Okay, we’ve now entered the final stretch of the Book of the Genesis.
Today we begin Chapter 50.
To read the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
“Joseph fell on his father’s face,
wept over him and kissed him.
Then Joseph ordered the physicians in his service
to embalm his father.
So the physicians embalmed Isra’el.
Forty days were spent at this,
the normal amount of time for embalming.
Then the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.”
The embalming of a corpse as practiced in the Egyptian death cult was quite a gruesome ritual.
The purpose of this custom was to preserve the body for the eventual return of the soul.
First, the brain was removed and the emptied skull filled with spices.
Then, the entrails were removed and the resulting cavity thoroughly sterilized with alcohol which was afterwards filled up with myrrh and other similar substances.
Next, the whole body was placed in a nitric solution for several days.
After that, the body was washed, wrapped and sealed with a sturdy rubber paste.
Now Jewish law strictly forbids embalming and cremation.
However, according to the belief system in ancient Egypt, physical preservation of the body was essential to ensure the survival of the soul in the underworld which was ruled by the Egyptian god named Osiris.
So you’re probably wondering why in the world would Joseph have his father subjected to such a heathen practice?!
Had Joseph actually fallen for the the belief system of Egypt’s death cult?
The answer is NO and here’s why.
The Scriptures tell us that Joseph assigned the PHYSICIANS to do the embalming.
Physicians in Egypt were NOT normally embalmers.
Normally it was the Priests of Osiris who were assigned to perform these death cult rites.
Embalming in Egypt was a religious ritual, NOT a medical procedure.
So it was ALWAYS conducted by professional priests trained in the intricate and secretive religious rituals that accompanied the physical embalming procedures.
So in order to separate the religion from the medical procedures, the Scriptures go out of their way to point out that Joseph hired “physicians” to do the embalming.
Now you may be wondering, why did Joseph even have Jacob’s body embalmed in the first place?
Why wasn’t the corpse just buried as was the custom of the Israelites?
Again, the answer to that question is both simple and practical.
Jacob’s body had to be hauled over a long distance to comply with Jacob’s demand that he be buried in the Promised Land.
So if proper medical means weren’t taken to preserve the body, Jacob’s sons would have had a rotting corpse on their hands midway during their trip back to Canaan.
This would not have been a pretty picture.
Finally, look at the two time periods mentioned in verse 3.
It says there was one 40 day-period for embalming and one 70-day period for mourning.
Are we talking about about a total of 110 days?
The answer is no and the way this verse is rendered in many Bible translations can be misleading.
What our Bibles should say is there was a 40-day period for embalming and one 30-day period for mourning for a TOTAL OF 70 DAYS.
The reason is because the customary length of a mourning period for the Hebrews was 30 days.