Genesis 50:23
And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up on Joseph's knees.
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(23) The third generation.—These would be Joseph’s great-grandchildren. Thus Eran, son of Shuthelah, son of Ephraim, was to be born in Joseph’s lifetime (Numbers 26:35-36).

Were brought up . . . —Heb., were born upon Joseph’s knees, that is, were adopted by him. (See Note on Genesis 30:3.) They would not form tribes, as this prerogative was reserved for the sons of Jacob (Genesis 48:5), but they would count as Joseph’s sons (Genesis 48:6), and form “families.”

50:22-26 Joseph having honoured his father, his days were long in the land, which, for the present, God had given him. When he saw his death approaching, he comforted his brethren with the assurance of their return to Canaan in due time. We must comfort others with the same comforts with which we have been comforted of God, and encourage them to rest on the promises which are our support. For a confession of his own faith, and a confirmation of theirs, he charges them to keep his remains unburied till that glorious day, when they should be settled in the land of promise. Thus Joseph, by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, gave commandment concerning his bones. This would keep up their expectation of a speedy departure from Egypt, and keep Canaan continually in their minds. This would also attach Joseph's posterity to their brethren. The death, as well as the life of this eminent saint, was truly excellent; both furnish us with strong encouragement to persevere in the service of God. How happy to set our early in the heavenly race, to continue stedfastly, and to finish the course with joy! This Joseph did, this we also may do. Even when the pains of death are upon us, if we have trusted in Him upon whom the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles depended, we need not fear to say, My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.The biography of Joseph is now completed. "The children of the third generation" - the grandsons of grandsons in the line of Ephraim. We have here an explicit proof that an interval of about twenty years between the births of the father and that of his first-born was not unusual during the lifetime of Joseph. "And Joseph took an oath." He thus expressed his unwavering confidence in the return of the sons of Israel to the land of promise. "God will surely visit." He was embalmed and put in a coffin, and so kept by his descendants, as was not unusual in Egypt. And on the return of the sons of Israel from Egypt they kept their oath to Joseph Exodus 13:19, and buried his bones in Shekem Joshua 24:32.

The sacred writer here takes leave of the chosen family, and closes the bible of the sons of Israel. It is truly a wonderful book. It lifts the veil of mystery that hangs over the present condition of the human race. It records the origin and fall of man, and thus explains the co-existence of moral evil and a moral sense, and the hereditary memory of God and judgment in the soul of man. It records the cause and mode of the confusion of tongues, and thus explains the concomitance of the unity of the race and the specific diversity of mode or form in human speech. It records the call of Abraham, and thus accounts for the preservation of the knowledge of God and his mercy in one section of the human race, and the corruption or loss of it in all the rest. We need scarcely remark that the six days' creation accounts for the present state of nature. It thus solves the fundamental questions of physics, ethics, philology, and theology for the race of Adam. It notes the primitive relation of man to God, and marks the three great stages of human development that came in with Adam, Noah, and Abraham. It points out the three forms of sin that usher in these stages - the fall of Adam, the intermarriage of the sons of God with the daughters of men, and the building of the tower of Babel. It gradually unfolds the purpose and method of grace to the returning penitent through a Deliverer who is successively announced as the seed of the woman, of Shem, of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. This is the second Adam, who, when the covenant of works was about to fall to the ground through the failure of the first Adam, undertook to uphold it by fulfilling all its conditions on behalf of those who are the objects of the divine grace.

Hence, the Lord establishes his covenant successively with Adam, Noah, and Abraham; with Adam after the fall tacitly, with Noah expressly, and with both generally as the representatives of the race descending from them; with Abraham especially and instrumentally as the channel through which the blessings of salvation might be at length extended to all the families of the earth. So much of this plan of mercy is revealed from time to time to the human race as comports with the progress they have made in the education of the intellectual, moral, and active faculties. This only authentic epitome of primeval history is worthy of the constant study of intelligent and responsible man.

22, 23. Joseph dwelt in Egypt—He lived eighty years after his elevation to the chief power [see on [12]Ge 41:46] witnessing a great increase in the prosperity of the kingdom, and also of his own family and kindred—the infant Church of God. Of the third generation, reckoning from and after Ephraim, i.e., Ephraim’s grandchildren’s children. So early did Ephraim’s privilege above Manasseh appear, and Jacob’s blessing { Genesis 48:19} take place.

The children of Machir, Heb. sons. For though he had but one son, viz. Gilead, by his first wife, yet he married a second wife, and by her had two other sons, 1 Chronicles 7:16, which Joseph lived long enough to see. Or under the name of children his grandchildren also might be comprehended. So there is no need of that enallage of sons for one son which we meet with in other places.

