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Genesis 48

48
Israel’s Last Days
1Now some time after these things happened, Joseph was told, “Your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him [to go to Goshen]. 2And when Jacob (Israel) was told, “Look now, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed. 3Then Jacob said to Joseph, “#Heb El Shaddai.God Almighty appeared to me at Luz (Bethel) in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a great company of people, and will give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’ 5Now your two sons [Ephraim and Manasseh], who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; #This act of adoption effectively gave Joseph the birthright and a double allotment of the territory of the promised land when it was apportioned by Joshua (Josh 16; 17). The second son, Ephraim, was named before his older brother because Jacob planned to give him the primary blessing.Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine [that is, adopted as my heirs and sons as surely], as Reuben and Simeon are my sons. 6But other sons who were born to you after them shall be your own; they shall be called by the names of their [two] brothers in their inheritance. 7Now as for me, when I came from Paddan [in Mesopotamia], Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”
8When Israel [who was almost blind] saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here [in Egypt].” So he said, “Please bring them to me, so that I may bless them.” 10Now Israel’s eyes were so dim from age that he could not see [clearly]. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, but see, God has shown me your children as well.” 12Then Joseph took the boys [from his father’s embrace], and he bowed [before him] with his face to the ground. 13Then Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. 14But Israel reached out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, #God acts independently of priority based on birth order when He chooses men. He too “crossed His hands” in the case of Seth whom He chose over Cain; of Shem over Japheth; of Isaac over Ishmael; of Jacob over Esau; of Judah and Joseph over Reuben; of Moses over Aaron; and of David over all his brothers.crossing his hands [intentionally], even though Manasseh was the firstborn. 15Then Jacob (Israel) blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked [in faithful obedience],
The God who has been my Shepherd [leading and caring for me] all my life to this day,
16The #See note 16:7.Angel [that is, the Lord Himself] who has redeemed me [continually] from all evil,
Bless the boys;
And may my name live on in them [may they be worthy of having their names linked with mine],
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a [great] multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him [because he was not the firstborn]; and he grasped his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn; place your right hand on Manasseh’s head.” 19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; Manasseh also will become a people and he will be great; but his younger brother shall be #This prophecy begins to be fulfilled during the time of the judges, as the tribe of Ephraim increased in prominence and became the head of the northern ten tribes. Joshua, whom Israel regarded as their ruler, was an Ephraimite. The ark of the covenant was placed in Shiloh in the territory of Ephraim, which also increased the tribe’s prestige. By its fulfillment, Jacob’s prophecy proved to be divinely inspired.greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” 20Then Jacob blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce a blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’ ”
And he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to [Canaan] the land of your fathers. 22Moreover, I have given you [the #See note 49:3.birthright,] one portion [Shechem, one mountain ridge] more than any of your brothers, which I took [reclaiming it] from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”
48
Manasseh and Ephraim
1 After these things Joseph was told,#tn Heb “and one said.” With no expressed subject in the Hebrew text, the verb can be translated with the passive voice. “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 2 When Jacob was told,#tn Heb “and one told and said.” The verbs have no expressed subject and can be translated with the passive voice. “Your son Joseph has just#tn Heb “Look, your son Joseph.” come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. 3 Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God#tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “sovereign God” in Gen 17:1. appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 4 He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful#tn Heb “Look, I am making you fruitful.” The participle following הִנֵּה (hinneh) has the nuance of a certain and often imminent future. and will multiply you.#tn The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive carries on the certain future idea. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants#tn The Hebrew text adds “after you,” which has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons. as an everlasting possession.’#tn The Hebrew word אֲחֻזָּה (’akhuzzah), translated “possession,” describes a permanent holding in the land. It is the noun form of the same verb (אָחַז, ’akhaz) that was used for the land given to them in Goshen (Gen 47:27).
5 “Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine.#sn They will be mine. Jacob is here adopting his two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim as his sons, and so they will have equal share with the other brothers. They will be in the place of Joseph and Levi (who will become a priestly tribe) in the settlement of the land. See I. Mendelsohn, “A Ugaritic Parallel to the Adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh,” IEJ (1959): 180-83. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. 6 Any children that you father#tn Or “you fathered.” after them will be yours; they will be listed#tn Heb “called” or “named.” under the names of their brothers in their inheritance.#sn Listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. This means that any subsequent children of Joseph will be incorporated into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. 7 But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died – to my sorrow#tn Heb “upon me, against me,” which might mean something like “to my sorrow.” – in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).#map For location see Map5-B1; Map7-E2; Map8-E2; Map10-B4.
