Scripture Reading: Genesis 50:1-3
The embalming process in Ancient Egypt was quite detailed, and they were masters at this craft. In fact, mummified corpses still remain intact to this day that were embalmed thousands of years ago. We read that Jacob’s embalming took 40 days, and that the Egyptians mourned him for 70 days. The Jews did not practice this type of embalming of their dead. In Biblical times, the bodies of the dead were carried to a cave or hewn sepulcher, were covered with spices and wrapped in cloth. They were not placed in a coffin, but open in the burial place. In some cases, there was a second reinternment that took place approximately one year later, in which the remaining bones of the deceased were gathered and placed in small containers called ossuaries. The burial of the dead normally took place on the day of their death. The reason for the embalming of Jacob was due to the fact that he was not going to be buried in Egypt. He was to be transported back to Canaan to be buried in the Cave of Macpelah along with his father and grandfather. Joseph’s goal in the order given to embalm his father was not for the purpose of preserving his fleshly body. It was, rather, to give them the time to transport him back to Canaan in that hot, desert climate before decay could make that effort all but impossible.
It is naturally understandable to treat the deceased bodies of our loved one with the utmost respect and love. However, Christians are aware of the fact that these bodies are corrupt and have need of being changed; which is exactly what will take place when Christ comes for His Church. This mortal will put on immortality, and this corruption will put on incorruption. Praise God for that blessed hope we have in Christ. “We shall all be changed....” (1 Corinthians 15:51)
Pastor Steve Smith