15 And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, 16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (Genesis 48:15–16 (ESV)
The words blessed and blessing have been frequently used in these recent blogs. The Hebrew word for blessed is pronounced waybarek. It means to speak words invoking divine favor. This is done with the intent that the object of God’s blessing will have favorable circumstances or conditions throughout their life.
In today’s text, Jacob not only invoked divine favor upon Manasseh and Ephraim but also their father, Jacob’s favored son, Joseph. Jacob referred to his heritage when he said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day.” The Shepherd God who was with his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, Jacob acknowledged was also with him. Jacob affirmed that God, like a shepherd, guided, fed, protected and corrected him for close to 150 years (Gen. 47:28; Psalm 23; Isiah 59:20).
In the same breath, Jacob referred to God as the angel. The Hebrew word for angel, pronounced hammalak, means messenger and guide. This would be a reference to the Angel of the LORD.
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary explains, “The angel of the Lord, sometimes ‘the angel of God’ or ‘my (or ‘his’) angel’, is represented in Scripture as a heavenly being sent by God to deal with men as his personal agent and spokesman. In many passages he is virtually identified with God and speaks not merely in the name of God but as God in the first person singular (e.g. with Hagar, Gen. 16:7ff.; 21:17f.: at the sacrifice of Isaac, Gen. 22:1ff.; to Jacob, Gen. 31:13, ‘I am the god of Beth-el’; to Moses at the burning bush, Ex. 3:2; with Gideon, Jdg. 6:11ff.). Sometimes he is distinguished from God, as in 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12f, but Zechariah does not consistently maintain the distinction (cf. Zech. 3:1; 12:8).”
For the angel to be virtually identified with God would be appropriate since Jacob identifies the angel as redeeming him from all evil. To redeem means to deliver, liberate and free. This angel could very well be a pre-incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Jacob also invoked a prayer to the angel. He prayed, “bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
One author explains, “Jacob’s blessing depicts the nature of the One whom he served (Gen. 48:15–16). First, Abraham and Isaac also walked before this God. True to His word for His name’s sake, He keeps His covenants from generation to generation. Second, our Creator shepherds us like He did Jacob, leading us in the way of righteousness and disciplining us when we go astray (chap. 29–32; Heb. 12:7–11). Finally, He is the “angel” who redeems us (Gen. 48:16). He is not a creaturely angel, but the angel of the Lord with whom Jacob wrestled (Gen. 32:22–32), a pre-incarnate manifestation of the Messiah, according to churchmen throughout history. Centuries after Jacob lived, God came to earth to defeat sin and reveal His faithfulness (John 1:1–18).”
The Shepherd God who led Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David, etc. is the same Shepherd God who currently leads you and me. May we take comfort and courage in our Shepherd who eventually will lead us home.
Soli deo Gloria!