[ocr errors]

field of Machpelah, which Abraham had bought with the field for a possession of a burying-place of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre. 14. And Joseph returned to Egypt, he, and his brothers, and all who went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.

and pounded leaves of the lote or other trees, with rose-water, aloë, and similar perfumes; and they then bind together the ankles, and place the hands upon the breast. If the deceased was a man of pro• perty, the body is afterwards successively wrapped in muslin, in cotton cloth of thicker texture, striped stuff of silk and cotton intermixed, and a kashmere shawl; white and green are the usual colours; blue, or what approaches it, is generally avoided. The body of a poor man is simply surrounded with a few pieces of cotton or put into a kind of bag.-The Egyptian art of embalming was known and prac. tised by the Palmyreans also. But the Babylonians, and, in some instances, the later Jews embalmed the body in honey, after having covered it with wax; the Persians enveloped it with the latter substanceonly; the Greeks and Romanssometimes with honey alone; the Ethiopians plastered the body with gypsum, painted it to make it resemble the living person, and then surrounded it with a column of glass or crystal (perhaps fossil salt or a diaphanous resin), through which it was from all parts visible; and others employed simply perfumes, spices, and unctions.

Between the completion of embalming and the burial, funeral services were solemnised; the mummy was placed before an altar and anointed; and the rites consisted in prayers, libations, offerings of incense, cakes, flowers, and fruits, and in repeated feasts, to which the relations and friends of the departed were invited.—The funeral processions were both solemn and magnificent, but naturally varied accord. ing to the social position of the deceased. -In the vaults were not only placed the mummies, but, on small tables, offerings of cakes, fowl, and other objects; implements to indicate the profession or occu

pation of the dead, such as a censer, an inkstand, or a boat, if he had been a priest, a scribe, or a mariner; images of the entombed, and tablets of stone or wood, in the form of an Egyptian shield, with inscriptions regarding his character and career; papyri and jewels; even the sawdust of the floor where the body had been cleansed, was tied in small linen bags, often to the number of twenty or thirty, and deposited in vases.

It would be superfluous to describe the violent forms of mourning customary in the East. Among the ancient Egyptians, it consisted in abstaining from baths, wine, and ointment; in avoiding all luxury in eating, all comfort and elegance in garments; in covering the head with ashes; allowing the hair of the head and the beard to grow; and in vociferous lamentations, repeated twice daily, and usually swelled by the clamours of hired mourners.

It is, indeed, surprising that Joseph, the viceroy, should have required the intervention of subordinate courtiers to ob. tain permission for Jacob's interment in Canaan (vers. 4,5). The author may have considered Joseph's power as less extensive after the expiration of the season of famine, with which his immediate charge ended; or he may have supposed the accession of a new Pharaoh, as twentyeight years had elapsed since Joseph was summoned to the royal palace. Others believe that the mourning, during which the Egyptians in many respects neglected their usual attention to their external appearance, precluded Joseph from coming into the royal presence; for though "the days of weeping” had passed (ver.4), the rites of mourning ceased only on the day of burial (comp. ver. 10).

The funeral procession seems to have taken its way from the province of Go


15. And when Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will perhaps hate us, and will fully requite us all the evil which we did to him. 16. And they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, Thy father commanded before he died, saying, 17. So shall you say to Joseph, Oh forgive, I pray thee, the trespass of thy brothers, and their sin; for they did to thee evil : and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father.

thy father. And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18. And his brothers also went and fell down before him; and they said, Behold, we are thy servants. 19. And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in God's stead? 20. But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to preserve much people. 21. Now,

shen in north-easterly direction towards picion and animosity bad entirely vanGaza, a journey of eight to ten days; ished from the hearts of the brothers; he within the boundaries of the land of places the reader again in the midst of Canaan, and, probably, not much to the the moral complications which had caused south of Hebron, it stopped at the the greatness of Joseph through the guilt " threshing-floor of Atad,” where both and shame of the rest. Hence he not only the sons of Jacob and the Egyptians who repeats the compunctions, the confession, accompanied ther, renewed their mourn- and the fear of the offenders; but also the ing during seven days. The former unreserved pardon and cheering consolanext proceeded alone to the cave of tions of the sufferer Joseph, who, conMachpelah to discharge their melan- vinced that the will of God had designed choly duty, while the latter remained

the wondrous events, and that the brothers at Atad awaiting the return of the He- had before been sufficiently punished for brews, together with whom they then their attempted crime, abhorred the idea journeyed back to Egypt. This is the clear of revenge, and humbly exclaimed," Am and simple tenour of the narrative. I in God's stead”? And he finally draws

15--26. The Hebrew historian is so the conclusion in a train of thought deeply impressed with the great and mo- happily expressed by a modern poet: mentous principle embodied in the life of

"All nature is but art unknown to thee, Joseph, that in spite of manifold inter- All chance, direction which thou canst ruptions and episodes, as the settlement of

not see, the Hebrews in Goshen, a new organisa

All discord, harmony not understood,

All partial evil, universal good: tion of the Egyptian empire, the adoption

And spite of pride, in erring reason's of Ephraim and Manasseh, and the spite, prophetic address, death, and burial One truth is clear: whatever is, is right." of Jacob he more strongly

Pope, Essay on Man, I. x. enforces the doctrine of a special Provi- Joseph, so exalted in his views, and so dence (see p. 409), and skilfully com- unwavering in his rectitude, naturally pletes the varied incidents of a long deserved every temporal blessing: he lived narrative. Although it might appear to see descendants to the third and fourth that, after the lapse of so many years, sus- generation, and he died, fifty-four years


therefore, fear not: I will nourish you and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them. 22. And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's house: and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years.

23. 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. 24. And Joseph said to his brothers, I die: and God will surely remember you, and bring you out of this land to the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely remember you, and you shall carry up my bones froin hence. 26. So Joseph died a hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

after Jacob, with the comforting certainty that his body, carefully embalmed and enshrined in a sarcophagus, would in due time be interred in the land of promise. These traits were indispensably demanded by the organism and tendency of the tale. But why did not Joseph, like Jacob, order his remains to be forthwith conveyed to Canaan? Was he less scrupulous, or did he feel less deeply for the future of the Hebrew race than his father? The only satisfactory reply is, that tradition had not handed down the record of any funeral procession immediately after Joseph's death, while it preserved the memory of his burial at a much later period, in the piece of ground near Shechem bought by Jacob (comp. Exod. xiii. 19; Josh. xxiv. 32).

As Machir was the firstborn son of Manasseh, he sometimes represents the whole tribe to which he belonged. The sons of Machir, among whom Gilead distinguished himself by valour, conquered large districts in the east of the Jordan, especially Gilead and Bashan, from whence they expelled the Amorites; but some branches of Machir's family obtained

inheritance on the west of the river, among that part of Manasseh which there finally settled. The name of Machir was long preserved in the same tribe.

Joseph is but rarely mentioned by profane writers; and the few notices which occur are little in harmony with the statements of Genesis. Artapanus remarks, that Joseph, persecuted by his brothers, had himself entreated Arabian neighbours to bring him to Egypt, where he introduced a system of measures and weights; Justinus represents him as the father of Moses; and the Koran, following Talmudical and other traditionary sources, has worked out his life with profuse and romantic embellishments.

The last words of Joseph appear like a transition to the period of servitude and wretchedness which awaited the Hebrews in Egypt; “ God will surely remember you,” said he, “and bring you out of this land”: scarcely has the discord within Jacob's family been fully resolved into harmony, when a new and intricate problem is hinted at-lest the interest abate, and the unity of the work be mistaken.


« ElőzőTovább »