The passuk states that Yosef spoke to the household of Pharaoh to speak on his behalf to Pharaoh. He mentioned that his father made him take an oath to bury him in the land of Canaan. A friend of mine, Reb Sklar asked, why didn’t Yosef speak to Pharaoh himself, why did he send other people to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf? One reason is because Yosef was an onen, his father died, and wasn’t buried; it wasn’t fitting for him to speak to Pharaoh.
The passuk states that Pharaoh granted Yosef permission “כאשר השביעך, just as you swore.” Rashi explains that Pharaoh was afraid of causing Yosef to break his oath, because then Yosef would break the oath that Pharaoh himself made Yosef swear. Yosef knew 70 languages plus lashon haKodesh, however, Pharaoh did not know lashon haKodesh, so Pharoah made Yosef swear he would not let anyone know. Now, Pharaoh was afraid that if he wouldn’t allow Yosef to go bury his father, which would cause Yosef to not obey the oath he made for his father, he then, would also break the oath which he made for Pharaoh.
We see from the passuk which states, כאשר השביעך, just as you swore,” that if not for the oath he would not have let Yosef go to Chevron to bury his father. What was Pharaoh’s issue with Yosef going to bury his father? One answer is that he was afraid that Yosef and the group would not return.
HaRav Meir Simcha Auerbach, shlita, pointed out that the pessukim mention that the servants of Pharaoh and all the elders of Mitzrayim went to accompany the burial of Yaakov, but it does not mention Pharaoh himself. This implies that Pharaoh did not join to bury Yaakov. Why wouldn’t Pharoah also come together to bury Yaakov, didn’t he appreciate the blessing that Yaakov brought when he came down to Mitzrayim? The Nile River once again provided irrigation and the hunger stopped. One answer is that Pharaoh needed someone to be in charge of the land, since Yosef would also leave.
The Maharsha brings b’shem the Midrash; Pharaoh recognized that when Yaakov came to Mitzrayim he brought blessing to the land, as the Nile River started to come up again and the hunger stopped. Rashi brings that Yaakov blessed Pharaoh that when he comes to the river, the water should come up to his feet. Pharaoh did not want Yosef to bury Yaakov outside of Mitzrayim – he specifically wanted Yaakov to be buried in Mitzrayim – because he understood that Yaakov was a tzaddik and brought bracha. Therefore, if not for the oath, which obligated him to fulfill his word, he would not have allowed Yosef to bury his father out of Mitzrayim. For this same reason we could explain why Pharaoh did not go. He was against the whole idea of taking the holy tzaddik away; he was disappointed, and as a protest, he didn’t join them.
The Gemara brings that when we were ready to leave Mitzrayim, they started looking for Yosef’s coffin to bring him out of Mitzrayim. No one knew where he was buried, they asked Serach who said he was put in a metal coffin and thrown in the Nile River, in order to bless its water. The Maharsha says although all of the brothers were brought out of Mitzrayim, they knew where they were buried, only Yosef’s location was not known. Why was this? They put Yosef in a heavy metal coffin and threw him in the Nile River so that no one should find him and take him out. No one knew where he was. The Mitzri’im knew that Yosef was a tzaddik and he brought bracha, so they wanted to make sure he would be able to remain in Mitzrayim and continue to bring bracha.
Let us appreciate the Tzaddikim who bring bracha to the world.