Genesis 50:3

3 The embalming took forty days, the period required for embalming. There was public mourning by the Egyptians for seventy days.

Genesis 50:3 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 50:3

Forty days were fulfilled for him
Were spent in embalming him:

for so are fulfilled the days of those that are embalmed;
so long the body lay in the pickle, in ointment of cedar, myrrh and cinnamon, and other things, that it might soak and penetrate thoroughly into it: and so Diodorus Siculus F4 says, that having laid more than thirty days in such a state, it was delivered to the kindred of the deceased:

and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days;
during the time of their embalming him; for longer than seventy days the body might not lie in the pickle, as before observed, from Herodotus. According to Diodorus Siculus F5, the Egyptians used to mourn for their kings seventy two days: the account he gives is, that

``upon the death of a king, all Egypt went into a common mourning, tore their garments, shut up their temples, forbid sacrifices, kept not the feasts for seventy two days, put clay upon their heads F6, girt linen clothes under their breasts; men and women, two or three hundred together, went about twice a day, singing in mournful verses the praises of the deceased; they abstained from animal food, and from wine, and all dainty things; nor did they use baths, nor ointments, nor lie in soft beds, nor dared to use venery, but, as if it was for the death of a beloved child, spent the said days in sorrow and mourning.''

Now these seventy days here are either a round number for seventy two, or two are taken from them, as Quistorpius suggests, to make a difference between Jacob, and a king of theirs, who yet being the father of their viceroy, they honoured in such a manner. Jarchi accounts for the number thus, forty for embalming, and thirty for mourning; which latter was the usual time for mourning with the Jews for principal men, and which the Egyptians added to their forty of embalming; see ( Numbers 20:29 ) ( Deuteronomy 34:8 )


F4 lBibliothec. l. 1. p. 82.
F5 lbid. p. 65.
F6 Vid. Pompon. Mela de Situ Orbis, l. 1. c. 9.

Genesis 50:3 In-Context

1 Joseph threw himself on his father, wept over him, and kissed him.
2 Joseph then instructed the physicians in his employ to embalm his father. The physicians embalmed Israel.
3 The embalming took forty days, the period required for embalming. There was public mourning by the Egyptians for seventy days.
4 When the period of mourning was completed, Joseph petitioned Pharaoh's court:
5 "If you have reason to think kindly of me, present Pharaoh with my request: My father made me swear, saying, 'I am ready to die. Bury me in the grave plot that I prepared for myself in the land of Canaan.' Please give me leave to go up and bury my father. Then I'll come back."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.