Genesis 48:19
And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
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(19) His younger brother shall be greater.—In the final numbering of the tribes on the plains of Moab, the tribe of Manasseh had 52,700 souls, and that of Ephraim only 32,500 (Numbers 26:34; Numbers 26:37). It was the division of the tribe of Manasseh into two portions which made it politically insignificant, while Ephraim obtained a commanding position in the land of Canaan; and as Joshua was an Ephraimite, it naturally held the rank of foremost tribe during his days, and claimed it always afterwards. For Joshua, after the conquest of Canaan, must have held a position similar to that of General Washington after the independence of the United States had been secured, and all Israel would regard him as their ruler and chief. The influence also of the tribe would be strengthened by the ark being placed in one of its towns.

Genesis 48:19. Truly his younger brother shall be greater than he — This prophecy was evidently fulfilled in the posterity of these two children: a convincing proof that Jacob spoke by inspiration of God; for who but he can foresee what is to happen in distant ages? About two hundred years after this, when the Israelites were first numbered in the wilderness, the tribe of Ephraim had eight thousand three hundred men more than that of Manasseh, Numbers 1:32; Numbers 1:35. In encamping about the tabernacle, Ephraim had the standard, and was set before Manasseh, Numbers 11:18-20. Of him came Joshua, the conqueror of Canaan, Numbers 13:18, and Jeroboam, king of Israel, 1 Kings 11:26. So that the name of Ephraim is often used to signify that whole kingdom. God, in bestowing his blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. And he often gives most to those that are least likely: he chooseth the weak things of the world, raiseth the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor doth God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleaseth him.

48:8-22 The two good men own God in their comforts. Joseph says, They are my sons whom God has given me. Jacob says, God hath showed me thy seed. Comforts are doubly sweet to us when we see them coming from God's hand. He not only prevents our fears, but exceeds our hopes. Jacob mentions the care the Divine providence had taken of him all his days. A great deal of hardship he had known in his time, but God kept him from the evil of his troubles. Now he was dying, he looked upon himself as redeemed from all sin and sorrow for ever. Christ, the Angel of the covenant, redeems from all evil. Deliverances from misery and dangers, by the Divine power, coming through the ransom of the blood of Christ, in Scripture are often called redemption. In blessing Joseph's sons, Jacob crossed hands. Joseph was willing to support his first-born, and would have removed his father's hands. But Jacob acted neither by mistake, nor from a partial affection to one more than the other; but from a spirit of prophecy, and by the Divine counsel. God, in bestowing blessings upon his people, gives more to some than to others, more gifts, graces, and comforts, and more of the good things of this life. He often gives most to those that are least likely. He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him. How poor are they who have no riches but those of this world! How miserable is a death-bed to those who have no well-grounded hope of good, but dreadful apprehensions of evil, and nothing but evil for ever!Joseph presumes that his father has gone astray through dulness of perception, and endeavors to rectify his mistake. He finds, however, that on the other hand a supernatural vision is now conferred on his parent, who is fully conscious of what he is about, and therefore, abides by his own act. Ephraim is to be greater than Menasseh. Joshua, the successor of Moses, was of the tribe of Ephraim, as Kaleb his companion was of Judah. Ephraim came to designate the northern kingdom of the ten tribes, as Judah denoted the southern kingdom containing the remaining tribes; and each name was occasionally used to denote all Israel, with a special reference to the prominent part. "His seed shall be the fullness of the nations." This denotes not only the number but the completeness of his race, and accords with the future pre-eminence of his tribe. In thee, in Joseph, who is still identified with his offspring.

At the point of death Jacob expresses his assurance of the return of his posterity to the land of promise, and bestows on Joseph one share or piece of ground above his brethren, which, says he, I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow. This share is, in the original, שׁכם shekem, Shekem, a shoulder or tract of land. This region included "the parcel of the field where he had spread his tent" Genesis 33:19. It refers to the whole territory of Shekem, which was conquered by his sword and his bow, inasmuch as the city itself was sacked, and its inhabitants put to the sword by his sons at the head of his armed retainers, though without his approval Genesis 34. Though he withdrew immediately after to Bethel Genesis 35, yet he neither fled nor relinquished possession of this conquest, as we find his sons feeding his flocks there when he himself was residing at Hebron Genesis 37:13. The incidental conquest of such a tract was no more at variance with the subsequent acquisition of the whole country than the purchase of a field by Abraham or a parcel of ground by Jacob himself. In accordance with this gift Joseph's bones were deposited in Shekem, after the conquest of the whole land by returning Israel. The territory of Shekem was probably not equal in extent to that of Ephraim, but was included within its bounds.

