Manasseh, Joseph’s older son

Genesis 48:1-22 and 49:22-26. Manasseh was the older brother of Ephraim, who were both sons of Joseph and Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.

When Jacob, who was renamed Israel by God, was on his deathbed, he blessed Manasseh and gave him the status of one of his sons.

Manasseh as the firstborn should have had the double blessing, but it went to his younger brother Ephraim, when Jacob blessed them and instated them as his own sons.

Manasseh in Hebrew means: causing to forget.

Background Reading:

Joseph Visits His Ill Father with 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.”
Genesis 48:1-22

Jacob Blesses His Sons


On the Future of Joseph – Manasseh

22 “Joseph is descended from a fruitful vine,

a fruitful vine planted near springs of water.

His branches climb over walls.

23 Even though enemies attacked him,

shooting at him

and pursuing him viciously,

24 nevertheless his bow remained steady

and his arms kept in shape

by the strength of Jacob’s Mighty One,

in the name of the Shepherd,

Israel’s Rock,

25 by your father’s God

who helps you,

by the Almighty

who will keep on blessing you

with blessings from heaven above,

with blessings from the deepest ocean,

with blessing from the breasts and the womb.

26 Your father’s blessings will prove to be stronger

than blessings from the eternal mountains

or bounties from the everlasting hills.

May they come to rest on Joseph’s head,

May they be set upon the brow of the one

who was separated from his own brothers.”
Genesis 49:22-26

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