Genesis 50:2

Genesis 50:2

And Joseph commanded his servants, the physicians, to embalm
his father
Which he did, not merely because it was the custom of the Egyptians, but because it was necessary, his father's corpse being to be carried into Canaan to be interred there, which would require time; and therefore it was proper to make use of some means for the preservation of it, and these men were expert in this business, which was a branch of the medicinal art, as Pliny F24 and Mela F25 suggest; and of these Joseph had more than one, as great personages have their physicians ready to attend them on any occasion, as kings and princes, and such was Joseph, being viceroy of Egypt. Herodotus F26 says the Egyptians had physicians peculiar to every disease, one for one disease, and another for another; and Homer F1 speaks of them as the most skilful of all men; though the Septuagint render the word by (entafiastai) , the "buriers", such who took care of the burial of persons, to provide for it, and among the rest to embalm, dry, and roll up the bodies in linen:

and the physicians embalmed him;
the manner of embalming, as Herodotus


FOOTNOTES:

F2 relates, was this,

``first with a crooked iron instrument they extracted the brain through the nostrils, which they got out partly by this means, and partly by the infusion of medicines; then with a sharp Ethiopian stone they cut about the flank, and from thence took out all the bowels, which, when they had cleansed, they washed with palm wine (or wine of dates), and after that again with odours, bruised; then they filled the bowels (or hollow place out of which they were taken) with pure myrrh beaten, and with cassia and other odours, frankincense excepted, and sewed them up; after which they seasoned (the corpse) with nitre, hiding (or covering it therewith) seventy days, and more than that they might not season it; the seventy days being ended, they washed the corpse, and wrapped the whole body in bands of fine linen, besmearing it with gum, which gum the Egyptians use generally instead of glue.''

And Diodorus Siculus F3, who gives much the same account, says, that every part was retained so perfectly, that the very hairs of the eyebrows, and the whole form of the body, were invariable, and the features might be known; and the same writer tells us, that the expense of embalming was different; the highest price was a talent of silver, about one hundred and eighty seven pounds and ten shillings of our money, the middlemost twenty pounds, and the last and lowest were very small. The embalmers he calls (tariceutai) , and says they were in great esteem, and reckoned worthy of much honour, and were very familiar with the priests, and might go into holy places when they pleased, as the priests themselves.


F24 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37.
F25 De Orbis Situ, l. 1. c. 9.
F26 Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 84.
F1 Odyss. 4.
F2 lbid. c. 86.
F3 Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 81, 82.

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