Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons
1Not long afterward, Joseph received the news that his father’s health was failing, so he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2When Jacob heard that they had come to see him, Israel rallied his strength and sat up in bed.
3Jacob said to Joseph, “The God who is more than enough appeared to me at Bethel # 48:3 Or “Luz,” the ancient name of Bethel. Jacob was referring to the appearance of the heavenly stairway reaching into heaven. See Gen. 28:10–19. in the land of Canaan where he blessed me! 4He said to me, ‘I will make you fruitful and multiply your descendants until I have made you a company of nations. And I will give this land to your descendants for an everlasting possession.’ 5Furthermore, I will adopt as my very own your two sons who were born in the land of Egypt before I came here. Yes, I claim Ephraim and Manasseh as mine, no less than my two oldest, Reuben and Simeon. 6As for any children born after them, they will be considered yours. They will receive their portion of the inheritance in the same territory as their brothers. 7For when I was returning from Paddan-Aram, my beloved Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan while we were still on our way, not far from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
8When Israel noticed Joseph’s two sons, he said, “Who are these?”
9“They are the sons that God has graciously given me here,” Joseph said to his father.
“Please bring them closer,” he said, “so that I may bless them.”
10Now Israel could barely see, for his eyes were failing because of old age. So, Joseph brought his sons closer to him, and Joseph’s father, their grandfather, hugged and kissed them.
11Tearfully, Israel said to Joseph, “I never thought I’d see your face again, and now, God has let me see my grandchildren as well!”
Jacob Blesses His Grandchildren
12Joseph then removed them from his father’s knees and bowed low in respect before his father with his face to the ground. 13And Joseph took his sons and had them stand facing their grandfather Israel, # 48:13 By placing them before him like this, Israel recognized Joseph’s sons as his own by adoption. By adopting Joseph’s sons, Jacob removed the firstborn blessing from Reuben and gave it to Joseph’s sons. Ephraim at Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh at Israel’s right hand. # 48:13 Joseph positioned his sons so that Jacob’s right hand would rest on the firstborn, Manasseh. 14But Israel crossed his arms, and stretched out his right hand on the head of the younger son, Ephraim, and his left hand on the head of the firstborn son, Manasseh. 15He spoke this blessing over them: # 48:15 Or “Joseph.” The Septuagint reads “them.”
“May the God of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, who lived devoted to him,
the God who has been my Shepherd from my birth until this day,
16the Angel who has delivered me from all harm, # 48:16 The Lord had visited Jacob as an Angel, the midnight wrestling Man, his true Friend. At the end of Jacob’s life, he could say that his Shepherd-Friend had delivered him from all harm. Instead of moaning and complaining about his hardships, this servant of God declared the mercy that had preserved him. Christ, the Angel of the Covenant, redeems us from all evil.
may he bless these boys!
May their lives echo my name,
and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.
May they multiply into teeming multitudes throughout the earth!”
17When Joseph saw his father place his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he was not happy, so he tried to move his father’s hand from Ephraim to Manasseh’s head. 18“Not that way,” Joseph said to his father, “Here, father, put your right hand on the firstborn’s head.” 19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. Manasseh’s descendants will also multiply and become a great people. His younger brother will become even greater than he, and his tribe will one day give rise to many nations.” # 48:19 As the Spirit of Prophecy fell upon Jacob, he knew that it was God’s will to bless and honor Ephraim above his brother Manasseh. Once again, the younger was set above the older and was given a greater blessing and a greater work. Maneuvering is our choosing, our selecting. Blessing is God’s choice. It had taken Jacob a lifetime to learn this lesson: It is far better to wait until the blessing of God is seen and give up our maneuvering to have our own way.
20So Jacob blessed them that day, saying,
“Israel will use your names when they pronounce blessings!
They will say, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh!’ ” # 48:20 Ephraim and Manasseh became strong leaders in Israel. Their descendants multiplied and grew mighty. Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim, and so was Jeroboam. The tribe of Manasseh was divided after the conquest with one half on one side of the Jordan and the other half on the other side of the river. Jacob, foreseeing this division would weaken the tribe, “crossed” his arms! This blessing spoken by Jacob endured and still endures. When the Lord blesses, no one can revoke it (see Num. 23:8, 20). Jacob’s hands that had deceived and grasped what was not his now became the hands that blessed out of an overflow of life. The “heel grabber” became the “blessing giver.” The day will come when this transformation will take place in you as well.
So the crossing of his arms during Jacob’s blessing put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, “Son, I will die soon, but God’s presence will go with you, and one day, he will take you back to the land of your ancestors. 22I give you one mountain slope more than your brothers, the mountain slope of Shechem, the fertile region I took from the Amorites with my own sword and my own bow.” # 48:22 The Hebrew text is somewhat ambiguous, for the word for “mountain slope” can also mean “Shechem.” The translator has chosen to leave both possibilities in the text. Additionally, it may be a reference to Mt. Gerizim, which stands above Shechem. The implication is that because Joseph was raised up, he would inherit the higher ground.
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Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh
1Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he set out with 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.
3Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty #48:3 Hebrew El-Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there He blessed me 4and told me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you; I will make you a multitude of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’
5And now your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here shall be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6Any children born to you after them shall be yours, and they shall be called by the names of their brothers in the territory they inherit.
7Now as for me, when I was returning from Paddan,#48:7 That is, northwest Mesopotamia to my sorrow Rachel died along the way in the land of Canaan, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
8When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”
9Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.”
So Jacob said, “Please bring them to me, that I may bless them.”
10Now Israel’s eyesight was poor because of old age; he could hardly see. Joseph brought his sons to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.
11“I never expected to see your face again,” Israel said to Joseph, “but now God has let me see your children as well.”
12Then Joseph removed his sons from his father’s knees and bowed facedown.
13And Joseph took both of them—with Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand—and brought them close to him. 14But Israel stretched out his right hand and put it on the head of Ephraim, the younger; and crossing his hands, he put his left on Manasseh’s head, although Manasseh was the firstborn. 15Then he blessed Joseph and said:
“May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16the angel #48:16 Or Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—
may He bless these boys.
And may they be called by my name
and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they grow into a multitude upon the earth.”
17When Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he was displeased and took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s. 18“Not so, my father!” Joseph said. “This one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19But his father refused. “I know, my son, I know!” he said. “He too shall become a people, and he too shall be great; nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”
20So that day Jacob blessed them and said:
“By you shall Israel pronounce this blessing:
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
So he put Ephraim before Manasseh.
21Then Israel said to Joseph, “Look, I am about to die, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22And to you, as one who is above your brothers, I give the ridge of land #48:22 Or one portion of the land; Hebrew shekem, which sounds like the town and district called Shechem that I took from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”
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