Expository Thoughts on Genesis 48

David Burchard Exposition Leave a Comment

Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 2When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. 3Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, 4and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’ 5“Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. 6“But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. 7“Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, 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 saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” 12Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. 13Joseph 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 stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn.

15He blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

16The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the lads;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.” 19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20He blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”
Thus 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 the land of your fathers. 22“I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”


 Now it came about after these things…

Jacob’s entire household has moved to Goshen, in Egypt.

Genesis 46:26-27 reads, “All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons, were sixty-six persons in all, and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy.”

That’s the main thing of the “these things”.

And after these things, “it came about”, what we are about to read, a story so significant in our history that it’s recorded for us in the Great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

I want us to turn to Hebrews 11 and read what it says about the history we’ve covered so far, up to this point, in Genesis. Hebrews 11 gives the framework for how Christians should read this chapter in Genesis.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the men of old gained approval.

3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

8By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.9By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.

13All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” 19He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.

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

The end of Genesis 47 and all of Genesis 48 is a record of Jacob’s faith. Jacob believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. And because he believed God, he leads his household this way, he approaches death this way, he speaks and acts standing on the promises of God.

Before we go any further, that is key for everyone here to understand. You absolutely CANNOT earn right standing before God, a good relationship with God, by any amount or any quality of good works. You can come to Bible study every week. That doesn’t make you right with God. You can come to church every week. That doesn’t make you right with God. You can come on a church weekend away. That doesn’t make you right with God. You can read your Bible, pray every day, you can lose your job for standing up for common sense, you can give your body to the flames of martyrdom…splendid things, all of them. But none of them make you right with God.

You can only have a right relationship with God through faith in Christ. It is only through faith that sinners like you and I are justified, declared right, given what we need to be forgiven and welcomed into God’s kingdom, given the very righteousness of Christ.

Justification is through faith alone in Christ alone. Be clear on that.

But also be clear on this. Pay attention to Jacob in this chapter. Pay attention to what we read in Hebrews 11.

It is faith alone through which we are justified. But justifying faith does not remain alone. Given to us by the Spirit as a gift, justifying faith brings forth works of faith. Justifying faith always has an effect on the sinner. When someone trusts Jesus, they live like it.

I used to live in Richmond, Virginia, in a house with 5 other men. I shared a room with Thomas because it made our rent cheaper. Now, Thomas was and is quite the free bird. So, obviously, it rigged a hammock up over his bed, attached to studs on opposite walls. We’d come home after work, I’d flop down on my bed, and he’d hop up into his hammock.

Thomas believed that hammock was secure. He didn’t just say so. Because he believed it, he’d jump right in.

The story’s funny because one day he did that and one of the bolts shot out of the wall and nearly killed him.

Those who trust Jesus as Savior can’t help themselves but live depending on him. Those who trust Jesus as King can’t help themselves but work hard to believe every word and obey every command.

No works but the work of Christ justifies. But those who are justified do a lot of good work.

That’s what we see from Jacob.

Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 

Now, as far as we able, it is our Christian duty to visit friends and family who are gravely sick or on their deathbed.

To die alone is fitting for the wicked, but not for the righteous. Death is a reverent event. It is good and right for the servant of God to be given the opportunity up to the end to work for God and bless His people.

My brother, for example, was discipled by a member of his church who could never leave his care home bed. Noah regularly visited George. George taught him the Bible and encouraged him to live well as a man of God.

And then George died.

Joseph here comes to his father as Jacob approaches death. And he brings his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him.

Matthew Henry comments helpfully on this:

Joseph took his two sons with him, that they might receive their dying grandfather’s blessing, and that what they might see in him, and hear from him, might make an abiding impression upon them. Note, it is good to acquaint young people that are coming into the world with the aged servants of God that are going out of it, whose dying testimony to the goodness of God, and the pleasantness of wisdom’s ways, may be a great encouragement to the rising generation. Manasseh and Ephraim (I dare say) would never forget what passed at this time. 

2When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed.

I’m not quite sure what to think about Moses switching back and forth between calling Jacob “Jacob” and calling him “Israel”. I do know that when we read Jacob called “Israel”, it draws to our mind that Jacob is not just an individual to whom God has been faithful. Jacob is the father of a household that will grow into a nation, God’s people. It is through this nation that the promised Savior would come. It is this name with which every believer down through time will be named. True Israelites, those for whom God fights, those who trust in Christ.

