Genesis 48:1
And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, your father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XLVIII.

THE BLESSING OF MANASSEH AND EPHRAIM, AND THE RECOGNITION OF THEM BY JACOB AS HEADS OF TRIBES.

(1) His two sons.—We have already seen that the purpose of the genealogy given in Genesis 46 was not the enumeration of Jacob’s children and grandchildren, but the recognition of those of his descendants who were to hold the high position of heads of “families.” In this chapter a still more important matter is settled; for Jacob, exercising to the full his rights as the father and head of the Israelite race, and moved thereto both by his love for Rachel, the high rank of Joseph, and also by the spirit of prophecy, bestows upon Joseph two tribes. No authority less than that of Jacob would have sufficed for this, and therefore the grant is carefully recorded, and holds its right place immediately before the solemn blessing given by the dying patriarch to his sons. The occasion of Joseph’s visit was the sickness of his father, who not merely felt generally that his death was near, as in Genesis 47:29, but was now suffering from some malady; and Joseph naturally took with him his two sons, that they might see and be blessed by their grandfather before his death.

48:1-7 The death-beds of believers, with the prayers and counsels of dying persons, are suited to make serious impressions upon the young, the gay, and the prosperous: we shall do well to take children on such occasions, when it can be done properly. If the Lord please, it is very desirable to bear our dying testimony to his truth, to his faithfulness, and the pleasantness of his ways. And one would wish so to live, as to give energy and weight to our dying exhortations. All true believers are blessed at their death, but all do not depart equally full of spiritual consolations. Jacob adopted Joseph's two sons. Let them not succeed their father, in his power and grandeur in Egypt; but let them succeed in the inheritance of the promise made to Abraham. Thus the aged dying patriarch teaches these young persons to take their lot with the people of God. He appoints each of them to be the head of a tribe. Those are worthy of double honour, who, through God's grace, break through the temptations of worldly wealth and preferment, to embrace religion in disgrace and poverty. Jacob will have Ephraim and Manasseh to know, that it is better to be low, and in the church, than high, and out of it.After these things. - After the arrangements concerning the funeral, recorded in the chapter. "Menasseh and Ephraim." They seem to have accompanied their father from respectful affection to their aged relative. "Israel strengthened himself" - summoned his remaining powers for the interview, which was now to him an effort. "God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz." From the terms of the blessing received it is evident that Jacob here refers to the last appearance of God to him at Bethel Genesis 35:11. "And now thy sons." After referring to the promise of a numerous offspring, and of a territory which they are to inherit, he assigns to each of the two sons of Joseph, who were born in Egypt, a place among his own sons, and a separate share in the promised land. In this way two shares fall to Joseph. "And thy issue." We are not informed whether Joseph had any other sons. But all such are to be reckoned in the two tribes of which Ephraim and Menasseh are the heads. These young men are now at least twenty and nineteen years of age, as they were born before the famine commenced. Any subsequent issue that Joseph might have, would be counted among the generations of their children. "Rachel died upon me" - as a heavy affliction falling upon me. The presence of Joseph naturally leads the father's thoughts to Rachel, the beloved mother of his beloved son, whose memory he honors in giving a double portion to her oldest son.CHAPTER 48

Ge 48:1-22. Joseph's Visit to His Sick Father.

1. one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick—Joseph was hastily sent for, and on this occasion he took with him his two sons.Jacob being sick, Joseph comes and visits him, Genesis 48:1,2. Jacob declares God’s appearances and promises to him, Genesis 48:3,4; adopts Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim to be fathers of two tribes in Israel, Genesis 48:5,6; mentions Rachel’s death, and the place where he buried her, Genesis 48:7; calls for his sons to bless them: Joseph brings and places them: Jacob purposely crosses his hands, Genesis 48:8-14. His blessing on Joseph and his sons, Genesis 48:15,16. Joseph interposes to remove his father’s hands, Genesis 48:17,18. He declares the pre-eminence of the younger, but the other also blessed, Genesis 48:19,20. Prophesieth of their return to Canaan, Genesis 48:21. He gives Joseph a piece of land apart, Genesis 48:22.

1689 To obtain his venerable and religious father’s blessing for them.

And it came to pass after these things,.... Some little time after Jacob had sent for Joseph, and conversed with him about his burial in the land of Canaan, and took an oath to bury him there, for then the time drew nigh that he must die:

that one told Joseph, behold, thy father is sick; he was very infirm when he was last with him, and his natural strength decaying apace, by which he knew his end was near; but now he was seized with a sickness which threatened him with death speedily, and therefore very probably dispatched a messenger to acquaint Joseph with it. Jarchi fancies that Ephraim, the son of Joseph, lived with Jacob in the land of Goshen, and when he was sick went and told his father of it, but this is not likely from what follows:

and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim; to see their grandfather before he died, to hear his dying words, and receive his blessing.

And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his {a} two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

(a) Joseph valued his children being received into Jacob's family, which was the Church of God, more than enjoying all the treasures of Egypt.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. after these things] A vague description of time, as in Genesis 15:1, Genesis 22:1, Genesis 39:7, Genesis 40:1.

