In last weeks’ reading of the Hebrew scriptures:

jacobs-burialI started this as a comment to something Leftover said, but here goes, anyway:

(As a reminder, I, the fundamentalist with Mad Bible Skills, have started re-reading the Bible, from Gen. 1, using a guide I loaded onto my phone. Obviously, people read the Bible and find different things. Here’s what I found last week:)

A man named Joseph was the favored son of a man named Jacob, and Joseph’s brothers (he had 11 of them) were jealous (not all 11 were jealous, but still). They sold him into slavery in Egypt, where through a series of twists and turns he rather quickly rose in the ranks as the Pharoah’s right-hand man. In fact, at one point, Joseph had oversight over everything but Pharoah’s wife, who tried to get him to sleep with her, falsely accused him of assault, and had him imprisoned. And he rose from there, too.

Because of Joseph’s business skills (and, by my reading of the text, the hearty backing of God), he was able to keep Egypt fed during seven years of a really tough famine. In fact, he was so good that his father — who up to now thought his son had been killed and eaten by an animal — sent his brothers to him to buy food.

(I am leaving out so much interesting detail in this retelling. For the full picture, read it yourself in Gen. 37-44. Anyhoo:)

They are reunited, even while the brothers are pretty sure Joseph is going to  take vengeance on them, and Jacob is reunited with his favorite son in Egypt, they move the whole kit and caboodle to Egypt, and it’s all cool, and then Jacob dies. Dies! (In the New International Version, Jacob uses a beautiful phrase to describe his own death: “I am about to be gathered to my people,” which to me paints a beautiful picture of what happens after we die. We get to see Grandma Marrs.)

Jacob has asked to be buried in his homeland, Canaan and the Egyptians, grateful to Jacob’s son for saving them from starvation, put Jacob’s body through the same funerary ritual they would any  monarch — 40 days of embalming (and if you want to read about stuff that includes a hook shoved up a corpse’s nose to pull out the brains, go here). Joseph asked Pharaoh if he can leave for Canaan to bury his father, and Pharaoh said of course, and sent his dignitaries along. “It was a very large company,” it says here. And if you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know how important that can be.

So Jacob, the beloved patriarch of the Israelites, was given a royal Egyptian burial, and nobody seemed angry about it. In fact, Joseph’s family appear to have been grateful that the Egyptians treated their father so respectfully, despite the obvious theological differences (still aborning, on the part of the Israelites).

That’s it. Your Bible lesson of the day, brought to you by Sister Susan.


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  1. Speaking of burials, Why did Rachel get the side of the road and Leah the ancestral cave? I mean…Jacob didn’t even wait to get to Bethlehem. Just plop. See ya, sister…and…oh yeah…I’m calling him Benjamin.
    What’s up with that?
    Something to do with the theft and the curse, maybe? Given the history of the relationship, one might think Rachel deserved a little better than the side of the road.

    1. Given that she was the woman he wanted to marry all along, I don’t get that, either. Though “on the way” might not mean they just tossed her body overboard. I hope it doesn’t, anyway. I’m in Exodus, with the hardened heart of the Pharaoh. The guy is ridiculous. I mean, what’s it take? A few dust mites and I’d be willing to let the people go. Forget about locusts, etc.

      1. No…not just tossed overboard. He stopped and dug a hole. (There’s a temple there now, I believe.) But he could have easily waited until he got to Bethlehem for a proper burial.

        Exodus: The stuff movies are made move.
        And Moses: The original Stranger in a Strange Land.

        But didn’t God say He would harden Pharaoh’s resolve to keep the Israelites as slaves in order to demonstrate His power and His selection (there it is again) of the Israelites as His chosen people? If that’s the case, Pharaoh didn’t really have much choice in the matter. Did he?

  2. That was great… thank you! Seriously… if the Bible were interpreted, more often, in layman’s terms and with humor, more people might read it. I could have, however, done without the hooked brains through the nose thing.

    1. But that was my favorite part! (In truth, God didn’t put that in the Bible. I went and hunted it down.)

  3. Thanks for the preview. I’m not quite there yet. I am not much of a God fan as it is written so far. The creation was awesome, but for a God who seems to have lots of dialog with His people, I am not liking the silence on injustices. Beyond the gender inequity, why does God not speak up about the slaves in Genesis? Why not speak up on the killing? Fists still balled up. Onward.

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