In Genesis 47:29 Jacob in his final days calls to his son Joseph and says: “Please, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not bury me in Egypt”
What an interesting concept. How does one “find favor” in another’s sight? The word in Hebrew for favor is “chein” and may be translated as favor or grace. In English we would pronounce it as “chayn”
Is grace something that is purely happened upon or could there be a connection between the one extending grace and the one receiving grace? Do we truly understand the connection between these two aspects?
Lets quickly look at the example given to us by Jacob. Here we find Jacob asking for favor in his son’s eyes to be buried with his forefathers in the cave of Machpelah. The question is why is Jacob begging for grace? This is his son, Joseph, who we know loved his father so very much. Joseph would have done anything for his father. Jacob could have simply told his son to bury him in Machpelah. What son wouldn’t want to please the dying wishes of his father?
“Just because you have the right, doesn’t mean you should”
Jacob takes this moment to teach Joseph and all of us a very important lesson on Chein. You see, although Jacob had every right to demand or simply tell Joseph what to do, he chose to invoke chein and shall we say, incite chein. He chose to humble himself and ask, to plead even. He elected to take on a different demeanor placing himself under his own son. He teaches Joseph a very valuable lesson in understanding that just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean you should. That just because you have the authority it doesn’t mean you should leverage it.
He teaches Joseph and all of us that there is a connection between the one extending chein and the one receiving chein. It begs us to ask the question: “Am I interacting with others in a way that would cause them to want to extend favor to me”? Maybe we should start considering that we have a part in receiving chein.
Maybe the author of the letter to the Colossians studied this concept of chein given to us by Jacob and thereby writes to them in Colossians 4:5-6 saying:
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
Joseph learned the lesson as we see him follow his father’s example in Genesis 50:4. Having all the power of Egypt in his hands, second only to Pharoah himself, Joseph puts into action the words of his father Yaacov.
“If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh,”
Ponder this the next time you think you are right, the next time you think you should because you have the authority. This concept of being one that conducts themselves in a manner that would incite chein will change your marriage, your work life, your friendships. It should be at the core of who we are.
In grace and mercy, Chein v’Chesed