Genesis 50:22–26

50 22 Thus Joseph remained in Egypt—he and his father’s household. Joseph lived 110 years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons. The sons of Machir, Manasseh’s son, were also born on Joseph’s knees. 
     24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. God will certainly attend to you and bring you up from this land to the land promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, “When God attends to you, bring up my bones from here.” 26 Joseph died at 110 years old. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph lived to be 110, the ideal Egyptian life span. This marks the end of centering for Joseph. He ends as an Egyptian.

Over the course of his last years, Joseph sees grandsons and great-grandsons born into the Egyptian/Hebrew linages of Ephraim and Manasseh. The ascension of second-born Ephraim accomplished by Jacob’s hand continues in the notation.

As Joseph comes to the end of his life, he says to his older and younger brothers—“in keeping with the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you will be centered in G*D’s view and return to Canaan. When such a time comes, carry my bones with you.”

At death, Joseph is embalmed (maintaining more than his bones) and placed in a coffin.

Famous as he was, Joseph may have had a marked grave that could be remembered and found generations later in a stressful departure. It is equally likely that his grave had been destroyed by forgetful Pharaohs to come. Should this second possibility arise, how might later generations remember and carry Joseph’s bones back to Canaan? (This is a difficulty with all relics, provenance.) What would be the value of Joseph’s bones over those of thousands or millions of others not carried along? Regarding any intrinsic value, who would carry them into an unknown and unprepared for future when so much else was left behind, and their weight would slow their travel over difficult terrain?

So long ago, we read of a breath wafting over a deep. Along the way, life has ebbed and flowed. What began in expansion, has contracted to a shallow coffin with a warped and wrapped past.

At question is whether there will be another breath. Does that matter in any significant way?

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