7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company.
– Genesis 50:7-9 (ESV)
Joseph went to bury his father Jacob in Canaan, but he did not go alone. He did not only have his own household with him. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household, according to verse 7 and 8 in the English Standard Version. He certainly was not alone in his grieving and mourning. Multiple translations of the Bible call it: “a very great company” (ESV), “a very great gathering” (NKJV) and ” a very large company” (NIV).
Joseph went to bury Jacob in the land of Canaan as he had sworn to his father, but he was accompanied by a great number of people connected to his father and those connected directly and indirectly to him. There were those who were connected to Jacob by blood and “household.” There were those who were connected to Joseph directly like his kinsmen, brothers and his own household most probably did not outnumber those who were connected to Joseph through Pharaoh.
They went on their way to bury one of the patriarchs of Judaism. They went to bury an old man who had lived to see his “dead” son alive again. They went on their way to Canaan to fulfill the promise of a son to his dying father. They went on the journey to the land of Canaan to help Joseph bury his father.
The other brothers might have lived in Goshen and herded sheep, but Pharaoh’s people knew Joseph. They may not have ever heard of Jacob or any of his sons, but they surely knew of Joseph. Their paths may have never crossed any other Hebrew during those days, but they surely had some direct or indirect encounter on some level with Joseph. The Egyptians went to Canaan with Joseph for the sake of Joseph, not Jacob or anyone else.