Genesis ends with the people of God living in Goshen, treated well out of respect for their relative Joseph. Joseph is embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. Gen. 50:26.
This passage has many compelling components. There is a little bit of “that’s why we call it . . .” Gen. 50:10-11 relates how when they went back to the family burial cave in Canaan, the silly Canaanites thought they were Egyptians mourning a death which is why they named the place “Mourning of the Egyptians.” Stupid Canaanites.
The blessings of Israel are also fun. The older kids get this super detailed blessings recounting important things in their life–not always nice things–but by the time they get to the kids of the handmaidens, the blessings really start to thin out. Dan does okay–he’ll be a champion of justice, like a snake on the road biting the heal of the horse. (Although, that sounds sort of like asymmetric warfare, aka terrorism, but why quibble.)
The other three get this Gen. 49:19-21:
Las hordas atacan a Gad,
pero él las atacará por la espalda.
Aser disfrutará de comidas deliciosas;
ofrecerá manjares de reyes.
Neftalí es una gacela libre,
que tiene hermosos cervatillos.
Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.
I can just hear Asher & Naphtali after the ceremony. “Seriously? I’m a good cook?” “At least your whole blessing is not your kids are going to be kind of hot.”
In the end, though, the message of the Patriarchs seems to be that we as a people of God did not start out on top. The blessing never runs through the first child for every generation from Abraham–Isaac not Ishmael; Jacob not Esau; Joseph not Reuben; even Ephraim not Manasseh Gen. 48:17-22. Our spiritual heritage is of a hungry people, fleeing disaster and seeking refuge in a foreign country that had the wisdom to accept our gifts. Kind of like a national history of a nation of immigrants. Also full of ugliness that must be reckoned with from time to time.