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Manasseh and Ephraim

48 After these things Joseph was told,[a] “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When Jacob was told,[b] “Your son Joseph has just[c] come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. Jacob said to Joseph, “The Sovereign God[d] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful[e] and will multiply you.[f] I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants[g] as an everlasting possession.’[h]

“Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine.[i] Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. Any children that you father[j] after them will be yours; they will be listed[k] under the names of their brothers in their inheritance.[l] But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died—to my sorrow[m]—in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are the[n] sons God has given me in this place.” His father[o] said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”[p] 10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing[q] because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph[r] brought his sons[s] near to him, and his father[t] kissed them and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected[u] to see you[v] again, but now God has allowed me to see your children[w] too.”

12 So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees[x] and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 Joseph positioned them;[y] he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father.[z] 14 Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger.[aa] Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked—
the God who has been my shepherd[ab]
all my life long to this day,
16 the angel[ac] who has protected me[ad]
from all harm—
bless these boys.
May my name be named in them,[ae]
and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.
May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him.[af] So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude[ag] of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you[ah] will Israel bless,[ai] saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.[aj]

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you[ak] and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. 22 As one who is above your[al] brothers, I give to you the mountain slope,[am] which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”


  1. Genesis 48:1 tn Heb “and one said.” With no expressed subject in the Hebrew text, the verb can be translated with the passive voice.
  2. Genesis 48:2 tn Heb “and one told and said.” The verbs have no expressed subject and can be translated with the passive voice.
  3. Genesis 48:2 tn Heb “Look, your son Joseph.”
  4. Genesis 48:3 tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “Sovereign God” in Gen 17:1.
  5. Genesis 48:4 tn Heb “Look, I am making you fruitful.” The participle following הִנֵּה (hinneh) has the nuance of a certain and often imminent future.
  6. Genesis 48:4 tn The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive carries on the certain future idea.
  7. Genesis 48:4 tn The Hebrew text adds “after you,” which has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  8. Genesis 48:4 tn The Hebrew word אֲחֻזָּה (ʾakhuzzah), translated “possession,” describes a permanent holding in the land. It is the noun form of the same verb (אָחַז, ʾakhaz) that was used for the land given to them in Goshen (Gen 47:27).
  9. Genesis 48:5 sn They will be mine. Jacob is here adopting his two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim as his sons, and so they will have equal share with the other brothers. They will be in the place of Joseph and Levi (who will become a priestly tribe) in the settlement of the land. See I. Mendelsohn, “A Ugaritic Parallel to the Adoption of Ephraim and Manasseh,” IEJ (1959): 180-83.
  10. Genesis 48:6 tn Or “you fathered.”
  11. Genesis 48:6 tn Heb “called” or “named.”
  12. Genesis 48:6 sn Listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. This means that any subsequent children of Joseph will be incorporated into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
  13. Genesis 48:7 tn Heb “upon me, against me,” which might mean something like “to my sorrow.”
  14. Genesis 48:9 tn Heb “my.”
  15. Genesis 48:9 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  16. Genesis 48:9 tn The cohortative with prefixed vav (ו) indicates purpose after the imperative.
  17. Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “heavy.”sn The disjunctive clause provides supplemental information that is important to the story. The weakness of Israel’s sight is one of several connections between this chapter and Gen 27. Here there are two sons, and it appears that the younger is being blessed over the older by a blind old man. While it was by Jacob’s deception in chap. 27, here it is with Jacob’s full knowledge.
  18. Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  19. Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “them”; the referent (Joseph’s sons) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  20. Genesis 48:10 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph’s father) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  21. Genesis 48:11 tn On the meaning of the Hebrew verb פָּלַל (palal) here, see E. A. Speiser, “The Stem pll in Hebrew,” JBL 82 (1963): 301-6. Speiser argues that this verb means “to estimate” as in Exod 21:22.
  22. Genesis 48:11 tn Heb “your face.”
  23. Genesis 48:11 tn Heb “offspring.”
  24. Genesis 48:12 tn Heb “and Joseph brought them out from with his knees.” The two boys had probably been standing by Israel’s knees when being adopted and blessed. The referent of the pronoun “his” (Israel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  25. Genesis 48:13 tn Heb “and Joseph took the two of them.”
  26. Genesis 48:13 tn Heb “and he brought near to him.” The referents of the pronouns “he” and “him” (Joseph and his father respectively) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
  27. Genesis 48:14 tn The disjunctive clause is circumstantial-concessive here.
  28. Genesis 48:15 tn Heb “shepherded me.” The verb has been translated as an English noun for stylistic reasons.
  29. Genesis 48:16 sn Smr reads “king” here, but the traditional reading (“angel”) may be maintained. Jacob closely associates God with an angelic protective presence. This does not mean that Jacob viewed his God as a mere angel, but it does suggest that he was aware of an angelic presence sent by God to protect him. Here he so closely associates the two that they become virtually indistinguishable. In this culture messengers typically carried the authority of the one who sent them and could even be addressed as such. Perhaps Jacob thought that the divine blessing would be mediated through this angelic messenger.
  30. Genesis 48:16 tn The verb גָּאַל (gaʾal) has the basic idea of “protect” as a near relative might do. It is used for buying someone out of bondage, marrying a deceased brother’s widow, paying off debts, avenging the family, and the like. The meanings of “deliver, protect, avenge” are most fitting when God is the subject (see A. R. Johnson, “The Primary Meaning of גאל,” Congress Volume: Copenhagen, 1953 [VTSup], 67-77).
  31. Genesis 48:16 tn Or “be recalled through them.”
  32. Genesis 48:17 tn Heb “it was bad in his eyes.”
  33. Genesis 48:19 tn Heb “fullness.”
  34. Genesis 48:20 tn The pronoun is singular in the Hebrew text, apparently elevating Ephraim as the more prominent of the two. Note, however, that both are named in the blessing formula that follows.
  35. Genesis 48:20 tn Or “pronounce a blessing.”
  36. Genesis 48:20 sn On the elevation of Ephraim over Manasseh see E. C. Kingsbury, “He Set Ephraim Before Manasseh,” HUCA 38 (1967): 129-36; H. Mowvley, “The Concept and Content of ‘Blessing’ in the Old Testament,” BT 16 (1965): 74-80; and I. Mendelsohn, “On the Preferential Status of the Eldest Son,” BASOR 156 (1959): 38-40.
  37. Genesis 48:21 tn The pronouns translated “you,” “you,” and “your” in this verse are plural in the Hebrew text.
  38. Genesis 48:22 tn The pronouns translated “your” and “you” in this verse are singular in the Hebrew text.
  39. Genesis 48:22 tn The Hebrew word שְׁכֶם (shekhem) could be translated either as “mountain slope” or “shoulder, portion,” or even taken as the proper name “Shechem.” Jacob was giving Joseph either (1) one portion above his brothers, or (2) the mountain ridge he took from the Amorites, or (3) Shechem. The ambiguity actually allows for all three to be the referent. He could be referring to the land in Shechem he bought in Gen 33:18-19, but he mentions here that it was acquired by warfare, suggesting that the events of 34:25-29 are in view (even though at the time he denounced it, 34:30). Joseph was later buried in Shechem (Josh 24:32).

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