“Ya’akov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; thus Ya’akov lived to be 147 years old”
Jacob lives in the land seventeen years and is 147 when he calls for Joseph. He will soon “sleep with his fathers” and wants his son to swear an oath.
“If you truly love me, please put your hand under my thigh and pledge that, out of consideration for me, you will not bury me in Egypt. Rather, when I sleep with my fathers, you are to carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried” (Genesis 47:29-30).
The ‘hand under the thigh’ oath was used when Abraham sent Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac. Joseph puts his hand under his father’s thigh symbolizing the covenant promise of descendants for Jacob. He wants Joseph to swear an oath that his bones will be taken back to his father’s land, the Land of Promise given to Abraham, and buried in the cave with his ancestors. The presence of Elohim is invoked because Jacob honors Him who gave his family the covenant promises and would carry out its provisions. Joseph willingly submits to his father’s request.
The Blessing of Isra’el
“By faith, Ya’akov, when he was dying, blessed each of Yosef’s sons, leaning on his walking stick as he bowed in prayer” (Hebrews 11:21).
Sometime after the oath with his father, Joseph learns that his father is dying. It is Isra’el, not Jacob, who meets with Joseph. He gathers his strength to sit up in the bed and recounts how Elohim appeared to him at Luz and blessed him.
“I will make you fruitful and numerous. I will make of you a group of peoples; and I will give this land to your descendants to possess forever” (Genesis 48:4).
Joseph has his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim with him. They are probably in their 20’s and were just young boys when Jacob first arrived in Egypt. It seems that Jacob doesn’t recognize the men, and Joseph explains the two boys are his sons. Isra’el adopts the two boys as his own sons giving them an inheritance along with Joseph’s brothers.
“Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Efrayim and M’nasheh will be as much mine as Re’uven and Shim‘on are. The children born to you after them will be yours, but for purposes of inheritance they are to be counted with their older brothers” (Genesis 48:5-6).
Isra’el Blesses Joseph
“The God in whose presence my fathers Avraham and Yitz’ak lived, the God who has been my own shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has rescued me from all harm, bless these boys. May they remember who I am and what I stand for, and likewise my fathers Avraham and Yitz’ak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth” (Genesis 48:15-16).
Isra’el asks Joseph to bring Manasseh and Ephraim close to him as his “eyes are dim.” When he blesses the men, he intentionally crosses his arms and places his right hand on the head of Ephraim. Joseph tries to correct him so that his right hand is on the head of his oldest son, Manasseh, but Jacob responds, “I know that, my son, I know it. He too will become a people and he too will be great; nevertheless his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will grow into many nations” (Genesis 48:19). In blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, Isra’el gives Joseph a double-portion blessing or shechem making his inheritance greater than his brothers.
The blessing Jacob pronounced on Joseph’s sons is still used today when blessing sons at the Sabbath meal, “May Elohim make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”
Jacob’s Blessings on His Sons
Jacob, not Isra’el, blesses his other sons. On each of them he prophesies what will happen to their descendants in the acharit-hayamim or ‘the last days.’
Reuben (Re’uven) – “Re’uven, you are my firstborn, my strength, the firstfruits of my manhood. Though superior in vigor and power, you are unstable as water, so your superiority will end, because you climbed into your father’s bed and defiled it – he climbed onto my concubine’s couch!” (Genesis 49:3-4)
Reuben is Jacob’s firstborn and made him a man, yet Reuben is unstable as water. In Hebrew, mayim means ‘water,’ and the word picture symbolizes chaos, thus Jacob prophesies chaos in his son’s life. Reuben’s position of favor will end because he slept with one of his father’s concubines. Reuben’s land inheritance is on the eastern side of the Jordan River where the modern-day nation of Jordan is located.
Simeon (Shim’on) and Levi (Levi) – “Shim’on and Levi are brothers, related by weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let my honor not be connected with their people; for in their anger they killed men, and at their whim they maimed cattle. Cursed be their anger, for it has been fierce; their fury, for it has been cruel. I will divide them in Ya’akov and scatter them in Isra’el” (Genesis 49:5-7).
