The Life of Joseph - Lesson 38, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 48:1,2, And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz (looz, the ancient name of Bethel) in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance. And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
The oath that was so important to Jacob was taken and Joseph returned to his work for the Pharoah.
Jacob knew he was failing but apparently it was a lingering failure and Joseph could not stay until death came.
But Jacob was now to the point of death and the message was sent to Joseph that his father is sick.
Joseph immediately replies to the messenger that he will come right away and Jacob is told.
Jacob is bedridden but he garners his strength and prepares for the coming of his beloved son.
He has work to do.
What he has to do is recorded as a verification that Jacob was a man of faith and of all the times that he expressed his faith this event was the one chosen by God to record in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:21, By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
For this event was an event necessary to the plan of God concerning the future division of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
So Jacob, sitting on his deathbed recalls the most blessed event in his life, that of being told by God that of him.....
I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
What does faith communicate to Jacob?
It tells him that he owns the land of Canaan and it is his to give to his seed.
This is why the Jews feel so strongly that the land of Israel is theirs in spite of the fact that others have lived in the land for thousands of years.
So by faith, knowing that the land of Canaan was his, even more assuredly than if he had a bonifide land deed, he now goes about dividing this inheritance to his seed.
And of whom is his seed composed?
His sons of course but he intends to add two more sons to himself.
And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
In verse one the two sons are listed in the order of their age, Manasseh and Ephraim but here Jacob lists them in the order of his blessings, Ephraim and Manasseh.
The younger Ephraim first in spite of Joseph's wishes.
So Jacob is about to give equal standing to Ephraim and Manasseh with all of Jacob's sons as far as inheritance is concerned.
This relationship will be honored 440 years later when the tribes enter the promised land and divide the land.
So this in fact establishes that Joseph will have a double portion in the land through Ephraim and Manasseh for Joseph, as far as Jacob was concerned, was the first born.
First born of Rachel, the wife of his choice.
And this honoring of Joseph by the adoption of his sons as full heirs seems to be prompted by remembering Rachel for he says:
And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
So by this act we see that there are really thirteen tribes but only twelve will be land owning tribes with Levi as the non-land owning tribe.
Another evidence of the faith of Jacob is in his belief that the sojourn of his sons in Egypt will eventually bring them back to the land of promise which will be divided between the descendants of his sons.
Hadn't he believed the word of the Lord to Abraham regarding them being subject to another people for 400 years?
Faith placed in the word of God will never fail.
Faith in faith will always fail.
Genesis 48:8-10, And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these? And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.
Manasseh and Ephraim were young men at this point, probably near 20 years old.
Jacob had just made them his own but because of his eyesight or perhaps because they just came into the room he did not know they were there.
No doubt Joseph desired that his father bless his sons just as Isaac had blessed his sons, Jacob and Esau.
But there was to be no deceit here like there was when Jacob secured the birthright.
But note the careful planning on Joseph's part because of the way that he presented his sons to Jacob.
Joseph desired that his firstborn receive the primary blessing by placing Manasseh in a position for Jacob to place his right hand upon him and his left hand on Ephraim.
Genesis 48:11-16, And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath showed me also thy seed. And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
At this point Jacob counts his blessings.
And what he says is so typical of us all.
I had not thought to see thy face, he says.
That's what I thought!
My thoughts dwelt on the physical, my thoughts were limited to what I could do or not do.
But God entered the picture and not only I see your face but I see the face of your seed.
Jacob had sent out a son to find his brothers and he grieved of his loss.
But God after a few years gave back to Jacob a governor of Egypt, provision for his family thru a famine, land, home, protection, a place where his family would grow into a nation.
All this in the son he thought he had lost forever.
In addition to this he held in his arms two fine grandsons.
God always outperforms our expectations.
We expect curses but God brings blessings.
So Joseph now realizes that Jacob is about to bless his sons, having just adopted them as his own.
But Joseph has not given them up to Jacob and we see this by him putting things into motion as to how he wants the blessing to occur.
Of course the eldest will be given the superior right hand blessing, everyone knows that don't they?
That is what Joseph had a right to expect didn't he.
What will this do to Manasseh's feelings if he does not get the superior right hand blessing?
Joseph was being moved by the natural man but Jacob was being moved by the spiritual man for God desired that the tribe of Ephraim be more prominent than the tribe of Manasseh.
Like most of us Joseph expected God to operate in a certain way but he found out that God was to work in an unconventional way.
And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
So Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, called here by their father's name from whom they were.
Jacob invokes God's name in three ways in this blessing.
The God of his fathers, the God who shepherded him all the way, and the Angel meaning messenger, who delivered him out of trouble.
And Jacob was a man who needed much deliverance from trouble.
Jacob did not boast that he had followed God all the way but he boasts in the Lord that God had fed him all the way.
Let my name be named on them, let them be as my sons with all rights and privileges as Reuben and Simeon.
We see here in this blessing the great maturing faith that Jacob had gained through the years.
This is the faith that God remembers as he speaks of Jacob in the book of Hebrews.
He does not remember the supplantor, Jacob, but he remembers Israel, the prince with God.