Jacob: 23. Jacob Blessing Joseph's Sons

Genesis 48  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
In this chapter scenes of profound interest follow as to the dying patriarch, for his blessing on the sons of Joseph; in the next for his dying words to his own sons in general. Few words are here needed however much may be conveyed.
“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. And [one] told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee; and Israel strengthened himself and sat upon the bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, The Almighty God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me and said to me, Behold I will make thee fruitful and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a company of peoples; and I will give this land to thy seed after thee, an everlasting possession. 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. And thy family which thou hast begotten (or, shalt beget) after them shall be thine: they shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance, And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan on the way, when yet a certain distance (way) to come to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem. And Israel beheld Joseph's sons and said, Who [are] these? And Joseph said to his father, They [are] my sons whom God hath given me here. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee unto me, that I may bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age—he could not see. And he brought them nearer to him; and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face; and, behold, God hath also let me see thy seed. And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and bowed down with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand towards Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand towards Israel's right hand, and brought [them] near to him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid [it] on Ephraim's head—and he [was] the younger—and his left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding (others, crossing) wittingly his hands, for Manasseh [was] the first-born. And he blessed Joseph and said, The God before whom walked my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, the God that tended me all my life long till this day, the angel that redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth (land). And 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. And Joseph said to his father, Not so my father, for this [is] the first-born: put thy right hand on his head. 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 a fullness of nations. 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. And Israel said to Joseph, Behold I die; and God will be with you, and bring you again to the land of your fathers. And I have given to thee one slope [shoulder] above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow” (chap. 48).
It is well to note the peculiarity of the phrase in verse 19, not “a multitude of peoples” but “a fullness of nations.” The Septuagint is lax in verse 4, where it gives “congregations of nations,” (συναγωγὰς ἐθνῶν) instead of “an assembly of peoples;” but it is nearer the truth in verse 19, where it has πλῆθος ἐθνῶν, “a fullness of nations.” It is notorious, that in contrast with Judah and Benjamin, who had a distinct place, all the rest of the tribes fell under Ephraim as Israel.
Such was this affecting and instructive incident: Jacob clear, where Isaac had been dim; Jacob clearer than Joseph, hitherto given beyond other men of God to be of penetrating insight into divine things. What deep self-judgment must have passed through Israel's spirit, as he reviewed the blessing once stolen by his own guile! Could not, would not, Jehovah have, somehow to His own glory without his servant's shame, have crossed Isaac's hands to make good His word of promise to Jacob? How sad not to have trusted Him!
Jacob was deceitful no more; nay he even steadfastly opposed the will of his beloved Joseph in subjection to God who directed him. What a change through His grace!
We may not pass over the reference to this chapter in Heb. 11:2121By 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). Dying, Jacob was stronger in faith than in all the vigor of his life, tried and energetic as it had been. Then it was that he by faith blessed each of the sons of Joseph, above nature's thoughts; as Isaac, overruled of God, blessed Jacob and Esau according to His purpose. Nor is it without force that Jacob's worshipping on the top of his staff is here mentioned, in contrast with his father's fear when he discovered his folly in striving to please himself contrary to God's word. With his staff he passed the Jordan a lonely outcast; in due time he had become two bands, though in fear of Esau's resentment, whom God had recalled to natural affection. Now, so soon to depart, he is strong in faith, adoring and giving glory to God; whilst he opens his lips as God's mouthpiece over his grandsons.