November 14, 2022
“So he (Jacob) blessed them that day with these words: Israel will invoke blessings by you saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh,’ putting Ephraim before Manasseh.”
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“So he (Jacob) blessed them that day with these words: Israel will invoke blessings by you saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh,’ putting Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Look! I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. Over and above what I am giving your brothers, I am giving you the one mountain slope that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and bow.’” Genesis 48:20-22
This blessing is significant for several reasons.
First of all, it is an adoption, or more precisely, a declaration that Joseph’s two sons (born to him in Egypt by an Egyptian bride) are legitimate descendants of Israel. This is a foreshadowing that all spiritual offspring between Jesus and His Church are considered “grafted into” the covenant of Abraham. Jew or Gentile believers, it makes no difference with respect to salvation. (Romans 11:17-24) We have all received a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry out, “Abba Father!” (Romans 8:15) That is to say, all of us who believe, by faith, that Jesus is Messiah.
Secondly, to this day, every pious Jewish father on Erev Shabbat (The day before Shabbat) places his hands on the head of his son and blesses him with the words: “God make you as Ephraim and Manasseh.” Ephraim and Manasseh would not barter away their Jewish identity for social or political power in Egypt.
These twins voluntarily gave up their place in Egyptian aristocracy and openly identified themselves with their “alien” kinsmen, who were despised for being shepherds. While “in the World,” they chose not to be “of it.” Similarly, when we have genuinely received spiritual adoption, we should no longer desire worldly privilege over the eternal honor of being co-inheritors with the Messiah.
Finally, at the end of this chapter, there is a reference to a plot of ground purchased by Jacob in Genesis 33. It seems this plot of land had (at one time) fallen into the hands of the Amorites and had to be retaken by force. This military exploit is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. The statement could also be a prophetic reminder of how Israel will have to retake and maintain Canaan by force and struggle, perhaps several times. The taking and holding of Canaan are ultimately determined by the power and will of God because of His promise alone. And it is not necessarily dependent upon Israel’s collective righteousness.
“You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, the Lord your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to keep the promise He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 9:5