Managing to sit up in bed…

3Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me

Do y’all remember Luz?

Let’s remind ourselves. Back in Genesis 28 we read:

He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. 12He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14“Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.15“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

18So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. 19He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. 20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. 22“This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

And in Genesis 35, again we read of Jacob in Bethel:

Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.

10God said to him,
“Your name is Jacob;
You shall no longer be called Jacob,
But Israel shall be your name.”
Thus He called him Israel.

11God also said to him,
“I am God Almighty;
Be fruitful and multiply;
A nation and a company of nations shall come from you,
And kings shall come forth from you.

      12“The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac,
I will give it to you,
And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”

13Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him. 14Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.

Speaking of God blessing him at Bethel in Genesis 35, Jacob says in Genesis 48:4…

4and He said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.’ 

It’s interesting to be studying Genesis together at the same time that we’re studying Matthew 21-24 on Sunday mornings. What’s been clear for a few weeks now from Matthew is that the Jewish nation rejected Jesus and so was rejected by Jesus. It was cut off. Far from the blood descendants of Jacob keeping the land of Canaan, they were wiped from the map.

So, the question arises: Does God keep His promise to Jacob?

He promises Jacob that He’ll make him fruitful and numerous, and will make him a company of peoples. He promises to give land to his descendants as an everlasting possession.

Does God keep these promises?

Well, we know that the answer is yes. God always keeps His promises. He is no liar. It is good and right to always trust this trustworthy God.

The question is not if God keeps these promises, but how He keeps these promises.

To understand how, we need to understand that the Bible speaks of two seeds of Jacob. It talks of physical seed and spiritual seed.

The physical seed is all those physically born in the tribes of Israel, those who are, by blood, descendants of Jacob.

God’s promises to Jacob are for them typologically. What does that mean? It means that God raises up the tribes of Israel, He gives them the Law, He brings them into Canaan, He establishes the King and gives them victory over their enemies, all to prepare the world for the coming of the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Israel, then, as a nation, serves as a picture of the kingdom that would be established upon the coming of Jesus. It is a model kingdom, a pattern of Christ’s kingdom. The King rules in righteousness and the people are blessed and fruitful as they obey God’s Law. They live in the land in the presence of God because substitutionary blood is spilled to atone for their sins. All who submit to the King are welcome. All the enemies of God are vanquished.

When Jesus comes to establish the kingdom of God, there is no more need for the model. A picture of Glen Coe is nice to have if you’re far away in Mississippi. But you don’t need the picture if you are standing in Glen Coe. Just open your eyes and behold. Reach down and grab the real soil. Smell the real heather.

The model kingdom also serves a negative purpose. The physical descendants of Jacob are blessed by God with more privileges than any other nation on earth. And yet they fail miserably. They make a mockery of the sacrifices. The kings rule as if they are themselves God. The people worship other gods. They kill their own babies on altars. They kill the prophets time and again who call them to repentance time and again. And they reject the King of kings himself, Jesus. They crucify Him.

This, too, was according to the purpose of God. It teaches us about our wicked hearts. We are not basically good people who are corrupted by bad influences. We are bad people from birth. And bad people, people with bad hearts, hearts that are dead in sin, even if they’re given the best laws and the best land, cannot dwell with God. They will always rebel and run into ruin.

The model kingdom, Israel, Jacob’s physical seed, makes that point loud and clear. If we are to live in God’s kingdom as God’s people forever, we don’t just need forgiveness. We need newness. We need new hearts, hearts ruled by the King, hearts with God’s law written on them, hearts made alive by the Spirit of God.

Now, as I’ve already said, the Bible doesn’t just talk about Jacob’s physical seed. It also talks about his spiritual seed. These are all those who share Jacob’s faith in Jacob’s God.

With Jacob, they trust Christ for salvation.

Even when God’s judgment falls on the physical seed for idolatry, the spiritual seed remains steadfast in faith.

And these faithful have the joy of knowing that all God’s promises are yes and amen in Christ. In Christ, the Messiah from Jacob’s bloodline, Jacob’s seed according to the flesh, this spiritual seed, this true Israel, gladly inherits not just a part of the earth. The true Israel inherits the whole earth in Christ.

God’s promise to Jacob is true. And Jacob knows it.

5“Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.

Here, Jacob is adopting Joseph’s sons as his own. He’s putting his own name upon them. And they’re counted alongside the likes of Benjamin and Judah and Reuben.

