Israel’s Last Days
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.’(A) 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,
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.”(B)
Israel’s Prophecy concerning His Sons
49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said, “Assemble yourselves [around me] that I may tell you what will happen to you and your descendants [g]in the days to come.
“Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob;
And listen to Israel (Jacob) your father.
“Reuben, you are my [h]firstborn;
My might, the beginning of my strength and vigor,
Preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power [that should have been your birthright].
“But unstable and reckless and boiling over like water [in sinful lust], you shall [i]not excel or have the preeminence [of the firstborn],
Because you went up to your father’s bed [with Bilhah];
You defiled it—he went up to my couch.(C)
“Simeon and Levi are brothers [equally headstrong, deceitful, vindictive, and cruel];
Their swords are weapons of violence and revenge.(D)
“O my soul, do not come into their secret council;
Let not my glory (honor) be united with their assembly [for I knew nothing of their plot];
Because in their anger they killed men [an honored man, Shechem, and the Shechemites],
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
“Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce;
And their wrath, for it was cruel.
I will divide and disperse them in Jacob,
And [j]scatter them in [the midst of the land of] Israel.
“Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
“Judah, a lion’s cub;
With the prey, my son, you have gone high up [the mountain].
He stooped down, he crouched like a lion,
And like a lion—who dares rouse him?(E)
“The scepter [of royalty] shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes,
And to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.(F)
“Tying [k]his foal to the [strong] vine
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washes his clothing in wine [because the grapevine produces abundantly],
And his robes in the blood of grapes.(G)
“His eyes are darker and sparkle more than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.
“Zebulun shall dwell at the seashore;
And he shall be a haven (landing place) for ships,
And his flank shall be toward Sidon.
“Issachar is [like] a strong-boned donkey,
Crouching down between the sheepfolds.
“When he saw that the resting place was good
And that the land was pleasant,
He bowed his shoulder to bear [burdens],
And became a servant at forced labor.
“Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
“Dan shall be a [venomous] serpent in the way,
A fanged snake in the path,
That bites the horse’s heels,
So that his rider falls backward.
“I wait for Your salvation, O Lord.
“As for [l]Gad—a raiding troop shall raid him,
But he shall raid at their heels and assault them [victoriously].
“Asher’s food [supply] shall be rich and bountiful,
And he shall yield and deliver royal delights.
“Naphtali is a doe let loose, [a swift warrior,]
Which yields branched antlers (eloquent words).
“Joseph is a fruitful bough (a main branch of the vine),
A fruitful bough by a spring (a well, a fountain);
Its branches run over the wall [influencing others].
“The [skilled] archers have bitterly attacked and provoked him;
They have shot [at him] and harassed him.
“But his bow remained firm and steady [in the Strength that does not fail],
For his arms were made strong and agile
By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
(By the name of the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),(H)
By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the [m]Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of the heavens above,
Blessings lying in the deep that couches beneath,
Blessings of the [nursing] breasts and of the [fertile] womb.
“The blessings of your father
Are greater than the blessings of my ancestors [Abraham and Isaac]
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills;
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
Even on the crown of the head of him who was the distinguished one and the one who is prince among (separate from) his brothers.
“Benjamin is a [n]ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And at night he divides the spoil.”
28 All these are the [beginnings of the] twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one according to the blessing appropriate to him. 29 He charged them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave in the field at Machpelah, east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, that Abraham bought, along with the field from Ephron the Hittite, to possess as a burial site.(I) 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah— 32 the field and the cave that is in it was purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 When Jacob (Israel) had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was [o]gathered to his people [who had preceded him in death].
Burial Preparations and Mourning for Jacob
50 Then Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him [tenderly]. 2 Then Joseph ordered his servants the physicians to embalm (mummify) his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel (Jacob). 3 Now forty days were required for this, for that is the customary number of days [of preparation] required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept and grieved for him [in public mourning as they would for royalty] for seventy days.
