And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He bowed himself.—The Samaritan, Syriac, and LXX. Versions regard the Hebrew verb as a contracted plural, and many modern commentators adopt this view. It would thus be Manasseh and Ephraim who stood before Jacob with faces bent towards the ground. The pronoun, however, is in favour of the verb being singular, and the sense it gives is equally satisfactory.Genesis 48:12. From between his knees — Not his own, but Jacob’s, between which they stood, while Jacob kissed and embraced them, and from which Joseph removed them, that they might not be burdensome to their aged and weak grandfather, and especially that he might place them in a fit order and a reverent posture to receive the blessing which he earnestly desired. He bowed himself — To testify his reverence for his father, his gratitude for the favour now shown to him and his children, and his humble request for his blessing upon them.
The imposition of the hand is a primitive custom which here for the first time comes into notice. It is the natural mode of marking out the object of the benediction, signifying its conveyance to the individual, and implying that it is laid upon him as the destiny of his life. It may be done by either hand; but when each is laid on a different object, as in the present case, it may denote that the higher blessing is conveyed by the right hand. The laying on of both hands on one person may express the fulness of the blessing conveyed, or the fullness of the desire with which it is conveyed.From between his knees; not his own knees, from which they had been taken before, but Jacob’s knees, between which they stood whilst Jacob kissed and embraced them; from which Joseph removed them, partly that they might not be burdensome to their aged and weak grandfather, and principally that he might place them in fit order and reverent posture to receive the blessing for which he longed.
He bowed himself, testifying thereby his reverence to his father, his thankfulness for the favour which he had now showed to him and his, and his humble and earnest request for his blessing upon them.
and he bowed himself with his face to the earth; in a civil way to his father, and in reverence of him; in a religious way to God, expressing his thankfulness for all favours to him and his, and as supplicating a blessing for his sons through his father, under a divine influence and direction.And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. Joseph brought … his knees] To set a child upon the knees was to symbolize reception or adoption into the family: see note on Genesis 30:3. From this passage it would appear that Joseph had set Ephraim and Manasseh upon, or against, the knees of their grandfather, so that they might receive the formal symbol (not here described) of adoption. This being done, he then removes them from between the knees of Jacob.
he bowed himself] For “bowed himself,” see note on Genesis 47:31. Who bowed himself? (1) Either Joseph, who thus threw himself on the ground to receive the blessing described in Genesis 48:15. (2) Or Jacob, who thus rendered thanks to God for enabling him to adopt into his family the children of Joseph. According to (2), Jacob would be represented as able to prostrate himself with his face to the earth (see note on Genesis 47:31). According to (1), Genesis 48:13-14 are interposed between Joseph’s prostration in Genesis 48:12 and the imposition of Jacob’s blessing in Genesis 48:15. But, if we may regard this story as independent of Genesis 47:29-31 (J), it seems simplest to refer the act to Jacob.Verse 12. - And Joseph brought them out from between his knees (literally, from near his knees, i.e. the knees of his father, who while in the act of embracing had drawn them into that position), and he (viz. Joseph) bowed himself with his face to the earth. The reading "and they bowed themselves," i.e. Ephraim and Manasseh (Samaritan, Michaelis), and the rendering καὶ προσκύνησαν αὐτῴ (LXX.), are incorrect. Genesis 35:10. cf. Genesis 38:13.), Israel said to Joseph (Genesis 48:5): "And now thy two sons, which were born to thee in the land of Egypt, until (before) I came to thee into Egypt...let them be mine; Ephraim and Manasseh, like Reuben and Simeon (my first and second born), let them be mine." The promise which Jacob had received empowered the patriarch to adopt the sons of Joseph in the place of children. Since the Almighty God had promised him the increase of his seed into a multitude of peoples, and Canaan as an eternal possession to that seed, he could so incorporate into the number of his descendants the two sons of Joseph who were born in Egypt before his arrival, and therefore outside the range of his house, that they should receive an equal share in the promised inheritance with his own eldest sons. But this privilege was to be restricted to the two first-born sons of Joseph. "Thy descendants," he proceeds in Genesis 48:6, "which thou hast begotten since them, shall be thine; by the name of their brethren shall they be called in their inheritance;" i.e., they shall not form tribes of their own with a separate inheritance, but shall be reckoned as belonging to Ephraim and Manasseh, and receive their possessions among these tribes, and in their inheritance. These other sons of Joseph are not mentioned anywhere; but their descendants are at any rate included in the families of Ephraim and Manasseh mentioned in Numbers 26:28-37; 1 Chronicles 7:14-29. By this adoption of his two eldest sons, Joseph was placed in the position of the first-born, so far as the inheritance was concerned (1 Chronicles 5:2). Joseph's mother, who had died so early, was also honoured thereby. And this explains the allusion made by Jacob in Genesis 48:7 to his beloved Rachel, the wife of his affections, and to her death-how she died by his side (עלי), on his return from Padan (for Padan-Aram, the only place in which it is so called, cf. Genesis 25:20), without living to see her first-born exalted to the position of a saviour to the whole house of Israel.
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