Genesis 48: Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh

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Hebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Joseph brings his sons Ephraim and Manasseh to Jacob for a blessing. Jacob considers the boys his own and blesses them with his name and many offspring in the land. Despite Joseph’s protest, Jacob places his right hand on Ephraim, the younger of the two boys. Jacob grants Shechem to Joseph.

II. Photo

Jacob does not see well: “Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, and he could not see well. So Joseph brought [the boys] near him; and he kissed them and embraced them.” (v. 10)

III. Outline

1a. Joseph learns his father is ill

1b-2. Joseph brings Ephraim and Manasseh to Jacob (called such)

3-4. Jacob recounts El Shaddai’s (called such) promise at Bethel of land and offspring

5-6. Jacob considers Ephraim and Manasseh his own sons, but Joseph’s future children Joseph’s

7. Rationale: Joseph’s mother Rachel already died [so she could not give birth to more children]

8-10. Israel (called such), who has poor vision, has Ephraim and Manasseh brought close for a blessing

11. Israel is thankful for seeing Joseph’s children

12-13. Joseph presents Manasseh to Israel’s right and Ephraim to his left

14. Israel switches his hands, giving his right to Ephraim and left to Manasseh

15-16. Jacob blesses the boys with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s name as well as offspring in the land

17-18. Joseph confronts his father about his hands and attempts to switche them

19. Jacob does not budge, relating that Ephraim will be greater than Manasseh

20. Israel will be blessed “may God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh”

21-22. As death approaches, Jacob grants Joseph “one ridge (Shechem)” that he conquered from the Amorites

IV. Select Verses

3-4: And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and he blessed me, and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers; I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your offspring after you for a perpetual holding.’

5-7: Therefore your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are now mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are. As for the offspring born to you after them, they shall be yours. They shall be recorded under the names of their brothers with regard to their inheritance. For when I came from Paddan, Rachel, alas, died in the land of Canaan on the way, while there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

10: Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, and he could not see well. So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them.

17-19: When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father! Since 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. Nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”


V. Comment

In verses 3-4, Jacob says:

El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and He blessed me, and said to me, ‘I will make you fertile and numerous, making of you a community of peoples; and I will assign this land to your offspring to come for an everlasting possession.’

This appears to refer to Jacob’s encounters with the divine at Bethel in 28:11-22 and 35:1-8. Although Bethel is not mentioned in our chapter, those passages make clear that Jacob changed the name Luz to Bethel (28:19, 35:6).

Verse 7, which mentions Rachel’s death, is referring to 35:16-20:

They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.” But as she breathed her last — for she was dying — she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath — now Bethlehem. Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at Rachel’s grave to this day.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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