The tribe of Ephraim (Josh 16:1-16:10)

“The allotment of the descendants of Joseph went from the Jordan by Jericho, east of the waters of Jericho, into the wilderness, going up from Jericho into the hill country to Bethel. Then going from Bethel to Luz, it passes along to Ataroth, the territory of the Archites. Then it goes down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of Lower Beth-horon, then to Gezer and it ends at the sea. The people of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance.”

The tribe of Joseph with its two descendents will get a large portion of the northern country. There is an odd mention of two strange groups, the Archites and Japhletites, who are not mentioned elsewhere. I cannot tell whether they were friendly or not to the Israelites.

“The territory of the Ephraimites by their families was as follows. The boundary of their inheritance on the east was Ataroth-addar as far as Upper Beth-horon. The boundary goes from there to the sea. On the north is Michmethath. Then on the east the boundary makes a turn toward Taanath-shiloh, and passes along beyond it on the east to Janoah. Then it goes down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, and touches Jericho, ending at the Jordan. From Tappuah the boundary goes westward to the Wadi Kanah, and ends at the sea. Such is the inheritance of the tribe of the Ephraimites by their families, together with the towns that were set apart for the Ephraimites within the inheritance of the Manassites, all those towns with their villages. They did not, however, drive out the Canaanites that lived in Gezer. So the Canaanites have lived within Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.”

The tribe of Ephraim has the southern part of the allotment. Benjamin and Dan will be squeezed into the territory between Ephraim and Judah. Michmethath will separate Ephraim from Manasseh. Somehow some of the towns of Manasseh was to be given to the Ephraimites. There were Canaanites living in Gezer, but they were slaves.

The prayer of Joshua (Josh 7:6-7:9)

Then Joshua tore his clothes. He fell to the ground on his face before the ark of Yahweh until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. They put dust on their heads. Joshua said. ‘O, Yahweh God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! O Yahweh, what can I say, now that Israel has turned their backs to their enemies! The Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it. They will surround us. They will cut off our name from the earth. Then what will you do for your great name?”

Joshua repents and moans like Moses in the desert. Why did we not stay on the other side of the Jordan? We are in great danger of being surrounded. They will blot us out and the name of Yahweh will disappear.

Outline of the Book of Joshua

The Book of Joshua


Joshua General Structure (per Jerusalem Bible)


I. Conquest of the Promised Land


a)      Preparations

The invitation to pass into the Promised Land (Josh 1:1-1:5)

Fidelity to the law, the condition for Divine aid (Josh 1:6-1:9)

The preparations for crossing the Jordan River (Josh 1:10-1:18)

The spies of Joshua at Jericho (Josh 2:1-2:7)

The pact between Rahab and the spies (Josh 2:8-2:21)

Return of the spies (Josh 2:22-2:24)


b)      Crossing the Jordan River

Preliminaries for the crossing of the Jordan River (Josh 3:1-3:6)

Last instructions (Josh 3:7-3:13)

The crossing of the Jordan River(Josh 3:14-3:17)

The twelve commemorative stones (Josh 4:1-4:9)

The end of the Jordan River crossing (Josh 4:10-4:18)

The arrival at Gilgal (Josh 4:19-4:24)

The fear among the western Jordan population (Josh 5:1-5:1)

The circumcision of the Hebrews (Josh 5:2-5:9)

The celebration of Passover at Gilgal (Josh 5:10-5:12)


c)      The conquest of Jericho

The theophany with Joshua (Josh 5:13-5:15)

The taking of Jericho(Josh 6:1-6:16)

Joshua vows destruction (Josh 6:17-6:21)

The preservation of the house of Rahab (Josh 6:22-6:25)

The curse on Jericho (Josh 6:26-6:27)

Violation of the destruction (Josh 7:1-7:1)

The first attach at Ai (Josh 7:2-7:5)

The prayer of Joshua (Josh 7:6-7:9)

