Ephraim and Manasseh Genesis 48:1-22
If you remember last time we saw the family of Joseph who was just settling in Egypt. They had made the journey from Canaan on the wagons of the Pharaoh with Judah going before them. Joseph appeared before the Pharaoh on behalf of his family and brought five of his brothers. He asked them, “what is your occupation?” and they answered, “we are shepherds.” They requested that they might settle in the land of Goshen and there they would keep their animals. The land of Canaan had been hit by the famine as well and they were seeking refuge. The Pharaoh welcomed the family of Joseph into his country and granted their request to reside in Goshen. He also gave the responsibility of keeping his livestock to the able men of Israel. After the matter of establishing residency in Egypt was complete, Jacob was invited to come before the Pharaoh. Jacob explained to the Pharaoh that his days were few and evil. And before he left he spoke a blessing over the Pharaoh. In the following scene, Joseph was shown to us as the manager over Pharaoh’s house and the savior of the people. The Pharaoh prospered during the famine and the people were all fed by the hand of Joseph. The wise and discerning man followed the dreams that God gave to Pharaoh and the people survived the seven years of brutal famine. Then we began the closing act of the book of Genesis. In verse 47:29, we are told that the time drew near that Israel must die. Old age had come upon him and his strength and vision have started to wain. Jacob called Joseph to his side and made him solemnly swear that he would bury his body, not in Egypt but the family burying-place in Canaan. To this, Joseph swore. With this promise, Jacob bows his head in worship to his God. As we open chapter 48 of the book of Genesis, we have a phrase that denotes a passage of time. We are not given the length of time between 47 and 48, but it appears that Joseph had returned to his duties and would have to be summoned to his father’s bedside again. Many of you have experienced the loss of loved ones. Working in hospice work and also as a chaplain has allowed me to be present in the last hours of life. Some passed quickly before I could even get a chance to arrive, others I visited many times as the family kept vigil. Still, others slowly slipped away over months. Jacob seems to have been in the latter category as he felt the cold of death approaching he had been given the gift of being able to order his affair before his death. As we look at chapter 48, we find Jacob performing his fatherly duties as he sets his family in order. First, in verses 1-7, Jacob adopts Ephraim and Manasseh as his sons. In status, these young men are elevated to a level as Reuben and the other sons of Israel. Finally, in verses 8-22, Jacob blesses the sons of Joseph.