Few have ever heard about how Jacob’s twin brother Esau died. I think of Jacob as the man of the spirit and Esau as a total man of the flesh; and find it interesting that Esau died shortly after Jacob. Here is why.
The actual death and burial of Jacob (147) is recorded in the last chapter of Genesis (Genesis 50); but it is hardly anything more that an outline for what happened at that time in the history of Yehovah’s people.
Here is yet another case where the book of Yasher gives “the rest of the story.”
Jacob was buried with great honor like a king and his sons carried his bier for all to see. I love how Jacob told his sons to carry him, it was exactly the same way that Israel was told by Yehovah to camp in the wilderness (with 3 sons on each side).
Yasher describes Jacob’s funeral procession this way.
Yasher 56:33 And Pharaoh commanded that it should be proclaimed throughout Egypt, saying, Whoever goes not up with Joseph and his brethren to the land of Canaan to bury Jacob, shall die.
34 And all Egypt heard of Pharaoh’s proclamation, and they all rose up together, and all the servants of Pharaoh, and the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt went up with Joseph, and all the officers and nobles of Pharaoh went up as the servants of Joseph, and they went to bury Jacob in the land of Canaan.
35 And Jacob’s sons carried the bier upon which he lay; according to all that their father commanded them, so did his sons unto him.
36 And the bier was of pure gold, and it was inlaid round about with onyx stones and bdellium; and the covering of the bier was gold woven work, joined with threads, and over them were hooks of onyx stones and bdellium.
37 And Joseph placed upon the head of his father Jacob a large golden crown, and he put a golden scepter in his hand, and they surrounded the bier as was the custom of kings during their lives.
38 And all the troops of Egypt went before him in this array, at first, all the mighty men of Pharaoh and the mighty men of Joseph, and after them the rest of the inhabitants of Egypt, and they were all girded with swords and equipped with coats of mail, and the trappings of war were upon them.
39 And all the weepers and mourners went at a distance opposite to the bier, going and weeping and lamenting, and the rest of the people went after the bier.
40 And Joseph and his household went together near the bier barefooted and weeping, and the rest of Joseph’s servants went around him; each man had his ornaments upon him, and they were all armed with their weapons of war.
But when Esau heard that Jacob’s sons were coming to bury him in the cave of Machpelah, which their Fathers were buried in, Esau and his sons stood against them. The battle that follows helps us understand great enmity between Jacob’s sons (the men of the spirit) and Esau’s sons (the men of the flesh). Here is how the battle begins.
Yasher 56:49 And Joseph and his brethren brought their father Jacob from that place, and they went to Hebron to bury Jacob in the cave by his fathers.
50 And they came unto Kireath-arba, to the cave, and as they came Esau stood with his sons against Joseph and his brethren as a hindrance in the cave, saying, “Jacob shall not be buried therein, for it belongs to us and to our father.”
We saw that Jacob and his sons received all the land of Canaan, and the cave in particular, at the death of Isaac as their inheritance; the transaction was witnessed and recorded at the time and the document were now in Egypt. We then sent our fastest runner (Naphtali) to fetch them and that is when the fighting began.
Yasher 56:60 And when Esau saw that Naphtali had gone to fetch the records, he and his sons increased their resistance against the cave, and Esau and all his people rose up against Joseph and his brethren to battle.
61 And all Jacob’s sons and the people of Egypt fought with Esau and his men, and Esau’s sons and his people were smitten before Jacob’s sons, and Jacob’s sons slew of Esau’s people forty men.
Esau died in the first battle
It was at this time that Dan’s son, a man who could not speak or hear, walked up to Esau and severed his head from his body.
Yasher 56:63 And Chushim was dumb and deaf, still he understood the voice of consternation amongst men.
64 And he asked, saying, Why do you not bury the dead, and what is this great consternation? And they answered him the words of Esau and his sons; and he ran to Esau in the midst of the battle, and he slew Esau with a sword, and he cut off his head, and it sprang to a distance, and Esau fell amongst the people of the battle.
65 And when Chushim did this thing Jacob’s sons prevailed over Esau’s sons, and Jacob’s sons buried their father Jacob by force in the cave, and Esau’s sons beheld it.
After Esau died his sons ran away with his body but left his head. There is so much that happened in these two chapters of Yasher; alliances are formed, battles are fought, men are captured, and an entire race of men is wiped out and their land taken forever by Esau’s sons.
Here is the rest of the story.
Esau Died Preventing Jacob’s Burial
2G51 Genesis 50 & Yasher 56
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