Genesis 48

Listen to Genesis 48

Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh

1 After this, Joseph was told, "Behold, your father is ill." So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
2 And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you." Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.
3 And Jacob said to Joseph, 1"God Almighty[a] appeared to me at 2Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me,
4 and said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you 3for an everlasting possession.'
5 And now your 4two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, 5are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.
6 And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.
7 As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow 6Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance[b] to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)."
8 When Israel saw Joseph's sons, he said, "Who are these?"
9 Joseph said to his father, 7"They are my sons, whom God has given me here." And he said, "Bring them to me, please, that 8I may bless them."
10 Now 9the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, 10and he kissed them and embraced them.
11 And Israel said to Joseph, 11"I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also."
12 Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
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 him.
14 12And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, 13crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn).
15 And he blessed Joseph and said, "The God 14before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16 15the angel who has 16redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let 17my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them 18grow into a multitude[c] in the midst of the earth."
17 When Joseph saw that his father 19laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head.
18 And Joseph said to his father, "Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head."
19 But his father refused and said, 20"I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, 21his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude[d] of nations."
20 So he blessed them that day, saying, "By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, 22'God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.'"Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.
21 Then Israel said to Joseph, "Behold, I am about to die, but 23God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers.
22 Moreover, I have given to 24you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope[e] that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow."

Genesis 48 Commentary

Chapter 48

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!

Cross References 24

  • 1. See Genesis 17:1
  • 2. Genesis 28:13, 19; Genesis 35:6, 9
  • 3. Genesis 17:8
  • 4. Genesis 41:50-52; Genesis 46:20
  • 5. Joshua 13:7; Joshua 14:4; Joshua 17:17
  • 6. See Genesis 35:9-19
  • 7. [Genesis 33:5]
  • 8. Genesis 49:25, 26; Hebrews 11:21; [Genesis 27:4]
  • 9. [Genesis 27:1]
  • 10. Genesis 27:27
  • 11. [Genesis 37:33; Genesis 45:26]
  • 12. ver. 17
  • 13. ver. 19
  • 14. Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40
  • 15. Genesis 28:15; Genesis 31:11, 13, 24; Exodus 23:20
  • 16. Isaiah 44:22, 23; Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 63:9; [2 Samuel 4:9; Psalms 34:22; Psalms 121:7]
  • 17. Amos 9:12; Acts 15:17
  • 18. [Numbers 26:34, 37]
  • 19. ver. 14
  • 20. [See ver. 17 above]
  • 21. Numbers 1:33, 35; Numbers 2:19, 21; Deuteronomy 33:17
  • 22. [Ruth 4:11, 12]
  • 23. Genesis 46:4; Genesis 50:24
  • 24. Joshua 24:32; John 4:5

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Hebrew El Shaddai
  • [b]. Or about two hours' distance
  • [c]. Or let them be like fish for multitude
  • [d]. Hebrew fullness
  • [e]. Or one portion of the land; Hebrew shekem, which sounds like the town and district called Shechem

Chapter Summary


Joseph, hearing that his father Jacob was sick, paid him a visit, Ge 49:1,2; at which time Jacob gave him an account of the Lord's appearing to him at Luz, and of the promise he made unto him, Ge 49:3,4; then he adopted his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and blessed them, and Joseph also, Ge 49:5-16; and whereas he crossed his hands when he blessed the sons of Joseph, putting his right hand on the youngest, and his left hand on the eldest, which was displeasing to Joseph, he gave him a reason for so doing, Ge 49:17-20; and then assured him that God would bring him, and the rest of his posterity, into the land of Canaan, where he assigned him a particular portion above his brethren, Ge 49:21,22.

Genesis 48 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.