Have You Ever Had to Bury Someone or Something?
So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s house. Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering.
Then they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and very solemn lamentation.
–Genesis 50:7-10, KJV
Atad means buckthorn in Hebrew or thorn. (Strong’s Hebrew, 329). This type of thorn was huge and would have been planted around the threshing floor to help protect the grain from being stolen.
I have buried a lot of things in my lifetime. I have buried loved ones who have died, and it has hurt at times worse to bury friendships or family in the living. There are times when people are not with us anymore. They are not part of our story any longer. Other times in life, old friends or relatives cross our paths again. Sometimes it’s as if they’ve never left us. Joseph is burying his Father.
Jacob was a man whom the Bible describes as a simple man. Simple or plain is tâmam (Strong’s Hebrew 8552), a verb meaning “to be complete in number, time or character.” His brother Esau, the mighty cunning hunter, was the son Isaac favored; yet, Jacob had a zeal for the blessings of the Father.
Joseph is burying Jacob. This is Jacob (Yakkov)that wrestled with an angel and walked with a limp afterward. This is the man who saw a ladder going up to the heavens with angels descending and ascending on it. A man who worked fourteen years to pay the dowry price for the woman he loved, Rachel.
Joseph is burying Israel. It is bittersweet. Who are you burying? Who is in your life right now is like Orpah, who told Naomi, “I’m going back to Moab, let Ruth go with you.”
Who is in your life right now that is not part of what the Father has planned for your future? When Jacob stood before Pharaoh, he spoke these words. “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47:9, KJV).
Jacob, the man whose name became a nation, “Israel,” is now dead. All the few difficult years he had lived–all the battles, even all his trickery, have led to this moment. Joseph, the son he grieved over and thought dead, carries him to his resting place with great mourning!
God sees the end of a matter. He knows Jacob’s son will save a people and contain them in a nation (Egypt) where they can grow and wax greater and greater. The Father’s people will be spared from famine and brought to a land where they can multiply and then go forth in God’s timing. We will never know the battle or the prayers our parents, grandparents, and mentors have prayed on our behalf. Yes, few and evil had Yaakov’s days been.
To Joseph, at first, the land of Egypt looked like a curse. We must remember that Adonai might take us somewhere that looks like a curse but is a blessing in disguise. The Holy One knows the end from the beginning. Joseph is parting with the man he loved so much. The father who made him a coat of many colors, and it is bittersweet, this parting. He arrives at Atad, and again, that word means thorn:
When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning ritual at the threshing floor of the prickly bush, they said, “A solemn mourning ritual this is for the Egyptians.” That is why it is named Abel-Mizraim, which is on the other side of the Jordan.
–Genesis 50:11, TLV
The spiritual meaning of Atad or Abelmizraim is one that screams Messianic kingdom. Author John Dyneley and Prince, Louis Ginzberg of Jewish Encyclopedia expound on the details of how the name came to be:
According to the rabbinical account, the sons of Jacob had scarcely crossed the frontier at Abel-mizraim with the body of their Father, when their cousins, the sons of Ishmael, Esau, and Keturah, appeared in large numbers against them, believing that the Egyptians, of whom there were many in the procession, intended to invade Palestine. But when they perceived Jacob’s pedestal, and Joseph’s crown carried behind it in state, the thirty-six princes among them sent their crowns also to be carried in the funeral procession.
Hence the name “Thorn Threshing-floor”; for Abel-mizraim was so encircled by a row of crowns as to remind one of a threshing-floor, which is usually surrounded by a hedge of thorns.
Threshing floors in the Bible are significant. A threshing floor is a place where Abraham went to obediently offer up his son, Isaac. Solomon would build the Temple on that very same sight. It is believed Yeshua would die on a cross there. The threshing floor was a place of sacrifice–sacrificing one’s interests or well-being for the sake of others. When Yaacov died, Joseph buries him not at Atad but in the cave where Leah was buried, the Cave of Machpela (couples). Not on the side of the road with Rachel, who weeps for her children, the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
The threshing floor of Atad is where Joseph stopped to mourn and bury his father in his heart. Notice how his own family members, cousins, and sons of Esau, Ishmael, and others rise up to come against him. They think the worst of Joseph, as an invader of their land, to take over what they have staked. This is reminiscent ofJoseph’s brothers who did not recognize him as ruler and second to Pharaoh, his family’s eyes were now opened. They end up laying down their crowns.
Can we, the Body of Yeshua Messiah, lay down our crowns? Can we stop coming against our brothers and sisters and realize we are family? Can we trade our thorns for peace? Can we take our positions, titles, and thorny crowns off our heads and die on the threshing floor? Yeshua traded his crown of thorns for a royal diadem and sat down at the Right Hand of His Father.
We must ask ourselves, “Who or what do we need to bury? What are we willing to sacrifice and die to for the sake of the call?” Yes, One day we will all lay our crowns at Yeshua’s feet. Oh, what a day that will be.
May Abba Father heal the hearts of those who are burying the dead–both dead and alive.
Abba Heal the hearts of Your people so they can see that it’s their brothers and sisters, not some evil invaders. Let men and women see the beauty of others’ gifts and not feel threatened by their appearance on the threshing floor. May we hear Your Voice so we, like Joseph, can bury what we need to bury and move forward for Your Kingdom and Your Glory.