Don’t miss the shift that’s just occurred for these boys.

Born the sons of the second most powerful man in Egypt. With Egyptian blood from their mother, they had a future before them to live as virtual princes. Sons of Egypt’s savior. Free men in a land of slaves. Power. Wealth. All the pleasures Egypt could ever offer was theirs for the taking.

But they became Hebrews, named as Jacob’s sons, lords among the people in Goshen, destined for generations in slavery.

Did they lose out in this? No. Adoption by Jacob meant riches for Ephraim and Manasseh that could never be given by Egypt.

Egypt’s riches were passing. The land and its lords would soon enough be crushed under the mighty hand of God.

Jacob adopts these two sons as his own. He welcomes them into sharing in God’s great promise of blessing He made to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob.

They lose the riches of the world. They gain a place among God’s people, with the One True and Living God as their God.

There is a price to be paid if you would follow Jesus in this world. There is much to give up. There are many enemies of the Lord who will make you hurt. But all the costs that must be paid are as nothing in comparison to what is gained in Christ.

Matthew Henry is right. “It is better to be low in the church than high out of it.”

To gain your soul and lose the world is to gain. Follow Christ, and you get Christ. And He will be with you always, to the end of the age, and forever in the New Earth.

Coming to their grandfather, Ephraim and Manasseh are blessed, like the man who gains a pearl of great price.

6“But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. 

This means that while Joseph’s two sons are counted as Jacob’s sons, any additional sons Joseph has will be counted as belonging to the households of either Manasseh or Ephraim. They will belong to the people of God, but not be tribal heads. That number will stay at 13.

7“Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, 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).”

Here Jacob speaks to Joseph of his mother, reminding Joseph that she died traveling away from her own father and to the Promised Land. Why does Jacob talk about this? I think Calvin’s explanation makes sense:

“He mentions the death and burial of his wife Rachel, in order that the name of his mother might prove a stimulus to the mind of Joseph…For if it was not grievous to women, to leave their father, and to journey into a distant land, their example ought to be no slight inducement to their sons to bid farewell to Egypt; and at the command of the same God, strenuously prepare themselves for taking possession of the land of Canaan.”

8When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” 

At first read, you may think this is a funny question. He’s just spoken of Manasseh and Ephraim by name. Is this guy losing his marbles? Is he just that old?

While that would be a funny answer, I don’t think Jacob forgot who he was adopting in mid-conversation.

I think what’s happening here is he’s just explained what he’s going to do to Joseph. Now he’s shifting to do it. He’s moving his attention to the boys, to formally bless them and give them his name.

9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see.

A few things to point out about verse 10, that Jacob’s eyes were so dim with age that he could not see.

1. If you bear the honor of old age, you must be willing to bear the burden. It’s part of the deal in a world of entropy and pain.

2. Whether in your youth you have the eyes of Rachel or of Leah, both sets will become dim if youth and middle age is survived.

Unless your name is Hazel, who is the rule’s exception, know that your stunning looks will fade like summer into autumn into winter.

3. It is foolish to dedicate your life to enjoying the lust of the eyes. They won’t even work for long.

Enjoy God. Enjoy doing your duty unto God. Then die.

Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” 

Jacob thought his favorite son was dead. Then he finds himself at death’s threshold, sitting beside that very son, kissing and embracing two grandsons.

We’ve been thinking about the doctrine of God’s providence together as we’ve been memorizing the Baptist Catechism. Providence is God carrying out every detail of his will as He governs the world and every detail of it.

That’s good news for the Christian because He who governs every detail that unfolds is your heavenly Father. And everything He brings about, He brings about for your good and His glory

Providence, therefore, is always kind to the Christian. It’s not always easy. It’s not always pleasant. But it is always kind.

I want, in the providence of God, for you to come to death’s threshold at a ripe old age, covered in wrinkles like lines on a treasure map, surrounded by 2, 3, 4 generations of your family, in a room full of kisses and embraces and stories of the blessings of God.

What I want most, however, for each of us, is for God, in His providence, to make us holy and eternally happy, howsoever He deems best. If He brings that about through a life that seems to fall apart and fall apart and fall apart, then He brings about the best.

The hard blessings of providence are still blessings from our Provider.

12Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. 13Joseph 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. 

