Genesis 48 - Outline of Genesis (MENU page)
48:1 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.
48:2 And [one] told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee:
and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.
48:3 And Jacob said unto Joseph,
{In the remainder of ch.48, Jacob is always called Israel.}
God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
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.
48:5 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.
48:6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine,
[and] shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
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.
48:8 And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who [are] these?
48:9 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.
48:10 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.
48:11 And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face:
and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.
thy father is sick- Joseph knew that Jacob was dying.
He took his sons, in the order of their birth (v.1), to receive Jacob's blessing.
Looking back over his life, 'Israel' recounted nothing of his own accomplishment,
but traces the hand of God-
  1. (v.3) God had appeared to him at Luz {Bethel}, on his departure from Canaan (28:12-15,19), and also after his return to Canaan (35:9-13,15). It was at the second occasion, that He revealed Himself to him as 'God Almighty' (El Shaddai, the Source of fruitfulness).
    On both occasions, He confirmed to Jacob the elements of the covenant which He had made with Abraham and Isaac...
  2. (v.4) God had promised to him that He would (1) multiply his offspring, and (2) give him the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession.
    'Israel' now extends these two elements of the Covenant blessing directly to Joseph's sons, Ephraim & Manasseh, by adopting them as his own sons (v.5,6). They are to be regarded as his sons, as much as Reuben & Simeon (his natural first and second born sons). (See explanation at v.22 note below.)
    - - 'Israel,' guided by the Holy Spirit, did not mention the third covenant point (the Seed who will bless all nations), because that point would be fulfilled through Judah, not through Joseph's sons.
  3. God had been faithful to him, even in those sorrows which had once seemed unbearable-
    • (v.7) the death of Rachel, his beloved wife, Joseph's mother.
    • (v.8-11) the loss of Joseph-
      ''To nature's view, Joseph was dead. Whereas, in God's view, he was alive, and seated in the highest place of authority, next to the throne.'' [CHM] cp. 1Cor 2:9; Rev 12:5
48:12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees,
and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
48:13 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.
48:14 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.
48:15 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,
48:16 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.
48:17 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.
48:18 And Joseph said unto his father,
Not so, my father: for this [is] the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
48:19 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.
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.
The blessing of 'Israel' rests upon the faithfulness of God. v.15,16
  • The threefold reference to God (in v.15,16) suggests the Triunity of God.
    (In v.16, 'the Angel' refers to 'the LORD God.' See Hos 12:3-5.)
  • As the blessing, upon Jacob and his fathers, was dependent upon God alone,
    so the strength of Israel's blessing was not in his words, but in His God. Hos 12:6
    It was He who would see to it that-
    - - Ephraim & Manasseh would be multiplied. v.16,19
    - - they would return to the promised land. v.21
  • Israel's words of blessing were in agreement with God's Word to him, concerning His Person and purposes.
Israel's hands rest upon the sons in the order of their blessing.
  • Joseph's protests were according to the natural order, by the eye of flesh. cp. 1Cor 15:46
  • Israel 'guided his hands knowingly,' by faith. v.14
    ''Though nature's eyes are dim, faith's vision is sharp.'' [CHM]
This incident is in view in Heb 11:21, as brought out by this paraphrase:
- - ''The aged patriarch sits upon his bed, and leans upon his staff. Joseph brings forward his sons. Jacob lays the staff aside, the two boys are placed between his knees, and the aged pilgrim kisses and embraces them. The boys are now withdrawn by their father, who recognizes that Israel, overcome with emotion, is about to worship. The aged patriarch retakes his staff, and leaning upon it, so as not to fall upon his face, bows in grateful worship before God (v.12). Strengthening himself once more upon the bed, he bids his grandsons yet again to come near him, and, crossing his hands, he blesses them.'' [GWms]
- - Jacob's staff was a symbol of his weakness and dependency upon God, since his encounter with Him at Peniel. 32:31
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.
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.
to [Joseph] one portion above thy brethren-
Joseph received the blessing of the firstborn (which Reuben forfeited, cp. 1Chr 5:1,2).
The firstborn son was to receive a double portion (Deu 21:17). ie., In a family of 12 sons, the inheritance would be divided 13 ways, with 2 portions for the firstborn.
Therefore, not one, but two tribes of Israel came from Joseph.
The portions of Joseph were given to Ephraim and to Manasseh (v.5).
When the tribes of Israel are listed, the tribe of Ephraim and the tribe of Manasseh are included. There is no separate tribe of Joseph (although, in a few places, his name is substituted for that of a son, eg., Num 13:11; Rev 7:8).
''The anxiety of Jacob's faith throbs in this chapter.
He fears the influence of Egypt upon his sons. His nature led him all his life long to grasp at wealth and position, but now faith shines brightly, and he earnestly points Joseph and his sons to the true riches promised by God. They were in great danger. Joseph was viceroy, and brilliant prospects in Egypt were within reach for his children. The aged patriarch urges him not to make his home in Egypt, but to set his heart in Canaan.
     ''He tells him that it is a doubly precious land; first, because God gave it to him; and second, because there he buried Rachel. In effect, he said to Joseph: 'That land should be doubly precious to thee, because of these two facts.' It is a scene of touching tenderness! The aged eyes of the dying patriarch glow once more with the love of early manhood. He looks eagerly into Joseph's eyes, as much as to say: 'Joseph, I loved her; and she was thy mother.' Thus he laid these two great pleas upon the heart of Joseph so that they should save him from making Egypt his country.'' [GWms]

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