Genesis 47:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 47:31, NIV: "Swear to me,' he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff."

Genesis 47:31, ESV: "And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed."

Genesis 47:31, KJV: "And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head."

Genesis 47:31, NASB: "And he said, 'Swear to me.' So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed."

Genesis 47:31, NLT: "'Swear that you will do it,' Jacob insisted. So Joseph gave his oath, and Jacob bowed humbly at the head of his bed."

Genesis 47:31, CSB: "And Jacob said, "Swear to me." So Joseph swore to him. Then Israel bowed in thanks at the head of his bed."

What does Genesis 47:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jacob believes he is nearing the time of his death. He has called Joseph to make a serious, formal request: that he not be buried in Egypt (Genesis 47:29–30). Instead, he wants his body taken back to Canaan, to the family tomb near Mamre (Genesis 23:17–20), where Abraham and Isaac are buried. At the time Jacob makes this request, the tomb is one of the only pieces of land his family legally owns in Canaan. It is a symbol of God's promise that they will one day own all the land (Genesis 35:12).

Joseph agreed to do as his father asked, but Jacob wants Joseph to swear it to him. Joseph does so now, accepting the responsibility to see this last request is carried out. When the time comes, the dutiful son will make good on his promise (Genesis 50:12–14).

Jacob, called again by his God-given name Israel (Genesis 35:10–11), responds by bowing. Scholars debate the precise arrangement that's being described. It might be that Jacob is weak and slumping over on his bed. However, the very next verse makes note of a time when Jacob was more literally at death's door (Genesis 48:1), so the act depicted here does not seem a sign of physical weakness. A more often-accepted interpretation is that Jacob is worshipping, perhaps by kneeling in his bed.