27 And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years. 29 And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30 But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.
God had promised Jacob that his descendancy would grow into a great nation in Egypt, and verse 27 confirms that this began to happen. When Jacob came into Egypt he had 13 children, 52 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. If the family maintained its growth rate of fourfold from generation-to-generation, then we would expect Jacob to have around 200 great-grandchildren, most of which he probably would have seen being born during those seventeen years in Egypt. Quite possibly he even saw the first of his great-great-grandchildren being born, the generation that could very well raise his posterity to more than one thousand souls!
But while Egypt would be the home of the Israelites for generations, Jacob had not forgotten the actual land of their inheritance: Canaan. His father and mother, his grand-father and grand-mother, and even his beloved wife Rachel were already laid to rest in that country, and he wished to be so, too.
It is important to note that the son he entrusts to bury him properly is Joseph. Not Reuben, the firstborn, and not Judah, who he had previously relied on as a sort of stand-in firstborn. Joseph has always been the most dependable son, and so he is the one that Jacob will trust in this, the last kindness he will ever require.