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"After this Joseph was told, "Behold, your father is ill"; so he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you"; then Israel summoned his strength, and sat up in bed." (Genesis 48:1-2 RSV)
Jacob's time to die had come; like most who have the luxury to see it coming, Jacob attended to family business in a time-appropriate way. Joseph (see The Israelite Patriarchs - Joseph) had been Jacob's favorite son, primarily because Joseph was the child of Jacob's favorite wife Rachel. Jacob took the extraordinary step of adopting Joseph's two sons as his own, in effect promoting them from grandsons to sons.
"And Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.'
It wasn't entirely Jacob's idea to bless Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh in that way. It was The Lord's will; He even guided nearly-blind Jacob's hands.
"Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them.
Joseph at first protested the blessing, but Jacob made plain that it was The Lord's will. Jacob, like Abraham before him, also was aware of the Prophecy that the Exodus would happen centuries later.
"When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he took his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father; for this one is the first-born; put your right hand upon his head." But his father refused, and said, "I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations." (Genesis 48:17-19 RSV)
Genesis Chapter 49
Jacob then called together all of his sons for a deathbed blessing that was prophetic to each of them: "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel; and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him." (Genesis 49:28 RSV). The coming Messiah would come through Judah.
"Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?
Jacob then gave his sons the final instructions, for his own burial.
"Then he charged them, and said to them, "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, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife [see Abram and Sarai]; there they buried Isaac [see Isaac's Faith And Obedience] and Rebekah his wife [see A Servant's Journey]; and there I buried Leah - the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites."
Genesis Chapter 50
Joseph then ordered that his father's body be embalmed, which to the Egyptians was primarily a matter of removing the internal organs of the body and then slowly drying the rest (the photo shows an actual Egyptian "mummy" of a man who has been dead for many centuries).
"Then Joseph fell on his father's face, and wept over him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel; forty days were required for it, for so many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days." (Genesis 50:1-3 RSV)
With the Pharaoh's permission, Joseph then carried out Jacob's will to be buried in the land of Israel.
"And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, 'I am about to die: in my tomb which I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.' Now therefore let me go up, I pray you, and bury my father; then I will return."
Later, Joseph's own time to die came, but he too gave instructions that he was not to be left behind in Egypt.
"So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's house; and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph's knees. And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die; but God will visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." Then Joseph took an oath of the sons of Israel, saying, "God will visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." (Genesis 50:22-26 RSV)