These two sons are blessed together because they acted violently in Shechem together. Jacob curses their anger and their cruelty against men (even cattle) and calls them “weapons of violence.” The Hebrew letter zayin is the seventh letter of the alef-bet and means ‘weapon.’ It represents the seventh commandment, “You shall not murder.” Because of their murderous nature, the descendants of Simeon and Levi will be scattered throughout the Land of Isra’el.
Levi, the tribe of the priesthood, is given only cities in the land inheritances of his brothers, living on the tithes and offerings of his kinsmen. Simeon’s land inheritance is encircled by Judah’s land inheritance.
Judah (Y’hudah) – “Y’hudah, your brothers will acknowledge you, your hand will be on the neck of your enemies, your father’s sons will bow down before you” (Genesis 49:8).
Judah will have and has had enemies throughout millennia. His brothers, likewise, will bow down to him like they did to Joseph. His brothers will also praise his name. Y’hudah means ‘praise’ and his descendants will receive from the other tribes that for which he was named. Through the ‘seed’ of Judah will come their spiritual deliverance as well as their national redemption.
“Y’hudah is a lion’s cub; my son, you stand over the prey. He crouches down and stretches like a lion; like a lioness, who dares to provoke him?” (Genesis 49:9)
Jacob mentions two animals in his prophetic words over Judah. First, he mentions a lion’s cub –– a reference to the coming King. Yeshua is known as the lion from the Tribe of Judah who when provoked will destroy Isra’el’s enemies like a lioness protecting her cubs (Revelation 5:5).
“The scepter will not pass from Y’hudah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his legs, until he [Shiloh] comes to whom [obedience] belongs, and it is he whom the peoples [nations] will obey” (Genesis 49:10).
Jacob also prophesies that the scepter will not pass from Judah. A scepter symbolizes kingship. Until King Messiah comes and the nations obey his voice, Judah will retain control of the scepter. Anti-semitic doctrines suggest that Judah and his descendants, the Jews, are lost for all eternity. Because of the lie that the Jews rejected and killed ‘the Christ,’ they have suffered at the hands of Christians for centuries. Contrary to these twisted beliefs, Judah and his descendants will continue to hold the scepter until Shiloh comes. In Aramaic this is written, “Until Shiloh comes to whom the kingdom belongs.”
Shiloh is a combination of two Hebrew words, shi and lo meaning ‘a gift to him.’ After his birth, foreign kings bring gifts to Yeshua. In the Messianic Era, the nations that come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles will also bring gifts to the King of Kings (Zechariah 14:16-19).
Hebrew Word Pictures
Shiloh – שילו – shin, yod, lamed, vav
– consume the finished work, urging the finished work
“Tying his donkey to the vine, his donkey’s colt to the choice grapevine” (Genesis 49:11).
The second animal Jacob mentions in the prophecy is the donkey, a beast of burden that represents shalom, well-being, and kingship. The donkey is tied to a vine symbolizing the Messianic Era when Yeshua will reign as King in Jerusalem and shalom will be in the Promised Land. The donkey will no longer be obstinate, but stand peacefully under the vine.
“Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Tziyon! Shout out loud, daughter of Yerushalayim! Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, and he is victorious. Yet he is humble — he’s riding on a donkey, yes, on a lowly donkey’s colt” (Zechariah 9:9).
When Yeshua rode the donkey into Jerusalem, the Jewish people celebrated as if he was their King; they laid down their coats, waved palm branches and cried Hoshana (Save Us). Waving palm branches is part of instructions for the Feast of Tabernacles, the prophetic vision of the coming Millennial Kingdom. The Jewish people even welcomed him into the city with the words: “Baruch haba b’shem Adonai” (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD). These are the same words of welcome that Yeshua says they must cry out before they see him again in Jerusalem (Matthew 23:38-39).