The response of Yahweh (Josh 7:10-7:15)

The discovery and punishment of the guilty one Achan (Josh 7:16-7:26)


d)     The taking of Ai

Yahweh gives an order to Joshua (Josh 8:1-8:2)

The maneuvers of Joshua (Josh 8:3-8:13)

The battle of Ai (Josh 8:14-8:19)

The human disaster at Ai (Josh 8:20-8:25)

The destruction and ruin at Ai (Josh 8:26-8:29)


e)      The sacrifice and the reading of the law at Mount Ebal

The altar of stones at Mount Ebal (Josh 8:30-8:31)

The reading of the Law (Josh 8:32-8:35)


f)       The treaty between Israel and the Gibeonites

The coalition against Israel (Josh 9:1-9:2)

The trap of the Gibeonites (Josh 9:3-9:18)

The state of the Gibeonites (Josh 9:19-9:27)


g)      The coalition of the five Amorite kings and conquest of southern Palestine

The five kings and the war with the Gibeonites (Josh 10:1-10:5)

Joshua helps Gibeon (Josh 10:6-10:9)

The help of heaven (Josh 10:10-10:15)

The five kings escape to the cave at Makkedah (Josh 10:16-10:27

The conquest of southern Canaan (Josh 10:28-10:39)

Recapitulation of the capture of the south (Josh 10:40-10:43)


h)      The conquest of the north

Coalition of the kings of the north (Josh 11:1-11:4)

The victory at Merom (Josh 11:5-11:9)

Taking of Hazor and the other cities of the north (Josh 11:10-11:14)

The mandate of Moses executed by Joshua (Josh 11:15-11:20)

The extermination of the Anakim (Josh 11:21-11:23)


i)        Recapitulation

The kings conquered east of the Jordan (Josh 12:1-12:6)

The kings conquered west of the Jordan (Josh 12:7-12:21)


II. Partition of the country among the tribes


a)      Description of the tribes on the Transjordan

Countries that remain to be conquered (Josh 13:1-13:7

A sketch of the area(Josh 13:8-13:14)

The tribe of Reuben (Josh 13:15-13:23)

The tribe of Gad (Josh 13:24-13:28)

The half tribe of Manasseh (Josh 13:29-13:33)


b)      Description of the three great tribes on the west Jordan

Introduction (Josh 14:1-14:5)

The role of Caleb (Josh 14:6-14:15)

The tribe of Judah (Josh 15:1-15:12)

Caleb occupies the territory of Hebron (Josh 15:13-15:19)

The list of the names of the places for the tribe of Judah (Josh 15:20-15:63)

The tribe of Ephraim (Josh 16:1-16:10)

The other half tribe of Manasseh (Josh 17:1-17:13)

The sons of Joseph told to clear the forests (Josh 17:14-17:18)


c)      Description of the seven other tribes

The disposition of the other seven tribes (Josh 18:1-18:10)

The tribe of Benjamin (Josh 18:11-18:20)

The towns of Benjamin(Josh 18:21-18:28)

The tribe of Simeon(Josh 19:1-19:9)

The tribe of Zebulun (Josh 19:10-19:16)

The tribe of Issachar(Josh 19:17-19:23)

The tribe of Asher(Josh 19:24-19:31)

The tribe of Naphtali(Josh 19:32-19:39)

The tribe of Dan(Josh 19:40-19:48)

The town for Joshua(Josh 19:49-19:51)


d)     Privileged towns

The refuge towns (Josh 20:1-20:9)

The Levitical towns(Josh 21:1-21:8)

The towns for the Kohathites(Josh 21:9-21:26)

The towns for the Gershonites(Josh 21:27-21:33)

The towns for the Merarites (Josh 21:34-21:42)

Conclusion of the distribution(Josh 21:43-21:45)

III.  The end of the career of Joshua


a)      The return of the eastern tribes and the question of the their altar

Joshua blesses and sends the trans-Jordan tribes home (Josh 22:1-22:8)

