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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.
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.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 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.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.).
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