Genesis 48:22
Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.
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(22) One portion.—Heb., one Shechem. In favour of this being the town of Shechem is the fact that it did belong to Jacob (Genesis 37:12, where see Note); also that Joseph’s embalmed body was deposited there (see Joshua 24:32, where the land is said to have been bought for a hundred kesitas); and, lastly, the testimony of John 4:5, where a parcel of ground at Sychar, close to Shechem, is identified with the ground given by Jacob to Joseph. On the other hand, one Shechem is an unnatural way of describing a town. Shechem also means, as we have seen (Genesis 12:6), the shoulder, and Abul-walid, in his Lexicon, quoting this place, says that both the Hebrews and Arabs gave this name to any elevated strip of ground. This is confirmed by Numbers 34:11, &c., though the word actually used, chatef, is different. Probably, therefore, there was a play upon words in calling this plot of hill-ground Shechem, and not chatef’, but made with the intention of showing that the town of Shechem was the portion really signified. But what is meant by “Jacob having taken it out of the hand of the Amorite by his sword and his bow”? Shechem was strictly a town of the Hivites, but as they were but a feeble tribe, the term Amorite may be used to give greater glory to the exploit. In Genesis 15:16, the Amorites, literally mountaineers, are described as owners of the whole country, and probably it was a term loosely applied to all the inhabitants of the uplands, though occasionally used with a more definite meaning (Genesis 15:21). As Jacob so strongly condemns the conduct of Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:5-7), he can scarcely refer to their exploit, and therefore commentators generally suppose that he used the words prophetically, meaning, “which my descendants will, centuries hence, conquer for themselves with their swords and bows.” But this is, to take the words of Holy Scripture in a non-natural sense. Jacob was the owner of a strip of this “shoulder-land” in a way in which he was not the owner of any other portion of land in Canaan, except the cave of Machpelah; and we find him sending his cattle to pasture there when he was himself dwelling far away (Genesis 37:12). And it is quite possible that, after the inhuman treatment of the Hivites at Shechem, the Amorites did gather themselves together to avenge the Wrong, but were deterred by the threatening position taken up by Jacob, or even repulsed in an attack. The latter supposition would best harmonise with the fact that “a mighty terror fell upon all the cities round about” (Genesis 35:5), and also with the exultant spirit in which Jacob, a pre-eminently peaceful and timid man, here alludes to the one military exploit of his life.

Genesis 48:22. I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren — This seems to have been the parcel of ground near Shechem, which Jacob purchased of Hamor, the prince of the country, (Genesis 33:19,) and which, it is probable, he took or recovered with his sword and bow, that is, by force of arms, from the Amorites, who had seized on it after his removal to another part of Canaan, although this is not mentioned in Scripture. This parcel of ground he gave to Joseph, as is mentioned, John 4:5, of whose sons we find it was the inheritance, Joshua 17:1; Joshua 20:7. And in it Joseph’s bones were buried, which perhaps Jacob had an eye to as much as to any thing in this settlement. It may sometimes be both just and prudent to give some children portions above the rest; but a grave is that which we can most count upon as our own in this earth.

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.

22. moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren—This was near Shechem (Ge 33:18; Joh 4:5; also Jos 16:1; 20:7). And it is probable that the Amorites, having seized upon it during one of his frequent absences, the patriarch, with the united forces of his tribe, recovered it from them by his sword and his bow. i.e. I do now give to thee the right, and I do prophetically give, and God will really and actually give unto thy son Ephraim, or his and posterity, who shall possess this part over above that portion which shall fall to him by lot. This was all the land which Jacob had in Canaan, which he here gives to Joseph, partly, in testimony of his great affection and obligation to him; partly, as a sign that he did confirm the right of the first-born upon him; and partly, for the confirmation of the faith of Joseph and his brethren, and to oblige them to set up their rest no where but in Canaan.

One portion: the Hebrew word is Shechem, which word indeed signifies a shoulder, as Genesis 9:23, and is here put for a part of land which is choice and good, as the shoulder is among the parts of the body. See 1 Samuel 9:24. And he useth this word, that by allusion he might signify what place he speaks of, even Shechem, as may further appear by comparing Joshua 24:32 John 4:5. Yea, some would have Shechem here to be the proper name of the place, which might be if the word one were not added to it.

