He (Joseph) presented himself to him (Israel) and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.”
Have you considered the fact that God’s people are irreplaceable, friend? No two saints are alike. No two paths are the same. That’s why the principle of discipleship isn’t replacement, but advancement. We aren’t marathon runners racing around the same loop-trail. We’re trail-blazers, going wherever God uniquely leads us, raising up the next generation to carry on where we leave off. Elisha can’t be Elijah. He can’t singlehandedly battle 400 prophets at Mt. Carmel, but he can raise a widow’s son from the dead. Solomon can’t be David. He can’t kill Goliath or pen countless psalms, but he can build a temple and write proverbs. Joshua can’t be Moses. He can’t part the Red Sea or deliver the Law, but he can overtake Jericho against all odds.
So I see this long embrace between Jacob and Joseph as an emotional passing of the torch between two great but very different patriarchs. The wick from the back-hills is burning out; the wick from the big city is catching flame; but it’s God’s light that blazes on.