Joseph knows his father can’t really see. So, as he brings his sons to receive their blessing, he guides them to what he understands to be the appropriate hands. Ephraim, the younger, to Jacob’s left hand. Manasseh, the older, the firstborn, to Jacob’s right hand. Though both would be counted as sons of Jacob, Joseph here is following the normal pattern of the older brother having the higher honor, which is ironic considering own preeminence over his older brothers.

14But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the firstborn.

Though Jacob can’t see, he knows how Joseph will have brought the boys forward. And he crosses his hands, putting the hand of higher honor, the right hand, on the younger son’s head.

In faith, Jacob is adopting these boys. And, in faith, he is blessing them in accordance with how God has directed him to do so.

This is not abnormal for God. His purposes of election, his purposes of salvation and of blessing are not according to the norms of nature. They are according to His own free and sovereign will. Abram was not the oldest brother. God chose him to be the father of the faithful. Isaac was not the oldest brother. Jacob was not the oldest. Joseph wasn’t the oldest. David and Solomon weren’t oldest brothers.

He chooses to save whomever He wills. He chooses to raise up and lay low whomever He wills.

God is God. That’s what He gets to do.

Ephraim is elevated over his brother not because of anything in Ephraim, but because God chose to elevate Him. And Jacob, in faith, obeys the will of God for his family, as all good fathers are obligated to do.

15He blessed Joseph, and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,

Enjoy those words as you read them. The Lord God has been your shepherd too, all the days of your life, to this day and for every day ahead. The Lord is your shepherd. You shall not want. He makes you lie down in green pastures. He leads you beside the still waters. He restores your soul. He leads you in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear not the evil, for He is with you. His rod and His staff, they comfort you. He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies; He has anointed your head with oil; your cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Jacob continues…

16The angel who has redeemed me from all evil,

Here he reminds Joseph of the Angel who gave him the gimpy hip way back in the day, the angel who was God Himself. And Jacob says of this Angel, “He has been my Savior. He has redeemed me from all evil.”

Christian, this is also your confession.

2 Timothy 4:18 says, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Jacob prays that God, the only God, his shepherd and redeemer through all of life, would bless the lads, Ephraim and Manasseh.

Bless the lads;
And may my name live on in them,
And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 

Often when we forget our place with God, we forget our place with man. Joseph here ought to trust the wise plan of God, and recognize that He has chosen to place special blessing on Ephraim. But Joseph is hasty. He doesn’t meditate on the strange ways of God. And so he’s frustrated by God’s choice. He’s forgotten his place and so as a creature finds himself frustrated with the ways of the Creator. Having forgotten his place before God, so he forgets his place before his father, and so is so bold as to try to forcibly move his father’s hands.

18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.” 19But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

Joshua, Israel’s captain in conquering the Promised Land, would be from Ephraim, not Manasseh. Manasseh, not Ephraim, would be a divided tribe. Ephraim, not Manasseh, would become preeminent among the northern tribes, only surpassed in greatness by Judah.

And all this was so because God wanted it to be so.

20He blessed them that day, saying,
“By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”
Thus 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 the land of your fathers. 22“I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

We have one last question of the text to answer before we close.

What is Jacob talking about in verse 22? What is the portion he gives to Joseph? What did he take from the hand of the Amorite with his sword and his bow?

The portion given to Joseph here is the land he bought from the sons of Hamor, in Shechem.

Joshua 24:32 reads, “Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons.”

This is Joseph’s special portion, the special land of his father. But if this is the portion, why does Jacob say he took it from the Amorites with sword and bow?

As you’ll recall, the whole area, more than just the field, was conquered by Jacob’s family. When Dinah was raped by Shechem, Simeon and Levi killed every man of the city. Simeon and Levi’s sin was that they used the name of the Lord in vain, as they used the covenant sign of circumcision to trick the men of Shechem unto death.

Though they won a significant military victory, they are not honored with the credit. Shame, not honor, is upon them for their sin. It seems that the honor they would have won is still credited to Jacob, the credit being his, without the guilt.

As the chapter closes, then, Jacob ends with a statement of faith. He trusts God’s promise. Israel will return to the Promised Land. And Israel will take it. And Jacob so trusts God in this, that he gives what is his to give to Joseph, the land in Shechem.


Prominent ideas in Genesis 48:

  1. Justification through faith alone
  2. Justifying faith producing works of faith
  3. Providence of God
  4. God is Shepherd and Redeemer
  5. Sovereign grace
  6. Kingdom of God

 

 

 

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