Were brought up upon Joseph’s knees; laid upon Joseph’s lap or knees, where parents use ofttimes to take up and repose their infants, to express their love to them, and delight in them. And some observe, that it was an ancient custom in divers nations, that the infant, as soon as it was born, was laid upon the grandfather’s knees. So it is an ellipsis, whereby one word is put for two, or under one verb. See more of this phrase on Genesis 30:3 48:12. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation,.... His great grandchildren's children; and which shows, as most interpreters observe, that Jacob's prediction, that Ephraim should be the greatest and most numerous, very early began to take place:

and the children also of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were brought up upon Joseph's knees; Machir had but one son by his first wife, whose name was Gilead; but marrying a second wife, he had two sons, Peresh and Sheresh; see 1 Chronicles 7:14 who might be born before the death of Joseph, and be said to be brought up upon his knees, being educated by him, and often took up in his lap, and dandled on his knees, as grandfathers, being fond of their grandchildren, are apt to do.

And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees.
23. of the third generation] Ephraim’s children “of the third generation” might mean his great-grandchildren; cf. Exodus 34:7. But in Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18, the third generation are the grandchildren, the grandparents being reckoned as the first. If this way of reckoning be here followed, Ephraim represents the first generation, and his grandchildren the third. This is also favoured by the next clause, which mentions Manasseh’s grand-children. Joseph, therefore, lived to see his great-grandchildren. On this token of blessing, see Psalm 128:6; Proverbs 13:22; Proverbs 17:6.

Machir] The name of one of the leading branches of the tribe of Manasseh; cf. Numbers 32:39; Deuteronomy 3:15; Joshua 13:31; Joshua 17:1; 1 Chronicles 7:14. From these passages it appears that the family of Machir occupied Gilead: while in Jdg 5:14 Machir takes rank with the tribes of Israel.

upon Joseph’s knees] A phrase denoting that Joseph, as head of the family, acknowledged and adopted the children. See note on Genesis 30:3, and cf. Job 3:12, Isaiah 66:12, and Homer, Od. xix. 401.Verse 23. - And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: - i.e. Ephraim's great-grandchildren (Kalisch, Lange), or Ephraim s great-great-grandsons (Keil, Murphy), which perhaps was not impossible, since Ephraim must have been born before Joseph's thirty-seventh year, thus allowing at least sixty-three years for four generations to intervene before the patriarch's death, which might be, if marriage happened early, say not later than eighteen - the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh-by a concubine (1 Chronicles 7:14) were brought up upon Joseph's knees - literally, were born upon Joseph's knees, i.e. were adopted by him as soon as they were born (Kalisch, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or were born so that he could take them also upon his knees, and show his love for them (Keil). After their father's death, Joseph's brethren were filled with alarm, and said, "If Joseph now should punish us and requite all the evil that we have done to him," sc., what would become of us! The sentence contains an aposiopesis, like Psalm 27:13; and לוּ with the imperfect presupposes a condition, being used "in cases which are not desired, and for the present not real, though perhaps possible" (Ew. 358). The brethren therefore deputed one of their number (possibly Benjamin) to Joseph, and instructed him to appeal to the wish expressed by their father before his death, and to implore forgiveness: "O pardon the misdeed of thy brethren and their sin, that they have done thee evil; and now grant forgiveness to the misdeed of the servants of the God of thy father." The ground of their plea is contained in ועתּה "and now," sc., as we request it by the desire and direction of our father, and in the epithet applied to themselves, "servants of the God of thy father." There is no reason whatever for regarding the appeal to their father's wish as a mere pretence. The fact that no reference was made by Jacob in his blessing to their sin against Joseph, merely proved that he as their father had forgiven the sin of his sons, since the grace of God had made their misdeed the means of Israel's salvation; but it by no means proves that he could not have instructed his sons humbly to beg for forgiveness from Joseph, even though Joseph had hitherto shown them only goodness and love. How far Joseph was from thinking of ultimate retribution and revenge, is evident from the reception which he gave to their request (Genesis 50:17): "Joseph wept at their address to him." viz., at the fact that they could impute anything so bad to him; and when they came themselves, and threw themselves as servants at his feet, he said to them (Genesis 50:19), "Fear not, for am I in the place of God?" i.e., am I in a position to interfere of my own accord with the purposes of God, and not rather bound to submit to them myself? "Ye had indeed evil against me in your mind, but God had it in mind for good (to turn this evil into good), to do (עשׂה like ואה Genesis 48:11), as is now evident (lit., as has occurred this day, cf. Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 4:20, etc.), to preserve alive a great nation (cf. Genesis 45:7). And now fear not, I shall provide for you and your families." Thus he quieted them by his affectionate words.
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