28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them. 29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. 32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth. 33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
Here is, I. The summing up of the blessings of Jacob’s sons, v. 28. Though Reuben, Simeon, and Levi were put under the marks of their father’s displeasure, yet he is said to bless them every one according to his blessing; for none of them were rejected as Esau was. Note, Whatever rebukes of God’s word or providence we are under at any time, yet, as long as we have an interest in God’s covenant, a place and a name among his people, and good hopes of a share in the heavenly Canaan, we must account ourselves blessed.
II. The solemn charge Jacob gave them concerning his burial, which is a repetition of what he had before given to Joseph. See how he speaks of death, now that he is dying: I am to be gathered unto my people, v. 29. Note, It is good to represent death to ourselves under the most desirable images, that the terror of it may be taken off. Though it separates us from our children and our people in this world, it gathers us to our fathers and to our people in the other world. Perhaps Jacob uses this expression concerning death as a reason why his sons should bury him in Canaan; for, says he, “I am to be gathered unto my people, my soul must go to the spirits of just men made perfect: and therefore bury me with my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and their wives,” v. 31. Observe,
1. His heart was very much upon it, not so much from a natural affection to his native soil as from a principle of faith in the promise of God, that Canaan should be the inheritance of his seed in due time. Thus he would keep up in his sons a remembrance of the promised land, and not only would have their acquaintance with it renewed by a journey thither on that occasion, but their desire towards it and their expectation of it preserved.
2. He is very particular in describing the place both by the situation of it and by the purchase Abraham had made of it for a burying-place, v. 30, 32. He was afraid lest his sons, after seventeen years’ sojourning in Egypt, had forgotten Canaan, and even the burying-place of their ancestors there, or lest the Canaanites should dispute his title to it; and therefore he specifies it thus largely, and the purchase of it, even when he lies a-dying, not only to prevent mistakes, but to show how mindful he was of that country. Note, It is, and should be, a great pleasure to dying saints to fix their thoughts upon the heavenly Canaan, and the rest they hope for there after death.
III. The death of Jacob, v. 33. When he had finished both his blessing and his charge (both which are included in the commanding of his sons), and so had finished his testimony, he addressed himself to his dying work.
1. He put himself into a posture for dying; having before seated himself upon the bed-side, to bless his sons (the spirit of prophecy bringing fresh oil to his expiring lamp, Dan. x. 19), when that work was done, he gathered up his feet into the bed, that he might lie along, not only as one patiently submitting to the stroke, but as one cheerfully composing himself to rest, now that he was weary. I will lay me down, and sleep.
2. He freely resigned his spirit into the hand of God, the Father of spirits: He yielded up the ghost.
3. His separated soul went to the assembly of the souls of the faithful, which, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity: he was gathered to his people. Note, If God’s people be our people, death will gather us to them.
– Matthew Henry Commentary