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The Adoption of Sons — Genesis Chapter 48

This blog post will cover the devotionals #191-193 for Genesis Chapter 48.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[191] Genesis 48:1-7,15,16

When Joseph came for his final visit to his sick father, Jacob reminded him of the promise God had given him in Canaan—the same promise He had given Abraham and Isaac. Of the history of Jacob’s long, difficult life, the only bad thing Jacob recalled / mentioned was the loss of his beloved Rachel. He’d worked fourteen years for her, loved her deeply and faithfully, and the evidence of that was shown now, so many years later, as he was about to die—when he glanced back upon his life. I imagine this comforted her son, Joseph, to hear as his father was now also dying. Jacob didn’t complain about the bad days he’d experienced in his past. He no longer looked at the struggles and sorrows as bad things against himself. All he recalled was God’s mercy and loving-kindness, which had been with him throughout his long journey. Before Jacob died, something had to be done to bring Joseph’s sons into the family of his own people. The two boys were related to the Egyptian priesthood of the highest order through their mother, Asenath, whose father was Potipherah, priest of On. Now, don’t lose sight of the fact that the priesthood of Egypt was far different than that of Israel. The Egyptians were paganistic in the highest degree. Thus, Joseph’s sons were greatly exposed to those rituals and beliefs. They were nothing like the sons of Joseph’s brothers, which were raised at the feet of Israel—the namesake of God’s chosen people. Thus, Manasseh and Ephraim needed to be officially made a part of the chosen people. Joseph brought them to his last visit with Jacob. Joseph’s position in Egypt also gave his sons many opportunities for wealth and distinction if they wanted to cast their lot with Egypt—but what Joseph really wanted was for them to unite with his people. Joseph acted on behalf of his sons, in faith of the promise of the covenant—stating they’d give up their glorious Egyptian opportunities to have the chance to be a part of the shepherd tribes Egypt despised—the ones God had trusted with His truth. How did Jacob respond? He adopted Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born in Egypt before he got there, and claimed them as his own—as though they were Reuben and Simeon themselves. They'd be the heads of separate tribes. Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, had forfeited the privileges of the birthright through his sins, and those would go to Joseph. Thus, it was said that Joseph would receive a double portion in Israel. His sons would become two of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob even told Joseph, ‘Now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh…are mine. And those which you father after them will be yours and will be called after their brothers’ name in their inheritance.’ When Joseph’s sons approached Jacob, he hugged and kissed them, and put his hands on their heads and prayed, “God, before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, walked, the God which fed me my entire life to today, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil—bless the lads; and let them be named with my name and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; and let them become a multitude amid the earth.”

[192] Genesis 48:8-20

Jacob was astounded for the opportunity to see Joseph again, let alone Joseph’s sons. Even meeting the boys years after they’d been born, Jacob knew what was to be done. There are some amazing contrasts to consider between Isaac and Jacob in the blind blessing of each of their sons before their death. Jacob’s father (Isaac) had tried to secretly bless Esau (the actual firstborn) out of favoritism, despite God’s clear prophecy about which son would be truly blessed by God. He was going against Rebekah’s wishes for the blessing of the younger son. In his blindness and determination to do the wrong thing, he was unable to discern that the other son had come to him. Jacob, on the other hand, who was also blind at the blessing of Joseph’s sons, was very discerning. He asked who the children were, and Joseph was very clear about which each son was. As custom depicted, Joseph guided the firstborn (Manasseh) to his father’s right hand, and the younger (Ephraim) to his father’s left hand. Verse 14 says that Israel stretched his right hand out to Ephraim and his left hand out to Manasseh (the opposite of where Joseph had guided them)—and it says that he guided his hands wittingly. The word, ‘wittingly’, is defined by Strong’s Concordance as ‘prudently’ or ‘wisely’. In other words, Jacob intentionally switched his hands for the blessing of Joseph’s sons. He was no stranger to recognizing when the firstborn wasn’t due the blessing that was traditionally reserved for him only. He knew God had shown his own mother why he was to receive the blessing, despite being born second of the twins. Joseph realized what was happening and tried to correct his blind, and apparently confused, father before he gave each their specific blessing—and it wasn’t for preference of Manasseh over Ephraim, but simply their birth order. Jacob told him he knew what he was doing, and that it wasn’t an arbitrary act of preference, but of understanding of what the future would hold for his two sons. We’ll see him do the very same thing, in devotional #194, for the rest of his sons where he calls his children together and, instead of saying, “Gather yourselves together, so I may bless you,” he says, “Gather yourselves together, so I may tell you what will happen to you in the last days.” He was going to give his sons a prophecy of their future, just as Noah had done.

[193] Genesis 48:21,22

The last thing Jacob said to Joseph after blessing his grandsons was, “Look, I am dying: but God will be with you, and bring you again to the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given you one portion more than your brothers, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and bow.” It's not apparent what he was referring to, and there aren’t many passages to help it either. However, there are a couple of clues to consider when deciphering what he meant. He first refers to his own death, and then Joseph's future. Genesis 50:26 tells us that Joseph was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt after he died. However, Joshua 24:32 tells us that the children of Israel brought Joseph’s bones out of Egypt and buried them in Shechem, in a parcel of land Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor (the father of Shechem, whom Jacob’s sons murdered for sleeping with their sister, Dinah). We saw that in Genesis 33:19. The verse also says it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph. Bible commentators suggest Jacob’s usage of the word ‘portion’ (‘share’ in other versions) denotes ‘a shoulder or tract of land’. Strong’s Concordance defines it also as ‘the spur of a hill’ and ‘shoulder’. It could appear that the extra portion Jacob gave Joseph was the land he purchased in Shechem, which would become a grave for Joseph’s bones (and likely for his descendants as well). Now, why does it say that he took it out of an Amorite’s hand with his sword and bow? Well, some would suggest that, due to his disgust over what his sons did to the city of Shechem, he wouldn’t refer to, or claim, their violence, but others suggest that he was indeed referring to that very thing when he said he took it out of their hand. However, it doesn’t make much sense that he would’ve taken it by violence, when Scriptures clearly state he bought it for one hundred pieces of silver. There are ideas that, when he left that area, it was claimed by an Amorite, and Jacob later had to reclaim it as his own. Others suggest he was likely prophesying of his people, ‘Israel’, later conquering the land that would become the inheritance of Joseph’s sons—and simply referring to it as having already been accomplished, and ‘by himself’. Regardless, we can probably safely assume that Jacob was giving Joseph land.

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