Jacob, as he was about to die, blessed Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
The blessing that Jacob gave Joseph was that Joseph’s two sons would become his sons. This is why they are considered as part of the twelve sons of Jacob or his God-given name Israel.
So Jacob put Ephraim the younger ahead of Manasseh the firstborn. And said the younger will become greater than the older. How often have we seen this in the Bible where God put the younger in front of the firstborn. Try to name where this has happened including twin boys.
This blessing was before and separate from the blessing given to all the sons of Jacob.
Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons
47:28 He lived for seventeen more years in Egypt, until he was 147 years old. 29 As the time approached for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and addressed him. “Please,” he asked, “if you’re happy with me, make a solemn promise that you’ll treat me fairly and kindly by not burying me in Egypt. 30Instead, when I’ve died, as my ancestors have, you are to carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their tomb.”
“I’ll do what you’ve asked,” Joseph replied.
31 “Promise me,” Israel insisted. So Joseph promised. Then Israel collapsed on his bed.
Joseph Visits His Ill Father – Manasseh and Ephraim
48:1 Some time later, somebody informed Joseph, “Your father is ill!” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him to visit Jacob.
2 As soon as Jacob was informed, “Look! Your son Joseph has come to visit you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up in bed.
3 Jacob reminded Joseph, “God Almighty revealed himself to me at Luz in Canaan and blessed me. 4 He told me, ‘Pay attention! I’m going to make you fruitful and numerous. I’m going to build you into a vast nation of people and then I’ll give this land to your descendants for an eternal possession.’ 5 You have two sons who were born to you in Egypt before I came to be with you, whom I now take as my own. Ephraim and Manasseh are mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are. 6 Your descendants are to be reckoned as yours, but are to be referred to among the names of their brothers in their respective inheritances.
7 “Now as for me, Rachel died after I arrived in Canaan from Paddan, much to my sorrow. While I was on my journey to Ephrathah (also known as Bethlehem), I buried her there.”
Joseph Seeks Blessings for His Sons
8 Just then, Israel saw Joseph’s sons and asked, “Who are these?”
9 “These are my sons,” Joseph replied. “God gave them to me here in Egypt.”
“Please bring them close to me,” Jacob said, “so I can bless them.”
10 Now Israel’s eyesight had become poor from age. Because he couldn’t see well, Joseph brought them close to him, and Israel kissed them both and embraced them. 11 Then he told Joseph, “I never thought I’d see you again, and now God has allowed me to see your children as well!”
12 Joseph took them off his knees and then bowed low with his face to the ground. 13 Then he brought them both close to his father, placing Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right. 14 But Israel stretched out his right hand, laying it on Ephraim’s head (he was the younger son) and laying his left hand on Manasseh’s head (even though Manasseh was the firstborn).
Israel Blesses Joseph’s Sons
15 Then Israel blessed Joseph by saying:
“May the God in whose presence
my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has continued shepherding me
my whole life even until today,
16 the angel who has been rescuing me
from all sorts of evil,
bless these young men.
May my name continue to live on within them,
including the names
of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac,
and may they grow into a vast multitude
throughout the earth.”
17 But Joseph observed that his father had laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head. That displeased him, so he grabbed his father’s hand and started to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 “No, father, this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused. “I know,” he said. “I know. He’s going to produce a large nation, and he’s going to be very great. However, his younger brother will become even greater than he, and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.”
20 That very day, Jacob blessed them with this blessing:
“By you Israel will extend this blessing:
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”
By doing this, he placed Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 Then Israel told Joseph, “Pay attention! I’m about to die, but God will be with you. He’ll bring you back to the land that belongs to your ancestors. 22 I’m assigning you one portion more than your brothers from the land that I confiscated from the control of the Amorites in battle.”
Other modules in this unit:
- Jacob steals Isaac’s blessing, Genesis 27:1-29
- Jacob dreams about a ladder and angels at Bethel, Genesis 28:10-22
- Jacob marries Rachel the daughter of Laban, Genesis 29:15-30
- Laban meets Jacob, Genesis 29:1-14
- Leah the older sister of Rachel, Genesis 29:1-30
- Bilhah, the servant of Rachel, Genesis 30:1-30
- Zilpah, servant of Leah, Genesis 30:9-13
- Reuben finds some mandrakes for Leah, Genesis 30:14-18
- Jacob had twelve sons, Genesis 29:31-30:24 and 35:23-26
- Jacob flees with his family from Laban, Genesis 31:1-55
- Esau’s descendants, Genesis 36:1-43
- Joseph’s Dreams, Genesis 37:1-11
- Joseph is put down a well, Genesis 37:12-36
- Tamar and Judah, Genesis 38:1-30
- Joseph runs from Potiphar’s Wife, Genesis 39:1-20
- The Cup that held the wine for the King of Egypt, Genesis 40:1-23 and Genesis 41:1-13
- The chief Baker to the King of Egypt, Genesis 40:1-4, 40:16-22 and 41:1-13
- Joseph’s brothers first trip to Egypt for food, Genesis 42:1-38
- The Second Journey to Egypt, Genesis 43:1-34
- A silver cup belonging to Joseph was put in a Sack, Genesis 44:1-34
- Jacob moves to Egypt in a cart, Genesis 46:1-47:12
- Two Sons of Joseph, Genesis 47:28-48:1-22
- Manasseh Joseph’s older son, Genesis 48:1-22 and 49:22-26
- Ephraim, Joseph’s younger son, Genesis 48:1-22 and 49:22-28
- 12 sons of Jacob which he blesses before he dies, Genesis 49:1-28
- Death of Jacob at one hundred and forty-seven years old, Genesis 49:29-33
- Death of Joseph at one hundred and ten years old, Genesis 50:22-26
- 300-year gap between Joseph and Moses, Genesis 50:22-Exodus 1:22
- Life of Moses » »
- Timeline for the book of Genesis parts one and two »
- Background Information – Genesis Part Two
- Resources – Genesis Part Two