I am so glad that the family of Jacob is back together again.
Not knowing whether or not a sibling is alive or dead is something I inflicted on my family. When I left home, after a while I ceased calling anyone in my family. I didn’t want anything to do with them because of the hurt they caused me. I don’t know what prompted me to call my mom once again, but we started contacting each other and I am glad I did. Jesus seems to feel it is important that children take care of their parents in old age, and I was able to do that. I helped support her in an apartment. We never talked about the past, but at least when she died, I know I had done the right thing. God seems to be increasing the contact between my brother and sister now, and I suspect it is because of His promise that our families will come to Christ. Our talks are now about the past – and while God has done a miracle in healing me, they are still hurting – holding onto anger and unforgiveness. I am sorry I put my family through the ordeal of not knowing what happened to me, they were even considering calling the Red Cross to try and locate me. It is incredible how much God has healed in my life, and he has given me a large, real family in my church family. I am so blessed. It dawned on me during the surprise birthday party my husband gave me, just how much God had replaced what I never had, with a family that truly loves me, a family that keeps me safe and accountable, a family that cares – my church family!
Well Joseph and his family are together. Joseph has promised his father to not bury him in Egypt. and Chapter 48 opens with Joseph being close to death. Remember how Jacob tricked Isaac to get the blessing (something he really didn’t have to do because God would have taken care of it). Well, we are going to see another case of the blessing going to the younger sibling. God does not like to do things in a predictable fashion.
Genesis 48:1 Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, “Indeed your father is sick”; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephriam.
Notice it is JACOB who is told about the three visitors but ISRAEL strengthened himself and sat up on the bed.
Jacob remembers, verse 3 “Then Jacob said to Joseph: “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.”
Jacob is going to adopt Manasseh and Ephriam – which gives Joseph the equivalent of a double blessing.
Remember that Isaac’s eyes were blind when Jacob and Esau were to be blessed, which is how Jacob was able to fool his father into thinking he was Esau. Now
Verse 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them.
Israel tells Joseph that he had never thought to see Joseph’s face, but God gave him the chance to see Joseph’s offspring.
Now notice that Manasseh is the oldest son and Ephriam is the youngest, so the oldest should by tradition receive the greater blessing, but God does not do that.
Verse 13-14 And Joseph took them both. Ephriam with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephriam’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the first born.
So Israel had to cross his hands to put his Right hand on Ephriam’s head and left on Manasseh’s head.
Listen to the beautiful blessing of Israel:
Verses 15-16 And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked. The God who has fed me all my life long to this day. The Angel who has redeemed me from all. Bless the lads. Let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
The Angel was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus that Jacob/Israel wrestled with – the Angel that gave Jacob his new name. It is interesting that he realizes how much God provided for him.
When you start to see lists of the 12 tribes of Israel you will not see a tribe of Joseph – but there will be the tribes of Ephriam and Manasseh. That would make 13 tribes, but the Levites are separated out to be the priesthood, so that brings it down to twelve tribes – with Joseph receiving a double blessing for his two sons. As we continue to read about the tribes we will see that Ephriam will become greater than Manasseh in numbers and power.
Joseph is watching his father bless his children and notices that Jacob/Israel’s right hand is on the head of the younger child -Ephriam, and Joseph thinks that his father is making a mistake, for the right hand should be on the oldest (or so Joseph thought).
Verse 18-19 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
God is always doing the unexpected. So often we see the last become first and the first last. God picks the least likely to succeed and brings them to success. For example, He picks David the shepherd to be a king instead of all his manly, good-looking brothers.
Verses 20-22 So he blessed them that day, saying,”By you Israel will bless, saying, “May God make you as Ephriam and as Manasseh!’ And thus he set Ephriam before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold I am dying, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to you one portion above your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”
The portion that Jacob/Israel said he took from the Amorites hadn’t happened yet – it is a prophetic statement. And with the blessing is the sobering awareness that Israel was dying, but a comfort that God would remain with the Israelites.
Hebrews 11:21-22 By faith Jacob, when he was dying blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff.
Soon we will see the blessing of Jacob for his 12 sons (13 if you count Joseph’s two sons). What Jacob prophesies over them comes to pass. But that is for another day.
One thing to note is that there are four times so far that God has reversed the blessing and put it on a younger one. Isaac/Ishmael, Jacob/Esau, Joseph/Reuben, and Manasseh/Ephriam.
I love the fact that God paints such beautiful pictures of faith in Hebrews 11. I fully believe that He is continuing writing that chapter and noting every time we step out in faith. So what is he going to write “by faith” that we do?
Beth Moore in her The Patriarchs writes pp228 “Likewise, Jacob still had work to do before resting with his fathers. Blessings to give. Jacob’s final tasks were as vital as anything he’d accomplished in his life. The Hebrew blessing was far more than wishful words and lofty benedictions. A blessing was God-spurred revelation with the absolute expectation of fulfillment. In preparation for the initial blessings, Jacob recounted the story of his encounter with God in Luz (Bethel). Notice the clarity with which Jacob recited the words El Shaddai had spoken to him so many years before. While you and I may not hear the audible voice of God, somewhere along the way we’ve probably felt like He said something so clear and vital to us that we’ll take it to our deathbeds.”
Beth points out that Jacob had 51 grandsons with him in Goshen, but only Ephriam and Manasseh received this special blessing.
Beth pointed out in Genesis 48:5 Jacob refers to Simeon and Reuben. p. 229 “Nothing is accidental about this comparison. “The first two sons of Leah are singled out because they are being bypassed to give the double portion to Joseph” Thus Joseph, the favored son of the beloved Rachel, received the double portion of the firstborn..”
Here is an exciting quote for me, pp. 229 “Ephriam didn’t receive the greater exaltation over the meaning of his name, but the symbolism in the priority given him could teach us a few things. Manasseh’s name represented forgetting one’s troubles. Ephriam’s on the other hand, represented fruitfulness in the midst of one’s troubles. Beloved, in God’s economy fruitfulness trumps forgetfulness every time. No matter how differently we feel at times, becoming fruitful in our troubles has far greater ramifications of blessing than forgetting our troubles. …Fruitfulness trumps forgetfulness just as surely in your life and mine.”
Here is something that would be a fitting quote for Pastor Don’s Bible study yesterday pp. 230 “The Hebrew words for bless, kneel, or knee all derive from the same root, brk. …In addition to the traditional definition of brk, “to bless” it also lists, “to make to kneel.” The possible connection could teach something vital about blessing. God’s desire to bless His people is consistent from Genesis to Revelation, but so is His insistence on humility and reverence.”
Beth concluded her study on this chapter with the following that could very well become a prayer, p. 231 “When we lay these bodies down, Dear One, what God has done will be all that matters. Though our physical vision may dim, may our spiritual vision sharpen until we see with stunning clarity how He has led us, shepherded us, delivered us, and blessed us” all my life to this day.” And may the God who has blessed us reach across every barrier to bless those who come behind us.” I added Amen to the margin.
Hoping you have an incredible Friday – it is a busy one for me. Friday Bible study (not sure who is teaching because some from the church including Pastor Don and his wife are going to Sight and Sound), afternoon away Field Hockey Game for my daughter’s team. They play so hard. And then who knows what in the evening. My husband is hoping to take the boys fishing, but it is raining so much here that I don’t know what will happen with that.
I thank you so much for coming to read these notes of mine. I count myself blessed to sit under such good teachers and to have the Bible to study. God sure has blessed me. And I so value the discussions that we share, reading your sites, and hearing what you have to say. How wonderful that we can make such a good Xanga Christian community!
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