 days. After this, all the males of the family of Yisra’el as well as an entourage of Yosef’s and Pharaoh’s servants traveled to Canaan to bury Yisra’el. 

When the mourning party came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Yarden (Jordan) river, outside of Canaan, they mourned an additional seven days mourning for Yisra’el.

They have been living in Egypt for 17 years, Yosef has been kind and merciful. They had a safe place to build homes. Yet they were troubled because they though Yosef held a grudge against them and that Yosef was just waiting for Yisra’el/Ya’akob to pass away to inflict his wrath on them. 

After they buried Yisra’el at Machpelah, they all returned to Egypt, the brothers passed Yisra’el’s message to Yosef:

“‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.'” (Gen. 50:17)

In a sense, this is Ya’akob’s last request of Yosef. I don’t think Ya’akob had a chance to tell Yosef this while he was still alive. 

When Yosef heard this, he realized that his brothers still feared him as the second most powerful man in the world. He still held this position. Although he provided a safe place for his family in Goshen, Yosef was still also responsible to take care of all the people of Egypt. 

Yosef responds with deep tears. Yosef was willing to honor Ya’akob’s final request.

Yeshua wept when looking at Yerushalayim and reflecting on the repeated rejection of God’s prophets over time (Luke 19:41-44; cf. Luke 13:34-35). When Yeshua was dying at the execution, He asked, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Ya’akob was asking Yosef the same thing, to forgive his brothers for their sin against him, because they didn’t really understand what they were doing to him or God’s plan in that. 

The death of Ya’akob, in a sense, united the family. Genuine repentance comes from genuine sorrow (2nd Cor. 7:9-10). Ya’akob knew that Yosef would respond favorably but it was something the brothers had to do themselves. 

The brothers asked for forgiveness but Yosef had a favor to ask of his brothers as well. “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” He wanted his bones to be buried in Canaan someday. Yosef didn’t know that it would be 400 years before that promise was fulfilled. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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