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THE FUNERAL OF JACOB.
(GENESIS L. 12, 13.) ABOUT the year B.C. 1864, a grievous famine prevailed, both in Egypt and Syria. Its horrors, however, were averted by Divine Providence. Joseph, the son of good old Israel, was sold into Egypt by his brethren; and Pharaoh, the king of that country, having been favoured with two remarkable dreams, indicating this notable event, the Hebrew captive interpreted them, and he was made governor of Egypt, in which capacity, to use his own language, he “saved much people alive."
Among those whom Joseph saved, were his venerable father and his brethren. Having heard that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob sent his sons thither, and Joseph finally made himself known to them; and, at the desire of Pharaoh, he sent for his father, promising to nourish him and all his household, so long as the famine continued. Gladdened by the intelligence, the aged patriarch resolved to accept the invitation, and to sojourn with Joseph in the land of Egypt.
The meeting of the sorrowing parent and the lost son took place in Goshen, and it was touchingly tender. As they approached each other Joseph fell upon his father's neck and wept, and Jacob said to his son, in the fulness of his heart, “Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive."* Gen. xlvi. 30.
When the emotions of this meeting had subsided, Joseph informed his brethren that he would go and announce their arrival to Pharaoh, after which he would introduce some of them to the royal presence. For this purpose, indeed, he took with him five of the most comely of his brothers, and returned to the capital. Arrived there, Joseph first had an audience of the king, after which his brothers were called into the regal presence.
The occupation of Joseph's brethren was pastoral, and every shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians. Knowing this, and foreseeing that Pharaoh would interrogate them as to their occupation, before they were introduced Joseph gave them instructions which had reference to that state of feeling. He directed years of
* For more ample details of these events the reader is referred to the previous articles of “ Jacob and his family journeying to Egypt," and "Joseph supplying Corn from the Egyptian Storehouses."
them to reply, that they were shepherds, as all their fathers had been. And to this effect they did reply to the monarch; adding, that they had come to sojourn in Egypt, for in the land of Canaan the drought had been so severe, that there was no pasture for their flocks, and concluding with a request that they might be allowed to pasture them in Goshen. The reply of Pharaoh to this request of the sons of Jacob showed, at once, his gratitude and his affection for his deliverer. Turning to Joseph, he told him that the whole land was at his disposal, that he might place them in the best part of it, and in Goshen, if he deemed that district the most suitable for them and their flocks.
Having thus succeeded in his plan for the benefit of his family, Joseph introduced his father to Pharaoh. On approaching the monarch, the aged patriarch blessed him, and Pharaoh, struck by his venerable appearance, entered into conversation with him, particularly inquiring his age. Jacob's answer was emphatic, and well calculated to teach his royal hearer the vanity of all sublunary things :—“ The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Gen. xlvii.
. 9. Having taught this lesson to the monarch, Jacob again blessed Pharaoh, and then withdrew from his presence.
Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years; five in which the dearth prevailed, and twelve succeeding, which were fruitful. During this period Joseph tenderly nourished him and all his family with the good of the land of Egypt. At the end of this time, however, the partial failure of his sight, and the decay of his bodily powers, gave Jacob warning that the day when he should be called upon to end his earthly pilgrimage was approaching. Under this impression, he sent for Joseph, and expressed his desire that his body should be placed with his fathers, in the cave of Machpelah, and engaged him to promise by oath, that he should be buried in Canaan.
Soon after this, intelligence reached Joseph that his father was very ill, and seemed likely to die. Borne on the wings of duty, he hastened to his bedside, taking with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. When he arrived, Jacob exerted his remaining strength, and sat up in the bed, to receive him, and bequeath his parting blessings.