Genesis
1-7 Joseph and His Sons with His Father 8-16 Jacob Blesses Joseph and His Sons 17-20 Jacob Blesses the Youngest First 21-22 An Extra Blessing for Joseph
Joseph and His Sons with His Father

1Now 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.’ 5Now 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. 6But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. 7Now 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).”

Joseph is informed that his father is sick. He understands that this sickness will lead to death. He takes both his sons to his sick father, expecting them to receive the blessing of their dying grandfather. Joseph, more than any of his brothers, was full of love for his father. Therefore he has reason to expect special favor from him.

It is a privilege for young people who are just starting their careers in the world to be in contact or to come into contact with their grandparents who have lived with the Lord and are about to leave the world. Old believers can witness the goodness of God and of His ways He has gone with them in His wisdom. That will be a great encouragement for the upcoming generation.

When Israel (verse 2b2When it was told to Jacob, “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed.) hears that Joseph is coming, he collects his strength and sits up straight in bed. Hearing the name of Joseph gives him strength. As Jacob (verse 33Then Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me,) he begins to tell about the blessing God has given him and the promises made to him. He now wants to pass on the blessing he has received to his offspring.

Jacob deprives Reuben and Simeon of the blessing of the birthright and gives that blessing to Joseph’s sons. For this he adopts both of Joseph’s sons, who were given to him by a pagan woman, to be his own sons (1Chr 5:11Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright.). Reuben has lost the birthright; Jacob himself has bought it and appropriated it for himself with deceit, by pretending to be Esau (Gen 25:31-3331But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”32Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what [use] then is the birthright to me?”33And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.; 27:1919Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.”). The Lord Jesus is also called the Firstborn, because He is worth the title, while the first Adam forfeited it. Jacob first mentions Ephraim.

Jacob is reminded by Joseph’s sons of the death of Rachel, his favorite wife. In her death he learned – in pictures – that everything the flesh relies on must be taken away. God has taken Rachel from him, Rachel whom he wanted to spare at all costs. God also took Joseph and Benjamin from him. But God gives him back Joseph and Benjamin and he even sees Joseph’s sons.

A burial also speaks of new life. The death of Rachel was accompanied by the birth of Benjamin. Bethlehem is the turning point in the life of Jacob, Bethlehem is also the turning point in the history of the people of Israel, because the Lord Jesus, their Messiah, was born there: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, [Too] little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity” (Mic 5:22“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
[Too] little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
; Mt 2:11Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,). They don’t see it yet, but they will see it.


Jacob Blesses Joseph and His Sons

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.”

When Joseph brings his sons to his father, his father asks who they are. The answer is the same as the answer Jacob once gave to Esau (Gen 33:55He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.”). Although Jacob cannot see the sons of Joseph, his grandsons, he embraces them. He loves them, as a grandfather loves his grandchildren. They are his crown (Pro 17:66Grandchildren are the crown of old men,
And the glory of sons is their fathers.
). He acknowledges God’s goodness that he was able to see not only Joseph, but also his children, while he thought Joseph was dead for so long. He says that God has blessed him abundantly.

“By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph” (Heb 11:2121By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, [leaning] on the top of his staff.). It has been said that Jacob has never walked as powerfully as here where he is sick in bed, and has never seen as clearly as here while his eyes have become weak. It is possible that when blessing the youngest before the eldest he thought of the deceit he committed as the youngest to get the blessing of the eldest (Gen 27:1919Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.”).

Jacob also blesses Joseph himself in Joseph’s sons (verse 1515He 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,
), confessing God as his Shepherd. He knows that God has led him, even though he has not thought of Him so often. He knows that God has saved him from all need (2Tim 4:1818The 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.), in which he has ended up through his own fault.

In the blessing which Jacob pronounces, he uses three indications for God:
1. First he speaks of “the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked”. With this he indicates that he knows God as the God of the covenant.
2. He then speaks of “the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day”. In this he indicates that God took care of him all his life and has never let him be wanting for anything.
3. Finally, he calls God “the angel who has redeemed me from all evil”. Jacob is also aware of God’s protection and liberation from all the tribulation he has experienced.

With these three special names for God he prays for God’s gracious blessing for both boys.


Jacob Blesses the Youngest First

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.

Joseph thinks his father is wrong. It is the only imperfection we read of Joseph in the Bible, which shows that he too is a fallible human being. Only the Lord Jesus has always been perfect, without any imperfection. Jacob blesses by faith. His eye of faith sees God’s intention to bless the youngest before the oldest here too, just as He did with him and Esau. He expressed his confidence in God by saying twice, “I know”.

God overlooks natural privileges and chooses those who otherwise would not be eligible for the blessing of the birthright. The blessing of the birthright is for Joseph – in his sons. Judah gets the position associated with the birthright (1Chr 5:1-21Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright.2Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him [came] the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph),).

In the books of the prophets, after the division of the empire into ten and two tribes, the ten tribal empire is regularly referred to by the name Ephraim. Manasseh has not become as great as Ephraim and is also divided in two. Half a tribe lives in the land and the other half lives at the other side of the Jordan river.


An Extra Blessing for Joseph

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. 22I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow.”

Joseph receives an extra blessing from Jacob. It is a portion, literally a mountain ridge, that Jacob with his sword and his bow has conquered from the enemy. He made an effort for that. The sword is a weapon used when the enemy is near. The bow is used when the enemy is far away. The sword is a picture of the Word of God that we use in faith to defeat the enemy. The bow represents the hope by which we are already acquiring what is yet to come (2Kgs 13:15-1715Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows.16Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” And he put his hand [on it], then Elisha laid his hands on the king’s hands.17He said, “Open the window toward the east,” and he opened [it]. Then Elisha said, “Shoot!” And he shot. And he said, “The LORD’S arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed [them].”).

It may be that what Jacob says here is to be seen as prophetic present tense. It is not known that Jacob has conquered a piece of land in Canaan. It may therefore be that he is referring here to the conquest of it by his descendants. It may also be that he refers to the piece of land he first bought (Jos 24:3232Now 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 money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons.), but that this land was later, when he has left for Egypt, taken over by the Amorites. In any case, it is a piece of land that has been fought for. He gives this land to Joseph (cf. Jn 4:55So He *came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph;).

We may live in the light of the future, when all enmity is destroyed. By sword and bow we take possession of a mountain ridge to give it to the true Joseph. A mountain ridge is a height, a place elevated from the earth and therefore closer to heaven. It speaks of fellowship with God, of having enough with Him.

Habakkuk can sing while everything is lacking him: “The Lord GOD is my strength, … And makes me walk on my high places.” (Hab 3:17-1917Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
[Though] the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
19The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ [feet],
And makes me walk on my high places.
For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
). We too can pass on blessings to our children, blessings we have obtained through the conquests we have made on the enemy. If we pass it on, it is good to tell how we have conquered this blessing, so that our children will work in the same way for their offspring. The blessing is: fellowship with God.


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