This week, a previously overlooked pattern emerged.

“And strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there.” Numbers 20:26

The pattern is the specific men that were “gathered to his people.” The following are others that possessed the same description in regard to their death:

  • Abraham – Genesis 25:8
  • Ishmael – Genesis 25:17
  • Isaac – Genesis 35:29
  • Jacob – Genesis 49:33
  • Moses – Deuteronomy 32:50

Those who were gathered to their fathers were:

  • “All that generation” – Judges 2:10
  • King Josiah – 2 Kings 22:20

The first list of men clearly contains the Patriarchs with the exception of Ishmael. G-d did bless Ishmael and increase his offspring (Gen. 17:20) but G-d established the everlasting covenant with Isaac. (Gen. 17:19) However, each man was a father, a leader, and an important part of G-d’s plan. These men comprise a significant portion of the foundation of the Bible! It appears that being gathered to your people reflected a position of leadership and was perhaps referencing, according to the Gesenius’s Lexicon, a reuniting with ancestors after death. Although, it would seem that the phrase’s specificity indicates something more unique than simply reuniting with ancestors. Would not the whole remnant be gathered to their people after death if this is simply referencing the World to Come? It is also plausible being gathered to the people referred to a special ceremonial burial or even resting the body near other ancestors. Still these are simply guesses. The context of each death is different and there is no biblical description I have found of being gathered to your people. Nevertheless, the Patriarchs were special and remain sterling examples. If nothing else, we should view this common phrase as an enhancement of each man’s distinctive life and testimony.

On the other hand, King Josiah as well as Joshua’s generation were “gathered to their fathers.” King Josiah was an incredible example for all to follow. Not only was he an ancestor of Yeshua (Matt. 1:10) but he also demonstrated true repentance.

“But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’ And they brought back word to the king.” 2 Kings 22:18-20

This passage encompassed G-d’s grace, love, and salvation for those who humble themselves and seek His face. (2 Chr. 7:14) Those who were gathered to the people demonstrated how to lead. Those who were gathered to their fathers demonstrated how to serve. Has the Word of G-d caused a similar reaction in your life to that of King Josiah? It should.