Genesis 48

Bad Eyes And Blessings

Death causes people to focus on the things that are most important, so when Joseph receives word that Jacob is ill and nearing the end of his earthly life, he gathers his sons and goes to see his aged father. Jacob is told that Joseph has come for a visit and he summons his strength and sits up. Joseph had provided wealth, education, and social standing for his boys but he wanted them to have a place among God's chosen people. God's covenant was central to Joseph's identity, and he wanted his sons who were given Hebrew names to enjoy the same covenant blessing he had. Jacob's deathbed was the appropriate place to seek such a blessing. Jacob reminds Joseph that God had blessed him and promised to multiply him and give the land of Canaan to his offspring for an everlasting possession. Jacob agrees with Joseph about blessing his sons and confirming their place among God's chosen people. Jacob assures Joseph that Manasseh and Ephraim would be like his own and equates then with Reuben and Simeon. Israel's eyes were dim and when he saw the boys he asked about their identity. A private and very sweet family moment takes place as Israel takes the boys in his lap, gives them a warm embrace, and kisses them. He is so moved that he tells Joseph that he thought that he would never see him again. He thanks, God that not only has he been reunited with his son, but he has had the joy of seeing his grandchildren. Joseph takes the boys off of Israel's lap and bows before his father. 

Not That Way

Joseph places his sons before his father with Manasseh on his right and Ephraim on his left because Manasseh was the eldest of the two. Jacob crossed his hands placing his right hand on Ephraim, and he began to bless Joseph. God is Israel's good shepherd, and he proceeds to bless the boys. Joseph interrupts this moment, moves his father's hands, and reminds him which son is older. Jacob insists that Ephraim would be greater, but Manasseh would most certainly be a people and placed Ephraim before Manasseh. Israel comforts his son and tells him that he is about to die, but God would be with him, and he would make it home to the land of his fathers. He also tells Joseph that he has given him a larger portion and that he is to have the ground that he took from the Amorites with his sword and his bow.

Things To Consider:

  • Why does death bring more clarity about what is important?
  • What can we learn from Joseph about his interactions with his elderly father?
  • How should this inform us about the treatment of the elderly?
  • Why is important to share family stories?
  • Why is important to share faith stories?
  • Why is Jacob thankful?
  • Why is Joseph upset?
  • Do you think this episode made him consider the feelings of his brothers?
  • Why do you think Israel tried to encourage Joseph?
  • Why does Joseph get an extra portion?