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Jacob blesses sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh Genesis 48

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CHAPTER 48 Jan. 29 
Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons 
It happened after these things, that someone said to Joseph, Behold, your father is sick. He took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2Someone told Jacob, and said, Behold, your son Joseph comes to you, and Israel strengthened himself, and sat on the bed. 3Jacob said to Joseph, God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your seed 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 into Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, will be mine. 6Your issue, whom you become the father of after them, will be yours. They will be called after the name of their brothers in their inheritance. 7As for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when there was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and I buried her there in the way to Ephrath (the same is Bethlehem). 8Israel saw Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? 9Joseph said to his father, They are my sons, whom God has given me here. He said, Please bring them to me, and I will bless them. 10Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he couldn’t see. He brought them near to him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, I never thought I would see your face, and behold, God has let me see your seed also. 12Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13Joseph 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 to him. 14Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15He blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, 16the Angel who has ever 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. Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him. He held up 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 is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head. 19His 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 will be greater than he, and his seed will become a multitude of nations. 20He blessed them that day, saying, In you will Israel bless, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh’. He set Ephraim before Manasseh. 21Israel said to Joseph, Behold, I am dying, but God will be with you, and bring you again to the land of your fathers. 22Moreover I have given to you Shechem, one portion above your brothers, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.


48:3 God Almighty- Jacob's perception of the power of God, this one Almighty El,  is growing. Ex. 6:3 says that Yahweh appeared to Jacob “by the name of God Almighty”, so presumably this Name was declared to Jacob at the vision in Bethel; for this, Jacob says, was when God primarily “appeared” to him. And yet he is only recorded as using this name 50 years later. It took 50 years for the fact that God really is ALL mighty to sink in, and for him to come out with this publicly.
48:4 Jacob’s personal grasp of the wonder of the promises at the end is revealed here. God never actually said all this to Jacob; Jacob is quoting the promise to Abraham of Gen. 17:8 and applying it to himself. And with us too, a personal grasp of the wonder of it all, that it really applies to me, is a mark of that final maturity we fain would achieve.  
He seems to have perceived the spiritual danger his children were in, living in the luxury of Egypt. The promises of being fruitful and being given a land were being fulfilled, in a primary sense, in Israel's experience in Egypt (48:4 cp. 47:27). Joseph was given the landof Egypt (41:41), using the same words as in 45:18; 48:4 concerning how the true land -of Canaan- had been given to Abraham's children. Jacob's children were given apossession in Egypt (47:11), and therefore Jacob emphasized that their real possession was the eternal inheritance of Canaan, not Egypt (48:4; 49:30; 50:13). Thus Jacob at the end realized the importance of warning God's people against the world, against the temptation of feeling that God's present material blessing of us with a foretaste of His Kingdom means that in fact we lose our enthusiasm for the true Kingdom, in its real, material sense. Like Paul in his final flourish of 2 Timothy, Jacob saw the need to warn God's people, to point them away from the world, and towards the future Kingdom. Jacob saw that his people, like him in his earlier life, would be tempted to see God's promises on an altogether too human and material level.   
48:5 At the very end, Jacob's blessing of Joseph's sons as the firstborn is seen as an act of faith (48:5; Heb. 11:21). Yet on another level, Jacob was taking the blessings away from the firstborn who was the son of the wife he disliked, and giving those blessings to the son of his favourite wife, who was not the firstborn. This was quite contrary to the will of God as expressed in Dt. 21:17. At best we can say that God allowed one principle to be broken to keep another (although what other?). At worst, Jacob was simply showing favoritism, and yet at the same time he foresaw in faith the Messianic suggestions in Joseph's experience, and therefore made Joseph's sons the firstborn. God saw the good in Jacob at this time, and counted this to him, and recognized and worked with Joseph's decision to make “the son of the hated” the firstborn (1 Chron. 5:1), even though this may have been contrary to God's highest intentions. Likewise God worked through Jacob's paganic use of poplar rods and mandrakes. The way Jacob insisted on blessing Ephraim as the firstborn again seems to show some kind of favoritism and a desire to see his grandson living out his own experience, i.e. the younger son who fought his way up and received the blessings as opposed to the rightful heir. Ephraim becomes a code-name for apostate Israel throughout the prophets. And yet God accepted Jacob's preferential blessing of Ephraim and repeated this in Dt. 33:17. We learn from this at the very least that human motivations are sometimes hopelessly mixed. 
