Mourning at Atad…

At the Romans 8:1 Christian Fellowship, where I Pastor a small beautiful fellowship, we are nearing the conclusion of our study of the Book of Genesis. I have been prepping my study on Genesis 50. Here, Jacob has died and Joseph, his son is taking his body back to the Promised Land- from Egypt- to be buried at Abrahams cave in Machpelah. On the journey there… we read in Genesis 50:10…

When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father.

They stopped there, why? And for seven days, again why? The Bible does not directly give us insight into this… but asking these questions over the  years have been a real blessing for me… so I researched it a bit.

The word Atad means buckthorn in Hebrew or thorn. This type of thorn was huge and would have been planted around the threshing floor to help protect the grain from being stolen. It may have been the type of thorn used to make a crown for Jesus at His crucifixion. That is interesting.

When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians” They noticed something big was occurring.

So what is the spiritual application of Atad or Abel-mizraim as it was renamed?

Well, consider this… In Rabbinical Literature:

The rabbis say that both names, signifying respectively “The Mourning of Egypt” and “The Thorn Threshing-floor,” are derived from the mourning over Jacob.

According to the rabbinical account the sons of Jacob had scarcely crossed the frontier at Abel-mizraim with the body of their father, when their cousins, the sons of Ishmael, Esau, and Keturah (we know biblically they settled in the South of Canaan), appeared in large numbers against them, believing that the Egyptians, of whom there were many in the procession, intended to INVADE Canaan.

But when they recognized Jacob’s mummified body and pedestal, as well as Joseph’s CROWN carried behind it in state, the thirty-six princes among them sent their CROWNS also, to be carried in the funeral procession. Hence the name “Thorn Threshing-floor”; for Abel-mizraim was so encircled by this row of crowns as to remind one of a threshing-floor, which is usually surrounded by a hedge of thorns to protect it from looters and thieves.

Threshing floors in the Bible are significant. A threshing floor is where Abraham had offered up Isaac–Jacob’s father. Solomon would build the Temple on that very same sight… for we read in 2 Chronicles 3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

It is believed Jesus died on a cross there. The threshing floor was a place of sacrifice.

And here is the point of me bringing this up…
Sacrificing one’s interests or well-being for the sake of others is a rarity in this day and hour.

This threshing floor is where Joseph stopped to weep and bury Israel in his heart… because it is believed that they had just entered the Promised Land.

Notice how Joseph’s family members, the Canaanites rise up to come against him… out of fear.

They think the worst of Joseph. They think of him as an invader of their land–to take over what they have staked.

However, their eyes were opened to their brothers and they end up laying down their crowns and there was reconciliation in that moment.

Funerals can be a great place of reconciliation…. Both within families as well as in the Body of Christ. Life is short. Can we stop coming against our natural families and our brothers and sisters in the Lord and realize we are family? Can we trade our thorns for peace? Can we take our positions, our titles, our thorny crowns off our heads and die at the threshing floor? Grace can cover a great deal of hurt… if we allow it.

Jesus traded his crown of thorns for a Royal Crown and sat down at the Right Hand of the Father… and we will one day be with Him… I believe, to lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus as is demonstrated for us in Revelation 4:10-11… so let’s make and keep peace in the family… to the glory of our great King!

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