27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years. 29 And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” 31 And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.” (Genesis 47:27–31 (ESV)
Joseph’s extended family from Canaan settled in the land called Goshen, located in Egypt. Moses recorded in today’s text that they gained possessions, were fruitful and multiplied greatly. Additionally, Joseph’s father Jacob lived another seventeen years in Egypt until the age of 147.
Moses recorded that it was following those seventeen years, that Jacob’s life neared its end. The time came for him to die. When Jacob’s death loomed near, he met with his favorite son Joseph.
Jacob said to Joseph, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.”
Hebrew custom dictated that to place one’s hand under another individual’s thigh indicated a solemn vow to fulfill the desire of that individual. By putting his hand under Jacob’s thigh Joseph promised to carry out his father’s wishes. See Gen. 24:1-9.
It was then that Jacob told Joseph to swear to him that he would fulfill this request. To swear meant that Joseph would solemnly take an oath, promise and pledge that he would carry out Jacob’s command.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “In having Joseph swear to bury him in Canaan (Gen. 47:29–31), Jacob confirmed his belief that God would bring Him out of Egypt (46:4). By faith he looked to the day when Yahweh would keep His promise in its totality, and he knew blessing would come upon his people if they would trust in God’s abundant grace and obey His commands in the Promised Land (28:10–17; Deut. 30:1–10). Burial there manifested Jacob’s trust in God for such blessing even in death. In the light of the full witness of Scripture, we know this abundant life prefigured in Canaan comes after the grave when believers are raised to live in a new Promised Land — a new earth free from the curse of evil (Rev. 21).”
The confidence Jacob had typifies the trust, commitment, dependence believers today have in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In these uncertain days on earth, we may have confidence in the Ancient of Days for eternity. Have a blessed day in the LORD.
Soli deo Gloria!