|<< Gen 47|
Genesis 48-50 Listen
1 And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
2 And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.
3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
4 And said unto me, 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.
Joseph gets word that Jacob (Israel) is sick, even near death. He heads over to see him before he dies and takes his two boys, Manasseh and Ephraim. Take special note of verses 3-4, "And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, 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." Jacob is referring to his conversation with God in Genesis 35:1-15 (see notes). By the way, "Bethel" was called "Luz" before it was renamed "Bethel." Here's an important question: The famine has been over in Canaan for around 12 years; why didn't Israel move back to Canaan, the land that God gave him? It will become obvious that they overstayed their welcome in Egypt. True...God did tell Jacob to move to Egypt, but one can't help but seriously entertain the idea that he should have moved back to Canaan after the famine had passed. However, there was that prophecy though - the one God gave to Abraham back in Genesis 15:13 (see notes), "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;" Well, that's what happened all right. Of course God knew they wouldn't go home when they had the chance.
5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
7 And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
8 And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these?
9 And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.
10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.
11 And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.
12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.
14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
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 his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.
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.
Joseph's boys were sons of the second most powerful man in Egypt. Arguably, they had it made. When Joseph brings his two sons to Grandpa Jacob for a blessing, the old dying man adopts them. Look at verse 5, "And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine." In verse 6 Jacob tells Joseph that his other children remain his, but not Ephraim and Manasseh. As a matter of fact, they obviously dwelled with the tribes of Israel in Goshen (at least later on), because that's where we find them in the Book of Exodus. The boys get blessed by Jacob. And in the tradition started by Grandpa Abraham, Jacob blesses the younger son (Ephraim) as though he were the older of the two. Joseph objects, but Jacob proceeds; it was just their way (Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau).
Verse 22 is somewhat of a puzzler, "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." We were not presented the details of the occasion to which Jacob alludes - the time when he took a piece of property by force from the Amorites, although we do find this entry in John 4:5 (see notes), "Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph." It would appear that this piece of property was still identified as such in Jesus' day. Sychar is located within sight of Shechem, the city ransacked by Simeon and Levi back in Genesis 34 (see notes). Some commentators have suggested that Jacob is talking about the actions of Simeon and Levi here. Or...perhaps there was an undocumented incident where Jacob took such actions. Whatever, the property referenced here was located within the territory later allocated to Joseph's son, Manasseh.
There is one additional stipulation which may not be apparent from just this passage of scripture. We are told in I Chronicles 5:1 (see notes), "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his fathers bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright." Reuben's double portion as firstborn son will go to Ephraim and Manasseh. That makes room for each of Joseph's boys to have an equal portion with the other sons of Jacob. To put it simply, Ephraim and Manasseh get Joseph's one portion and half of Reuben's double portion.
I suppose it is worth noting here that Ephraim was Joshua's tribe...the tribe of Judge Samuel also. Later, Ephraim became synonymous with the Northern Kingdom of Israel in prophetic scripture, perhaps because its founding King, Jeroboam, was from that tribe. The Northern Kingdom never served God; their demise came in 721 B.C. at the hands of the Assyrians. Therefore, Ephraim taking the lead there could have something to do with the flip-flopped blessing by Jacob in this passage - the younger Ephraim getting blessed as the firstborn son even though Manasseh was older.
1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
5 Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.
6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
14 Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.
19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
20 Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
27 Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
Jacob has a long memory. When he blesses Reuben, he brings up that incident where Reuben defiled his step mother in Genesis 35:22 (see notes). The whole incident then was summed up within a single verse there, and it happened many years before. Therefore, Reuben can't be happy to hear that incident brought up again on Jacob's deathbed. Notice the words Jacob utters in verse 4 concerning Reuben, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy fathers bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch." I know we referenced it earlier, but let's take notice again what we are told in I Chronicles 5:1 (see notes), "Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his fathers bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright." That means that Reuben gets passed over with the double portion usually given to the eldest son. Ephraim and Manasseh get Joseph's one portion and half of Reuben's double portion. This firstborn double-portion law does get codified in the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (see notes); that made passing over the eldest son with a double portion contrary to Mosaic Law going forward.
Then he really surprises Simeon and Levi with his blessing over them; he brings up the time that they murdered all the men in Shechem in Genesis 34 (see notes). So what? That's ancient history, right? Not really! Look at the blessing (or curse) that Jacob says over those two boys because of that incident in verse 7, "...I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." As a matter of fact, who are the two tribes who did not receive their own distinct regions of possession in Canaan in the Book of Joshua? Answer: Simeon (dwelled in specific cities inside Judah) and Levi (the priestly tribe was not assigned their own tribal territory). The Tribe of Levi redeemed their standing in Exodus 32:26-29 (see notes) when they stood with Moses (also a Levite) after the golden-calf incident. Subsequently, the Levites gained special status as a replacement for the firstborn of Israel in Numbers 3 (see notes). It is interesting to see how that Jacob's blessing of Levi was realized in that the Levites were scattered throughout Israel as priests after they inhabited Canaan.
