All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them and blessed them. He blessed everyone according to his blessing. He instructed them, and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 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 from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah, his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah, his wife, and there I buried Leah: the field and the cave that is therein, which was purchased from the children of Heth.” When Jacob made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the spirit, and was gathered to his people.
The Bible teaches us that death is not the end. Here we read that instead of saying that Jacob died, it says that he was gathered to his people. The reality is that the human soul is immortal. When we are near-sighted and only live for today, we act inappropriately because, in reality, we will all live much longer on the other side.
I am told that the cave in the field of Machpelah is still there to this day, once again demonstrating the historical basis for Genesis.
Another thing to notice is that, although Jacob’s second wife was given a good burial, it was his first wife Leah that was buried in the family cave. I believe that God wishes to honor a first marriage, even if it is far from perfect, as I have mentioned before. Judah, who was blessed above his brothers by Jacob, came from Leah who was to be the mother of the Messiah to come.
I believe that Jacob’s request to be buried in Canaan, served as a reminder to his children not to get too comfortable in Egypt and be ready to move back to the land that God had promised. This is the same for us as believers today. Our real home is in our Father’s house with Jesus. It is important that we don’t become too comfortable here. It is possible to wake up one day and discover that we are slaves in a land that isn’t ours.