Genesis 48:1 “…after these things…”
Previous chapter tells us Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years, so approximately that amount of time has passed.
1 “…your father is sick…”
Not just a passing illness, but an indication that Jacob’s time of departure was drawing near.
2 “…Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed”
In the years I’ve visited seniors, I’ve encountered those moments of grace that God grants. People would be at death’s door, but then would miraculously gain strength to continue on for some time, sometimes a few days sometimes a year or more. Time to resolve things that have been left undone.
4 “…I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession”
Statement of the promise. Passing on to the next generation. And another specific mention of the reception of the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession. Something people today need to understand, and some who know try to deny.
5-6 “…your two sons…are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine…your offspring…after them…will be called by the name of their brothers…”
It was Jacob’s wish to grant a double portion of inheritance to Joseph, so he adopted Joseph’s first two sons as his own. Joseph’s inheritance as one of the tribes of Israel was given to his first two sons so we have the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh instead of the tribe of Joseph, although they are combined as the tribe of Joseph. Other sons of Joseph would be known as members of either the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh. I’m assuming that would be their choice as they could choose with which brother’s descendants they decided to live and multiply. Unknown, but perhaps that’s why Manasseh’s tribe became so large.
7 “…Rachel died beside me…”
Was wondering why Jacob brought up Rachel at this point. Thought it may be that he was saying he wanted to give Joseph a double portion since Rachel died before being able to have more children. Commentaries agree. They also think Jacob is here giving the birthright to Joseph as opposed to Reuben. Certainly because of Reuben’s sin earlier of sleeping with one of Jacob’s wives, but also since Jacob may have considered Rachel his first wife, and thus Joseph would be the firstborn. Reasoning of Jacob’s intent is sound although speculative. Wasn’t sure of the birthright issue, but his blessing on Joseph’s sons does sound much like that of a birthright blessing, so that may be the case. However, if we say that the tribe through whom the Messiah came, which would be fulfillment of the promise, is to be considered the one given the birthright, then God chose Judah over all the others. Interesting that in his blessing to all his sons, Jacob will mention this, yet it appears he is giving his birthright blessing to Joseph through Joseph’s sons.
11 “…I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
Statement of joy and acknowledgement of God’s great blessing. Even when he thought Joseph dead, God was working to ensure he would see his grandchildren.
12 “…Joseph brought them from beside his knees…”
A little confusing. Describing the movements and intentions of the moment. Jacob has been hugging his two grandsons. Joseph now pulls both boys back from Jacob and puts them down before him so that he might bless them, the oldest first. But Jacob will do something different.
19 “…truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations”
Jacob was acting and speaking prophetically. Not sure of the whole significance. Commentary suggests it was fulfilled in that Ephraim was given a central location in the land, Joshua would come from that tribe so it was given prominence by the others in leadership, and that even after Joshua’s death, the other tribes tended to look toward Ephraim for guidance. May be other aspects of which we’re not aware.
20 “…May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!…”
Another statement which sounds like part of a birthright blessing.
21 “…God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers”
Probably more than just a statement of hope. Also a reminder that they are sojourners in the land of Egypt. Their home is really in the land of Canaan. He may have given this reminder to Joseph and his sons specifically since they had certainly acquired a life for themselves among the Egyptians. Would have been very easy to forget their God given heritage and stay in Egypt. Fortunately, Joseph never forgot, and he passed the message on to his children.
22 “…I have given to you one portion above your brothers…”
Not sure why Jacob mentions this other than just telling Joseph of it and specifying its location. Will be mentioned in the gospels when Jesus stopped at the well in Samaria. Commentaries suggest it is due to the fact that Jacob purchased the land himself from the sons of Hamor in Genesis 33, so he may have looked at it as being more his than other sections of the land of Canaan, and thus wanted to pass it on to Joseph. The tale of Jacob fighting to retrieve it from the Amorites isn’t mentioned in scripture, but obviously took place. Joseph’s bones will be buried there when the people return to Canaan.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.