Genesis 48:1
Some time later, Joseph was told, "Your father is ill." So he set out with his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
Jacob Adopts Joseph's SonsJ. C. Gray.Genesis 48:1-7
Jacob's Adoption of Joseph's Two SonsT. H. Leale.Genesis 48:1-7
Manasseh and EphraimF. Whitfield, M. A.Genesis 48:1-7
The Patriarch's Departing LifeR.A. Redford Genesis 48


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.)

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.

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.


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.)

We have in this chapter a further illustration of the truth, which runs throughout Scripture, of the first-born being set aside and the younger being chosen. So bent are we upon expecting God to move in our own circle, and according to our ideas of things, that it is hard to dislodge it from the mind. It is well that this law should be reversed, to show us that " God's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways," and lest we should imagine that grace must always wait upon nature. It is a truth with which we are presented in every phase of our history, that God is constantly reversing our order of things. These crossed hands of blessing meet us everywhere. Like Joseph here, we have some favourite plan or scheme, and we are always expecting God will bless it. He suddenly crosses all our plans and puts before us not only what we had never thought of, but perhaps something we had despised. Or we had prayed for some favourite son on whom we had set very high expectations, when we find God crossing our plans, and blessing another whose talents or abilities we had looked down upon. Like Joseph we are constantly thrusting forward some Manasseh to bless, and God is continually crossing us by taking up some Ephraim and blessing him. Like Joseph, too, we are "displeased" when things do not turn out as we expected them, but in some very opposite way, and we rush to set God right by taking up some other course of our own. Sometimes we never can understand the meaning of these crossings in life. They baffle us, and we begin to think God is neither hearing our prayers nor caring for us. We are constantly saying as Joseph, "Not so, my father; for this is the first-born: put thy right hand on his head." "Not this course, not this plan, not this way, not this place" — such are some of the thoughts which possess us, and which we are constantly thrusting before God. It needs a lifetime's discipline sometimes to make men see that "God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts." The soul has to be constantly emptied from vessel to vessel, to be bruised and broken, before it can learn it. Mark, in the next place, the character of the blessing: "And he blessed Joseph and said, God," &c. Here we have distinctly the Triune blessing brought before us — the grand source from which all blessings flow. The first clause is that of the Father; the second that of the Holy Spirit; the third that of the Son. God in His threefold Person and office as the Almighty Father, the Supplier of all grace to the soul, and the Redeemer from all evil. From such a source we are warranted in expecting large blessings, even that Ephraim's seed should become "a multitude of nations," or, as the word means, "the fulness of nations." And where and when is this blessing to be fulfilled? It will be fulfilled in Israel's own land, when the Lord shall return from heaven the second time as "the King of the Jews," to reign over them. And so God declares, through Jacob: "Behold, I will make thee fruitful and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people, and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession." Mark the words, "this land"; and "for an everlasting possession." Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. The Turk may hold it temporarily, or any other power, but they are usurpers. Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. God gave it them. It is, and is shall be, theirs "for ever."

(F. Whitfield, M. A.)

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