Jacob lives for 17 years in Egypt before feeling that his death is imminent. He makes Joseph swear that Joseph will bury him in Canaan. Prior to his death, Jacob adopts and blesses Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. In the blessing, he elevates the younger Ephraim over Manasseh explaining to Joseph that Ephraim would father a larger people than Manasseh.
On his deathbed, Jacob summons his sons, and describes the character and tells the future of each one. Jacob tells his sons to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah, where his ancestors are buried.
Following his death, Jacob is embalmed. A great Egyptian procession accompanies Joseph and his brothers to Canaan. When they reach Goren ha-Atad, a seven day mourning period is observed. Joseph and his brothers return to Egypt after the burial. The brothers are concerned, that with the death of their father, Joseph will seek revenge for having sold him. But he tells them he will not seek revenge, as it was God’s plan that he come to Egypt.
The book of Genesis closes with Joseph’s death at 110 years. On his deathbed, he speaks to his brothers, requesting that his bones be taken back to the land of Israel.
In his deathbed blessing, Jacob does not leave material objects to his sons. Rather, he does a character analysis and gives a future picture of the tribes. In some ways, this may be a form of an ethical will. Ethical wills are a well-established part of Jewish ethical literature. Short and practical, such wills usually took the form of a great teacher’s deathbed advice to their students. However, ethical wills also exist in which parents leave moral instructions for their children.
Ethical wills are very important to leave for children, but what makes a greater impact is how we live our lives while we are living. “Do as I do” should be our motto, and we need to conduct ourselves with this motto in mind.