Erection of the altar(Josh 22:9-22:12)

The Israelites address the tribes of the east(Josh 22:13-22:20)

Justification of the tribes on the other side of the Jordan (Josh 22:21-22:29)

An understanding is reached (Josh 22:30-22:34)


b)      The last discourse of Joshua

Joshua reminds them that the work continues (Josh 23:1-23:5)

How to conduct yourself among strangers (Josh 23:6-23:16)


c)      The grand assembly at Shechem

Remembering Yahweh’s call to Israel (Josh 24:1-24:13)

Israel choices Yahweh (Josh 24:14-24:24)

The covenant at Shechem (Josh 24:25-24:28)


d)     Appendix

The death of Joshua (Josh 24:29-24:31)

The bones of Joseph (Josh 24:32-24:32)

The death of Eleazar (Josh 24:33-24:33)


Announcement of the death of Moses (Deut 32:48-32:52)

“On that very day Yahweh addressed Moses as follows. ‘Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho. View the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession. You shall die there on the mountain that you ascend. You shall be gathered to your kin, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin. Because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to maintain my holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it, the land that I am giving to the Israelites.”

Moses sees but cannot enter the Promised Land, much like his brother Aaron. Very few of the original people got to enter the land after the forty years because of their lack of trust in Yahweh. Yahweh singles out the failure on Moses’ part to believe that he could get water from a rock. Mount Nebo is in the Abarim mountain range, probably about 3 miles southwest of Heshbon by the Jordan River, overlooking Jericho. This is like Numbers, chapter 27.

Reconnaissance of Canaan (Num 13:1-13:24)

“Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.  From each of their ancestral tribes you shall send a man, everyone a leader among them.’  So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of Yahweh, all of them leading among the Israelites. These were their names:

From the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zaccur;

From the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;

From the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;

From the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;

From the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;

From the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;

From the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;

From the tribe of Joseph, that is from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi son of Susi;

From the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;

From the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;

From the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;

From the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Machi.

These were the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land.  Moses changed the name of Hoshea son of Nun to Joshua.”

Once again, Yahweh spoke to Moses.  This time he wants spies to go to the land of Canaan.  There are a number of problems with this text.  First, it is only year two and that means that there are more than thirty-eight years to go.  Why send anyone?  Why are they spies?  The list that follows does not have the same leaders from chapters 1, 7, and 10.  What happened to them?  Perhaps this is from a later time when the leaders have changed.  As per usual, each tribe was to send a leader.

Here is the list of tribes with the names now and the former leaders:

1)      Reuben – Shammua son of Zaccur, not Elizur, son of Shedeur;

2)      Simeon – Shaphat son of Hori, not Shelumiel, son of Zurishaddai;

3)      Judah – Caleb  son of Jephunneh, not Nahshon, son of Amminadab;

4)      Issachar – Igal son of Joseph, not Nethanel, son of Zuar;

5)      Ephraim – Hoshea  son of Nun, not Elishama, son of Ammihud;

6)      Benjamin – Palti  son of Raphu, not Abidan, son of Gideoni;

7)      Zebulun – Gaddiel son of Sodi, not Eliab, son of Helon;

8)      Manasseh – Gaddi  son of Susi, not  Gamaliel, son of Pedahzur;

9)      Dan – Ammiel  son of Gemalli, not Ahiezer, son of Ammishaddai;

10)  Asher – Sethur  son of Michael, not Pagiel, son of Ochran;

11)  Naphtali – Nahbi  son of Vophsi, not  Ahira, son of Enan;

12)  Gad – Geuel son of Machi, not Eliasaph, son of Deuel;

Here is some clarification about the names. Shammua will be the name of one of David’s sons.  Caleb was the name of Judah’s grandson through Tamar.  There is also a Caleb that will appear in Chronicles. There will be an Igal in Samuel. The name Hoshea will be changed to Joshua by Moses.  Michael is a fairly common name in the Bible with the most dominant being Michael, the archangel or chief angel. This name will also appear in Chronicles. This is the only biblical indication of all the other names.

“Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan.  He said to them, ‘Go up into the Negeb.  Go up into the hill country.  See what the land is like.  Find out whether the people who live in it are strong or weak.  Find out whether they are few or many.  Find out whether the land that they live in is good or bad.  Find out whether the towns that they live in are un-walled or fortified.  Find out whether the land is rich or poor.  Find out whether there are trees in it or not.  Be bold, and bring some of the fruit of the land.’ Now it was the season of the first ripe grapes.”

Moses sent them to spy on the land of Canaan.  They were to find out both in the lowlands of the Negeb and the hill country what the land is like.  Are the people strong or weak?  Are they few or many?  Is the land good or bad?  Are the towns un-walled or fortified?  Is the land rich or poor?  Are there any trees?  This sounds like the expedition of Lewis and Clark up the Missouri River from St. Louis in the early nineteenth century.  Certainly, Yahweh would have known about all these things anyway.

“So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath.  They went up into the Negeb, and came to Hebron.  Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the Anakites, were there.  Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.   They came to the Wadi Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes.  They carried it on a pole between two of them.  They also brought some pomegranates and figs.  That place was called the Wadi-Eshcol, because of the cluster that the Israelites cut down from there.”

Thus they went out from the wilderness in Paran to the wilderness of Zin, which was north of Sinai and Paran.  They went through Rehob and Lebo-hamath, until they came to the low level Negeb area, just southwest of the Dead Sea.  They came to Hebron, the southwest area of Canaan, which was an ancient Canaanite royal city that could be traced back to 1700 BCE.  The writer mentioned explicitly that Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.  Abraham is said to have visited the Oaks at Hebron, met Yahweh there, built an altar, and also buried Sarah there.  There are at least seven mentions of Hebron in Genesis.  While they were there, they ran into the three sons of Anak, a very tall person, Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, who will play an important role in the conquest of Canaan.  Then they went into the Valley of Eshcol, near Hebron, where Abraham had friends in Genesis. They cut down a cluster of grapes, and some pomegranates and figs. Wadi-Eshcol got its name because of the fruit clusters.

The Feast of the First Harvest (Lev 23:9-23:14)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.  He shall raise the sheaf before Yahweh, that you may find acceptance.  On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall raise it.  On the day when you raise the sheaf, you shall offer a lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to Yahweh.  The grain offering with it shall be two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour mixed with oil, to be offered by fire as a pleasing odor to Yahweh.  The drink offering with it shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin.   You shall eat no bread, parched grain, or fresh ears until that very day, until you have brought the offering to your God.  It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your settlements.”

The next festival is the first harvest.  This is clearly for the time when you enter the land that Yahweh was giving them, not now.  You have to bring the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.  This would be after the feast of the unleavened bread, probably the barley harvest.  At that time you present a burnt offering of a year old lamb without blemish and the grain offering of 20% of a bushel of choice flour.  A bushel is about the same as an ephah.  You also bring a drink offering of wine, a quarter of a hin. This is the first mention of wine as a gift offering.  A hin is about 8 quarts so that this would be about 2 quarts of wine.  You do not eat anything until you have brought the offering to God.  This is once again a statute forever in all your settlements.

The promise and the instructions for the entrance into Canaan (Ex 23:20-23:32)

“I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.  Be attentive to him and listen to his voice.  Do not rebel against him. He will not pardon your transgression.  For my name is in him.  But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.”

Yahweh is going to send an angel in front of the Israelites to guard them on the way to the Promised Land.  Listen to him and Yahweh will be an enemy to your enemies. 

