Jacob wants out.

The moment Jacob arrives in Egypt, he quickly departs to his gated community in Goshen, where he leads his life at a distance from the corrupt Egyptian society.

Now, as Jacob prepares to die, he summons his son Joseph and pleads: “Please do not bury me in Egypt . . . Take me out of Egypt!”

To ensure that not even his remains will remain in Egypt, Jacob feels he needs more than Joseph’s word. “Swear to me,” he asks of Joseph. And Joseph does.

Where results are essential, a vow is a powerful tool, as it binds the committed party to fulfill its duties under all circumstances. Still, why was a vow necessary in this story? Was Joseph’s word to his dying father insufficient?

The very fray Jacob struggled to remain above, Joseph was very much a part of. Every soul is entrusted with its own mission. Joseph found his calling at the heart of Egyptian society, inside the belly of the beast, where he worked to identify and elevate G‑dly sparks wherever they would be found.

Jacob is quick to recognize how Joseph would consider keeping his righteous father close by, even posthumously, as a critical asset in his effort to elevate Egypt. The only way Jacob could rest assured of compliance was through adjuring Joseph to take a vow.

If so, why was Jacob so eager to be removed from Egypt? Why not be buried amongst his children, where his presence might help reduce their sense of isolation in exile?

Jacob knew that his children would require help in order to escape the shackles of Egyptian bondage, and felt he would be in the best position to assist them from a distance. To successfully escape from prison, you need someone on the outside pulling for you.

So Jacob was transported to the Promised Land, while Joseph returned to the trenches in Egypt. The vow between them served as a bond—which Jacob would tug on when the time came for his children to come home.

One further lesson may be gleaned from our narrative. While living in Goshen, Jacob had prime pastureland for his flocks and a yeshivah on the premises—“the best of the land of Egypt” both materially and spiritually. Still he pleaded with Joseph, “Take me out of Egypt.” Even under the best of circumstances, exile is no place for a Jew.

Take it from Jacob, who wouldn’t be found dead in Egypt.