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Genesis 48-50

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Genesis Chapter 48

"After this Joseph was told, "Behold, your father is ill"; so he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you"; then Israel summoned his strength, and sat up in bed." (Genesis 48:1-2 RSV)

Ephraim and Manasseh Jacob's time to die had come; like most who have the luxury to see it coming, Jacob attended to family business in a time-appropriate way. Joseph (see The Israelite Patriarchs - Joseph) had been Jacob's favorite son, primarily because Joseph was the child of Jacob's favorite wife Rachel. Jacob took the extraordinary step of adopting Joseph's two sons as his own, in effect promoting them from grandsons to sons.

"And Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.'

And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are [see Children of Jacob]. And the offspring born to you after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. For when I came from Paddan, Rachel to my sorrow died in The Land Of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem." (Genesis 48:3-7 RSV)

It wasn't entirely Jacob's idea to bless Joseph's sons Ephraim and Manasseh in that way. It was The Lord's will; He even guided nearly-blind Jacob's hands.

"Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them.

And Israel said to Joseph, "I had not thought to see your face; and lo, God has let me see your children also."

Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 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 him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it upon the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the first-born.

And he blessed Joseph, and said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has led me all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." (Genesis 48:10-16 RSV)

Joseph at first protested the blessing, but Jacob made plain that it was The Lord's will. Jacob, like Abraham before him, also was aware of the Prophecy that the Exodus would happen centuries later.

"When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he took his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father; for this one is the first-born; put your right hand upon his head." But his father refused, and said, "I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations." (Genesis 48:17-19 RSV)

"Then Israel said to Joseph, "Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and will bring you again to the land of your fathers." (Genesis 48:21 RSV)

Genesis Chapter 49

Jacob then called together all of his sons for a deathbed blessing that was prophetic to each of them: "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel; and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him." (Genesis 49:28 RSV). The coming Messiah would come through Judah.

Blessing

"Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his ass's colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes; his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk." (Genesis 49:8-12 RSV)

Jacob then gave his sons the final instructions, for his own burial.

"Then he charged them, and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife [see Abram and Sarai]; there they buried Isaac [see Isaac's Faith And Obedience] and Rebekah his wife [see A Servant's Journey]; and there I buried Leah - the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites."

When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people." (Genesis 49:29-33 RSV)

Genesis Chapter 50

Joseph then ordered that his father's body be embalmed, which to the Egyptians was primarily a matter of removing the internal organs of the body and then slowly drying the rest (the photo shows an actual Egyptian "mummy" of a man who has been dead for many centuries).

Egyptian Mummy

"Then Joseph fell on his father's face, and wept over him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel; forty days were required for it, for so many are required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days." (Genesis 50:1-3 RSV)

With the Pharaoh's permission, Joseph then carried out Jacob's will to be buried in the land of Israel.

"And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, 'I am about to die: in my tomb which I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there shall you bury me.' Now therefore let me go up, I pray you, and bury my father; then I will return."

And Pharaoh [see also Egypt's Royal House] answered, "Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear."

So Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's household; only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen." (Genesis 50:4-8 RSV)

Later, Joseph's own time to die came, but he too gave instructions that he was not to be left behind in Egypt.

"So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's house; and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation; the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph's knees. And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die; but God will visit you, and bring you up out of this land to the land which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." Then Joseph took an oath of the sons of Israel, saying, "God will visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." (Genesis 50:22-26 RSV)

Fact Finder: Did Joseph participate in the Exodus even though he died centuries before it happened? What about the others?
See Joseph's Bones and Where Are The Israelite Patriarchs Buried?


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