Jacob has now dwelt with his family in Egypt some 17 years. The time of famine which brought them there is now a distant memory. Israel, once characterized by the sorrow and grief that consumed him, is now at the end of his life: content, at peace, full of hope for his family. As the time to depart draws near, he calls for Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. It is time to impart God's blessing before he is gathered home.
Jacob's life was the product of prophecy. When he and his twin brother Esau were still in their mother Rebecca's womb, God sent a prophecy through their father Isaac that the elder would serve the younger (25:23). In effect, this meant that the younger would receive the birthright, which would normally fall upon the eldest son. And now, Israel repeats this prophecy to the sons of Joseph: the younger, Ephraim, will receive the birthright above his older brother Manasseh. In fact, both of Joseph's sons would be accounted as Jacob's. Later in Scripture, when the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are listed, it is not Joseph's name that is mentioned, but these two boys, Ephraim and Manasseh.
We today are the children of prophecy, and the express promise of God. For we bear the name of our God- Jesus Christ- which we receive in water baptism. The baptism of the Holy Ghost in us bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God! (Ro 8:16) The Apostle Paul goes on to say (9:8) that the children of the flesh are not the true children of God, but rather, the children of the promise, which are those who count Abraham as their father through faith, and who have received the Spirit of the living God within them, whereby we cry, "Abba, Father".
The old Apostle concludes with this:
"As he saith also in Osee (Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God." (Ro 9:25-26)
Isn't that a wonderful revelation? Just as Jacob claimed Ephraim and Manasseh as his very own sons, and named his name Israel over them, so God claims us as his very own sons and daughters, and names His name- the name of Jesus- over each one of us! As His children, you have received His birthright, for the Master grants you to be an heir of God and joint-heir of Jesus Christ (8:17). Rejoice, for you are, in person as well as name, a child of the everlasting God!
Joseph brings his sons to Jacob
1 And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
2 And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.
3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
4 And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
7 And as for me, when I came from Padan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way of Ephrath; the same is Bethlehem.
8 And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these?
9 And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me in this place. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.
10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.
11 And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath shewed me also thy seed.
12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.
13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him.
14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.
18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.
22 Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.
David is an Assistant Pastor at The Master's House.
I find it interesting that Joseph was not named as one of the Tribes of Israel especially since he was Jacob's favorite son. Was it more of an honor to have your two sons named as two tribes?
Hi Sis. Christine, yes it definitely was an honor for God to elevate Ephraim and Manasseh to the status of tribal heads. Sometimes the two were referred to as "half tribes", yet they nonetheless received full inheritance in Israel alongside each of the other tribes, except Levi.