Israel’s Last Days
1Now some time after these things happened, Joseph was told, “Your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him [to go to Goshen]. 2And when Jacob (Israel) was told, “Look now, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. 3Then Jacob said to Joseph, “#Heb El Shaddai.God Almighty appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a great company of people, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ 5Now your two sons [Ephraim and Manasseh], who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; #This act of adoption effectively gave Joseph the birthright and a double allotment of the territory of the promised land when it was apportioned by Joshua (Josh 16; 17). The second son, Ephraim, was named before his older brother because Jacob planned to give him the primary blessing.Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine [that is, adopted as my heirs and sons as surely], as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. 6But other sons who were born to you after them shall be your own; they shall be called by the names of their [two] brothers in their inheritance. 7Now as for me, when I came from Paddan [in Mesopotamia], Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
8When Israel [who was almost blind] saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here [in Egypt].” So he said, “Please bring them to me, so that I may bless them.” 10Now Israel’s eyes were so dim from age that he could not see [clearly]. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, but see, God has shown me your children as well.” 12Then Joseph took the boys [from his father’s embrace], and he bowed [before him] with his face to the ground. 13Then Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. 14But Israel reached out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, #God acts independently of priority based on birth order when He chooses men. He too “crossed His hands” in the case of Seth whom He chose over Cain; of Shem over Japheth; of Isaac over Ishmael; of Jacob over Esau; of Judah and Joseph over Reuben; of Moses over Aaron; and of David over all his brothers.crossing his hands [intentionally], even though Manasseh was the firstborn. 15Then Jacob (Israel) blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked [in faithful obedience],
The God who has been my Shepherd [leading and caring for me] all my life to this day,
16The #See note 16:7.Angel [that is, the Lord Himself] who has redeemed me [continually] from all evil,
Bless the boys;
And may my name live on in them [may they be worthy of having their names linked with mine],
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a [great] multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him [because he was not the firstborn]; and he grasped his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn; place your right hand on Manasseh’s head.” 19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; Manasseh also will become a people and he will be great; but his younger brother shall be #This prophecy begins to be fulfilled during the time of the judges, as the tribe of Ephraim increased in prominence and became the head of the northern ten tribes. Joshua, whom Israel regarded as their ruler, was an Ephraimite. The ark of the covenant was placed in Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim, which also increased the tribe’s prestige. By its fulfillment, Jacob’s prophecy proved to be divinely inspired.greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20Then Jacob blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce a blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’ ”
And he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to [Canaan] the land of your fathers. 22Moreover, I have given you [the #See note 49:3.birthright,] one portion [Shechem, one mountain ridge] more than any of your brothers, which I took [reclaiming it] from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
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1#Jacob continues his preparations for death. In a scene that evokes the nearly blind Isaac blessing Jacob and Esau (chap. 27), Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons. He adopts them, elevating them to a status equal to that of Jacob’s first sons Reuben and Simeon (cf. 1 Chr 5:1). The adoption is one more instance of Jacob’s favoring Rachel and those born of her. The mention of Jacob’s failing eyesight and his selection of the younger son over the older evokes the great deathbed scene in chap. 27. He reaffirms to Joseph the ancient divine promise of progeny and land. Some time afterward, Joseph was informed, “Your father is failing.” So he took along with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up in bed.
3#Gn 28:12–15; 35:6. Jacob then said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz#Luz: an older name of Bethel (28:19). in the land of Canaan, and blessing me, 4he said, ‘I will make you fertile and multiply you and make you into an assembly of peoples, and I will give this land to your descendants after you as a permanent possession.’ 5So now your two sons who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I joined you here, shall be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine as much as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6Progeny born to you after them shall remain yours; but their heritage shall be recorded in the names of their brothers. 7#Gn 35:19. I do this because, when I was returning from Paddan, your mother Rachel died, to my sorrow, during the journey in Canaan, while we were still a short distance from Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath [now Bethlehem].”#Since her early death prevented Rachel from bearing more than two sons, Jacob feels justified in treating her two grandsons as if they were her own offspring.
8When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” 9“They are my sons,” Joseph answered his father, “whom God has given me here.” “Bring them to me,” said his father, “that I may bless them.” 10Now Israel’s eyes were dim from age; he could not see well. When Joseph brought his sons close to him, he kissed and embraced them. 11Then Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your descendants as well!”
12Joseph removed them from his father’s knees and bowed down before him with his face to the ground. 13Then Joseph took the two, Ephraim with his right hand, to Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand, to Israel’s right, and brought them up to him. 14But Israel, crossing his hands, put out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, although he was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, although he was the firstborn. 15Then he blessed them with these words:
“May the God in whose presence
my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd
from my birth to this day,#Heb 11:21.
16The angel who has delivered me from all harm,
bless these boys
That in them my name be recalled,
and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac,
And they may become teeming multitudes
upon the earth!”
17When Joseph saw that his father had laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, this seemed wrong to him; so he took hold of his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s, 18saying, “That is not right, father; the other one is the firstborn; lay your right hand on his head!” 19But his father refused. “I know it, son,” he said, “I know. That one too shall become a people, and he too shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall surpass him, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20So he blessed them that day and said, “By you shall the people of Israel pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” Thus he placed Ephraim before Manasseh.#Heb 11:21.
21Then Israel said to Joseph: “I am about to die. But God will be with you and will restore you to the land of your ancestors. 22#Jos 17:14, 17–18; Jn 4:5. As for me, I give to you, as to the one above his brothers, Shechem, which I captured from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”#Both the meaning of the Hebrew and the historical reference in this verse are obscure. By taking the Hebrew word for Shechem as a common noun meaning shoulder or mountain slope, some translators render the verse, “I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I captured…” The reference may be to the capture of Shechem by the sons of Jacob (34:24–29). Shechem lay near the border separating the tribal territory of Manasseh from that of Ephraim (Jos 16:4–9; 17:1–2, 7).
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