The story of Joseph, recounted in seven diptych scenes, overlaps with the later part of the Jacob drama. Joseph's survival is like a protective mantle cast over Jacob's old age.
Old age is not easy, at least not for Jacob. The first scene leaves him in sackcloth, mourning the loss of Joseph (37:1-chap. 38), and even though Joseph is still alive in Egypt (scene two, chaps. 39–40), the subsequent account shows Jacob as sunk even lower, white-haired, mourning further loss (chaps. 41–42).
Yet all the while the tide has been slowly turning. When Joseph's brothers return to Egypt they finally reach a stage where they are ready to turn away fully from their former crime against him (chaps. 43–44). As a result Joseph is revealed, he embraced his brothers, and, against all apparent odds, the aged Jacob embarks on a remarkable journey into the arms of his beloved son (45:1–47:11). Even when famine and death come close there is life-saving action and blessing (47:12-chap. 48). And in the last scene of all, when Jacob dies and goes to burial, the sense of blessing is even greater (chaps. 49–50).