Hebrews 11:21

21 By faith 1Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and 2worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

Hebrews 11:21 Meaning and Commentary

Hebrews 11:21

By faith Jacob, when he was a dying
Which was the usual time of blessing with the patriarchs; and the reason of it was, that what was said might be more attended to and regarded, and more strongly impressed upon the mind; and this is a proof that it was done in faith by Jacob, when there was no appearance of the fulfilment of these things, and it was not likely that he should see them; and this shows the truth of what the apostle says in ( Hebrews 11:1 Hebrews 11:13 ) , blessed both the sons of Joseph; whose names were Ephraim and Manasseh; the form of blessing them is recorded in ( Genesis 48:15 Genesis 48:16 ) and which was done in faith, and under the direction and inspiration of the Spirit of God, as appears by his setting Ephraim before Manasseh, ( Genesis 48:13 Genesis 48:14 Genesis 48:17-19 ) and when he delivered the blessing he firmly believed it would be fulfilled, though they were then in a strange land:

and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff;
not that he "worshipped the top of his staff", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it, either his own, or Joseph's, or any little image upon the top of it; which would be an instance of idolatry, and not faith, contrary to the scope of the apostle; nor is there any need to interpret this of civil worship and respect paid to Joseph, as a fulfilment of his dream, and with a peculiar regard to Christ, of whom Joseph was a type; whereas, on the contrary, Joseph at this time bowed to his father, as was most natural and proper, ( Genesis 48:12 ) nor is there any necessity of supposing a different punctuation of ( Genesis 47:31 ) and that the true reading is not "mittah", a bed, but "matteh"; a staff, contrary to all the Targums F6, and the Talmud {g}, which read "mittah", a bed, seeing it is not that place the apostle cites or refers to; for that was before the blessing of the sons of Joseph, but this was at the same time; and the apostle relates what is nowhere recorded in Genesis, but what he had either from tradition, or immediate revelation; or else he concludes it from the general account in ( Genesis 48:1-12 ) and the sense is, that Jacob, having blessed the two sons of Joseph, being sat upon his bed, and weak, he leaned upon the top of his staff, and worshipped God, and gave praise and glory to him, that he had lived to see not only his son Joseph, but his seed also, see ( Genesis 48:2 Genesis 48:11 Genesis 48:20 ) .


F6 Onkelos, Jonathan & Jerusalem in Gen. xlvii. 31.
F7 T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 16. 2.

Hebrews 11:21 In-Context

19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Gen 48:1, 5, 16, 20
  • 2. Genesis 47:31; 1 Kings 1:47
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