“When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you in to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I will blot them out.  You shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices.  But you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces.  You shall worship Yahweh your God, and I will bless your bread and your water.   I will take sickness away from among you.  No one shall miscarry or be barren in your land.  I will fulfill the number of your days.  I will send my terror in front of you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come.  I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.  I will send the pestilence in front of you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.  I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you.  Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and possess the land.  I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates.  I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the land.  You shall drive them out before you.  You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.  They shall not live in your land, or they will make you sin against me.  If you worship their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

When you get to Canaan, Yahweh will blot out all the people there.  You will have water and no sickness.  No one will be barren or miscarry.  Yahweh was going to send his terror in front of them, like a holy war.  The border of the land would be from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates.  This is a big area and a lot of people.  They were to make no covenant with the inhabitants or their gods.

My understanding of Genesis

These are the great stories of the Bible with unforgettable mythic characters and events that dominate our lives even today. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and Lot, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and the twelve sons of Israel are as real as any super heroes or fictional characters in history.  They are flawed heroes, not gods..  They are anything but perfect.   In what sense are they real people and is this a work of fiction?

History is always an interpretation.  Who knows what really happened over four thousand years ago?  Sometimes we call this period, pre-historic.  These stories are as good as any at trying to explain how the Israelites felt about themselves some 2500-3000 years ago.  These ancient oral traditions were gathered and written down in order to explain what they were doing then.  We know more about the belief of these ancient authors than about the people they were talking about.  These mythic characters had power over their lives.

The Yahweh tradition made no attempt at being historical.  Everything takes place in some vague somewhere and sometime. Yahweh appears a little capricious choosing who he likes and who he does not. The priestly tradition, however, loved order, genealogies, and clear structure, in trying to put things into a wider perspective, yet explaining why they do things the way that they did them. The Elohist tradition tries to put God into a more distant governing, but kind power.

God had special relationships with these archetype patriarch heroes, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The three great belief religious systems of the west, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share in this Abrahamic heritage.  Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his Technicolor coat ended up almost ruling Egypt when his brothers turned against him.

The general narrative is that there is a loving caring God who spoke with these bigger than life characters.  Yahweh has chosen these guys to be fruitful and prosperous, to inhabit a land, to be righteous, to follow Yahweh, and be circumcised.  God is almighty.

The details are shocking as we see these heroes with warts and all. The primordial man, Adam could not even follow a simple divine order not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve, mother of all, gets duped by a snake of all things.  Cain kills Able because God somehow liked him better.  The world gets populated either by the sons of Adam and Eve having sex with Eve, their sisters, or female animals.  There are no other options if you want to follow the single source theory.  Only the multiple source theory allows for other female humans from other humans.

Noah is an interesting character who follows God’s orders, but he does not get much credit, except as a builder before some giant flood hit the Middle East.  He actually is the origin of all humans according to this story, since all humans were destroyed, except for him and his family.  All of these stories of magic trees, wonderful gardens, and massive floods can be found in most religions of the world.  This seems to be something that humans crave that is part of practically all oral traditions.

The story of Abraham is more complicated.  Somehow he is the father of all the good guys and the bad guys. His two sons Isaac and Ishmael become symbolic of good and evil.  Isaac, born of Sarah, is good, and actually appears as one of the nicer figures in these stories. Ishmael, however, born of the slave woman from Egypt, Hagar, is bad.  When you add in Keturah and her children you can figure out how the Middle East was populated.

Isaac is a very sympathetic figure, if only because Abraham was going to offer him as a sacrifice to God, until he was stopped by an angel.  He marries his cousin, which was quite normal and has twin boys, who fight all the time for his favor.  In a twist of fate and deceit, Jacob and not Esau, who was the oldest by seconds or minutes, gets everything.  Eventually, they make up and all prosper.  None of these characters are poor people.  They have lots of livestock and slaves.

Jacob is the most deceitful.  He tricks his brother Esau all the time.  He meets his match with his uncle Laban, who tricks him also.  Jacob marries two sisters at once, both his first cousins.  Just as Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, as the new names become important.  Jacob who becomes Israel has twelve sons with four different women, the two sisters Rachel and Leah, plus their female maid servants.  This then becomes the twelve tribes of Israel.

