Joshua 24:32: The Burial of Joseph’s Bones in the Land of Promise

Verse 32:[1] And (Gen. 50:25; Ex. 13:19) the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground (Gen. 33:19) which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver (or, lambs[2]): and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

[The bones of Joseph also…they buried] For Joseph made arrangements for his bones to be removed unto Canaan, Genesis 50:25, just as Jacob had also made arrangements for his, Genesis 49:29. Evidently, they were doing this, so that they might confirm their faith in the promises of God in the minds of their own people; and that sort of faith belonged to them that not even death had been able to snatch it away (Masius). Now, I am inclined to believe that what is here related had already happened year earlier, namely, after the peace bestowed upon them after the wars (Bonfrerius): or, when at first among the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim the Israelites confirmed the covenant with God; for that place was near to the grave (Masius). For there is no reason why they would have delayed unto this time. And so that, they buried, I translate, they had buried (Bonfrerius). But it is commemorated now because here the sepulchers of other great men are shown (Masius).

[In Shechem] For Jacob had desired that part of the field to belong to Joseph outside of his lot; but it was customary to those ancient Fathers that each one be buried in his own possession. And, although a region far separated had fallen to the lot of Joseph, nevertheless at the same time they were going to reckon this field to him as ancestral by hereditary right (Masius). But this field was indeed set within the bounds of Ephraim, yet they possessed it, not by the casting of lots of Joshua, but by donation of Jacob (Bonfrerius).

In Shechem; not in the city of Shechem, but in a field near and belonging to it, as appears from the following words, and from Genesis 33:18, and from the ancient custom of the Israelites to have their burying-places without cities, in fields or gardens.

[For a hundred young sheep, בְּמֵאָ֣ה קְשִׂיטָ֑ה] For a hundred lambs, or sheep (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Montanus). Rather, coins (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Masius), as it is evident from Acts 7:16, τιμῆς ἀργυρίου, a sum of silver (Masius). Lambs, that is, coins; perhaps because they had the form of a lamb impressed on them (Vatablus). [But concerning this and other sorts of coins see the tractate concerning Coins to be stitched together, Lord willing, and to be placed among the Appendices. Moreover, Masius explains those δυσνόητα/difficult passages, namely, Genesis 48:22 and Acts 7:16 compared with Genesis 33:19, concerning which see the things either brought together or to be brought together on those passages.]

[And it was for a possession of the sons of Joseph] Hebrew: And they were (that is, granted) to the sons of Joseph for a possession,[3] understanding, his own; that is, It was done in such a way that they considered the bones of the father buried in his own possession (Vatablus). The consent of the Divine foreknowledge, whereby Jacob had determined this place as a sepulcher of his son, and of the lot, which assigned that to Joseph, is covertly shown. Moreover, as with other nations, so with the Hebrews, it was custom that illustrious men be buried among their own. For thus by domestic example each family and tribe was greatly urged on to virtue. The Syrians relate that Noah conscientiously received the bones of Adam into the Ark, and afterwards divine them among his sons. Which I commemorate not for this reason, that I would wish any bones to be worshipped superstitiously: For I know that except for the one God nothing, neither in heaven nor on earth, is to be worshipped [Let the rest of the Papists note this, who roundly profess λειψανολατρείαν, that is, the worship of relics, and also of Angels, Saints, Images, etc.]; and that in Christ alone ought to be placed all our hope of salvation. [Let them also note this, who place at least some hope of salvation in merits, both their own, and of the Saints; and let them hear this, their most learned brother, from whom the force of truth alone has extorted these sayings.] Nevertheless, to me the bonds of the most holy men appear always to have had a just veneration among all the pious (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וְאֶת־עַצְמ֣וֹת י֠וֹסֵף אֲשֶׁר־הֶעֱל֙וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל׀ מִמִּצְרַיִם֮ קָבְר֣וּ בִשְׁכֶם֒ בְּחֶלְקַ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר קָנָ֧ה יַעֲקֹ֛ב מֵאֵ֛ת בְּנֵֽי־חֲמ֥וֹר אֲבִֽי־שְׁכֶ֖ם בְּמֵאָ֣ה קְשִׂיטָ֑ה וַיִּֽהְי֥וּ לִבְנֵֽי־יוֹסֵ֖ף לְנַחֲלָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: קְשִׂיטָה.

[3] Hebrew: וַיִּֽהְי֥וּ לִבְנֵֽי־יוֹסֵ֖ף לְנַחֲלָֽה׃.

1 thought on “Joshua 24:32: The Burial of Joseph’s Bones in the Land of Promise

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘This book, which began with triumphs, here ends with funerals, by which all the glory of man is stained. We have here…The burial of Joseph, Joshua 24:32. He died about 200 years before in Egypt, but gave commandment concerning his bones, that they should not rest in their grave until Israel had rest in the land of promise; now therefore the children of Israel, who had brought this coffin full of bones with them out of Egypt, carried it along with them in all their marches through the wilderness (the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, it is probable, taking particular care of it), and kept it in their camp till Canaan was perfectly reduced, now at last they deposited it in that piece of ground which his father gave him near Shechem, Genesis 48:22. Probably it was upon this occasion that Joshua called for all Israel to meet him at Shechem (Joshua 24:1), to attend Joseph’s coffin to the grave there, so that the sermon in this chapter served both for Joseph’s funeral sermon and his own farewell sermon; and if it was, as is supposed, in the last year of his life, the occasion might very well remind him of his own death being at hand, for he was now just at the same age that his illustrious ancestor Joseph had arrived at when he died, 110 years old; compare Joshua 24:29 with Genesis 50:26.’

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