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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 50

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-26

CHAPTER 50 The Burial of Jacob and Joseph’s Return and Death

1. The grief of Joseph (Genesis 50:1-3 )

2. The burial (Genesis 50:4-13 )

3. The return to Egypt (Genesis 50:14-23 )

4. The death of Joseph (Genesis 50:24-26 )

This great book which begins with the perfect and good creation of God ends with a burial and the last words are “a coffin in Egypt.” What havoc sin has wrought. Jacob died 147 years old and after his body was embalmed was carried to Canaan. Read in connection with Joseph’s death Exodus 13:19 , Joshua 24:32 and Hebrews 11:22 .

Genesis and Geology

Genesis is a revelation from God; geology is a discovery of man. A revelation from God can be augmented by God only; a discovery by man may be improved, matured, advanced, ripened progressively, till the end of the world. We therefore assume that Genesis is perfect and beyond the possibility of contradiction or improvement by us; and we equally assume that geology, because the discovery of man, and the subject of the investigation of man, may be improved by greater experience and more profound acquaintance with those phenomena which lie concealed in the bosom of the earth, waiting for man to evoke, explain, and arrange them. I am sure, therefore, that Genesis, as God’s Word, is beyond the reach of the blow of the geologist’s hammer; or the detection of a single flaw by microscope or telescope; it will stand the crucible of the chemist; and the severer the ordeal to which it is subjected, the more pure, resplendent, and beautiful it will emerge, indicating its origin to be from above, and its issue to be the glory of God, and the supreme happiness of mankind. Geology has before now retraced its steps; Genesis never. Before now it has been discovered, that what were thought to be facts incontrovertible were fallacies. It is found that phenomena described and discussed as true, were mistakes and misapprehensions, which maturer investigations have disposed of, and therefore I am not speaking dogmatically and without reason, when I say, that while Genesis must be true, geology--having already erred, may err again, and some of its very loudest assertions, made rashly by those who have least acquaintance with its data--may yet be proved to be wrong. But certain facts in it are now beyond all dispute. Let geology and Genesis be alleged to clash, and the discovery from the depths of the earth contradict the text from the page of the Bible; in such a case, I would submit first these questions: Are you sure that there is a real contradiction between the fact of geology and the text of the Bible, or is it only a contradiction between the fact discovered by science, and the interpretation that you put upon the text of the Bible? In the next place, if there be in any instance contradiction between a clear text of the Bible and a supposed fact or discovery made by the geologist, my inference, and without hesitation, is, that the geologist must have made a mistake, that Moses has made none; and there fore the advice we give to the geologist is, not to say, God’s work beneath contradicts God’s Word without, but just to go back again, read more carefully the stony page, excavate more laboriously in the subterranean chambers of the earth, and a maturer acquaintance with the facts of science may yet elicit the desirable result, that there is harmony where we thought discord, and perfect agreement where to us there seemed only discrepancy and conflict. We have instances of the possibility of some deductions of science being wrong in other departments of it. Astronomy was once quoted as contradicting the express declarations of the Word of God; maturer acquaintance with it has proved its perfect coincidence. Again, the hieroglyphics on the banks of the Nile, as deciphered by Young and Champollion, were instanced to prove a far greater age of the human race than that declared in the Bible; but subsequent investigation showed that the hieroglyphics were wrongly interpreted, not that God’s Word was untrue. The traditions of the Chinese were viewed as upsetting the records of the Mosaic history, but subsequent investigation has proved that those were wrong, and that God’s Word is true.

The Bible, whether we take it in Genesis or in the Gospels, contains no error; it has not a single scientific error in it. Yet it was not designed to teach science; but wherever it touches the province of science, it touches so delicately that we can see the main object is to teach men how to be saved, while its slight intimations of scientific principles or natural phenomena have in every instance been demonstrated to be exactly and strictly true. If the Bible said in any part of it, as the ancient philosopher alleged, that there were two suns, one for the upper hemisphere, and the other for the lower, then science would prove that Scripture was wrong; or if the Scripture said, as the Hindus believe, that the earth is a vast plain, with concentric seas of milk, honey, and sugar, supported by an elephant, and that the earthquakes and convulsions of the globe are the movements of that elephant as he bears it on his back, then science would have proved that to be absurd; and if Scripture has asserted it, such assertion would be demonstrably untrue. But the striking fact is that you find no such assertion, nor anything approaching such assertions in the Bible. How comes it to pass, then, that Moses has spoken so purely and truly on science where he does speak, and has been silent where there was such a provocative to speak-his very silence being as significant as his utterance? How happens it that Moses, with no greater education than the Hindu, or the ancient philosopher, has written his book, touching science at a thousand points so accurately, that scientific research has discovered no flaws in it; and has spoken on subjects the most delicate, the most difficult, the most involved; and yet in those investigations which have taken place in more recent centuries, it has not been shown that he has committed one single error, or made one solitary assertion which can be proved by maturest science or the most eagle-eyed philosopher to be incorrect scientifically or historically? The answer is, that Moses wrote by the inspiration of God, and therefore what he writes are the words of faithfulness and of truth. (Cumings.)

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Genesis 50". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/genesis-50.html. 1913-1922.
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