Some time later, Joseph was told, "Your father is ill." So he set out with his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
I. WHAT IT WAS.
1. It was not anxiety about temporal support, for that had been generously made sure to him by his son Joseph.
2. It was not concern about the future fortunes of his family, for these had been graciously taken under God's protection.
3. It was not uncertainty as to his own personal acceptance with Jehovah, for of that he had long ago been assured.
4. It was scarcely even fear of his approaching death, for besides being a thought with which Jacob had long been familiar, to a weary pilgrim like him the event itself would not be altogether unwelcome.
5. It was dread lest his lifeless body should be interred in Egypt, far from the graves of his ancestors in the holy land.
II. WHENCE IT AROSE.
1. From the deeply-seated instinct in human nature, which makes men wish, if possible, to sleep beside their fathers and friends. Though religion teaches us to believe that every spot on earth is in a manner holy ground, yet it does not induce a spirit of indifference as to the last resting-place where we shall lie.
2. From a firm faith in the Divine promise that his descendants should yet return to Canaan. Even if Jacob did not anticipate that this would immediately occur, if, as is probable, he had already dark forebodings that the period of exile and servitude spoken of by Jehovah to Abraham was about to commence, he was yet able to detect a silver lining in the cloud, to see the happy time beyond, when his children, in accordance with the promise "I will surely bring thee up again," should return home to their presently abandoned inheritance.
III. HOW IT WAS REMOVED.
1. By Joseph's promise. Requested by his aged parent to convey his body back to Canaan, when the life had departed, Joseph solemnly, engages to carry out that parent's wishes to the letter. "I will do as thou hast said."
2. By Joseph's oath. As if to remove every possible ground of apprehension, the old man further binds his son by an appeal to heaven. "And he said, Swear unto me; and he (Joseph) sware unto him." The venerable patriarch's anxieties were at an end. "And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head." - W.
I. THE OLD MAN'S SICKNESS. The pain and sorrow of dying mitigated by the presence and kind offices of dear friends. The joy of Jacob when it is told him that Joseph is coming. He strengthened himself, and sat up. Good news infuse new life. How strong in death are those who feel that Christ, the Great Deliverer, is near.
Thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh,... are mine:I. THE AUTHORITY WHICH HE CLAIMED FOR THIS ACT. He refers to a leading point in the covenant history. God the Almighty, who is able to perform His Word, had appeared to him, had promised to make him a great nation, and to give his seed the land of Canaan (ver. 3). God had spoken to him, and this is his authority. On this he bases all the family hopes. The mention of God's appearance and promise would inspire confidence in Joseph.
II. THE PURPOSE HE HAD IN VIEW.
1. To deliver them from the corrupting influences of the world. Though they had an Egyptian mother, and belonged to that nation by birth and circumstances, yet they were not to be suffered to remain Egyptians. Ordinary men would regard them as having brilliant prospects in the world. But it was a far nobler thing that they should espouse the cause of God, and cast in their lot with His people.
2. To give them a recognized place in the covenant family. This would impart a dignity and meaning to their life, and an impulse and an elevation to all their thoughts Godward.
3. To do special honour to Joseph.
III. THE SAD MEMORIES WHICH AWOKE.
1. They were selected in the room of Jacob's two sons, who had forfeited the blessing. Instead of Reuben and Simeon. They had grievously sinned, and thus lost their inheritance. The portion of Reuben was given to Ephraim; and of Simeon to Manasseh. The grounds of this are given in 1 Chronicles 5:1; see also Genesis 34., 49:5-7; Numbers 26:28-37; 1 Chronicles 7:14-29.
2. They reminded him of one whom he had loved and lost (ver. 7).
(T. H. Leale.)
II. THE OLD MAN'S MEMORY. In youth hope is strong, in old age, memory. The memory of the aged recalls distant things. The recent are apt to be forgotten. Before the old man's mind memory rolls out the picture of his journey from Padan. Happy shall we be if, among our memories of the past, we can recall an early attachment of truth, &c., especially to Jesus. The past never dies. Memory carries the present forward into the future.
III. THE OLD MAN'S BLESSING.
1. Valuable. The blessing of a good old man not to be slighted. The blessing of such a man as Jacob most precious. It involved the transmission of covenant mercies. Jacob's relation to the people of God, federal and representative.
2. Discriminating. He distinguished between the elder and younger son. By supernatural illumination he specially indicated the supremacy of the younger.
3. Prophetic. He not only foretold the pre-eminence of Ephraim, but predicted their admitted greatness by all Israel.
4. Practical. He gave, as the covenant owner of the promised land, great material wealth to these adopted children of Joseph. His blessing had the force of law — a last will and testament. The bequest was allowed.
5. Pious. He referred what he did to the will of God. Acknowledged the good hand' of the Lord his God, and the angel who redeemed him from all evil. Learn:(1) The sickness which is unto death will soon be upon us.(2) The duty of being kind to the sick and afflicted.(3) To guard the treasures of memory. And take care that there shall be among them the memory of forgiven sin.(4) To seek to deserve the blessing of the aged.(5) Above all to seek early the blessing and favour of God.
(J. C. Gray.)
(F. Whitfield, M. A.)
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