How could Yosef order the Egyptians to embalm Yaakov, (Bereishis 50:2) וַיְצַו יוֹסֵף אֶת-עֲבָדָיו אֶת-הָרֹפְאִים, לַחֲנֹט אֶת-אָבִיו; וַיַּחַנְטוּ הָרֹפְאִים, אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל) especially in light of this which seems to say embalming is a lack of כבוד המת.

  • The Alshich (and I'm not making this an answer because my understanding might be wrong) reconciles this with the talmudic dictum that Jacob didn't "die." He didn't get the complete embalming with organs removed and he wasn't subject to putrification, but the external rubbing with oil and spices was done so no one in Egypt would think Jacob was a god. If anyone can do better with sefaria.org/Genesis.50.2?lang=bi&with=Alshich&lang2=en please turn it into an answer.
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 23:27
  • Thank you for the insight - I heard a similar explanation, but wasn't sure why that would allow Yosef to not bury his father for 40 days
    – NJM
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 23:33
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    Do you have some reason to think that ideas like respect aren't societal based? Do you have a reason to assume that this was considered disrespectful in ancient Egypt? Consider clarifying - preferably in the post.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 23:37
  • @rosends That sounds wrong from Taanis 5b בתר דסעוד א"ל הכי א"ר יוחנן יעקב אבינו לא מת א"ל וכי בכדי ספדו ספדנייא וחנטו חנטייא וקברו קברייא א"ל מקרא אני דורש שנאמר (ירמיהו ל, י) ואתה אל תירא עבדי יעקב נאם ה' ואל תחת ישראל כי הנני מושיעך מרחוק ואת זרעך מארץ שבים מקיש הוא לזרעו מה זרעו בחיים אף הוא בחיים
    – user6591
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 23:38
  • @NJM Even according to the opinion that Yaakov kept the Torah, that was only in Eretz Yisroel, not in chutz la'aretz. That's one approach how he was able to be married to sisters.
    – user6591
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


Although yeshiva.co writes that it is a lack of Kavod Hameis to perform (nowadays), many Rishonim and Acharonim on Chumash say or imply that this was done because of Kavod Hameis back then...

To illustrate this point, see the lesson that Ralbag learns from this:

התועלת האחד עשר הוא במידות, והוא שראוי לאדם שינהג כבוד בגוף הוריו אחר המוות לפי מה שאפשר. ולזה תמצא שנשק יוסף לאביו אחרי מותו, וציוהו לחנוט אותו, והעלה עמו נכבדי ארץ מצרים ורכב ופרשים לכבוד אביו ללוותו.

Basically, we learn from this that a person should behave as honorably as possible with a parent's body.


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