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GENESIS 48:1-2 "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. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed."

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THE REUNION!

Sometime after Joseph swore to Jacob that he would not bury him in Egypt, Joseph was told his father was sick. He took his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were probably around 18-20 years old, to see their grandfather one last time. When Jacob heard they were coming, he gathered all his strength to sit up to meet them. He told them about how God had met with him at Luz and told him He would bless him, multiply his seed and give him the land of Canaan for a possession. He then said he was going to adopt Joseph's two sons as his own so they would each have an inheritance equal with their uncles. Thus, Jacob's beloved Rachel, whom he also recalls here in this chapter, would have three tribes in Israel: Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin.

When Joseph brought his sons forward to be blessed by his father, he placed his father's right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh's head. But Jacob then did a surprising thing; he crossed his hands. His right hand, the hand of honor, by rights should have rested on the head of the oldest son. By crossing his hands, Jacob was giving the blessing of the oldest to the younger brother. Joseph tried to guide his father's hands in the other direction, probably thinking his father couldn't see well enough to know which grandson was the oldest. Jacob told them he had crossed his hands on purpose because the younger brother would become the greatest. (I wonder if Jacob remembered taking Esau's blessing from their father Isaac here!) Ephraim did become a greater tribe of Israel than Manasseh. We find that the whole nation of Northern Israel is called Ephraim in Isaiah 7 and Hosea 9.

In addition to the blessing given to Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob gave Joseph "one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow." No mention is made anywhere in the Bible about Jacob fighting for possession of land. He did, however, buy land from the Amorites. (Genesis 33:19) Joseph was later buried on this same land (Joshua 24:32) so this is believed to be the land given to Joseph here. It is possible that the land was taken from Jacob some time after he purchased it and he had to take it back by force but this is not known for sure.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

We see throughout the Old Testament where one son is favored above another and where the youngest is given the inheritance of the oldest. Do you think this is fair? Do you think God shows favoritism among his children?

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