Jacob blesses two grandsons
“Your father is sick”1Sometime later Joseph got the news, “Your father is sick.” Joseph went to see him. He took with him his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. 2Someone told Jacob, “Look, your son Joseph has come to see you.” Israel managed to sit up in bed.
3Jacob told Joseph, “Almighty God appeared to me at Luz in Canaan. He gave me a blessing, which was a promise. 4He told me, ‘Look, I am going to give you a huge family. Your people will grow into many nations. I’ll give this land to your descendants. It will belong to them forever.’
Jacob adopts two grandsons5I am now adopting as my own your two sons who were born in Egypt before I came here. Ephraim and Manasseh are my sons just as much as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. 6Any children you and your wife have later will be yours. Any land they inherit will be land within the territories belonging to Ephraim and Manasseh. 7When I came to Canaan from the region of the Paddan-aram, Rachel died along the way. It broke my heart. We had not yet reached Ephrath, so I buried her alongside the trail."
8Israel looked over at Joseph’s sons and said, “Who are they?” 9Joseph told his father, “They are my sons. God gave them to me while I was living here.” Israel said, “Bring them closer to me, please. I would like to give them a blessing.” 10The years had taken their toll on Israel’s eyesight; he could hardly see. Joseph brought his boys close, and Israel gave them each a hug and a kiss. 11Israel told Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again. But look at this, God has let me see you and your children.”
Jacob blesses Joseph's sons12Joseph, in preparation for the blessing, moved his sons. They were near his father’s knees as he lay in bed. Joseph bowed low. 13Then he put his sons in a position to receive the blessing: Ephraim, the youngest son, by Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh at the right. 14But when Israel reached out his hands to touch the head of each boy, he crossed his arms. He put his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the youngest son. And he put his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the oldest son. 15Israel spoke words of blessing to Joseph and then said,
“May the God of my father Abraham
and my grandfather Isaac,
the God who has been my shepherd
for my entire life to this very day,
19His father refused. “I know this, son. I do. Your oldest son will produce many descendants who become a great tribe. But his younger brother will be even greater. His descendants will produce many nations.” 20Israel blessed both boys that day. He said, “The people of Israel will respect your names so much that they will use them when they bless others. They will say, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” With this blessing, Israel put Ephraim ahead of his older brother Manasseh in privilege and honor.
21Israel told Joseph, “Look, I’m about to die. But may God be with you and take you back to the land of your people. 22I’m giving you something extra. You now own the ridge of hills I captured from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
Jacob’s new name, given by God (Genesis 32:28).
Also known as Bethel (Genesis 28:19).
Israel and Palestinian territories.
Southern Turkey and northern Syria.
“Ridge of hills” is shekem in Hebrew. That could be a play on words, referring to Shechem, a hill-framed village his sons looted (Genesis 34:25-29).
A race of people from what is now Syria, but who scattered throughout the Middle East.
Jacob adopts Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. To understand what that means, all we have to do is look at a map showing the 12 tribes of Israel. There is no tribe called “Joseph.” But there is a tribe called “Manasseh” and a tribe called “Ephraim.” In a sense, Joseph got two tribes named after him—one for each son. Why do you think Jacob picked Joseph for this honor?
Jacob gave both of his grandsons the same wonderful blessing. But in prep for the blessing Joseph had arranged his sons so the oldest would get the blessing placed on his head by his grandfather’s right hand. Grandfather Jacob, however wanted the right-hand blessing to go to the younger boy. So he crossed his hands, to Joseph’s unhappiness. The Genesis writer doesn’t explain why Jacob did that. What do you think about it?
Another mystery from this chapter is what Jacob was talking about when he gave Joseph “An extra portion of land that I took from the Amorites with my sword and bow” (48:22). What do you think about it?
LIFE APPLICATION. The idea of giving someone a blessing sounds Old School these days. But some people do that. If we were going to bless a grandchild or if we had a child that a grandparent could bless, what kind of ideas would we want to convey in the blessing?