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The Israelite Patriarchs - Manasseh

Manasseh (not to be confused with Manasseh, King Of Judah) was the firstborn son of Israel's son Joseph (see The Israelite Patriarchs - Joseph). Manasseh and his brother Ephraim's (see The Israelite Patriarchs - Ephraim) mother was an Egyptian - another example of how the people of "Israel" were in fact, genetically, the same people as most of the "gentile" nations around them (see also Israel's Iraqi Roots). The Lord's "chosen people," whether physical or spiritual, has nothing to do with race. It's about obedience.

"Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh"

Manasseh was born in Egypt at the time when the people of Israel were in high standing in the country. Manasseh's father Joseph, with The Lord's help (see Joseph's Dreams), was the Prime Minister of Egypt, second in power to only the Pharaoh himself.

Ephraim and Manasseh

"41:50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. 41:51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. 41:52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." (Genesis 41:50-52 KJV)

Manasseh and Ephraim are unique because, although they were the grandsons of Jacob, who The Lord renamed Israel, they were adopted by Jacob as sons, thereby making them Israelite patriarchs on an equal level with their uncles (see Children of Jacob).

"48:5 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. 48:6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance." (Genesis 48:5-6 KJV)

Their blessing was also unique in that The Lord directed Jacob to give the firstborn's blessing to second-born Ephraim rather than to firstborn Manasseh.

"48:12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 48:13 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. 48:14 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.

48:15 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, 48:16 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.

48:17 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. 48:18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.

48:19 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. 48:20 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." (Genesis 48:12-20 KJV)

Despite the (relatively) lesser blessing ("he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he"), the tribe of Manasseh grew to greatness in numbers and territory.

"1:32 Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of Ephraim, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 1:33 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand and five hundred.

1:34 Of the children of Manasseh, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; 1:35 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred." (Numbers 1:32-35 KJV)

The tribal territory of Manasseh was also unique in that half was east of The Jordan River along with that of Gad and Reuben, while the other half was west of the Jordan in Samaria. It wasn't actually viewed as a division because the river was considered to simply run through the promised land, rather than regarded as a boundary of the promised land (in the same way that a single country can have a major river flowing through it without making it two countries). Those east of the Jordan River received their allotment first.

Israelite Ytibal Lands

"32:33 And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about." (Numbers 32:33 KJV)

The Israelites east of the Jordan were required to cross the Jordan with the other tribes in order to help them take possession of the land there, in the same way that the other tribes had helped the eastern tribes. The crossing of the Jordan was not a matter of entering another country; it was a matter of crossing a frontier river in the country that had already begun to be settled.

"1:10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 1:11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.

1:12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 1:14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them; 1:15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD'S servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising. 1:16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go." (Joshua 1:10-16 KJV)

When David became king over all of Israel (see The United Kingdom) after the The Civil War, the people of Manasseh from both sides of the Jordan supported him (see Royal Democracy).

"12:31 And of the half tribe of Manasseh eighteen thousand, which were expressed by name, to come and make David king." (1 Chronicles 12:31 KJV)

"12:37 And on the other side of Jordan, of the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and of the half tribe of Manasseh, with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, an hundred and twenty thousand." (1 Chronicles 12:37 KJV)

After The Division Of Israel into The Northern Kingdom and The Southern Kingdom, the people of Manasseh were counted among the northern ten tribes. When the northern kingdom of Israel became corrupt, The Lord had them conquered by the Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria). The people of Manasseh east of the Jordan were the first to be defeated and taken into exile.

"5:26 And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day." (1 Chronicles 5:26 KJV)

The rest of the people of Manasseh, west of the Jordan, were later taken in the The Galilee Captivity. Manasseh thereafter became one of "the lost ten tribes of Israel."

"17:5 Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. 17:6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes." (2 Kings 17:5-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: Were Zelophehad's daughters of the tribe of Manasseh? How were they the subject of a tribal lands rule?
See Zelophehad's Daughters


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