Jacob said to Joseph:
“I am about to die. But God will be with you
and will restore you to the land of your ancestors.”
Then Jacob gave his sons this charge:
“Since I am about to be taken to my kindred,
bury me with my fathers
in the cave that lies in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
the cave in the field of Machpelah, facing on Mamre,
in the land of Canaan, the field that Abraham bought
from Ephron the Hittite for a burial ground.
There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried,
and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah,
and there, too, I buried Leah—
the field and the cave in it
that had been purchased from the Hittites.”
When Jacob had finished giving these instructions to his sons,
he drew his feet into the bed, breathed his last,
and was taken to his kindred.
I don’t think this is the best of the non-Lectionary readings out there. But it does have a sense of tradition. Jacob was the last of the three great patriarchs. His story isn’t a perfect one: he was a trickster and bigamist and he didn’t seem to be too bright about making deals with a future father-in-law. When his wives weren’t snappy about giving him more sons, he took his wives’ maids to father children. Not exactly a paragon of Judeo-Christian virtue.
But on his deathbed, he reaches out with tenderness to Joseph his favorite. And his sons do fulfill his final wish of laying his dead body to rest close to the burial sites of his elders and his first wife.