This place is understood, either,

1. Of the future conquest of the land of the Amorites or Canaanities by his posterity, which he here ascribes to himself, and speaks of it in the past time, as of a thing already done, as the manner of the prophets is. But Jacob would not attribute that to his sword, which his posterity deny to be done by their sword, Psalm 44:3. And it is manifest that Jacob here speaks of that which was his by a special title, and which in a peculiar manner he gave to Joseph. Or,

2. Of the city and territory of Shechem, whose inhabitants were rooted out by Simeon and Levi, and whose land being void was possessed by Jacob. And this is said to be got by Jacob’s sword and bow, because it was got with the sword and bow of his sons Simeon and Levi, and a great number of his family, who doubtless were associated with them in this expedition. But it is not likely that he would take to himself that which he declares his utter abhorrence of, Genesis 34:30 49:5,6, or that he should call that

his sword and his bow here which he calls instruments of cruelty in Simeon’s and Levi’s hands, Genesis 49:5. Or,

3. Which seems the truest, of that land in the territory of Shechem, which Jacob bought of Hamor, Genesis 33:19, which is said to be got by his sword and bow, either,

1. Properly, because he did by force of arms expel those Amorites, who upon his retirement from those parts, after the slaughter of the Shechemites, had invaded his lands, though this story be not elsewhere recorded; as many things are mentioned by the by in some one place of Scripture, without any particular account of the circumstances of them, either there or elsewhere, as Genesis 36:24 Deu 2:9-11 Joshua 24:11. And though Jacob was a man of peace, yet his sons were warriors; and they by his permission might drive out, by their arms, those straggling Canaanites which had taken possession of his purchase, Jacob being the more willing to recover his right herein, because it was an earnest of his future possession of the whole land. And the neighbouring Canaanites would not concern themselves in the defence of the invaders, both because they were convinced of the right of Jacob’s cause, and because they were overruled by Divine Providence, in which Jacob trusted, and of which he had ample experience. Or,

2. Metaphorically, i.e. by his money, which he calls his sword and his bow, not only because money is answerable to the sword and the bow, and all other things, Ecclesiastes 10:19, and is a defence, Ecclesiastes 7:12, and therefore may well be so called, even as prayers and tears are called the arms of the church, because they serve for the same purpose that arms do against their enemies; but also and principally by way of opposition to the sword and bow of his cruel sons. So the sense may be this, I have given to thee one portion, or one Shechem, not the city of Shechem, which Simeon and Levi took from the hand of the Amorite with their sword and their bow, but a part of the territory of Shechem which I took or received from the hand of the Amorite by my sword and my bow, i.e. by my money, whereby I purchased it.

Moreover, I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren,.... The word for "portion" is "Shechem", and which some take to be, not an appellative, as we do, but the name of a city, even Shechem; so the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi interpret it; and though that is not directly meant, yet there is a reference had to it, and it seems to be enigmatically understood; for this portion or parcel spoken of was near to Shechem, and not only that, but the city itself, and all the adjacent country, came to the lot of Ephraim, and were possessed by that tribe:

which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow; not referring, as some think, to the taking and spoiling of the city of Shechem by his sons, and so said to be done by him in them; for Jacob would never make that his act and deed, which he so much abhorred and detested, and still did, as appears by what he says of it in the following chapter; nor was this taken from the Amorite, but from the Hivite, and not by his sword and bow, whether taken literally or metaphorically, and so interpreted of his prayer and supplication, as by Onkelos; but he was so far from assisting in that affair by supplication, that his imprecations fell on Levi and Simeon, for that fact of theirs: if this is to be understood of the city of Shechem, what Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom propose seems most agreeable, that this is said by way of anticipation, the past tense being put for the future; Jacob, under a spirit of prophecy, foreseeing and declaring that his sons, and he in his sons in future time, would take it out of the hands of the Amorites, the principal of the Canaanitish nations, and then it should be given to Joseph's seed; but the first and special regard is to the part or parcel of ground which lay near Shechem; and this Jacob is said to take by his sword and bow, which some interpret of his money, which were his arms and defence, and which he had got by much labour; and if it could be proved that his money was marked with a sword and bow upon it, as the Persian Darics were with an archer with his bow and arrow, and therefore called sagittaries or archers (u), it would countenance this sense; though even then it could not with propriety be said that he by this means obtained it of the Amorite, since he bought it of the children of Hamor the Hivite; but it seems more likely, that after Jacob departed from Shechem to Hebron, the Amorite came and seized on this parcel of ground; which he hearing of, went with his sons and servants, and recovered it out of their hands by his sword and bow; though this warlike action of his is nowhere recorded in Scripture, the Jewish writers (w) say, that Jacob and his sons had very grievous war with the Amorites on account of the slaughter and captivity of the Shechemites: by giving to Joseph this portion above his brethren, it appears that the birthright was become his, he having the double portion, and indeed all that Jacob had of his own in the land of Canaan; and hence Joseph's bones were buried here, it being his own ground; see Joshua 24:32.

