The Journey of Joseph: Jacob Blesses Manasseh and Ephraim. Part Three.

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’ ” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. 21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.” (Genesis 48:17–22 (ESV)

Joseph did not agree with what Jacob did in blessing Ephraim as the firstborn instead of Manasseh. This would make sense to Joseph since Manasseh was Joseph’s firstborn son (Gen.  41:50-52). However, the LORD had other plans and Jacob understood this, even if Joseph did not.  

Jacob responded to Joseph’s objection by saying, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” Jacob then declared to Ephraim and Manasseh, ““By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’ ” By this declaration, Jacob was placing Ephraim before his older brother Manasseh.

Dr. John Walvoord explains, “Joseph, like so many others, expected God to work in a certain way, but found that He is often pleased to work differently and sometimes even unconventionally. But faith recognizes that God’s ways are not man’s ways. It took Jacob a lifetime of discipline to learn that fact. But he learned it, and now he blessed the younger over the elder. For four consecutive generations this re-versed pattern was followed: Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Reuben, and Ephraim over Manasseh.”

It was after this that Jacob the said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22 Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Jacob’s history does not record any conquest of Amorite land. He did purchase property from the children of Hamor (Gen. 33:19) but that was not by conquest. At some time this military event had actually occurred, but for some unknown reason it finds no other mention in God’s revelation.”  

Another author provides us today’s application. “Jacob learned the ways of the Lord who exalts what men might forget (Matt. 19:30) and gives a better blessing to the younger Ephraim while relying on God’s ways honestly, nobly, and carefully. If an outsider were called upon to write the history of your life, would character qualities like honesty and carefulness show themselves time and again? Would you be shown as a person who relied on God and did what He said was right, even when it cost you dearly?”

Have a blessed day in the LORD.

Soli deo Gloria!

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