Genesis 48:1-4 Upon hearing that Jacob was ill (near death); Joseph went to him and took along his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob repeated God’s promises to him that He would make Jacob a numerous people, bless them, and give them the land of Canaan as a possession.
Genesis 48:5-7 Jacob adopts Manasseh and Ephraim as his own sons in order that they should receive a share of the blessings with his other sons.
Notes: Consequently, when the land of Canaan is allocated, Joseph through his descendants receives one-sixth of the territory. This double portion of the inheritance confirms that Joseph was designated the “firstborn” in place of Reuben.
Notes: In gratitude for Joseph’s great generosity and preservation of God’s people, formally proclaimed adoption of Joseph’s sons on a par with Joseph’s brothers in their inheritance, thus granting to Rachel’s two sons (Joseph and Benjamin) three tribal territories in the land.
Genesis 48:8-10 Clarifying that the two sons that were with Joseph were indeed Manasseh and Ephraim (Jacob was blind with old age just like his father Isaac before him), Jacob asked Joseph to bring them to him so he could bless them.
Genesis 48:11 Not only did God grant that Jacob would see his son Joseph before he died, but that he would see Joseph’s children also. Jacob was content and at peace on the way his life went and turned out, knowing that God was in control all along.
Genesis 48:12-14 Joseph positioned Ephraim to Jacob’s left and Manasseh to Jacob’s right (The place of first-born privilege) to be blessed by his father, Jacob. Instead, Jacob crossed his arms and placed his right hand on Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh. Jacob was preparing to give the greater blessing to the younger child, Ephraim, instead of the older child, Manasseh.
Genesis 48:15-16 Jacob then prayed that God would bless the children of Joseph that they would multiply greatly.
Genesis 48:17-18 When Joseph saw that his father, Jacob, had his right hand on the younger child, he thought his father did not know it for he was blind and tried to correct his father’s hand placement on his children so that his oldest son, Manasseh, would receive the greater or firstborn blessing.
Genesis 48:19-20 Jacob reassured Joseph that he knew what he was doing, and just like with himself and Esau, the younger would be greater than the older. This was not Jacob’s choice, but obviously, this decision came by a revelation from God.
Notes: Though the normal custom stated that the first-born received the greater portion and blessing, God reserves the right by His Sovereignty to choose. Subsequent history reveals that the Ephraimites become one of the leading tribes, with Joshua guiding the people into the Promised Land. However, the Ephraimites are later rejected by God in favor of Judah, recovered in Psalm 78. Ephraim did indeed become the dominant tribe of the 10 northern tribes, eventually being used as the national designate for the 10 tribes in the prophets.
9 The Ephraimites, armed with[b] the bow,
turned back on the day of battle.
10 They did not keep God's covenant,
but refused to walk according to his law.
67 He rejected the tent of Joseph;
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim,
68 but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loves.
69 He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever
11 They forgot his works
and the wonders that he had shown them.
Genesis 48:21-22 Jacob tells Joseph that he is about to die, and reassures him that God will fulfill His promises, and at His appointed time, take him and all the Hebrews out of Egypt back to the land of Canaan.