Genesis 48 The Adoption and Blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Joseph comes to visit 48:1-2
Shortly before Jacob died, Joseph came to see him and brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him. He had gotten the word, “Behold, thy father is sick.” And like many of us, he wanted to see his father alive at least one more time. When Jacob got the word that Joseph had come to see him, he sat on the edge of the bed to visit with him.
Jacob recounts God’s blessings 48:3-4
In Genesis 28: 13-19, Jacob was on the run from Esau. God appeared to Jacob and blessed him with the promise of a fruitful seed and the land grant sworn to Abraham and Isaac.
The adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh 48:5-7
Before Jacob even realized that Ephraim and Manasseh were in the room, he told Joseph that he was adopting Ephraim and Manasseh as his own children. In fact, when the 12 tribes of Israel inherited the land of Canaan, Ephraim and Manasseh were two of the tribes that received an inheritance. Manasseh received an inheritance instead of Levi, since the Lord was Levi’s inheritance; and Ephraim received an inheritance instead of Joseph (Num.. 2:2, 18, 20; 3:12; 18: 20-24; Ezek. 37: 16, 19; Psalm 78: 67).
The blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh 48:8-20
Jacob did not realize Ephraim and Manasseh were in the room because his eyesight was bad (verse 10). When Joseph told him, Jacob decided to bless them. First, he embraced them (verse 10). Second, he worshiped (verse 12). Since he had embraced them, they were standing between Jacob’s knees while Jacob was sitting on the edge of the bed. So, Joseph “brought them out from between Jacob’s knees” and Jacob bowed himself, while leaning on his staff for stability (Hebrews 11:21). Third, Joseph brought Manasseh and Ephraim forward for their blessing. Manasseh, the firstborn, was on Jacob’s right hand, and Ephraim was on Jacob’s left, so that Manasseh could receive “the right hand” of blessing as the older brother.
Jacob crisscrossed his hands to get his right hand on Ephraim. When Joseph tried to correct him, Jacob pronounced that Ephraim would, in fact, be greater than Manasseh. Several facts attest to Jacob’s prophecy. First, the tribe of Ephraim outnumbered the tribe of Manasseh in the wilderness census (Num. 1: 33, 35). Second, Moses blessed the ten thousands of Ephraim while only blessing the thousands of Manasseh (Deuteronomy 33:17). Third, when the Jews arrived in Canaan, they set up the tabernacle in Shiloh, which was in Ephraim (Joshua 18: 1; 1 Samuel 1: 3; Joshua 16: 5-6).
The idea that Jacob would bless the younger son over the older son had precedence in these other brothers: Able and Cain; Isaac and Ishmael; and Jacob and Esau.
The double portion given to Joseph 48:21-22
The double portion of Jacob’s inheritance should rightly have gone to Reuben, the firstborn of Leah. But Reuben defiled his father’s bed (Genesis 35:22; 49: 3-4; Deuteronomy 21:17). So, Jacob gave the birth right to Joseph, the firstborn of Rachel. This allowed Ephraim and Manasseh to each inherit portions equal to the other sons of Jacob (1 Chronicle’s 5:1-2).