Genesis 48

Genesis 48 is about legacy.  Jacob is about to die, and Joseph is told that his “father is ill” and comes to him along with his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.  Jacob has carried the torch of God for 147 years, not without sin or failure to walk with God at times, but he is an example of a man who finishes well.  He is determined to pass the torch on to those who follow and does that here.  That is how we should live as well – finishing well and intentionally passing the torch to those who will follow us.

Jacob retells the story of God’s appearance to him and the promise that God would make him fruitful and a mighty nation.  He basically shares his testimony and the promises God had given and his experience walking with God.  And then Jacob adopts his grandsons as the ones who will carry on the lineage.  Jacob’s own two oldest sons – Reuben and Simeon – had disqualified themselves from a place of leadership in the family because of their sin so Jacob adopt’s these two sons of Joseph in their place.  From this time forward, most lists of the twelve tribes contain the names of Ephraim and Manasseh rather than Joseph.

If you look at the maps in the back of your Bible you will see a map that shows the areas given to the twelve tribes and you will notice something: There are twelve tribes but you don’t see the name of Levi (they were the priests and given land in each tribe) or Joseph, but you do see the names of Ephraim and Manasseh. In essence, Jacob is giving Joseph the double blessing that is generally reserved for the firstborn (Reuben).  The reason for this gift is that Jacob wants to honor the memory of his beloved wife Rachel, whom he lost early.  When she died a part of him died as well.

Then comes the blessing – a powerful thing for a father or grandfather to do.  “Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,”The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth”.  Have you blessed your children?  There is power in that act.

The chapter comes to an end with Jacob giving Joseph a piece of land.  This was a big ending for Joseph to make.  By giving his sons to Jacob, he was basically consenting to their rejection in respect to a future and position in Egypt.  All that he had worked for in that land would be given up as these boys became part of the sheep herding family that were his roots.  He had faith in God’s promises and was willing to pass the torch according to God’s design and put his boys in the place they could continue the legacy of Jacob.

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