A Mummy’s Promise

Scripture: Genesis 42-50

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of Jacob in Egypt.
  • Students will learn Jacob’s and Joseph’s bodies were mummified when they died so later people could keep their promises to bury Jacob and Joseph in the family tomb.
  • Students will learn about the mummification process.
  • Students will participate in an activity to mummify an organic object.

Guiding Question: How were mummies made?

Materials: Apples (or hot dog or piece of chicken), tupperware containers, one part salt, two parts sodium carbonate (powdered bleach), two parts baking soda (ex: 1\4 cup salt + 1\2 cup sodium carbonate + 1\2 cup baking soda, this total mixture should cover object in tupperware container), disposable gloves, spoons and bowls.

Procedure: Review the story of Jacob in Egypt. Explain to students that as far as we know Jacob and Joseph were the only people in the Bible whose bodies were mummified. Explain to students that both Jacob and Joseph asked people to make sure they were buried in the family tomb. In order to keep their promises they mummified their bodies. This preserved the bodies (for about 400 years in the case of Joseph) until they could be taken back to the family tomb. Explain to students that a mixture called natron (a combination of salt, sodium carbonate and baking soda) was used to dehydrate the body without allowing it to rot in the process. Have the students work in groups to prepare their “mummies”. Have them place the apple chunk (or hot dog etc) in the tupperware container. In the bowl have students stir together the three ingredients. Have the students completely cover their “mummy” with the mixture. (Note: It will take several days for the object to mummify. The resulting mummy is NOT edible).

Additional Questions:

  • What were the normal burial customs of Jews in the Old Testament?

Supplemental Activity: Have students research Jewish burial customs. How did these customs reflect what God had commanded the people? Encourage students to share their results.