In Genesis 16:12, Ishmael is called a ‘donkey of a man’ who would always be at odds with his brothers. When Yeshua returns, there will finally be shalom between the brothers, Ishmael and Isaac.
Some interpret the ‘vine’ that the donkey is tied to as representing the righteous, and the ‘vine branch’ as those who obey the Torah. Yeshua reveals himself as the righteous vine, his followers as the branches, and his Father as the gardener (John 15:1-5). Those branches on the righteous vine that don’t bear fruit for the Kingdom will be cut off; those who do bear fruit will be pruned in order to bear more fruit. Salvation involves more than clinging to the righteous vine of Yeshua. His followers must bear fruit for his Kingdom or be cut off from the ‘vine’ and thrown into the fire.
Our family recites John 15:5 at our Shabbat dinner as a blessing over the wine. As Yeshua is the vine and we are the branches, we must remain connected to him in order to bear fruit for his Kingdom. It is only when we bear fruit that we will experience true joy in this world and in the world to come.
“He washes his clothes in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:11b).
Most Christian commentaries claim this verse refers to the blood of Messiah poured out on the cross. However, there is only one verse in Scripture that suggests ‘wine’ has anything to do with the shedding of Yeshua’s blood. It is found at Yeshua’s last Pesach seder: “Also he took a cup of wine, made the blessing, and gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the new covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven’” (Matthew 26:27-28).
Yeshua says something else at the seder about that cup of wine. He tells his disciples, “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). This is a clear reference to the Messianic Era. By only focusing on Yeshua’s ‘saving’ blood, his prophetic statement about the coming Millennial Kingdom is overlooked.
The word for ‘robes’ in Hebrew is lebush and also means ‘wife.’ Yeshua washes his ‘wife’ in overflowing wine, his ‘wife’ in the “blood of grapes.” The word ‘washes’ is the Hebrew word kabas and is used for stomping grapes. Yeshua is going to wash, sanctify, and refine his ‘wife,’ pressing her into his image as one stomps on grapes.
“As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The prophets Joel and Amos write of new wine dripping, and the hills flowing with milk in the Messianic Era. The harvest of crops will never end as the reaper will pass the one who plows (Joel 3:18, Amos 9:13-14). Another quote about grapes that points directly to the Messianic Era: “The days will come in which vineyards shall grow, having each ten thousand vines, and in each vine ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand shoots, and in every one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on every one of the clusters ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five-and-twenty measures of wine. And when any one of the holy ones shall lay hold of a cluster, another shall cry out, ‘I am a better cluster, take me,’ bless Adonai through me.”
“His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk” (Genesis 49:12).
This is another inference to the abundance of agricultural produce during the Messianic Era. The land will be so fertile that crops and livestock will be immeasurable. Having teeth “whiter than milk” is an allusion to the abundance of milk consumed in the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ (Leviticus 20:24, Deuteronomy 6:3).
A little story in the Talmud claims that if a person stood next to the synagogue door and poured a glass of milk for each person who passed by, everyone would declare him to be a righteous person who does great acts of kindness. The commentary continues with an even greater act of kindness than giving a person a cup of milk –– showing another person the white of one’s teeth in a warm smile. From this story it could be suggested that Yeshua’s acts of kindness during the Messianic Era will drip from his brilliant smile.
Stomping grapes will give his eyes an appearance of being “darker than wine.” The Hebrew phrase actually uses the word chakliyl or ‘red’ which means ‘dark and flashing.’ Yeshua’s eyes will be dark red and flash like flames of fire (Revelation 19:12). If anyone needs physical attributes to recognize Yeshua, all they would need to do is look at his face –– his dark, red, flashing eyes and his joyous smile.
Judah’s land inheritance follows the border of the Mediterranean Sea, south to the Egyptian border, and west along the Dead Sea. Like an island in the middle of Judah’s land inheritance is Simeon’s.
Zebulun (Z’vulun) – “Z’vulun will live at the seashore, with ships anchoring along his coast
and his border at Tzidon [Sidon]” (Genesis 49:13).
