Even in victory, Joseph remembered who he was and that the final dream was yet unfinished. Yes, God had raised him from slavery and prison to become the ruler of the land – the second highest official. Yes, everyone did have to bow to the ground before him. And yes, his brothers had done just that.
The family had been re-united and saved from the fiercest famine to rock and devastate the region. Jacob had come and lived there so they could be one close-knit family once more. The tribes had settled down. Then Jacob died, and true to his wishes, his body was taken back to the family gravesite at Mamre.
The guilt-ridden brothers were once more pricked with fear. Had Joseph only been gracious to them for the sake of Jacob or because he had been there with them all? Would they now see his true colours and be victimised? They decided to face Joseph with their conjured up father’s plea for clemency. How wrong they were. They had already seen Joseph’s true colours. He was as gracious when Jacob died as he had been all along. He wasn’t the one with the problem – they were. Joseph repeated his reassurance and the fact that though they had meant their actions for evil – God had turned them to good, for Joseph and for them.
Life would eventually begin to settle down to the normal humdrum of living. But not for Joseph. Yes, he would remain Prime Minister and go about his ministerial duties; however, he held onto that position, but only lightly. His vision was far distant. He could see Canaan – the God-ordained homeland for Israel.
He was fearful that his brothers would get sidetracked by Egypt. Would they be happy to settle for ease and comfort? Would they assimilate the culture of Egypt, forsake their heritage and miss out on their destiny? Yes, they would follow their father’s God as long as he was alive – maybe even follow Him as long as Joseph was around to check on them. But what would happen once Joseph left?
Would their heritage be lost? Would they settle for second-best?
Joseph certainly had his doubts about their intentions to keep true to their inheritance. So, before he died, he had them promise that they would not bury him in Egypt. His request was quite specific and interesting. He didn’t demand being treated like Jacob. He didn’t ask them to take his bones and bury them in the family gravesite as soon as he died.
His eyes were on a more distant horizon. No. He demanded that they keep his bones in a coffin until the time came when the whole tribe of Israel would be delivered from Egypt, and go as a people to re-inhabit the promised land of Canaan. His bones would be a constant reminder that one-day they would leave and be set free.
His bones were to be carried at the Exodus to Canaan and be buried there. And they were, by Moses, about 400 years later – see Exodus 13:19. They were buried at Shechem, as recorded in Joshua 24: 32.