The most interesting personality is Joseph, who was not liked by his ten brothers who tried to kill him.  He gets sold as a slave to an Egyptian.  Due to his ability to discern dreams he becomes the second in command in Egypt and even gets an Egyptian name.  When his brothers come to get grain during a famine, they do not recognize him, but he recognizes them.  He puts them through all kinds of demands, until there is a grand reunion and the whole family moves to Egypt.

This all explains why the sons of Israel were in Egypt, where Moses will try to get them out of there.  Joseph seems like a wise man, who speaks his mind.  One of the key concepts of Genesis is genealogy, showing how people are connected to each other via birth.  Marriages seem to be with very close relatives. First cousins are not abnormal.  Another key concept is land, particularly the land of Canaan.  Over and over again, these characters are promised this land.  In some cases they are already there.

Finally the covenant idea is clearly dominant.  God has made a special pact with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to be their God.  The main element of this pact is male circumcision.  It may sound odd to us today, but that clearly was in the minds of the biblical authors.  They made male circumcision a really important religious activity.

Thus Genesis is the foundation book of religious stories about the fallibility of man and his need and fear of God in this life.  These mythical religious persons, who have spoken with God, are not always living up to the ideal, but they keep trying despite themselves.  This is an important lesson of all people and all times.  Be true to yourself and your relationship with a higher power even when you are not perfect.

The funeral of Jacob (Gen 50:1-50:14)

“Then Joseph threw himself on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.  Joseph commanded the physicians in his service to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel.  They spent forty days in doing this, for that is the time required for embalming. The Egyptians wept for him seventy days.”

Joseph wept for his father.  He wanted his father embalmed and it took 40 days for this to happen.  I guess that it was a long process back then.  The Egyptians wept for over 70 days, almost like a royal funeral.

“When the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph addressed the household of Pharaoh, ‘If now I have found favor with you, please speak to Pharaoh as follows: ‘My father made me swear an oath.  He said, I am about to die.  In the tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.  Now therefore let me go up, so that I may bury my father.  Then I will return.’  Pharaoh answered, ‘Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.’”

Then Joseph spoke to Pharaoh about burying his father.  Pharaoh was very kind to him and said go as you swore you would.  It is not clear if the 7 years of famine had come to an end, but it may be supposed since Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt.

“So Joseph went up to bury his father.  With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,  as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household.  Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen.  Both chariots and charioteers went up with him.  It was a very great company. When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and sorrowful lamentation.  He observed a time of mourning for his father seven days.  When the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, ‘This is a grievous mourning on the part of the Egyptians.’  Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim.  It is beyond the Jordan.  Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them.  They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the field near Mamre, which Abraham bought as a burial site from Ephron the Hittite.  After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.”

So Joseph took the servants of the Pharaoh, the elders of Egypt and his household, as well as his brothers and their families.  This was a huge throng of people.  Only the children and livestock were left behind.  When they got to Atad, which later was named Abel-mizraim, they had another 7 day mourning period.  This is the only biblical reference to this place.  It is strange that they did not go directly to Hebron but were on the other side of the Jordan.  After they buried Jacob, Joseph and all his brothers returned to Egypt.  If they had stayed in Canaan at this time, the whole Exodus story would not have been necessary.

The last moments and death of Jacob (Gen 49:29-49:33)

“Then he charged them, saying to them, ‘I am about to be gathered to my people.  Bury me with my ancestors in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave in the field at Machpelah, near Mamre, in the land of Canaan, in the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site.  There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried.  There Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried.  There I buried Leah.  The field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites.’   When Jacob ended his charge to his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”

Jacob was very explicit.  He explained that Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah were all buried in the cave in Canaan near Mamre.  Then he ‘was gathered to his people,’ a nice phrase for death.