Zebulun’s land inheritance is not on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea or the Sea of Galilee, but in between. The phrase “shall be a haven for ships” can also mean ‘looking towards the sea.’ Scrunched between two bodies of water, Zebulun is able to look towards both, but remains landlocked with no anchorage for ships. Jacob’s blessings are prophetic and the final land inheritance has not yet come to pass; Zebulun’s inheritance may one day include a shoreline where ships may anchor.
“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by way of the sea, along the Jordan – The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:1-2, NIV).
Yeshua grew up in Nazareth which is located in the land inheritance of Zebulun and also known as the “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isaiah 9:1). Zebulun allowed Canaanites to live among them in their land, intermarrying, and following their pagan gods that corrupted the worship of Elohim. The words “by way of the sea, along the Jordan” may suggest that Zebulun was a place of rest or refuge for those traveling or trading with other countries via the sea. Isaiah speaks of a great light dawning on those in the land of darkness (Isaiah 9:2). This light in Zebulun can only be the Messiah who will redeem Isra’el and the nations as promised to Abraham.
Issachar (Yissakhar) – “Yissakhar is a strong donkey lying down in the sheep sheds [between two saddlebags]. On seeing how good is settled life and how pleasant the country, he will bend his back to the burden, and submit to forced labor” (Genesis 49:14-15).
Issachar is strong and sees the value of being settled and choosing to submit himself to laboring with the land. Issachar means ‘reward’ and Leah believed Issachar was her reward for allowing her servant girl to sleep with Jacob; however, this reward came with a price. She had ‘hired’ Jacob to sleep with her maidservant by selling mandrakes to Rachel. From his birth Issachar was a ‘man for hire,’ but not necessarily a slave. Though ‘forced labor’ may infer slavery, there is no historical evidence that Issachar ever became enslaved. “He bent his back to the burden” is just another way to say he was faithful in taking on the yoke of Torah.
Hebrew Word Pictures
Yoke or ol – עול – ayin, vav, lamed
– understand the binding of what urges forward
Issachar, like a strong donkey, is attributed with understanding ‘the times’ which suggests that Issachar’s descendants will be wise in prophecy and Torah (1 Chronicles 12:32). If Issachar labored on their land inheritance as farmers, they would have studied the stars and followed the seasons for seedtime and harvest. They would have understood the mo’edim, the ‘appointed times’ of Elohim, and had prophetic insight. All of the brothers trust Issachar and look to him for leadership. It is the Tribe of Issachar who convince the other tribes that David should be crowned king over all of Isra’el (1 Chronicles 12:38).
Issachar’s land inheritance is adjacent to Zebulun in the north and went as far south as the Jezreel Valley, a large fertile plain and inland valley, and east to the Jordan River. It included the area of Meggido and the town of Endor.
“Through them [Torah] your servant is warned; in obeying them there is great reward [Issachar]” (Psalm 19:11).
Dan (Dan) – “Dan will judge his people as one of the Tribes of Isra’el. Dan will be a viper on the road, a horned snake in the path that bites the horse’s heels so its rider falls off backward. I wait for your deliverance, Adonai” (Genesis 49:16-18).
Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant, named her son Dan meaning ‘judge’ because Elohim had judged her, heard her voice, and gave her a son. Samson, one of the greatest judges of Isra’el, descended from the Tribe of Dan. Dan’s land inheritance was in the far north near the modern-day border with Syria.
In this prophetic blessing there is a viper, a horned snake, and a horse’s heels. Snakes and vipers are venomous killers. They attack unsuspecting people by hiding in tall grasses. Their attacks are generally defensive rather than offensive, but deadly nonetheless. Dan is not listed among the 144,000 men of the Tribes of Isra’el in Revelation 7. One reason could be because Elohim judges Dan for attacking the unsuspecting people of Laish and bringing idolatry into Isra’el (Judges 18:19-20).
