Scripture Reading: Genesis 48:8-22
“Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.” (Genesis 48:22)
The Haftorah says that Jacob’s eyes were dimmed with the mist that would soon close them forever. He does not recognize Joseph’s children, his own grandchildren. By now, he has so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren that he cannot possibly remember all of them. Besides, children change so quickly that in one year’s time they do not resemble themselves as one remembers them.
Jacob could only faintly see the young men. They were at least seventeen years old — possibly even in their early twenties, for they were born during the seven years of plenty. Jacob had come to Egypt after the second year of famine, and was there seventeen years. No wonder he asks, “Who are these?”
Joseph answered, “They are my sons, whom God hath given me here” (Genesis 48:9a).
Old Jacob commands, “Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them” (Genesis 48:9b).
Jacob had just been remembering how God had blessed him, and it was time to pass that blessing on.
He who has been blessed has the authority to pass on the blessing. Many try to bless others when they themselves have never been blessed by God. You have to have God’s anointing in your hands before you dare to lay them on others. Before you give, you must receive.
Joseph brought his sons to their grandfather. He hugged them and kissed them. They already were quite a bit older than Joseph had been when he was sold into slavery in Egypt.
Old Jacob is overwhelmed. He said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see thy face; and, lo, God hath let me see thy seed also” (Genesis 48:11).
Joseph placed his sons in a kneeling position between the knees of Jacob — Ephraim on his right hand, toward Jacobs’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand, toward Israel’s right hand (the position of honour) so that Jacob’s right hand would automatically be placed on Manasseh’s head, and his left one on Ephraim’s.
But Jacob crossed his hands, and placed his right hand on Ephraim and his left hand on Manasseh. This was a sign that the greater blessing, the firstborn blessing, would be given to Ephraim instead of Manasseh, the firstborn.
When Joseph saw what his father was doing he was displeased. He caught hold of his father’s hand and tried to move it back again to Manasseh’s head. He said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head” (Genesis 48:18).
But Joseph’s father refused to change the position of his hands; he answered Joseph, “I know it, my son, I know it; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; howbeit his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations…By thee shall Israel bless, saying: God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh” (Genesis 48:19-20).
The Haftorah explains an ancient Jewish custom, “To this day, every pious Jewish father, on Sabbath eve, places his hands on the head of his son, and blesses him in the words: ‘God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh;”‘
By blessing Joseph’s children, Jacob was blessing Joseph. Parents are blessed or cursed — through their children. Their children are their source of joy or sorrow.
Israel said to Joseph: “Behold, I die; but God will be with you, and bring you back unto the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow” (Genesis 48:22).
Finally, in closing, Jacob gives Joseph the portion of land, near Shechem, which he had purchased many years earlier (Genesis 33:19).
The Haftorah explains, “It seems from the context that this plot of land had fallen into the hands of the Amorites, and had been retaken from them by force of arms. Jacob’s military exploit is not elsewhere mentioned.
The extra portion that was given to Joseph was realized when each of his sons received a portion of the Promised Land, making them equal to the sons of Jacob.
Many years later, when Joseph died, his body was preserved by the Egyptians, and the Children of Israel carried it with them when they came out of Egypt. He was buried in that plot of land. Guides will show you where his grave is today.
It is interesting to note that, even though Jacob had paid for the land, he had to fight to get it back because the enemy repossessed it.
So it is with his descendants today. God has promised them Israel. They have paid for the land, not only with money, but also with blood, sweat and tears of their pioneers and sons; but still the “Amorites” contend for it. Only by strong military defense and determination will Israel be able to keep Samaria and Judea and Galilee — never by compromise, but “by his sword and his bow!”
If God has given you the double-portion blessing you will only be able to keep it by vigilance, and by warring against the enemy of your soul!
Stay alert! Do not lose your blessing! Make every sacrifice to keep it! It is worth it!
In the Beginning by Gwen Shaw
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