Genesis 48: Blessing for Joseph’s Sons

Why are Ephraim and Manasseh given status as Jacob’s sons instead of Joseph?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 48:1–6 When Joseph heard that his father was sick, he went to see him and took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
“Your son Joseph is coming,” someone said.
So Jacob strengthened himself and sat up in bed.
Jacob said to Joseph, “At Luz in the land of Canaan, God Almighty appeared and blessed me. He promised to grow my family to a multitude of people and to give that land to my child after me to own forever. Your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were born before I arrived in Egypt, but they are mine as much as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children you have later are yours, but their inheritance will come from their brothers, Ephraim and Manasseh.”
King James
Genesis 48:1–6 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 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. And 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.

What reasons did Jacob have before death that God would fulfill his promise of a land his family would own forever?

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Genesis 48:4 He promised to grow my family to a multitude of people and to give that land to my child after me to own forever.
King James
Genesis 48:4 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.

Why did Jacob tell Joseph about Rachel’s death and burial? Wasn’t Joseph at his mother’s burial?

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Genesis 48:7 “While I was on my way from Mesopotamia, Rachel died near Ephrath in Canaan, and I buried her there, the place known as Bethlehem.”
King James
Genesis 48:7 And 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.

How important was Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh? Why?

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Genesis 48:8–12 Jacob tried to see the two young men with Joseph. “Who are these?”
“These are my sons,” Joseph said, “God’s gift to me here in Egypt.”
Please bring them close to me,” Jacob said, “so I can bless them.” 10 His old eyes had difficulty recognizing people. As the young men came closer, he kissed and embraced them.
Jacob said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has let me see your children.”
Joseph took his sons from his father’s embrace and bowed to the ground.
King James
Genesis 48:8–12 And 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. Now 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. 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.

Why did Joseph want his father’s right hand placed upon the older son, not the younger?

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Genesis 48:13–19 He positioned his sons where Manasseh would be under Jacob’s right hand, Ephraim on the left, and moved them closer.
Jacob crossed his arms to put his right hand on the younger son and his left hand on the older son.
He blessed Joseph by saying, “The God with whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked has been my shepherd, supplying my needs for all my life. May the angel who kept me from harm bless these young men. May my name and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac be placed upon them. May their descendants become a multitude upon the earth.”
When Joseph realized that his father’s right hand of blessing was on young Ephraim’s head, not his older brother, Manasseh, he reached out to move it. “No, Father,” Joseph said, “this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”
Jacob refused. “I know, my son, I know it. Manasseh and his people will be great, but his brother will be father to a multitude.”
King James
Genesis 48:13–19 And 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. And 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.
And 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.
And 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.

Why did Jacob cross his arms, insisting that his right hand be placed on the younger son? Where did he get the idea that this was important?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 48:13–19 He positioned his sons where Manasseh would be under Jacob’s right hand, Ephraim on the left, and moved them closer.
Jacob crossed his arms to put his right hand on the younger son and his left hand on the older son.
He blessed Joseph by saying, “The God with whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked has been my shepherd, supplying my needs for all my life. May the angel who kept me from harm bless these young men. May my name and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac be placed upon them. May their descendants become a multitude upon the earth.”
When Joseph realized that his father’s right hand of blessing was on young Ephraim’s head, not his older brother, Manasseh, he reached out to move it. “No, Father,” Joseph said, “this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”
Jacob refused. “I know, my son, I know it. Manasseh and his people will be great, but his brother will be father to a multitude.”
King James
Genesis 48:13–19 And 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. And 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.
And 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.
And 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.

How were Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s families affected by Joseph’s close relationship with Pharaoh? Were they part of the Goshen settlement? Why?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 48:20 So Jacob continued the blessing as he had intended. “May my descendants bless one another by asking God to prosper them like Ephraim and Manasseh.” By naming Ephraim first, he placed the younger brother above the older.
King James
Genesis 48:20 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.

When did Jacob believe God would take the Israelites back to Canaan?

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Genesis 48:21 “I will die soon,” Jacob said to Joseph. “God will be with you and will take you back to the land of my fathers.”
King James
Genesis 48:21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.

With Jacob no longer present in Canaan, how could he give Joseph the land taken from the Amorites?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 48:22 “Instead of your brothers, I want you to have the land that I took from the Amorites with my sword and bow.”
King James
Genesis 48:22 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.