In Genesis 3, the serpent is told that it will only strike at the heel of the “seed of woman.” Jacob prophesies that Dan will bite the horse’s heel. In Revelation 19, Yeshua, the “seed of woman,” returns to Jerusalem on a white horse with his armies. The rider of the horse ‘judges’ with justice and makes war against the serpent. The descendants of Dan may be the ones striking at the heels of the horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. The rider not falling off backwards may allude to another reason Dan is not mentioned as part of the redeemed Israelites. Perhaps it is his tribe that embraces the lies of the serpent and helps create the idolatrous worship of the anti-messiah in the Temple.
“I have waited for your salvation, Adonai” (Genesis 49:18).
This is the first time in Scripture that the word ‘salvation’ or yeshua is actually used. Jacob speaks the name of Yeshua who will deliver Isra’el from the idolatry and witchcraft the Tribe of Dan had introduced. Perhaps Dan realizes his error, but there is nothing he can do about it except wait for “salvation.” This may also be the first prayer for salvation recorded in Scripture.
Ephraim is not in the list of tribes in Revelation 7. Psalm 78 and Hosea 5 speak of Ephraim and how he did not keep the covenant nor live by Elohim’s Torah. He chose idolatry over worship of Elohim. The priest who had the idols and ephod was from Ephraim.
Gad (Gad) – “Gad [troop] – a troop will troop on him, but he will troop on their heel” (Genesis 49:19).
Gad’s land inheritance was on the eastern bank of the Jordan River which is today part of Syria and Jordan. Gad and his ‘troops’ always had to be ready to defend his land. Today, Gad only possesses a sliver of his inheritance, but according to the prophecy given by Jacob, Gad will eventually be victorious and possess his complete land inheritance.
Gad is known for his great fighting strategies and, along with Reuben and half of Manasseh, crossed over the Jordan River to fight in front of Isra’el. After 14 years of battle, Gad had lost none of his fighting men (1 Chronicles 12:14).
Asher (Asher) – “Asher’s food is rich – he will provide food fit for a king” (Genesis 49:20).
Jacob blesses Asher with prosperity and abundance. Serach was his daughter who, through her gift of music, helped Jacob accept Joseph was alive, reviving his ‘spirit of prophesy.’
His land inheritance is along the Mediterranean coast just north of modern-day Haifa. Asher’s tribe grew by nearly 12,000 in the wilderness; the most blessed of his children seemed to be his daughter.
Nafatli (Naftali) – “Naftali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns” (Genesis 49:21).
“Beautiful fawns”can mean ‘beautiful words’ or ‘goodly speech.’ “A doe set free” brings a vision of something dancing and leaping for joy. Because I love to dance, I envision “beautiful fawns” symbolizing Nafatli as a tribe of dancers.
The land inheritance for Nafatli is around the western part of the Sea of Galilee and north of Zebulun. Capernaum and the Mount of the Beatitudes are located in this area along with the fishing coastlands of the Sea of Galilee. This is the region where Yeshua lived, taught, and went to synagogue. Perhaps this is what Jacob alludes to when he prophesies beautiful words coming from Nafatli.
Joseph (Yosef) – “Yosef is a fruitful plant, a fruitful plant by a spring, with branches climbing over the wall. The archers attacked him fiercely, shooting at him and pressing him hard; but his bow remained taut; and his arms were made nimble by the hands of the Mighty One of Ya’akov, from there, from the Shepherd, the Stone of Isra’el, by the God of your father, who will help you, by El Shaddai, who will bless you with blessings from heaven above, blessings from the deep, lying below, blessings from the breasts and the womb. The blessings of your father are more powerful than the blessings of my parents, extending to the farthest of the everlasting hills; they will be on the head of Yosef, on the brow of the prince among his brothers” (Genesis 49:22-26).
Joseph had a very personal relationship with Elohim. He is not just the Elohim of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, but the El Gibbor (Mighty God) and El Shaddai, the Elohim close to his heart.
