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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Genesis

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FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 48: The Blessing of Ephraim & Manasseh


v.1-4 Jacob Testifies to Joseph

v.5-7 Manasseh and Ephraim to be named as part of the family

v.8-12 Joseph presents them to be blessed

v.14-22 Israel changes the order of the blessing



v.1-4 Jacob Testifies to Joseph


v.1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.

v.2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

v.3,4 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.'


[Notes: Joseph visits Jacob, hearing he is not well, and presumably expecting him to die soon. When he arrives Jacob makes a point of reiterating God's promises to them that a) they would increase in numbers and b) they would take possession of Canaan as an everlasting possession.]



v.5-7 Manasseh and Ephraim to be named as part of the family


v.5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.

v.6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.

v.7 As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).


[Notes: Jacob knows that the family name will be famous and his twelve sons will be famous and so he wants Joseph to know that his two sons are to be considered to be his in the same way the sons of Jacob are.]



v.8-12 Joseph presents them to be blessed


v.8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

v.9 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

v.10 Now Israel's eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

v.11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

v.12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel's knees and bowed down with his face to the ground.

v.13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel's left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel's right hand and brought them close to him.


[Notes: Joseph had brought his two sons to see Israel and now Israel wanted to bless them and asks for them to be drawn near, and he holds them close.]



v.14-22 Israel changes the order of the blessing


v.14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

v.15 Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
v.16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.”

v.17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim's head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head.

v.18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

v.19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

v.20   He blessed them that day and said, “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.'” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

v.21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers.

v.22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”


[Notes: When he comes to bless them he swaps his hands over so that the hand of authority, the right hand, is placed on the head of the younger son. Joseph protests at this but Jacob knows this is prophecy from heaven and he knows that God's intent is to bless the younger over the older. Blessings are not the prerogative of man but of God, perhaps even as he had learned from Isaac blessing him and limiting Esau.]



Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 48


Jacob blessing Joseph's two sons is a remarkable example of spiritual sensitivity and prophetic insight. Something to be emulated!



Continue to Chapter 49