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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

They were placed at table in regular order, from the eldest to the youngest; and they ate, drank and were merry with Joseph, still supposing him to be an Egyptian.

Having departed on their return to Canaan, Joseph caused them to be pursued, and brought back, under pretence of having stolen his drinking cup.

At this second interview, Judah made supplication for his brethren; and confessed that God had found out the iniquity of himself and brethren; and that they were now fairly the servants of the Lord of Pharaoh's kingdom.

Judah having finished, Joseph could refrain no longer, but wept aloud, and announced himself as their brother, whom they had sold into Egypt.

They were greatly troubled at his presence; but he tranquillized their fears, and assured them that it was all of God, who had sent him before them into Egypt to "preserve them a posterity in the earth, and to save their lives by a great deliverance".

Jacob having received information of all that had been transacted, proceeded to break up his encampment, and to go down into Egypt as Joseph and Pharaoh had invited him to do.

Isaac had been dead ten years, and Jacob had attained the age of one hundred and thirty.

Having arrived at Beer-sheba on his way thither, he offered sacrifices to the God of Isaac.

On this occasion, God spake unto him, and said, "I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt: for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes".

In this promise Jacob was re-assured of a resurrection to Life.

The action of putting the hand upon the eyes represents death; for this was one of the last offices of the nearest relations.

Hence, to tell Jacob he should die, and yet that he should be brought up again, was telling him in effect that he should rise from the dead again to possess the land.

Seventeen years having passed away after his arrival in Egypt, the time drew nigh that Jacob must die.

This residence in the land of Ham had not at all diminished his attachment to the land of Canaan.

When, therefore, he found his end approaching, he took an oath of Joseph, saying, "Bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: but I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place".

And Joseph promised to do as he had said.

But why was Jacob thus anxious?

Surely it could make no difference to him where he should crumble into dust!

Nor would it, if Jacob had been a faithless Gentile; or a religionist whose mind was perverted by Platonism.

He would have cared nothing about his body; all his solicitude would have been about his "immortal soul".

But in Jacob's death-bed scene, he expressed no anxiety about "his soul"; all his care was for his body after death, that it might be duly deposited in the cave of Machpelah, where Abraham, Isaac, Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah were sleeping.

This was equally the case with Joseph; for although Egypt had been the theatre of his glory, and he was venerated there as the saviour of the country, in which he had also lived ninety-three years, yet his last thoughts were upon the land of Canaan and the disposal of his bones.

"I die," said he: "and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of Egypt unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob"; and he took an oath of them, saying, "Ye shall carry up my bones from hence".