Jacob’s prophetic blessing over Joseph is nearly as long as his blessing over Judah and sounds more like a recounting of his life. Elohim has made Joseph fruitful; his two sons are like branches of a vine running over a wall. When Jacob adopted them into his family as his own sons, they become grafted into Isra’el.
Joseph’s brothers, along with Potiphar’s wife, are like archers. Their jealousy caused them to attack Joseph with false accusations. Like a steady bow, Joseph remained strong as his faith in Elohim grew. He walked through each trial and temptation with integrity. He emerged as an ‘overcomer’ just like his father, Isra’el.
Jacob continues the prophecy for Joseph with blessings of the heavens above, the deep below, and the breast and womb. These are blessings of fruitfulness.
Joseph’s land inheritance through Ephraim and Manasseh became the most valuable pieces of the Promised Land –– the eastern and western sides of the Jordan River. The House of Joseph became the most dominant Tribe of Isra’el.
Benjamin (Benyamin) – “Benyamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey, in the evening still dividing the spoil” (Genesis 49:27).
Benjamin’s land inheritance is tiny, but within its borders are the cities of Beit-el, Jericho, Ramah, Gibeon, Mizpah, and Jerusalem. Benjamin was blessed as a “ravenous wolf.” Benjamin had a warlike nature that came out not only in defense of his country, but also against the depravity within his country (Judges 19-21). In a prophetic sense, Benjamin’s wolf, warlike nature would be needed to protect and defend the city of Jerusalem, the place where Elohim put His name; the city which today is still a disputed city among the nations of the world.
Four renowned people came from the Tribe of Benjamin even though it was the smallest of the 12 tribes (1 Samuel 9:21). Ehud, a great warrior, delivered Isra’el from Moab (Judges 3:12-30). Saul became the first king of Isra’el (1 Samuel 9:15-27). Mordecai and Esther were both from the Tribe of Benjamin and were used to deliver the Jews from extinction in Persia (Esther 2:5-7). Sha’ul, the writer of the letters in the new testament, also descended from the Tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1).
Jacob’s Final Words
“I am to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my ancestors in the cave that is in the field of ‘Efron the Hitite, the cave in the field of Makhpelah, by Mamre, in the land of Ken’an, which Avraham bought together with the field from ‘Efron the Hitite as a burial place belonging to him –there they buried Avraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Yitz’ak and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah – the field and the cave in it, which was purchased from the sons of Het” (Genesis 49:29-32).
Jacob requests that he be buried with his ancestors in the cave purchased by Abraham. Twice he refers to the land as being purchased so there would never be any question as to who owned the land. After Jacob utters his final words, he takes his last breath and is gathered to his fathers. Only Joseph falls on his father weeping and kissing him.
Jacob was embalmed according to Egyptian culture. The embalming procedure involved washing the body in wine and water from the Nile. All vital organs and brain, except the heart, were removed from the body. This was done because organs are the first to decompose. The body was washed, covered, and filled with a mineral salt found in dried lake beds called natron.
After forty days, the dehydrated organs were put in clay jars. Different gods’ heads topped the jars as they were protectors of the organs: Imsety (human head) looked after the liver; Hapy (baboon head) looked after the lungs; Duamutef (jackel head) looked after the stomach; Qebehsenef (falcon head) looked after the intestines.
The body was washed again with water from the Nile and rubbed with oils to keep the skin elastic. The oiled body was stuffed to make it look lifelike and covered again with fragrant oils. Finally, it was wrapped in linen, beginning with the head followed by the neck, toes, and fingers. Arms and legs were wrapped separately, and between the layers amulets of the goddess Isis were placed.
While the body was being wrapped, a priest read spells to ward off evil spirits enabling the deceased enter the afterlife. Once the body was completely wrapped, the arms and legs were tied together with the Book of the Dead placed between the hands. The body was covered with more linen strips and resin to glue the layers together. A final cloth was wrapped around the body, and a picture of the god Osiris was painted on the surface. To complete the process, a large cloth was wrapped around the entire body, now a mummy. It was attached with strips of linen that ran from the top to the bottom and around the middle. A board of painted wood was placed on top of the mummy before it was lowered into its coffin. The first coffin was put inside a second.
