Long before the exodus of God’s people after 400 years of slavery, Jacob made his exodus out of Egypt. Chapter 49 ends with Jacob’s dying words to his sons. He commanded them to bury him in Canaan in the tomb of his family. It was in that tomb where the remains of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Leah rested. “Each act of Jacob in his final days has concerned his fundamental commitment to the holy family and to the land that his ancestors have embraced in faith” (Waltke, 616). Jacob’s sons kept their promise. Joseph directed Egyptian physicians to preserve his father’s body. Then the brothers made the sacred journey back to Canaan and buried Jacob among his fathers.
The record of Jacob’s life is an epic tale stretching over half the Book of Genesis. From the womb, Jacob’s life was characterized as one of struggle. He struggled with family through moments of betrayal, sterility, and famine. He also saw days of great trust, fertility, and feasting. When he died, Jacob did so in peace, having trusted God to fulfill his promises. The mourning in Egypt over Jacob’s death, was a partial fulfillment of God’s promise to make his name great and to extend blessings to the whole world through this one family.
Moses wrote this account during the exodus years of God’s people as they followed the very path first taken by those who bore Jacob back to Canaan. Indeed, Jacob’s exodus foreshadows Israel’s exodus. What is more, the grand funeral procession ordered by Pharaoh complete with royal chariots and dignitaries is a foretaste of that greater exodus from this age to the next when all of God’s redeemed people throughout the ages and from all the nations will hail Jacob’s greater Son as Savior and King.