Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Joseph fell upon his father's face, &c.--On him, as the
principal member of the family, devolved the duty of closing the eyes
of his venerable parent (compare
and imprinting the farewell kiss.
2. Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his
father, &c.--In ancient Egypt the embalmers were a class by
themselves. The process of embalmment consisted in infusing a great
quantity of resinous substances into the cavities of the body, after
the intestines had been removed, and then a regulated degree of heat
was applied to dry up the humors, as well as decompose the tarry
materials which had been previously introduced. Thirty days were
alloted for the completion of this process; forty more were spent in
anointing it with spices; the body, tanned from this operation, being
then washed, was wrapped in numerous folds of linen cloth--the joinings
of which were fastened with gum, and then it was deposited in a wooden
chest made in the form of a human figure.
3. the Egyptians mourned, &c. It was made a period of public
mourning, as on the death of a royal personage.
4, 5. Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, &c.--Care was
taken to let it be known that the family sepulchre was provided before
leaving Canaan and that an oath bound his family to convey the remains
thither. Besides, Joseph deemed it right to apply for a special leave
of absence; and being unfit, as a mourner, to appear in the royal
presence, he made the request through the medium of others.
7-9. Joseph went up to bury his father--a journey of three
hundred miles. The funeral cavalcade, composed of the nobility and
military, with their equipages, would exhibit an imposing
10. they came to the threshing-floor of Atad, &c.--"Atad" may be
taken as a common noun, signifying "the plain of the thorn bushes." It
was on the border between Egypt and Canaan; and as the last opportunity
of indulging grief was always the most violent, the Egyptians made a
prolonged halt at this spot, while the family of Jacob probably
proceeded by themselves to the place of sepulture.
15-21. When Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they
said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, &c.--Joseph was deeply
affected by this communication. He gave them the strongest assurances
of his forgiveness and thereby gave both a beautiful trait of his own
pious character, as well as appeared an eminent type of the
22, 23. Joseph dwelt in Egypt--He lived eighty years after his
elevation to the chief power [see on
witnessing a great increase in the prosperity of the kingdom, and also
of his own family and kindred--the infant Church of God.
24. Joseph said unto his brethren, I die--The national feelings
of the Egyptians would have been opposed to his burial in Canaan; but
he gave the strongest proof of the strength of his faith and full
assurance of the promises, by "the commandment concerning his bones"
26. and they embalmed him--[See on
His funeral would be conducted in the highest style of Egyptian
magnificence and his mummied corpse carefully preserved till the