Once this process was complete, a funeral was held and the family would mourn for 70 days. A ritual called the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ was performed allowing the deceased to eat and drink. Then the body, in its coffins, was placed inside a large stone sarcophagus in the tomb. Furniture, clothing, and valuable objects, including food and drink were arranged in the tomb. The body was ready for its journey to the underworld where its heart would be judged by its good deeds on earth. If it was found to be pure, it would be sent to live eternally in the beautiful ‘Field of Reeds.’
The process of embalming seems identical to the process that occurred for the patriarch, Jacob. Scripture states that the process took forty days and also records that Jacob was mourned for 70 days (Genesis 50:3). After the 70 days, his body was ready for burial. At this time, Joseph requests permission from Pharaoh to take his father’s body back to Abraham’s burial place as Jacob requested before he died.
The family mourned again for seven days in Canaan. The inhabitants of Atad heard the mourning cries and thought they were Egyptians! This place beyond the Jordan River was given the name Avel-Mitzrayim meaning ‘Mourning of Egypt.’ Jacob was buried in the cave in the field of Makhpelah by Mamre, the burial cave Abraham had bought from Efron the Hittite.
After seventeen years of living in Egypt in the fertile land of Goshen, Joseph’s brothers still do not completely trust Joseph’s forgiveness. They believe he only forgave them to be reunited with his father. They send him a message, as if from their father, asking forgiveness for the crimes they committed against him.
“But Yosef said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid! Am I in the place of God? You meant to do me harm, but God meant it for good – so that it would come about as it is today, with many people’s lives being saved’” (Genesis 50:19).
Before Joseph dies at 110 years of age, after seeing his great-grandchildren from Ephraim and Manasseh, he makes his brothers promise to take his bones to the Promised Land when Elohim takes them out of Egypt. He, too, is embalmed, but buried in an Egyptian tomb.
“By faith, Josef, near the end of his life, remembered about the Exodus of the people of Isra’el and gave instructions about what to do with his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).
Joseph understood the prophetic vision of his life’s struggles and rise to power. It was to save the nation. He also had prophetic understanding about Isra’el leaving Egypt because he remembered what God told Abraham about the Exodus of the people of Isra’el.
“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. She poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial” (Matthew 26:11-12).
“For you will always have the poor with you; and whenever you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me. What she could do, she did do — in advance she poured perfume on my body to prepare it for burial” (Mark 14:7-8).
“ Yeshua said, ‘Leave her alone! She kept this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me’” (John 12:7-8).
“After this, Yosef of Ramatayim, who was a talmid of Yeshua, but a secret one out of fear of the Judeans, asked Pilate if he could have Yeshua’s body. Pilate gave his consent, so Yosef came and took the body away. Also Nakdimon, who at first had gone to see Yeshua by night, came with some seventy pounds of spices — a mixture of myrrh and aloes. They took Yeshua’s body and wrapped it up in linen sheets with the spices, in keeping with Judean burial practice” (John 19:38-40).
“Kefa got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping down, he saw only the burial cloths…” (Luke 24:12).
“Then, following him, Shim‘on Kefa arrived, entered the tomb and saw the burial-sheets lying there, also the cloth that had been around his head, lying not with the sheets but in a separate place and still folded up” (John 20:6-7).
When Peter entered the tomb and saw the folded burial cloth, he immediately understood that Yeshua had risen and would not be returning, not to the grave. There are two views about this little, but important detail. First, by the cloth being folded, it suggested that there was order to the event in the tomb. There had not been a scuffle nor had anyone stolen Yeshua’s body. The second view involves a Jewish table tradition. A crumbled ‘table’ cloth meant ‘I am finished;’ while a folded cloth meant ‘I will return.’ Yeshua stated with the burial sheet that he was not coming back to the tomb; with the folded burial head linen, he was stating that he would be returning as he promised.
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