Joseph visits his dying father. (1-7) Jacob blesses Joseph's sons. (8-22)
Verses 1-7 The death-beds of believers, with the prayers and counsels of dying persons, are suited to make serious impressions upon the young, the gay, and the prosperous: we shall do well to take children on such occasions, when it can be done properly. If the Lord please, it is very desirable to bear our dying testimony to his truth, to his faithfulness, and the pleasantness of his ways. And one would wish so to live, as to give energy and weight to our dying exhortations. All true believers are blessed at their death, but all do not depart equally full of spiritual consolations. Jacob adopted Joseph's two sons. Let them not succeed their father, in his power and grandeur in Egypt; but let them succeed in the inheritance of the promise made to Abraham. Thus the aged dying patriarch teaches these young persons to take their lot with the people of God. He appoints each of them to be the head of a tribe. Those are worthy of double honour, who, through God's grace, break through the temptations of worldly wealth and preferment, to embrace religion in disgrace and poverty. Jacob will have Ephraim and Manasseh to know, that it is better to be low, and in the church, than high, and out of it.
Verses 8-22 The two good men own God in their comforts. Joseph says, They are my sons whom God has given me. Jacob says, God hath showed me thy seed. Comforts are doubly sweet to us when we see them coming from God's hand. He not only prevents our fears, but exceeds our hopes. Jacob mentions the care the Divine providence had taken of him all his days. A great deal of hardship he had known in his time, but God kept him from the evil of his troubles. Now he was dying, he looked upon himself as redeemed from all sin and sorrow for ever. Christ, the Angel of the covenant, redeems from all evil. Deliverances from misery and dangers, by the Divine power, coming through the ransom of the blood of Christ, in Scripture are often called redemption. In blessing Joseph's sons, Jacob crossed hands. Joseph was willing to support his first-born, and would have removed his father's hands. But Jacob acted neither by mistake, nor from a partial affection to one more than the other; but from a spirit of prophecy, and by the Divine counsel. God, in bestowing blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him. How poor are they who have no riches but those of this world! How miserable is a death-bed to those who have no well-grounded hope of good, but dreadful apprehensions of evil, and nothing but evil for ever!
Genesis 48:1-22 . JOSEPH'S VISIT TO HIS SICK FATHER.
1. one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick--Joseph was hastily sent for, and on this occasion he took with him his two sons.
2. Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed--In the chamber where a good man lies, edifying and spiritual discourse may be expected.
3, 4. God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz--The object of Jacob, in thus reverting to the memorable vision at Beth-el ( Genesis 28:10-15 )--one of the great landmarks in his history--was to point out the splendid promises in reserve for his posterity--to engage Joseph's interest and preserve his continued connection with the people of God, rather than with the Egyptians.
4. Behold, I will make thee fruitful--This is a repetition of the covenant ( Genesis 28:13-15 , 35:12 ). Whether these words are to be viewed in a limited sense, as pointing to the many centuries during which the Jews were occupiers of the Holy Land, or whether the words bear a wider meaning and intimate that the scattered tribes of Israel are to be reinstated in the land of promise, as their "everlasting possession," are points that have not yet been satisfactorily determined.
5. thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh--It was the intention of the aged patriarch to adopt Joseph's sons as his own, thus giving him a double portion. The reasons for this procedure are stated ( 1 Chronicles 5:1 1 Chronicles 5:2 ).
are mine--Though their connections might have attached them to Egypt and opened to them brilliant prospects in the land of their nativity, they willingly accepted the adoption ( Hebrews 11:25 ).
9. Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them--The apostle ( Hebrews 11:21 ) selected the blessing of Joseph's son as the chief, because the most comprehensive, instance of the patriarch's faith which his whole history furnishes.
13. Joseph took them both--The very act of pronouncing the blessing was remarkable, showing that Jacob's bosom was animated by the spirit of prophecy.
21. Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die--The patriarch could speak of death with composure, but he wished to prepare Joseph and the rest of the family for the shock.
but God shall be with you--Jacob, in all probability, was not authorized to speak of their bondage--he dwelt only on the certainty of their restoration to Canaan.
22. moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren--This was near Shechem ( Genesis 33:18 , John 4:5 ; also Joshua 16:1 , 20:7 ). And it is probable that the Amorites, having seized upon it during one of his frequent absences, the patriarch, with the united forces of his tribe, recovered it from them by his sword and his bow.