When Honor is Due
Genesis 49:29 – 50:14
Jacob’s Death and Burial
29 Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
50 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him, and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
4 Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’”
When presidents die, the nation honors their contributions to the nation. The same happens when a military or local public service hero loses his or her life. Such honor is well-deserved. However, other expressions of honor seem to be practiced less: gentlemen treating ladies respectfully, younger people rising to greet an elderly person, children honoring their parents, people honoring the nation’s flag, and others.
There is something timeless and universal about “honor.” For instance, hundreds of years before Moses wrote down the fifth of the Ten Commandments—the command to honor one’s parents—Joseph did that very thing without being commanded. Though his mother was dead, Joseph honored his father, Jacob, by bringing his household to Egypt, introducing him to Pharaoh, settling his family in the choice lands in Egypt, and returning his body to Canaan to be buried when he died. Most of all, Joseph wept grievously over his father when he died and called the nation of Egypt to honor him at his passing.
Honor feels right when extended, and feels wrong when it is withheld. Look for someone to honor today in word or deed (Romans 13:7).
Honour ought to seek thee, not thou seek it.