Genesis Chapter Forty-Eight

 

Read Genesis 48:1-7 – Joseph’s Inheritance

 

v.1And 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.”

 

            When Joseph learns that his father is sick he prepares to visit him and takes his sons with him.  As we should remember from Genesis 41:51-52; they were named Manasseh, which meant that God had made Joseph forget his toils and trouble, and Ephraim, which meant that God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction.

 

v.2And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.”

 

            Jacob, when he learns that his son is coming to visit does as many of us might.  The scripture says that he finds some additional inner strength, sits up and prepares himself to visit with his son.  As we will see later in this chapter, this is going to be special occasion.

 

v.3-4And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.”

 

            Jacob begins by reviewing with Joseph the promises made to him by God.  Even though his family is now in Egypt and prospering there they have a higher purpose.  Luz, as we remember, was renamed as a result of God speaking to Jacob there:

 

Genesis 28:19And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.”

 

            Bethel means “house of God”.  Bethel was also the place where Jacob chose to build an altar and worship God when he had returned from Padanaram or Haran and where God changed his name to Israel (Genesis 35:9-12).  Now Jacob is going to make provision for Joseph’s two sons in this inheritance.

 

v.5-6And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.  And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.”

 

            This occurrence is that which the Holy Spirit has chosen to remind us of the faith of Jacob in Almighty God.

 

By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.” Hebrews 11:21

 

Even though it would almost another 400 years before anything would come about to fulfill God’s promise, Jacob through his faith is making preparation.  First of all he declares that Joseph’s two sons will share his legacy equally with his own sons.  As we study the history of Israel we don’t see a tribe of Joseph, do we?  Instead we see the tribes; some people call them “half-tribes”, of Manasseh and Ephraim with Ephraim being one of the largest.

            In addition, if Joseph has any additional offspring, they will not share the inheritance in the same manner as Manasseh and Ephraim but rather be accorded that which would normally fall to a grandchild who would be the offspring of Joseph.

 

v.7And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.”

 

            We remember from our study of chapter 35 how that Rachel died and was buried near Ephrath or what today is called Bethlehem.

 

Genesis 35:19  And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.”

 

We should remember also that this location is known as the “Tomb of the Patriarchs” and was known to Moses, Samuel and even until today.

 

Read Genesis 48:8-14 – Jacob Meets Joseph’s Sons

 

v.8-9And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these?  And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place.  And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.”

 

            Joseph’s sons are grown men because we know that Jacob lived in Egypt for 17 years before he died (Genesis 47:28) and that Joseph’s sons were born during the time of plenty before the great famine (Genesis 41).  Jacob perhaps did not notice these young men at first or perhaps thought that they were servants attending to Joseph.  When he notices them he ask about them.

 

v.10Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.”

 

            As is common with age Jacob’s eyesight is no longer as it was when he was a young man.  This physical failing also plagued his father:

 

And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.” Genesis 27:1

 

And this is the reason that Jacob and Rebecca could deceive Isaac into believing that Jacob was Esau.

 

v.11-12 “And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.  And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.”

 

            The wisdom of God given to us reads:

 

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6

 

Grandchildren are the crown of old men, the apple of our eye, the joy of having lived through thick and thin.  Jacob is amazed and thankful for the providence of God.  For so many years he had thought Joseph to be dead.  Now he not only has opportunity to see his son again but his grandchildren, children of that son as well.

 

v.13-14And 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 unto him.  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.”

 

            Joseph presents his sons to Jacob.  He arranges them so that Manasseh, the eldest is at Jacob’s right hand, and would therefore receive the greater blessing and so that Ephraim, the younger was at Jacob’s left hand.  But Jacob isn’t following the common practice.  He crosses his arms and gives the greater blessing to the younger son.  This has been a common occurrence in scripture.  While in most things and most of the time the natural birth order determines their inheritance or God’s blessings, that isn’t always true.  Abel was preferred over Cain, Shem over Japheth, Abraham over Nahor and Haran, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, etc even down to the time of David and Solomon, why?  Speaking of David:

 

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

 

Joseph had presented his sons for their blessing in their birth order but Jacob and God has chosen otherwise.

 

Read Genesis 48:15-22 – Jacob’s Blessing

 

v.15-16And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

 

            Jacob evokes the blessing of God, the one whom Abraham walked before, just as he was commanded:

 

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Genesis 17:1

 

And this Abraham had done as did Isaac and Jacob as well.  Just as the angel of God had carried the message of God’s promise to Abraham when he obeyed God and prepared to sacrifice his son, Jacob is passing this promise on to Joseph’s sons.  They will indeed be blessed and a multitude that will fill a major part of Israel’s promised land as a result.

 

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Genesis 22:17-18

 

v.17-18And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.  And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.”

 

            Joseph is not pleased with what his father is doing.  He is blessing the second son, Ephraim, over the eldest son, Manasseh.  As we noted earlier this is contrary to custom and later would be contrary to the Mosaic Covenant:

 

Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.” Deuteronomy 21:16-17

 

So Joseph tries to change what Jacob is doing but Jacob knows exactly what he’s doing and the result is not only Jacob’s will but God’s as well.

 

v.19And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.”

 

            Jacob corrects Joseph, telling him that he knows what he’s doing and that while Manasseh will be great, Ephraim will be greater.

 

v.20-21  And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.  And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.”

 

            Jacob proceeds with his blessing of Joseph’s sons, setting Ephraim ahead of Manasseh declaring that he will be the greater of the two.  Then he tells Joseph that he is going to die but that God will be with Joseph, just as he has been since he was in Egypt and that he would indeed return to Canaan again himself.  The bones of Joseph were indeed carried back and buried in the promised land near at Shechem.  This is not the same parcel of land that Abraham bought from the Hittites to bury Sarah but rather one that Jacob bought when he returned to Canaan from Padanaram.

 

Genesis 33:18-19 “And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.  And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money.”

 

 

v.22  Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.”

 

            The Amorites lived in that area east of the Jordan, north of the Dead Sea.  They sprang from the second son of Lot:

 

And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.” Genesis 19:38

 

In speaking of taking the land given to Manasseh out of the hand of Ammon, Jacob is speaking in prophecy because the Amorites were not removed from this land until the Israelites did so with the help of God raining stones upon them (Joshua 10:11).  Then, in the passage of time and in the occupation of Canaan by Israel, their land was then given to Manasseh.