A Crown of Thorns and the Altar of Atad…What are you Burying?


Have You Ever Had to Bury Someone or Something?

“And Joseph went up to bury his father and with him went up ALL the servants of Pharaoh, the ELDERS of his house, and ALL the elders of the land of Egypt. And they came to the THRESHING FLOOR OF ATAD, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great lamentation and he made mourning for his father seven days” (Genesis 50:7, 10 KJV).

Strong’s 329 is atad– pronounced aw-tawd’).  Atad means buckthorn in Hebrew or thorn. This type of thorn was huge and would have been planted around the threshing floor to help protect the grain from being stolen. I want you to remember the name Atad and the thorn because it will have much meaning later on.

I have buried a lot of things in my lifetime. I have buried loved ones who have died and still, it has hurt at times worse to bury friendships in the living. There are times when people just are not with us anymore. They are not part of our story any longer. Other times in life, old friends or even relatives cross our paths again.

Joseph is burying his father, Jacob.

“Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents” (Genesis 25:27) derives from תמם tâmam (Strong’s #8552). צדק tsâdhaq (Strong’s #6663) meaning “righteous.” His brother Esau, the mighty cunning hunter, was the son favored by Isaac, and yet Jacob had a zeal for the blessings of the Father.

This is the Jacob/ Yacob that wrestled with an angel and walked with a limp afterward. This is the man who saw a ladder going up to heaven and angels descending and ascending. A man who worked 14 years to pay the dowry price for the woman he loved.  A man who had to cross paths with his brother, Esau, later on in the story and hug the neck of the one he had betrayed.

Joseph is burying his father Jacob, renamed Israel. Who are you burying? Who is in your life right now that is like Orpah, who told Naomi, “I’m going back to Moab, let Ruth go with you? Who is in your life right now who is controlling or toxic or isn’t part of what The Father has planned for your future?

Joseph is burying his father, Jacob. It is bittersweet. When Jacob stood before Pharaoh, he spoke these words.


“The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: FEW AND EVIL have the days of the years of my life been” (Genesis 47:9 KJV).

Jacob, the man whose name became the name of a nation, “Israel,” is now DEAD.

All the few evil years he had lived, all the battles, even all his trickery, has led to this moment; this moment of death, where Joseph, the son he grieved as but dead, carries him to his resting place with a great mourning!

HaShem our Father sees the end of a matter. He knows Jacob’s son will save a people and contain them in a nation, where they can grow and wax greater and greater. God’s people spared from famine and brought to a land where they can multiply and then in Yahweh’s timing go forth. We will never know the battle, or the prayers, our parents, grandparents, and mentors have prayed on our behalf. Few and evil had his days been.

To Joseph/ Yoseph, at first, the land of Egypt looked like a curse. God might take you somewhere that looks like a curse, but it is a blessing in disguise. This mans live and pit, training in the prison and testing all led to the wisdom needed to save a people during the famine.  Sometimes even when others want to curse us and the work of our hands–our seed–they cannot.

“Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you” (Deuteronomy 23:5 KJV).
He knows the end of a matter.

Joseph is parting with the man he loved so much. The father who made him a coat of many colors and it is bittersweet, this parting. He arrives at Atad and again, that word means thorn.

When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abelmizraim” (Genesis 50:11 NIV).

So what is the spiritual meaning of Atad or Abelmizraim?
1. D. P.—In Rabbinical Literature:

The rabbis say that both names, signifying respectively “The Mourning of Egypt” and “The Thorn Threshing-floor,” are derived from the mourning over Jacob. According to the rabbinical account the sons of Jacob had scarcely crossed the frontier at Abel-mizraim with the body of their father, when their cousins, the sons of Ishmael, Esau, and Keturah, appeared in large numbers against them, believing that the Egyptians, of whom there were many in the procession, intended to INVADE Palestine. But when they perceived Jacob’s pedestal, and Joseph’s CROWN carried behind it in state, the thirty-six princes among them sent their CROWNS also, to be carried in the funeral procession. Hence the name “Thorn Threshing-floor”; for Abel-mizraim was so encircled by a row of crowns as to remind one of a threshing-floor, which is usually surrounded by a hedge of thorns … Yes, One day we will all come together!

Threshing floors in the Bible are significant. A threshing floor is where Abraham had offered up Isaac–Jacob’s father. Solomon would build the Temple on that very same sight. It is believed Jesus/ Yeshua would die on a cross there. The threshing floor was a place of sacrifice. Sacrificing one’s interests or well-being for the sake of others is a rarity in this day and hour.
Jacob died. Joseph buries him–not at Atad, but in the cave where Leah, was buried.

The threshing floor is where he stopped to weep and bury him in his heart. Notice how his family members rise up to come against him. They think the worst of him. They think of him as an invader of their land–to take over what they have staked. Their eyes were opened to their brothers and they end up laying down their crowns. Can we, the Body of Yeshua lay down our own strength? Can we stop coming against our brothers and sisters and realize they are family? Can we trade our thorns for peace? Can we take our positions, our titles, our thorny crowns off our heads and die at the threshing floor? Yeshua traded his crown of thorns for a Royal Crown and sat down at the Right Hand of the Father.

Let’s ask ourselves this question, “Who or what do we need to bury? What are we willing to sacrifice and die to for the sake of the call?

Father heal the hearts of those who are burying the dead– both dead and alive. Heal our hearts so that we can see that it’s our brothers and sisters and not some invader. Let men and women see the beauty of the gifts in others and not feel threatened by their appearance at the threshing floor. Father humble us to get down on our face at the threshing floor and die to self as Your Son did. Let us hear your voice, so we, like Joseph, can bury what we need to bury and move forward.

http://stpaulsefree.org/sites/default/files/sermon-notes/Sermon_Notes_33.pdf http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/222-abel-mizraim

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlene Reams Manning says:

    This comes at the exact right time in my life. The Lord has told me there will be BIG CHANGES in 2013 — personal changes, changes in The Church, changes in America, and changes over all the Earth. As if we have turned some unseen corner to encounter many days of changes coming one after the other. Thank you for being faithful, Bonnie. I hope you hear reports from many others who see this as a confirming word for a new path they are about to take.


  2. Thank you Charlie for this encouraging response that I have been hearing from the Lord as well. You bring confirmation! And as always, thank you for reading! Love you


  3. Deborah Testa says:

    As I was reading this I was thinking of the parts of myself that I need to bury. The sinful resentments I only hide away but still hang onto. The sadness and losses I need to bury so I can mourn,


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