Jacob is nearing the end of his life, so Joseph brings his two sons to meet their grandfather and to receive his blessing.
I love the fact that even though Jacob is literally “on his death bed,” when he’s told that Joseph has come to visit him, he gathers all of his strength and sits up in bed.
Jacob uses this opportunity to remind Joseph of the promise God made to Jacob . . . that God was going to bless him and make him fruitful and that He was giving the land of Canaan to his family and his future descendants as an “everlasting possession.”
I know I’ve read and studied these verses before, but I didn’t remember that Jacob ‘adopted’ these two sons of Joseph and that two of the 12 tribes of Israel are the descendants of these two boys.
And speaking of these two boys, as Jacob is prophesying and blessing them, he crosses his hands–on purpose–and gives the greater blessing to the younger son. Joseph didn’t like that, but Jacob said that was way it was going to be. The younger son’s tribe would be more powerful than the older son’s tribe. And that’s the way it turned out many years later.
The sweetest part of this chapter for me is when Jacob tells Joseph that he never thought he’d see his face again–but that God allowed him to see not only him but his children as well. Right after Jacob said that, it says Joseph bowed down with his face to the ground. I think that was one of those “Oh, God!” moments. When all of a sudden you realize what a miracle your life is and what God has done to protect you and promote you and to bring you where you are! It’s kind of hard to stand up when you really think about who He is and who you are and how much He loves you!
– God’s promises are forever. And He has NEVER NOT kept a promise. (Sorry, grammar geeks.)
– The older generations need to remind the younger generations of the promises and faithfulness of God.
– The younger generations need to listen to and receive the blessings and prophecies the older generations want to share.
– A lot of times God promotes the unlikely candidate–the younger over the older, the weak over the strong.
– We need to NOT give up hope.
– What promises am I still waiting on God to fulfill? When I talk about them, do I speak with faith or with fear?
– What opportunities do I have to remind younger generations of God’s faithfulness?
– Whose blessings and prophecies do I need to receive?
– When has God promoted me over someone seemingly more qualified? When has someone with fewer credentials been promoted over me?
– What situation is causing me to feel like giving up hope? What do I need to do about it?
Genesis 48 / New International Version (NIV)
Manasseh and Ephraim
48 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.
3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4 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.’
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. 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. 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).
8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”
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.”
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.
11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”
12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 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. 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.
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,
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.”
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. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
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.” 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.
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. 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.”