Jacob Blesses the Sons of Joseph
Genesis 48. In this chapter we have the event that is perhaps the highlight of Jacob’s life. In blessing the sons of Joseph, Jacob demonstrates once and for all that he has learned the lesson God was seeking to teach him throughout his lifetime. It is this act that Jacob is noted for in Hebrews 11; “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff” (Heb. 11:21).
Joseph Brings His Sons to Jacob (48:1-11)
1 And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick. And he took with him his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. 2 And one told Jacob and said, Behold, thy son Joseph is coming to thee. And Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. vv.1-2 Joseph Approaches. Jacob was now coming to the end of his life, and Joseph brought Ephraim and Manasseh, his two sons, to Jacob. In anticipation of the visit, “Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed”. Jacob would do something very important, and gathered his strength for a final task.
3 And Jacob said to Joseph, The Almighty GOD appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, 4 and he said to me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a company of peoples; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. 5 And now thy two sons, who were born to thee in the land of Egypt before I came to thee into Egypt, shall be mine: Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon. 6 And thy family which thou hast begotten after them shall be thine: they shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. 7 And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was yet a certain distance to come to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem. vv.3-7 Ephraim and Manasseh Elevated. Jacob begins to explain to Joseph the rational for what he would do. He goes all the way back to Bethel, just before he left the land of Canaan to go into Padan-Aram, when he had the dream of the ladder reaching down from heaven. It was there that El-Shaddai appeared to Jacob and confirmed to him the promise of numerous seed, and the land of Canaan as the portion of his family. This was very much on Jacob’s mind as he lay on his deathbed, in Egypt. He was thinking of Canaan. It was of utmost importance to Jacob that the family of Joseph be included in the children of Israel. Rachel had died, and so that maternal link with the family was gone. For the love he had for Joseph, Jacob then adopted the two sons of Joseph as his own sons. In Ephraim and Manasseh we get a picture of “the adoption of sons” (Eph. 1:5). The adoption of sons is not what brings us into God’s family – that happens by new birth. Adoption brings us as children into an elevated position and relationship involving intelligence. It is the greatest blessing we have as believers. Read more… For Joseph’s sake, Jacob took two of his grandchildren and elevated them to the position of sons; “Ephraim and Manasseh… are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.” These two grandsons were now sons, and they would have a portion of the inheritance along with Jacob’s other sons.
8 And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? 9 And Joseph said to his father, They are my sons, whom God has given me here. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, to me, that I may bless them. 10 But the eyes of Israel were heavy from age: he could not see. And he brought them nearer to him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face; and behold, God has let me see also thy seed. vv.8-11 Ephraim and Manasseh Introduced.
Jacob Blesses the Sons of Joseph (48:12-22)
12 And Joseph brought them out from his knees, and bowed down with his face to the earth. 13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near to him. 14 But Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it on Ephraim’s head — now he was the younger — and his left hand on Manasseh’s head; guiding his hands intelligently, for Manasseh was the firstborn. vv.12-14 Jacob Guides His Hands.
15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God that shepherded me all my life long to this day, 16 the Angel that redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the land! vv.15-16 The Blessing Begins.
17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it was evil in his eyes; and he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn: put thy right hand on his head. 19 But his father refused and said, I know, my son, I know: he also will become a people, and he also will be great; but truly his younger brother will be greater than he; and his seed will become the fulness of nations. vv.17-19 Blessing Interrupted: Joseph Corrected.
20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee will Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh! And he set Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 And Israel said to Joseph, Behold, I die; and God will be with you, and bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22 And “I” have given to thee one tract of land above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. vv.20-22 The Blessing Continued.