Genesis Chapter Forty Eight

The Blessing of Messiah

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In our study of Genesis chapter forty eight, we look at what is commonly called the Blessing of Messiah as Ya'akov blesses the sons of Yosef.

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Genesis 48:1-6

Awhile later someone told Yosef that his father was ill. He took with him his two sons, M'nasheh and Efrayim. Ya'akov was told, "Here comes your son Yosef." Isra'el gathered his strength and sat up in bed. Ya'akov said to Yosef, "El Shaddai appeared to me at Luz in the land of Kena'an and blessed me, saying to me, 'I will make you fruitful and numerous. I will make of you a group of peoples; and I will give this land to your descendants to possess forever.' Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Efrayim and M'nasheh will be as much mine as Re'uven and Shim'on are. The children born to you after them will be yours, but for purposes of inheritance they are to be counted with their older brothers.

In this passage, we see that someone whose identity is not revealed tells Yosef that his father is ill and this someone also tells Ya'akov that Yosef is approaching. Ya'akov explained the blessing that he had received from God at Luz in Canaan and then he goes on to say that the blessing is going to be passed on to the sons of Yosef. We see significance in the order of the names when Ya'akov gives them as Efrayim (Yosef's second son) is named before M'nasheh (Yosef's firstborn son). This all speaks of the inheritance of the blessing and, although the blessing will include both of them, the leader will be Efrayim.

Genesis 48:7-11

"Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died suddenly, as we were traveling through the land of Kena'an, while we were still some distance from Efrat; so I buried her there on the way to Efrat (also known as Beit-Lechem)." Then Isra'el noticed Yosef's sons and asked, "Whose are these?" Yosef answered his father, "They are my sons, whom God has given me here." Ya'akov replied, "I want you to bring them here to me, so that I can bless them." Now Isra'el's eyes were dim with age, so that he could not see. Yosef brought his sons near to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. Isra'el said to Yosef, "I never expected to see even you again, but God has allowed me to see your children too!"

Ya'akov goes on to explain that it is significant that he was going to Efrat and Rachel died and was buried there. The name Efrayim comes from the same Hebrew word as Efrat and fruitful. Ya'akov is basically saying that in this he sees that Efrayim is to be the leader to carry on the promise. We are told that the eyes of Ya'akov were failing and he is thankful that not only has he been able to see the son that he though was dead but also the grandsons.

Genesis 48:12-16

Yosef brought them out from between his legs and prostrated himself on the ground. Then Yosef took them both, Efrayim in his right hand toward Isra'el's left hand and M'nasheh in his left hand toward Isra'el's right hand, and brought them near to him. But Isra'el put out his right hand and laid it on the head of the younger one, Efrayim, and put his left hand on the head of M'nasheh - he intentionally crossed his hands, even though M'nasheh was the firstborn. Then he blessed Yosef: "The God in whose presence my fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak lived, the God who has been my own shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has rescued me from all harm, bless these boys. May they remember who I am and what I stand for, and likewise my fathers Avraham and Yitz'chak, who they were and what they stood for. And may they grow into teeming multitudes on the earth."

We see that Yosef positioned his sons for the blessing in the way that we would expect where the oldest was on the right hand of Ya'akov but Ya'akov crossed his hands and put his right hand on the younger brother. The blessing has to do with remembering the covenant that God made with Avraham that is now being passed down. We are reminded that the name M'nasheh is associated with forgetting and Ya'akov is convinced by the names of the boys that God has chosen Efrayim to receive the greater blessing (the one from the right hand). Ya'akov goes on to ask that they become multitudes in fulfillment of God's promise to Avraham but there is much that is lost in the translation. In Hebrew, the angel that is referred to is the redeemer from all evil and it speaks of Yeshua Messiah. In the Hebrew text, this teeming multitude is literally "an abundance of fish in the midst of the earth". That speaks of Yeshua and the calling of his first disciples who were fishermen as well as the fact that he called them to be "fishers of men".

Genesis 48:17-19

When Yosef saw that his father was laying his right hand on Efrayim's head, it displeased him, and he lifted up his father's hand to remove it from Efrayim's head and place it instead on M'nasheh's head. Yosef said to his father, "Don't do it that way, my father; for this one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head." But his father refused and said, "I know that, my son, I know it. He too will become a people, and he too will be great; nevertheless his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will grow into many nations."

Yosef thought that it was against the will of God to have the right hand on Efrayim but Ya'akov makes it clear that it is God's will for Efrayim to receive the greater blessing.

Genesis 48:20

Then he added this blessing on them that day: "Isra'el will speak of you in their own blessings by saying, 'May God make you like Efrayim and M'nasheh.'" Thus he put Efrayim ahead of M'nasheh.

In the Hebrew text, instead of saying Israel will speak of you, it says "in you Israel will bless" which goes back to God's purpose in the call of Avraham which is for Israel to be a blessing to the nations.

Genesis 48:21 & 22

Isra'el then said to Yosef, "You see that I am dying, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your ancestors. Moreover, I am giving to you a sh'khem more than to your brothers; I captured it from the Emori with my sword and bow."

Here, Isra'el says that he is all but dead and the only part of his life that is not finished is passing on the blessing. He goes on to explain that he is giving Yosef the city of Sh'kem in Canaan which he had captured through conflict. This is a reminder that God's purposes are going to accomplished through a war to defeat the enemy and establish the kingdom of God.