Genesis 48 (NRSV)
Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons
After this Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” he summoned his strength and sat up in bed.
3And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and he blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers; I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your offspring after you for a perpetual holding.’ 5Therefore your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are now mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are.
Jacob’s adoption of Manasseh and Ephraim explains why there is some confusion about the 12 tribes and why they are often listed in different combinations. Because of this adoption, there are actually 13 sons of Israel. The 12 were born, but Joseph was divided into two tribes. Therefore as the tribes are listed through the Old Testament, they can be juggled and still remain 12 tribes. There are more than 20 different ways of listing the tribes in the Old Testament.
6As for the offspring born to you after them, they shall be yours. They shall be recorded under the names of their brothers with regard to their inheritance. 7For when I came from Paddan, Rachel, alas, died in the land of Canaan on the way, while there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
8When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?”
9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.”
And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.”
10Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, and he could not see well. So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I did not expect to see your face; and here God has let me see your children also.”
12Then Joseph removed them from his father’s knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them near him. 14But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
Genesis 48:14 (KJV) — And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
Psalm 78:72 (KJV) — So he . . . guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
“Guiding his hands wittingly.” Do we ever read this story without thinking of the mean and faithless scheming of Genesis 27 (when Jacob, as he was then known, disguised himself to steal the blessing meant for Esau)? Israel must have thought of it. He must have felt humbly and sorrowfully how needless it all was.
There is a wonderful sense of release when we understand that we need never plan for ourselves, never try to twist circumstances so that our wishes shall come to pass. We have only one thing to do, such a happy, peaceful thing that we can never be glad enough and grateful enough for it. We have only to commit ourselves and our ways to Him who guides us by the skillfulness of His Hands.
15He blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16the angel who has redeemed me from all harm, bless the boys; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.”
Hear Jacob proclaiming his faith! His life is not the accumulation of his successes, but of the Lord’s faithfulness to him.
17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father! Since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.”
19But his father refused, and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will invoke blessings, saying, ‘God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.’“ So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your ancestors.
This completes a wonderful work regarding Jacob’s recognition of God’s presence his life.
- I am with you (Genesis 28:15): God gives the young believer every possible assurance of His presence and grace
- I will be with you (Genesis 31:3): God expects the growing believer to trust He will be with us, even when we only have the promise of His presence
- God . . . has been with me (Genesis 31:5): God gives a glorious testimony to the mature believer, able to say how God has been with us, even when we haven’t felt His presence in the way we wished
- God will be with you (Genesis 48:21): God gives the mature believer the opportunity to encourage others with the promise of God’s presence
22I now give to you one portion more than to your brothers, the portion that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
The promise of another inheritance,
from 1 Peter 1:3-6 (New Living Translation)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
So be truly glad.
I love the idea of blessing our children and grandchildren, as we have seen Abraham and Isaac and Jacob do in these stories of Genesis. Of course, we often ask God to bless us — yet it will be our great joy in heaven to bless God! HERE Phillips, Craig & Dean sing “When The Stars Burn Down (Blessing and Honor).”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.