Genesis 48-50 (2)
For the sake of continuity, we will back track a little this week and start with Genesis 47:28.
Read Genesis 47:28 - 48:9
What is meant by “after these things?”
This is probably soon after the events of chapter 47. Jacob has lived and prospered in Goshen some 17 years.
What does Joseph do differently this time as he goes to see his father? Why does he do this?
He takes his sons with him on this trip. You get the idea here that it is not unusual for Joseph to go see his father but perhaps does not always take time to go get his sons to go with him. They would be in their later teens or early 20’s by this time. Joseph wants them near for the final blessing.
What causes Jacob to be so reflective here? What may he be trying to impress upon Joseph?
It is common for people to be reflective when they are nearing death. They often think back over their lives to the good and the bad moments, so it is not so unusual for Jacob to be so reflective here. However, he may also be trying to impress upon Joseph the importance of someday going back, reminding Joseph that his heritage is in the land promised by God, not the foreign soil of Egypt.
Why is Jacob adopting Ephraim and Manasseh? What is the significance of this action? (See 1 Chr 5:1, 2)
By doing so, Jacob is giving Joseph the double-portion of the inheritance that usually goes to the first-born son.
List all the reasons why Jacob would do this.
In Jacob’s eyes, Joseph was always his first son. He was the first son of his chosen wife. His real first wife was a usurper. He had never agreed to marry her, but was tricked into doing so. It was Jacob’s way of ensuring his chosen son the inheritance.
Reuben had shamed his father. He had lost his position in Jacob’s eyes when he slept with Jacob’s concubine wife.
What does Jacob mean in verse 7. What is he talking about?
He is talking about when they return to the promised land. Joseph’s sons will all have a piece of the inheritance, but they will be numbered under the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. (See Tribal allotment map)
It is interesting that Joseph does not contradict his father. As a leader in Egypt, his sons could have a lot of wonderful possibilities for their future in Egypt, but Joseph is evidently not interested in their future in Egypt, but wants to take his rightful place among his family despite the lower living circumstances. He desires his sons to be part of his family and inheritance in the promised land.
Check Joshua 16-17 as well as R.8 allotment map for the inheritance received by Joseph’s sons.
Why do you think Jacob brings up Rachel at this time?
As mentioned before, it is not unusual for one to be reflective in such a moment. As Jacob is giving an inheritance to her son and grandson’s it is most natural for him to remember her and the loss of her. It is also possible that Jacob also is concerned that he will die soon. People tend to be reflective about their life when they are facing the end of it.
Read Genesis 48:8-22
Jacob has been with Joseph and his family for 17 years, so why did he not recognize Joseph’s sons?
Because he is blind or blind enough as not to be able to recognize someone with their speaking first.
What does this time of blessing remind you of? How is it similar to another?
This time of blessing is alone without the other brothers. Similar to Isaac blessing Esau without calling Jacob. It was typical for them all to be together. However, Isaac was blessing Esau with no blessing for Jacob. In this case, Jacob later repeats this blessing with the others, but he must have cherished this time alone with Joseph and his sons first as they were his favorites.
Why does Jacob cross his arms when he goes to bless the boys? Why does this distress Joseph?
Tradition would have the oldest receive the first and largest blessing. In Reuben's case, he had disgraced his father and lost his place, but Joseph’s sons have had no such falling out. Joseph would therefore expect Manasseh as first born to receive the first and mightier blessing which was always given from the right hand. Joseph wrongfully assumed that his dad was confused and mistaken of who was where. However, Jacob was not confused and was in full awareness of what he was doing. He was acting in a prophetic manner.
This is not the first time that the younger was blessed with the blessing of the first born. List all the others you can recall. Why do you think God continues to work in this fashion that is against tradition?
Isaac over Ishmael
Jacob over Esau
Joseph over Reuben
and now Ephraim over Manasseh.
It is not known why God continues to do so. It could be to show that He is sovereign and is not moved by the traditions of men. I personally believe it is more than just that. In part, I think God chooses people based on what is on the inside not by age. However, I have had one other thought. Cain was older than Abel, however, Abel loved and worshiped God where Cain did not do so to the same level. As the story goes, Cain later killed his brother jealous of God’s approval of him. Perhaps blessing the younger is a blessing upon Abel’s memory. There is no way to know, but I just wonder. :-)
Jacob gives Joseph a special inheritance. A piece of land that is near Shechem. It is interesting to note that this is where they later bury Joseph when they later carry his body back to Canaan. See Genesis 33:18; Joshua 16:1; John 4:5
There is more we can talk about the inheritance that Jacob left Joseph and his family, but we will discuss it in relation to the full blessing Jacob gives in the next chapter. The only other thing we need to note here is about the property that Jacob leaves Joseph. It is confusing to many that he says the land “he took from the Amorites” as there is no recorded battle. There is some debate about this. Some say that this is the land he obtained when his sons tricked and killed the residents of Shechem. Others believe this to be prophetic regarding the return and conquering of Canaan by the Israelites. The fact that the place is in the same area of Shechem, I am more inclined to believe it was from the destruction of Shechem especially since this is similar area to where Joseph’s brothers kidnapped him, though that was probably more north in the vicinity of Dothan. After all, Shechem was where Jacob had sent Joseph originally thinking the brothers were there. For all he knew, Joseph may have disappeared from around there. (Just my own thoughts here).