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Genesis 48

Manasseh and Ephraim

1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.
2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.
3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me
4 and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’
5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.
6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.
7 As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
8 When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”
9 “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”
10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.
11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”
12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground.
13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him.
14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.
15 Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm —may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.”
17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”
20 He blessed them that day and said, “In your[c] name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’ ” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.
21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you[d] and take you[e] back to the land of your[f] fathers.
22 And to you I give one more ridge of land[g] than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and 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 58

  • 1. S Genesis 41:52; Hebrews 11:21
  • 2. ver 8,9,11,14,20
  • 3. S Genesis 17:1
  • 4. S Genesis 28:19
  • 5. S Genesis 28:13; S Genesis 32:29; Genesis 35:9-12
  • 6. S Genesis 12:2; S Genesis 17:6
  • 7. S Genesis 12:7; S Genesis 28:13
  • 8. S Genesis 15:7
  • 9. S Genesis 41:50-52; Genesis 46:20
  • 10. 1 Chronicles 5:1; Joshua 14:4
  • 11. S Genesis 29:32
  • 12. S Genesis 29:33
  • 13. S Genesis 25:20
  • 14. S Genesis 42:38
  • 15. Genesis 35:19; Ruth 1:2; 1 Samuel 16:4
  • 16. S ver 2
  • 17. ver 10
  • 18. S Genesis 33:5
  • 19. S Genesis 24:60; Genesis 27:4
  • 20. S Genesis 27:1
  • 21. S Genesis 27:27
  • 22. S Genesis 29:13
  • 23. S ver 2
  • 24. S Genesis 44:28
  • 25. Genesis 50:23; Job 42:16; Psalms 103:17; Psalms 128:6
  • 26. Genesis 50:23; Job 3:12
  • 27. S Genesis 19:1; S Genesis 33:3; Genesis 37:10
  • 28. Psalms 16:8; Psalms 73:23; Psalms 110:1; Matthew 25:33
  • 29. S ver 2
  • 30. ver 17,18
  • 31. S Genesis 25:23
  • 32. S Genesis 29:32; S Genesis 41:51
  • 33. S Genesis 24:60; Genesis 17:1
  • 34. S Genesis 5:22
  • 35. Genesis 49:24; 2 Samuel 5:2; Psalms 23:1; Psalms 80:1; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 23:4
  • 36. S Genesis 16:7
  • 37. S Genesis 24:50; 2 Samuel 4:9; Psalms 71:4; Jeremiah 15:21; Daniel 3:17
  • 38. S Genesis 28:3
  • 39. 1 Chronicles 5:1; Ezekiel 47:13; Hebrews 11:21
  • 40. S Genesis 28:13
  • 41. S Genesis 12:2; S Genesis 13:14
  • 42. ver 13
  • 43. S ver 14
  • 44. S ver 14
  • 45. Genesis 17:20
  • 46. S Genesis 25:23
  • 47. S Genesis 12:2
  • 48. S Genesis 24:60
  • 49. Hebrews 11:21
  • 50. S ver 2
  • 51. Leviticus 9:22; Numbers 6:23; Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 21:5
  • 52. Numbers 2:18; Jeremiah 31:9
  • 53. S Genesis 41:51; Numbers 2:20; Numbers 10:23; Ruth 4:11
  • 54. S Genesis 26:3; Genesis 46:4
  • 55. S Genesis 15:16; S Genesis 28:13; Genesis 50:24; Deuteronomy 30:3; Psalms 126:1; Jeremiah 29:14; Ezekiel 34:13
  • 56. Genesis 37:8
  • 57. Joshua 24:32; John 4:5
  • 58. S Genesis 34:26

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Hebrew "El-Shaddai"
  • [b]. That is, Northwest Mesopotamia
  • [c]. The Hebrew is singular.
  • [d]. The Hebrew is plural.
  • [e]. The Hebrew is plural.
  • [f]. The Hebrew is plural.
  • [g]. The Hebrew for "ridge of land" is identical with the place name 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

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