Manasseh and Ephraim] Observe the order of the names. Manasseh is put first as the elder.Verse 1. - And it came to pass after these things (i.e. the events recorded in the preceding chapter, and in particular after the arrangements which had been made for Jacob s funeral), that one told Joseph, - the verb וַלֺיּאמֶר is here used impersonally, or passively, for "one told," or "it was told," to Joseph (LXX., ἀπεγγέλη; Vulgate, munciatum est; Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, et alii); or probably emphatically, by way of calling attention to the circumstance - denoting perhaps a special messenger (Tayler Lewis). Behold, thy father is sick. The word in the original conveys the idea of being worn down or becoming infirm through age or disease, and may suggest the notion that Jacob was now regarded as rapidly approaching dissolution. And he took with him his two sons, Manasseh end Ephraim - who at this time must have been about eighteen or twenty years of age (Keil), and who appear to have accompanied their father from respectful affection to their aged relative (Murphy), or to have been taken in the hope that "the words of their blessed grand father would make an indelible impression on their hearts (Lawson), rather than in order to obtain from Jacob "a pledge of their unqualified admission as members of his house," of their exclusion from which Joseph was not altogether groundlessly apprehensive, in consequence of their being the children of an Egyptian mother (Kalisch). Then Joseph said to the people: "Behold I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh; there have ye (הא only found in Ezekiel 16:43 and Daniel 2:43) seed, and sow the land; and of the produce ye shall give the fifth for Pharaoh, and four parts (ידת, as in Genesis 43:34) shall belong to you for seed, and for the support of yourselves, your families and children." The people agreed to this; and the writer adds (Genesis 47:26), it became a law, in existence to this day (his own time), "with regard to the land of Egypt for Pharaoh with reference to the fifth," i.e., that the fifth of the produce of the land should be paid to Pharaoh.

Profane writers have given at least an indirect support to the reality of this political reform of Joseph's. Herodotus, for example (2, 109), states that king Sesostris divided the land among the Egyptians, giving every one a square piece of the same size as his hereditary possession (κλῆρον), and derived his own revenue from a yearly tax upon them. Diod. Sic. (1, 73), again, says that all the land in Egypt belonged either to the priests, to the king, or to the warriors; and Strabo (xvii. p. 787), that the farmers and traders held rateable land, so that the peasants were not landowners. On the monuments, too, the kings, priests, and warriors only are represented as having landed property (cf. Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, i. 263). The biblical account says nothing about the exemption of the warriors from taxation and their possession of land, for that was a later arrangement. According to Herod. 2, 168, every warrior had received from former kings, as an honourable payment, twelve choice fields (ἄρουραι) free from taxation, but they were taken away by the Hephaesto-priest Sethos, a contemporary of Hezekiah, when he ascended the throne (Herod. 2, 141). But when Herodotus and Diodorus Sic. attribute to Sesostris the division of the land into 36 νομοί, and the letting of these for a yearly payment; these comparatively recent accounts simply transfer the arrangement, which was actually made by Joseph, to a half-mythical king, to whom the later legends ascribed all the greater deeds and more important measures of the early Pharaohs. And so far as Joseph's arrangement itself was concerned, not only had he the good of the people and the interests of the king in view, but the people themselves accepted it as a favour, inasmuch as in a land where the produce was regularly thirty-fold, the cession of a fifth could not be an oppressive burden. And it is probable that Joseph not only turned the temporary distress to account by raising the king into the position of sole possessor of the land, with the exception of that of the priests, and bringing the people into a condition of feudal dependence upon him, but had also a still more comprehensive object in view; viz., to secure the population against the danger of starvation in case the crops should fail at any future time, not only by dividing the arable land in equal proportions among the people generally, but, as has been conjectured, by laying the foundation for a system of cultivation regulated by laws and watched over by the state, and possibly also by commencing a system of artificial irrigation by means of canals, for the purpose of conveying the fertilizing water of the Nile as uniformly as possible to all parts of the land. (An explanation of this system is given by Hengstenberg in his Dissertations, from the Correspondance d'Orient par Michaud, etc.) To mention either these or any other plans of a similar kind, did not come within the scope of the book of Genesis, which restricts itself, in accordance with its purely religious intention, to a description of the way in which, during the years of famine, Joseph proved himself to both the king and people of Egypt to be the true support of the land, so that in him Israel already became a saviour of the Gentiles. The measures taken by Joseph are thus circumstantially described, partly because the relation into which the Egyptians were brought to their visible king bore a typical resemblance to the relation in which the Israelites were placed by the Mosaic constitution to Jehovah, their God-King, since they also had to give a double tenth, i.e., the fifth of the produce of their lands, and were in reality only farmers of the soil which Jehovah had given them in Canaan for a possession, so that they could not part with their hereditary possessions in perpetuity (Leviticus 25:23); and partly also because Joseph's conduct exhibited in type how God entrusts His servants with the good things of this earth, in order that they may use them not only for the preservation of the lives of individuals and nations, but also for the promotion of the purposes of His kingdom. For, as is stated in conclusion in Genesis 47:27, not only did Joseph preserve the lives of the Egyptians, for which they expressed their acknowledgements (Genesis 47:25), but under his administration the house of Israel was able, without suffering any privations, or being brought into a relation of dependence towards Pharaoh, to dwell in the land of Goshen, to establish itself there (נאחז as in Genesis 34:10), and to become fruitful and multiply.

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