Genesis 48, Manasseh and Ephraim

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jul 22, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Expand Collapse
    <img src =/Helen2.gif>

    Aug 29, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Manasseh and Ephraim were the two sons of Joseph by his Egyptian wife. Joseph takes them to be blessed by his father when his father, Jacob, is close to death. Before seeing the boys, or young men, whichever they were at the time, Jacob says something interesting to Joseph. He tells Joseph how Rachel died in childbirth and then declares that he, Jacob, is accepting Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, as his own in terms of inheritance rights. None of the other grandchildren of Jacob would get this honor, but Joseph's did. Once again, Jacob's favoritism toward Rachel and her firstborn, Joseph, are evident. So what would have been the tribe of Joseph has now been subdivided into the 'half-tribes' of Ephraim and Manasseh in matters of land division when the Lord leads Jacob's descendants back into Canaan. It should be noted here that later the tribe of Levi will not be inheriting any land allotment as they will be dedicated to serving the Lord in the capacity of priests and temple servants, so the number of land allotments because of the two half-tribes will still remain at twelve.

    Because Jacob's eyes are failing now, he does not recognize his two grandsons when they are brought in for his blessing. Ephraim, as the elder of the two, was positioned by his father near Jacob's right hand, the predominant hand and sign of strength, while Manasseh, the younger, was positioned near his left hand, as the secondary son.

    Jacob, however, crosses his hands for the blessing, so that Ephraim will get the strength of the blessing to the firstborn. Joseph, unhappy with this, tries to correct his father, but Jacob insists, telling Joseph that although they will both become great, the elder will end up serving the younger.

    Although there is no doubt this was inspired by God, it is interesting that this is the exact position Jacob himself was in, as the younger, so many years ago, when Esau sold him the birthright and then deception gave him the blessing belonging to the firstborn. This time, though, despite the fact that, like his father Isaac, Jacob's eyes are failing and he did not recognize the boys, there is no deception involved, but a straightforward switching of the hands. Ephraim is to take precedence over Manasseh.

    Indeed, during the time of the split kingdom, many years later, Ephraim's tribe was not only the most powerful tribe in the north, but the entire northern kingdom was sometimes referred to by that name alone: Ephraim (for example, Isaiah 7:2,5,8-9 and Hosea 9:13; 12:1,8).

    At the close of this chapter, Jacob bequeaths to Joseph the "ridge of land" he took from the Amorites. The NIV study note her adds some information to this:
    The Hebrew for this phrase ["ridge of land"] is identical with the place-name Shechem, where Joseph was later buried in a plot of ground inherited by his descendants (see Joshua 24:32; also 33:19 and John 4:5).

    It is important to note here that the original kingdom of Israel, upon migration from Egypt to the Promised land, already had incorporated into it Egyptian blood through Manasseh and Ephraim. In addition, as will be shown in Exodus, there were Egyptians who left with the Israelites, following Moses hundreds of years after Joseph's death.

    It is also interesting to note, in terms of Genesis authorship, that there is not one word mentioned between the time the family of Jacob moved to Goshen and the time of the blessing of Manasseh and Ephraim, near Jacob's death. However both of these times involved formality and therefore a scribe or historian would have been present with Joseph, recording the words and events taking place. This by itself is strong evidence that Joseph is responsible for the entire last section of Genesis, through an historian or scribe. For instance, in the next chapter, we have the word for word blessing of Jacob for each of his sons. This bears every mark of a scribe having been present to record it. And because the scribe would have been attached to Joseph's retinue, we have only seen and heard what Joseph himself saw and heard and even then only on the formal occasions. The one exception to this is the conversation of Jacob and his sons regarding going to Egypt for grain, but this could easily have been related to Joseph to fill in necessary details of the story.
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
    Expand Collapse

    Oct 10, 2001
    Likes Received:

Share This Page