(u) Vid. Heidegger. Hist. Patriarch. tom. 2. Exercit. 22. sect. 12. p. 690. (w) Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 1.

Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which {k} I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

(k) By my children whom God spared for my sake.

22. portion] Heb. shechem, “shoulder,” i.e. mountain slope. This unusual expression (not elsewhere used in O.T.) for a “ridge,” “saddle,” or “shoulder,” of a hill, is here employed as a play upon the proper name “Shechem.” LXX σίκιμα ἐξαίρετον; Lat. unam partem. The allusion may no longer be clear; but it evidently refers to the city of Shechem, and has some bearing upon its subsequent position as a principal city in the tribe of Ephraim, and as the site of Joseph’s burial-place.

above thy brethren] As if the distribution of other portions had already been made.

which I took … Amorite] This allusion to a conquest of Shechem by Jacob has nothing to correspond with it in the earlier narrative. In Genesis 33:19 Jacob purchases a parcel of ground at Shechem. In ch. 34 his sons massacre the Shechemites; but on that occasion Jacob condemns their action (cf. Genesis 34:30), and departs to dwell elsewhere. Probably we have here some quite distinct tradition of a conquest of Shechem by Jacob, which is connected with a feat of arms. In Joshua 24:32 it is combined with the purchase of ground in Genesis 33:19. The survival of that tradition appears in St John 4:5.

with my sword and with my bow] In order to avoid the appearance of warlike activity on the part of the peaceful patriarchs, Targ. Onkelos renders “with my prayer and entreaty.” We may compare the strange paraphrase of Jerome, “dabo tibi Sicimam quam emi in fortitudine mea, hoc est, in pecunia quam multo labore et sudore quaesivi” (Quaest. ed. Lagarde, p. 66). For Abraham as a warrior, see chap. 14.

Verse 22. - Moreover (literally, and) I have given - or, I give (Keil), I will give (Kalisch), the preterit being used prophetically as a future, or even as a present, the event being regarded, from its certainty, as already accomplished. It is thus not absolutely clear that Jacob here alludes to any past transaction in his own personal history - to thee one portion - literally, one shoulder, or ridge, or elevated tract of land, שְׁכֶם; unam pattern (Vulgate), with which agree several of the ancient versions (Onkelos, Syriac) - above thy brethren, which I took - or take (Keil), or shall take (Kalisch) - out of the hand of the Amorite - a general name for the inhabitants of Canaan (vide Genesis 15:16) - with my sword and with my bow. As Scripture has preserved no account of any military exploit in the history of Jacob such as is here described, the patriarch's language has been understood as referring to the plot of ground at Shechem which Jacob purchased of Hamor the father of Shechem (Genesis 33:19), and as signifying either that he had captured it by sword and bow, in the sense that his sons at the head of his armed retainers had put the inhabitants of the town to the sword, and so taken possession of the entire district (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Murphy); or that, though he had peacefully paid for it, he yet required at a subsequent period to recover it by force of arms from the Canaanites (Lawson, Bush, Wordsworth); or that after the terrible tragedy at Shechem, when God put a fear upon the surrounding cities, Jacob and his sons stood in the gate of Shechem in the armed expectation of a hostile attack, and so may be said to have taken it by sword and bow (Rabbi Solomon, Lyra, Willet). It seems, however, better to regard the words as a prophetic utterance pointing forward to the conquest of Canaan, which Jacob here represents himself, in the persons of his descendants, as taking from the Amorites by means of sword and bow, and as intimating that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh would receive a double portion of the inheritance, the word שְׁכֶם being probably designed to convey a hint that the tract to be in future assigned to Joseph's descendants would be the region round about the ancient city Shechem (Ainsworth, Keil, Kalisch, Lunge, &c.).

Genesis 48:22When 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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