48 Now some time after these things happened, Joseph was told, “Your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him [to go to Goshen]. 2 And when Jacob (Israel) was told, “Look now, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. 3 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “[a]God Almighty appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a great company of people, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’5 Now your two sons [Ephraim and Manasseh], who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; [b]Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine [that is, adopted as my heirs and sons as surely], as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. 6 But other sons who were born to you after them shall be your own; they shall be called by the names of their [two] brothers in their inheritance. 7 Now as for me, when I came from Paddan [in Mesopotamia], Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
8 When Israel [who was almost blind] saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9 Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here [in Egypt].” So he said, “Please bring them to me, so that I may bless them.” 10 Now Israel’s eyes were so dim from age that he could not see [clearly]. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, but see, God has shown me your children as well.” 12 Then Joseph took the boys [from his father’s embrace], and he bowed [before him] with his face to the ground. 13 Then Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, [c]crossing his hands [intentionally], even though Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 Then Jacob (Israel) blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked [in faithful obedience], The God who has been my Shepherd [leading and caring for me] all my life to this day, 16 The [d]Angel [that is, the Lord Himself] who has redeemed me [continually] from all evil, Bless the boys; And may my name live on in them [may they be worthy of having their names linked with mine], And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a [great] multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him [because he was not the firstborn]; and he grasped his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn; place your right hand on Manasseh’s head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; Manasseh also will become a people and he will be great; but his younger brother shall be [e]greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 Then Jacob blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce a blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
And he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to [Canaan] the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover, I have given you [the [f]birthright,] one portion [Shechem, one mountain ridge] more than any of your brothers, which I took [reclaiming it] from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
Genesis 48:5This act of adoption effectively gave Joseph the birthright and a double allotment of the territory of the promised land when it was apportioned by Joshua (Josh 16; 17). The second son, Ephraim, was named before his older brother because Jacob planned to give him the primary blessing.
Genesis 48:14God acts independently of priority based on birth order when He chooses men. He too “crossed His hands” in the case of Seth whom He chose over Cain; of Shem over Japheth; of Isaac over Ishmael; of Jacob over Esau; of Judah and Joseph over Reuben; of Moses over Aaron; and of David over all his brothers.
Genesis 48:19This prophecy begins to be fulfilled during the time of the judges, as the tribe of Ephraim increased in prominence and became the head of the northern ten tribes. Joshua, whom Israel regarded as their ruler, was an Ephraimite. The ark of the covenant was placed in Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim, which also increased the tribe’s prestige. By its fulfillment, Jacob’s prophecy proved to be divinely inspired.
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