What does Genesis 50:5 mean?
ESV: ‘My father made me swear, saying, “I am about to die: in my tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.” Now therefore, let me please go up and bury my father. Then I will return.’”
NIV: My father made me swear an oath and said, 'I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.' Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.''
NASB: ‘My father made me swear, saying, 'Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.' Now then, please let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’?'
CSB: my father made me take an oath, saying, 'I am about to die. You must bury me there in the tomb that I made for myself in the land of Canaan.' Now let me go and bury my father. Then I will return."
NLT: Tell him that my father made me swear an oath. He said to me, ‘Listen, I am about to die. Take my body back to the land of Canaan, and bury me in the tomb I prepared for myself.’ So please allow me to go and bury my father. After his burial, I will return without delay.'
KJV: My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
NKJV: ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’ ”
Verse Commentary:
Just before his death, Jacob commanded his sons to lay his body to rest in the family burial cave in Canaan (Genesis 47:29–30). Joseph will need Pharaoh's permission to leave Egypt to fulfill this request. Joseph has approached someone in Pharaoh's household to present these words to Pharaoh (Genesis 50:4). Most likely, this was because those in mourning were not permitted to be in Pharaoh's presence.

Though the burial cave was purchased by Abraham for the family, it's likely Jacob cut out his own resting place within the cave, though he is never quoted as saying so himself. By the time he was reunited with Joseph, and moved into Egypt, he was already 130 years old (Genesis 47:9). Making such preparations would have been normal.

So far as we can tell, Joseph avoids mentioning what Jacob said about his allegiance to his fathers and the land of Canaan (Genesis 48:21). Perhaps he was concerned the Pharaoh would not approve of any perceived lack of loyalty to Egypt.

Joseph's request to leave Egypt, even temporarily, foreshadows similar requests made by Moses to another Pharaoh, centuries in the future (Exodus 5:1–4). The Pharaohs who rule during Moses' life will have neither knowledge nor honor for Joseph (Exodus 1:8), and so will not respond as warmly as does the Pharaoh of Joseph's era (Genesis 50:6).
Verse Context:
Genesis 50:1–14 begins with Joseph weeping by his father's deathbed. Jacob is embalmed and an official period of mourning is observed in Egypt. With Pharaoh's blessing and a large company of Egyptian mourners, Jacob's sons travel to Canaan. There, as requested, they bury their father in the family tomb, alongside Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob's wife Leah. Then they all return to Egypt.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 50 begins with Joseph's weeping over his father's body, followed by the embalming of Jacob, a 70–day period of state mourning, and a trip to Canaan to bury Jacob with his fathers. Joseph's brothers, worried that he would take his revenge on them for selling him into slavery, seek Joseph's forgiveness. He assures them he will not harm them. The chapter skips to the end of Joseph's life. After assuring his people that God will return them to Canaan one day, Joseph dies and is embalmed.
Chapter Context:
After settling in Egypt, under his son's protection (Genesis 47—49), Jacob dies (Genesis 49:33). He is embalmed and all of Egypt mourns. Joseph buries his father in the family tomb in Canaan, then returns to Egypt. He asks that his body be taken back to Canaan someday. This sets up the events of the book of Exodus. Over centuries, Israel will grow into a prosperous people, only to be enslaved by a jealous Egyptian monarchy. This provides a context for God to rescue Israel and demonstrate His power.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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