- Jacob Blesses His Sons

5. מכרה mekêrāh, "weapon;" related: כיר kārar or כרה kārāh dig. "Device, design?" related: מכר mākar "sell," in Arabic "take counsel. Habitation."

10. מחקק mechoqēq, "lawgiver, judge, dispenser of laws." This word occurs in six other places - Numbers 21:18; Deuteronomy 33:21; Jud. Deu 5:14; Psalm 60:9; Psalm 108:9; Isaiah 33:22; in five of which it clearly denotes ruler, or judge. The meaning "sceptre" is therefore doubtful. שׁילה shı̂ylôh, Shiloh, a softened form of שׁילון shı̂ylôn, a derivative of שׁל shol, the ultimate root of שׁלה shālâh, שׁלם shālam, and possibly שׁלט shālaṭ, and hence, denoting "the peacemaker, the prince of peace." It is not employed as an appellative noun. But it is used afterward as the name of a town, now identified as Seilun. This town probably had its name, like many other ancient places from a person of the same name who built or possessed it.

From the special conference with Joseph we now pass to the parting address of Jacob to his assembled sons. This is at the same time prophetic and benedictory. Like all prophecy, it starts from present things, and in its widest expanse penetrates into the remotest future of the present course of nature.

13. Joseph took them both—The very act of pronouncing the blessing was remarkable, showing that Jacob's bosom was animated by the spirit of prophecy. Greater than he; so the tribe of Ephraim was both in number, Numbers 1:32,33,35 2:19,21 Deu 33:17, and in power and privileges; for that tribe was the seat first of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the kingdom. Whence the name of Ephraim is sometimes put for all the ten tribes, as Isaiah 7:2, and sometimes for Joseph himself, as Numbers 1:32 Revelation 7:8, which Manasseh never is.

A multitude of nations, i.e. equal to many nations in number and strength; or, from them shall proceed many nations, i.e. many numerous; potent, and flourishing families, whereof each is equivalent to an ordinary nation. For as

nations are sometimes called families, as Zechariah 14:18, so the tribes and families of Israel are called nations or people, as Ezekiel 2:3 Acts 4:27.

And his father refused,.... To have any alteration made, and therefore, though Joseph lifted it up from. Ephraim's head and held it over it, Jacob put it on again and went on with the blessing:

and said, I know it, my son, I know it; he knew what he did, and he repeats it to confirm it, as well as to show the vehemency of his mind, and his resolution to abide by what he had done; he knew on whom he laid his right hand, and he knew that Manasseh was the firstborn: so the Targum of Jonathan:

and he also shall become a people; a tribe or nation:

and he also shall be great; in number, riches, and honour:

but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he; more numerous, as the tribe of Ephraim was, than that of Manasseh, when they came out of Egypt; for in numbering them there appeared to be 8300 more in the one tribe than in the other, Numbers 1:33, as well as more honourable; Ephraim's standard was placed before Manasseh's, Numbers 2:18; and upon the division of the tribes in Rehoboam's time, as Jeroboam was of the tribe of Ephraim, that tribe was at the head of the ten tribes, and the seat of the kingdom was in it, and the whole kingdom of Israel often goes by the name of Ephraim:

and his seed shall become a multitude of nations; that is, of families, for as nations are called families, Amos 3:1; so families may be called nations; the Targum of Onkelos is,"his sons shall be rulers among the people,''so Joshua, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, conquered and subdued the nations of the Canaanites, and Jeroboam of this tribe ruled over the ten tribes or nations of Israel: it may be rendered, "his seed shall fill the nations" (t), or be "the fulness" of them; which Jarchi interprets of the whole world being filled with the fame and renown of Joshua, who was of this tribe, when the sun and moon stood still in his days; but it is best to understand this of the large share he should have of the land of Canaan among the rest of the tribes or nations of Israel.

(t) "implebit nationes", Munster; "erit plenitudo gentium", Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt; "impletio gentium", Tigurine version.

And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
19. his younger … greater] The preference given to the younger reminds us of the blessing of Jacob himself. Cf. Genesis 25:23, Genesis 27:29; Genesis 27:40. See also the story of Perez and Zerah in Genesis 38:29-30. For the superiority of Ephraim over Manasseh, the history of Israel affords the fullest testimony. Cf. Numbers 1:33; Numbers 1:35; Numbers 2:19; Numbers 2:21.

a multitude] Lit. fulness, as Isaiah 31:4, “a multitude (lit. fulness) of shepherds.” To become “the fulness of the nations” is to be as full of population as all the nations of the world; a strong hyperbole.