So...with Reuben's negative word (verses 3-4) followed by that of Levi and Simeon (verses 5-7), that leaves Judah as the oldest son who actually gets a real blessing out of this...and what a blessing it is! Here are five verses dedicated to Judah's blessing (8-12). From the description of this blessing given here, it sounds like you might expect royalty to be born from his descendants (King David and the Messiah).
There's no certainty regarding to what "Shiloh" in verse 10 has reference. Some have speculated that it's a reference to the Messiah. It is worth noting that it was Judah who guaranteed the safe return of Benjamin to Jacob, and he took charge of that Egypt mission to buy more food and secure the release of Simeon back in Genesis 43 (see notes). Moreover, when the family journeyed from Canaan to Egypt, we see that it was Judah (not the older three, Reuben, Simeon or Levi) who led them into Egypt (Genesis 46, see notes). It certainly appears as though Jacob favored Judah with the first-son status after the transgressions of Reuben, Simeon and Levi. However, it should also be remembered that Jacob had taken the oldest-son-double-portion that would have ordinarily gone to Reuben and gave it to Joseph's two sons instead, as explained in I Chronicles 5:1 (see notes). This blessing of Joseph's sons took place in Genesis 48:5-22 (see above).
Jacob starts his blessings with the first four sons in order, then he deviates from that order; the remaining blessings on the sons of Jacob continue down through verse 28. Lasting effects of the blessings on the first four sons are evident, but it is difficult to relate with any certainty later effects of these blessings on the remaining tribes. Nevertheless, speculation abounds in various commentaries on the Old Testament regarding the future impact of these blessings on the remaining tribes. Moses blesses the tribes just prior to their entry into Canaan in Deuteronomy 33 (see notes).
29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30 In the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a buryingplace.
31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
32 The purchase of the field and of the cave that is therein was from the children of Heth.
33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
Here's the dying man's request: "Take me back and bury me with my relatives." He wants to be buried in the land with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah in the cave he bought from the local Canaanite (Genesis 23, see notes) down near Hebron. He knows that's where he belongs, so why had he not moved back there sooner? Do you suppose that the royal treatment and prosperity in Egypt was just too appealing to leave? Then Jacob passes away. One can't help but admire his graceful exit from this life in verse 33, "And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people."
By the way, Rachel died back in Genesis 35:19 (see notes) and was buried about 14 miles north of the rest of the clan up near Bethlehem.
1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
4 And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,
8 And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.
9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.
12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.
14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
First of all, they embalm Jacob, and the Egyptians mourn his passing for 70 days. Joseph then gets Pharaoh's permission for a big procession to the cemetery...way up in Canaan. We've all been in some long funeral processions, but this one was around 275 miles. It was a sight to behold - a display in Egyptian royal style with a host of Egyptian folks accompanying Jacob's boys back to Canaan. Apparently they didn't take the short route back through Gaza. It would appear from verse 10 that they went directly east and passed the Dead Sea before turning north. Apparently they followed the coast of the Dead Sea going north until they camped on the Jordan (at the threshing floor of Atad) for seven days before crossing over into Canaan. That was about 75 or so miles out of the way. Perhaps they did not want to alarm the local populace with the large entourage of Egyptians. It is worth noting that this is the route that Moses would later take to Canaan after the exile.
It's a good thing they embalmed him before the trip. Click here if you want to see a map of Joseph's journeys. Now let's see...70 days of mourning directly after Jacob's death, followed by a 275-mile trip to the cemetery and back (probably another 30 to 50 days) - they must have dedicated four months or so to the burial of Jacob. You just don't get more attention than that after your death.
15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
It's been a long time since Jacob's boys sold their seventeen-year-old brother into slavery; do you suppose he holds a grudge? With Jacob dead, that becomes the big question among the brothers. They immediately humble themselves before Joseph to see if this is going to be a problem. Joseph gives them consolation in verses 19-20, "And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Naaaaaw! He's not bitter.
22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
23 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.
24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph took care of his father's family until his death at 110. Egypt had been his home since he was 17 years old, 93 years ago. He had the nice executive position there for 80 years. His family had been under his care for just over 70 years. We see in verse 25 that Joseph's dying wish is to be buried back in Canaan also - wants his bones transported back there after his death. Moses fulfills that request in Exodus 13:19 (see notes), when he picks up Joseph's bones upon leaving Egypt. After their Canaan conquest, they deposit those bones in a grave in Shechem (Joshua 24:32, see notes). Many have used this precedent of the intense attention to the burial of one's bones as a case against cremation. In actuality, the means whereby one's body is disposed of at death is not directly addressed by scripture.
In my opinion, now would be an excellent time for the whole family to head back to Canaan to live, but it will be several centuries before they actually do so.