January 30, 2018

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART IV: JOSEPH AND HIS BRETHREN (Gen. 37:1-50:26)

Topic #F: THE LAST DAYS OF JACOB AND OF JOSEPH. (Gen. 47:28-50:26).                    

 

    Lesson IV.F.5: He Repeats His Last Request, and Dies. (Gen. 49:29-33)                                             

      

Gen. 49:29-33

29 Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 

30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. 

31 “There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah—

32 the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.” 

33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

 

Introduction

Having completed his blessings, Jacob made known the wish he had earlier revealed to Joseph (47:29-31).  He was to be buried in the cave of Machpelah (29-30), which had been purchased by Abraham (23:1-20).  It was the grave of his ancestors and of Leah (31), his wife.  Jacob wanted to be sure that in life and death his sons would have their eyes on Canaan as their true home.

The last detail had been cared for and there was no need to tarry.  Jacob was gathered unto his people (33), as were Abraham and Isaac before him.

 

The Narrative (Genesis 49:29-33, KJV)

29 Then he charged them and said to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 

30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site

 

The assessment of his family was over, and now we have the closing scene in the tragic pageant which is the life of Jacob.  With the frank and honest blessing of his sons came a solemn ultimatum“I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite . . .”  Jacob’s mind was full of the promises of God.  The description of his death is significant.  He yielded his spirit to God, and was reunited with his forefathers.  This is a clear proof of a belief in a future life.

We can see how much this man knew of his family’s history.  I don’t imagine that he was carrying with him a written record at this time, yet he carried this information in his mind.

Jacob did not want to be buried in Egypt.  His heart was in “Canaan,” and there he wished to “rest in peace.”  God had promised him Canaan, and he intended to be in Canaan, dead or alive, when God made good the promise.  His heart was very much set upon it, not so much from natural affection for his native soil, as from a principle of faith in the promise of God that Canaan should be the inheritance of his seed in due time.  But perhaps he expected something more, for Jacob was a prophet in his last hours.  The Messiah was coming to Canaan, and he may have wanted to be there when Christ came.  He wanted to make sure that he stayed in that land until the day when he would be raised from the dead to live in that land.  Who could tell what wonders the Messiah would perform! 


31 “There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah—

32 the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth.” 

Jacob had something else to say about his will.  His thoughts were centered now on that field of Machpelah.  “Abraham’s body” was there, and so was “Sarah’s.”  “Isaac’s body” was there; “Rebecca’s” was too.  “Leah” was buried there along with the others—this is the first indication we have of her death.  It is not so much that he was interested in being buried by Leah (after all, Rachel was buried up in Bethlehem), but he wants to be buried where he will be raised from the dead at the resurrection so he will be right there when God fulfills His promises to the nation Israel.  Jacob wanted his mortal remains to be at rest with his family.  They would be the first ones he would see on the resurrection morning.

 

33 When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

When he had finished both his blessing and his demand, there remained only one more thing to do―to address himself to the work of dying. When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.He had ordered that his body was to be buried with his loved ones, and now he put himself into a posture for dying, and then, he departed to be with them himself―He summoned what was left of his strength, hauled his feet into bed, let his staff fall, freely resigned his spirit into the hand of the Lord, and smiled into the face of God.  He was dead.

There he lay upon his couch in that gorgeous chamber in the land of Egypt.  The painted walls gazed silently down.  The echo of the old man’s voice died away and all was still.  The awed family gazed at the mortal remains of one of God’s great worthies.  There it lay, stiffening now in death—that old, weather-beaten form, its struggles over, its battles won.  He was with Abraham and Isaac.  He was with his mother, Rebekah, and his grandmother, Sarah.  He was with Leah.  And, oh the bliss of it—he was with Rachel.  He was at home with God.


 

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