48:8 There was a unity, a mutuality, between Jacob and God at the end. No longer did he see God as someone else's God, not even just his father's God. The lessons of Jacob's name change were finally learnt. Thus he asks Joseph to bring his sons to him, so that he may bless them; but when he gives the blessing, he states that this is God blessing them (48:8,9,15,16); he saw God working through him.
48:11 Jacob's final appreciation of God's grace, the way he does far above what our works should deserve, is indicated by his comment that “ I never thought I would see your (Joseph's) face: and behold, God has let me see your seed also” (48:11). The Hebrew word translated “thought” is 74 times translated “pray”, and only once “thought”; the idea is surely: 'I never prayed to see you again, I didn't therefore have the faith in the resurrection which I should have done, just as I didn’t believe your mother could be resurrected when you spoke of her coming to bow before you (37:10); but God in His grace has done exceeding abundantly above all I asked or didn't ask for, and showed me not only your face in this life, but also your children'. God likewise does for us abundantly more than we pray for or imagine (Eph. 3:20), and our generosity to others should have this feature to it.
48:15 At age 130, Jacob mumbled to Pharaoh: “Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life”, as if every day had dragged (47:9). But at the very end, 17 years later, he more positively speaks of the Angel that had redeemed him from all evil (48:15).
Jacob’s reference to how Abraham and Isaac 'walked before' his God (48:15) is a reference back to 17:1; 24:40. Jacob had meditated upon these records, in whatever form they were preserved, and now bubbled out with reference to them. Those same promises concerning the Lord Jesus and his Kingdom should become the centre of our thought as we reach spiritual maturity. “Let my name be named upon them (Joseph's children), and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac” (48:16) indicates that he saw an equivalence between them and him; he saw they were “heirs of the same promise” (Heb. 11:9). Jacob came to realize that those promises made to them were the very basis of his faith too, as well as theirs, and he knew therefore that he would be resurrected with them into the glory of God's Kingdom. And so he wanted to be buried with them; he didn't reject them, but he came to understand that the promises were gloriously true for him on a personal level. 
48:16 It is so easy to under-estimate the amount of work the Angels are doing in our lives; Jacob recognized that his Angel physically fed him all his days, and that it was not just at the crises in his life that the Angel had been present; he describes the Angel as “ever redeeming me” (Gen. 48:16), as if the whole process of life is one continual redeeming process by the Angel, as He designs trials for us which will perfect us in order to gain redemption, as well as physically redeeming us more times than we realize.
Redeemed me- At the end, Jacob spoke of God as his redeemer (48:16), which is the first Biblical reference to the concept of redemption. This was not the only area in which Jacob was a paradigm breaker (consider how he coined the word abiyr to describe God's mightiness). The Hebrew for “redeem” is taken from the idea of the nearest kinsman. Jacob at the end of his days is surely saying that now he saw God as closer than his family. We really have a lot to learn here. God comes before family. The new convert who sacrifices family ties for allegiance to Christ realizes this full well. God's Truth must never become a social and family affair, but rather a candlestick burning with the fire of the Spirit. Christians mustn’t merely follow parental expectation and the norms of their social network.
48:22 “My sword and with my bow” indicates that Jacob's old self-reliance was still not totally gone; his sense that through his own effort he could bring about the fulfillment of God's promises for him. In this area, the weakness of Jacob remained. These very words are alluded to in Josh. 24:12 and Ps. 44:1-6, where the Spirit says that the land was given to Israel not on account of their bow and sword. Although Jacob can look forward to being in God’s eternal Kingdom, he died with some weaknesses, just as we do; and we have to accept this fact in our coping with irritating or immature fellow believers. In some spiritual areas both they and we will never quite ‘get there’ in this life.