4 When the days of weeping and public mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to [the nobles of] the house of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear [an oath], saying, “Hear me, I am about to die; bury me in my tomb which I prepared for myself in the land of Canaan.” So now let me go up [to Canaan], please, and bury my father; then I will return.’” 6 And Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”
7 So Joseph went up [to Canaan] to bury his father, and with him went all the officials of Pharaoh, [the nobles of his court and] the elders of his household and all [the nobles and] the elders of the land of Egypt— 8 and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household. They left only their little ones and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. 9 Both chariots and horsemen also went up [to Canaan] with Joseph; and it was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they mourned there with a great lamentation (expressions of mourning for the deceased) and [extreme demonstrations of] sorrow [according to Egyptian custom]; and Joseph observed a seven-day mourning for his father. 11 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim (mourning of Egypt); it is west of the Jordan.
Burial at Machpelah
12 So Jacob’s sons did for him as he had commanded them; 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, east of Mamre, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph carries a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father commanded us before he died, saying, 17 ‘You are to say to Joseph, “I beg you, please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ Now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers went and fell down before him [in confession]; then they said, “Behold, we are your servants (slaves).” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? [Vengeance is His, not mine.] 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present outcome, that many people would be kept alive [as they are this day]. 21 So now, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and support you and your little ones.” So he comforted them [giving them encouragement and hope] and spoke [with kindness] to their hearts.
Death of Joseph
22 Now Joseph lived in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children; also the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born and raised on Joseph’s knees. 24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up out of this land to the land which He promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob [to give you].” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel (Jacob) swear [an oath], saying, “God will surely visit you and take care of you [returning you to Canaan], and [when that happens] you shall carry my bones up from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him and he was put [p]in a coffin in Egypt.
- Genesis 48:3 Heb El Shaddai.
- Genesis 48:5 This 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 48:14 God 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 48:16 See note 16:7.
- Genesis 48:19 This 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.
- Genesis 48:22 See note 49:3.
- Genesis 49:1 See Deut 33, where Moses blesses the same tribes in a similar prophetic way.
- Genesis 49:3 Reuben was the eldest of Jacob’s twelve sons and therefore entitled to the birthright, which would make him successor to his father as head of the family or tribe, and inheritor of a double portion of his father’s estate. But Reuben forfeited all this by his conduct with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (35:22). By adopting Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and giving each of them a portion of the inheritance, Jacob virtually gave Joseph the extra portion of the land that would have gone to Reuben. Judah became the tribal leader in Reuben’s place (49:8-10).
- Genesis 49:4 The fertile land once occupied by the tribe of Reuben was deserted by its settled inhabitants and given over to the tribal nomads of the desert. Because of his behavior, Reuben had forfeited his rights as the firstborn even before Jacob’s prophecy.
- Genesis 49:7 This prophecy was fulfilled when the tribe of Levi received no inheritance except forty-eight towns scattered throughout different parts of Canaan. The tribe of Simeon was originally given only a few towns and villages in the midst of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah (Josh 19:1).
- Genesis 49:11 I.e. the tribe of Judah.
- Genesis 49:19 The Hebrew word from which the name “Gad” is derived has two meanings. In this verse the Hebrew meaning is associated with a “raiding troop” but in 30:11 it is associated with “good fortune.”
- Genesis 49:25 Heb Shaddai.
- Genesis 49:27 The tribe of Benjamin invariably displayed courage and ferocity, particularly in their war with the other tribes. The tribe of Benjamin was absorbed by the tribe of Judah and is not mentioned after the return from the Babylonian captivity, except in connection with its former land or as the source of some individual person. Ehud, Saul, Jonathan, and the apostle Paul were Benjamites.
- Genesis 49:33 See note 25:8.
- Genesis 50:26 Joseph’s body remained in Egypt until the exodus to the promised land of Canaan about two hundred years later. Its final resting-place was Shechem, near Samaria, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem (Josh 24:32). Here each of his brothers was also buried (Acts 7:15, 16).