Verse 19. - And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly (literally, and over against that; אוּלָם, the strongly adversative particle, signifying that which stands in front of, or opposite to, another thing) his younger brother shall be greater than he (cf. Numbers 1:33 with Numbers 1:35; 2:19 with Numbers 2:21), and his seed shall become a multitude of nations - literally, shall be a fullness of nations. In the time of Moses this prediction began to realize itself. In the first census which took place in the wilderness the tribe of Ephraim had 40,500 men, while that of Manasseh could only reckon 32,200; in the second the numbers received a temporary alteration, Ephraim counting only 32,500, and Manasseh 52,700; but after the conquest the ascendancy of Ephraim wag restored, so that she easily assumed the lead among the ten northern tribes, and acquired a name and an influence only second to that of Judah (cf. Judges 4:5; Judges 5:14; Judges 8; Judges 12.). Genesis 48:19When Joseph observed his father placing his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, the younger son, he laid hold of it to put it upon Manasseh's head, telling his father at the same time that he was the first-born; but Jacob replied, "I know, my son, I:know: he also (Manasseh) will become a nation, and will become great, yet (ואוּלם as in Genesis 28:19) his younger brother will become greater than he, and his seed will become the fulness of nations." This blessing began to be fulfilled from the time of the Judges, when the tribe of Ephraim so increased in extent and power, that it took the lead of the northern tribes and became the head of the ten tribes, and its name acquired equal importance with the name Israel, whereas under Moses, Manasseh had numbered 20,000 more than Ephraim (Numbers 26:34 and Numbers 26:37). As a result of the promises received from God, the blessing was not merely a pious wish, but the actual bestowal of a blessing of prophetic significance and force. - In Genesis 48:20 the writer sums up the entire act of blessing in the words of the patriarch: "In thee (i.e., Joseph) will Israel (as a nation) bless, saying: God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh" (i.e., Joseph shall be so blessed in his two sons, that their blessing will become a standing form of benediction in Israel); "and thus he placed Ephraim before Manasseh," viz., in the position of his hands and the terms of the blessing. Lastly, (Genesis 48:21) Israel expressed to Joseph his firm faith in the promise, that God would bring back his descendants after his death into the land of their fathers (Canaan), and assigned to him a double portion in the promised land, the conquest of which passed before his prophetic glance as already accomplished, in order to insure for the future the inheritance of the adopted sons of Joseph. "I give thee one ridge of land above thy brethren" (i.e., above what thy brethren receive, each as a single tribe), "which I take from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and bow" (i.e., by force of arms). As the perfect is used prophetically, transposing the future to the present as being already accomplished, so the words לקחתּי אשׁר must also be understood prophetically, as denoting that Jacob would wrest the land from the Amorites, not in his own person, but in that of his posterity.

(Note: There is no force in Kurtz's objection, that this gift did not apply to Joseph as the father of Ephraim and Manasseh, but to Joseph personally; for it rests upon the erroneous assumption, that Jacob separated Joseph from his sons by their adoption. But there is not a word to that effect in Genesis 48:6, and the very opposite in Genesis 48:15, viz., that Jacob blessed Joseph in Ephraim and Manasseh. Heim's conjecture, which Kurtz approves, that by the land given to Joseph we are to understand the high land of Gilead, which Jacob had conquered from the Amorites, needs no refutation, for it is purely imaginary.)

The words cannot refer to the purchase of the piece of ground at Shechem (Genesis 33:19), for a purchase could not possibly be called a conquest by sword and bow; and still less to the crime committed by the sons of Jacob against the inhabitants of Shechem, when they plundered the town (Genesis 34:25.), for Jacob could not possibly have attributed to himself a deed for which he had pronounced a curse upon Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:6-7), not to mention the fact, that the plundering of Shechem was not followed in this instance by the possession of the city, but by the removal of Jacob from the neighbourhood. "Moreover, any conquest of territory would have been entirely at variance with the character of the patriarchal history, which consisted in the renunciation of all reliance upon human power, and a believing, devoted trust in the God of the promises" (Delitzsch). The land, which the patriarchs desired to obtain in Canaan, they procured not by force of arms, but by legal purchase (cf. Genesis 24 and Genesis 33:19). It was to be very different in the future, when the iniquity of the Amorites was full (Genesis 15:16). But Jacob called the inheritance, which Joseph was to have in excess of his brethren, שׁכם (lit., shoulder, or more properly nape, neck; here figuratively a ridge, or tract of land), as a play upon the word Shechem, because he regarded the piece of land purchased at Shechem as a pledge of the future possession of the whole land. In the piece purchased there, the bones of Joseph were buried, after the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 24:32); and this was understood in future times, as though Jacob had presented the piece of ground to Joseph (vid., John 4:5).

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