8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” 9 Joseph said to his father, “They are the#tn Heb “my.” sons God has given me in this place.” His father#tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”#tn The cohortative with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose after the imperative. 10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing#tn Heb “heavy.”sn The disjunctive clause provides supplemental information that is important to the story. The weakness of Israel’s sight is one of several connections between this chapter and Gen 27. Here there are two sons, and it appears that the younger is being blessed over the older by a blind old man. While it was by Jacob’s deception in chap. 27, here it is with Jacob’s full knowledge. because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. brought his sons#tn Heb “them”; the referent (Joseph’s sons) has been specified in the translation for clarity. near to him, and his father#tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity. kissed them and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected#tn On the meaning of the Hebrew verb פָּלַל (palal) here, see E. A. Speiser, “The Stem pll in Hebrew,” JBL 82 (1963): 301-6. Speiser argues that this verb means “to estimate” as in Exod 21:22. to see you#tn Heb “your face.” again, but now God has allowed me to see your children#tn Heb “offspring.” too.”
12 So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees#tn Heb “and Joseph brought them out from with his knees.” The two boys had probably been standing by Israel’s knees when being adopted and blessed. The referent of the pronoun “his” (Israel) has been specified in the translation for clarity. and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 Joseph positioned them;#tn Heb “and Joseph took the two of them.” he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father.#tn Heb “and he brought near to him.” The referents of the pronouns “he” and “him” (Joseph and his father respectively) have been specified in the translation for clarity. 14 Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger.#tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial-concessive here. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked –
the God who has been my shepherd#tn Heb “shepherded me.” The verb has been translated as an English noun for stylistic reasons.
all my life long to this day,
16 the Angel#sn The Samaritan Pentateuch reads “king” here, but the traditional reading (“angel”) may be maintained. Jacob closely associates God with an angelic protective presence. This does not mean that Jacob viewed his God as a mere angel, but it does suggest that he was aware of an angelic presence sent by God to protect him. Here he so closely associates the two that they become virtually indistinguishable. In this culture messengers typically carried the authority of the one who sent them and could even be addressed as such. Perhaps Jacob thought that the divine blessing would be mediated through this angelic messenger. who has protected me#tn The verb גָּאַל (ga’al) has the basic idea of “protect” as a near relative might do. It is used for buying someone out of bondage, marrying a deceased brother’s widow, paying off debts, avenging the family, and the like. The meanings of “deliver, protect, avenge” are most fitting when God is the subject (see A. R. Johnson, “The Primary Meaning of √גאל,” Congress Volume: Copenhagen, 1953 [VTSup], 67-77).
from all harm –
bless these boys.
May my name be named in them,#tn Or “be recalled through them.”
and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.
May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”
17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him.#tn Heb “it was bad in his eyes.” So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this 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 nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude#tn Heb “fullness.” of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying,
“By you#tn The pronoun is singular in the Hebrew text, apparently elevating Ephraim as the more prominent of the two. Note, however, that both are named in the blessing formula that follows. will Israel bless,#tn Or “pronounce a blessing.” saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
So he put Ephraim before Manasseh.#sn On the elevation of Ephraim over Manasseh see E. C. Kingsbury, “He Set Ephraim Before Manasseh,” HUCA 38 (1967): 129-36; H. Mowvley, “The Concept and Content of ‘Blessing’ in the Old Testament,” BT 16 (1965): 74-80; and I. Mendelsohn, “On the Preferential Status of the Eldest Son,” BASOR 156 (1959): 38-40.
21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you#tn The pronouns translated “you,” “you,” and “your” in this verse are plural in the Hebrew text. and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22 As one who is above your#tn The pronouns translated “your” and “you” in this verse are singular in the Hebrew text. brothers, I give to you the mountain slope,#tn The Hebrew word שְׁכֶם (shÿkhem) could be translated either as “mountain slope” or “shoulder, portion,” or even taken as the proper name “Shechem.” Jacob was giving Joseph either (1) one portion above his brothers, or (2) the mountain ridge he took from the Amorites, or (3) Shechem. The ambiguity actually allows for all three to be the referent. He could be referring to the land in Shechem he bought in Gen 33:18-19, but he mentions here that it was acquired by warfare, suggesting that the events of 34:25-29 are in view (even though at the time he denounced it, 34:30). Joseph was later buried in Shechem (Josh 24:32). which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”